Laurel Burch's trademark became her signature on all branded products
All jewelry, like this pair of earrings from the early 1990s, were labeled
The first set of Laurel Burch buttons included six cat faces (five are shown here)
and six cat bodies (four shown here)
All buttons contained the trademark signature and "made by Dill" the manufacturer
The Jungle Songs series contains twelve animals. Missing from this photo are the lion, turtle, and tiger
One of the last groups to be released in 2007 were the florals with the butterfly
Fabric made by Clothworks Textiles was used by collectors to make fabric buttons
Stewart and Yves St. Laurent, Laurel Burch became an artist and a brand. In
fact, it was her ability to transfer her art to various media like coffee mugs,
clothing, tote bags, prints, fabric, note cards, and buttons that made her rich and
famous. Her beginnings were not always
so comfortable. Laurel was a Southern California child who was frequently
hospitalized because of a rare congenital bone disease, osteopetrosis. Her
world of imagination allowed her to escape the reality of frequent
hospitalizations, and she loved to draw.
At the age of
19, Laurel was married, had two children, and moved to San Francisco. After her divorce she had to support her
children by designing jewelry from found metal scraps banged into form on an
old skillet. In the Summer of Love and later, her designs were very popular,
and she incorporated her whimsical drawings into her design. Completely
self-taught, Laurel saw her art as a way to connect with people. In 1971 Laurel
traveled to China to make contact with a company that manufactured her jewelry,
and the Laurel Burch brand began.
2004, the German company, Dill, offered the first set of Laurel Burch buttons
to the public. A set of twelve cats--six
seated full-bodied cats with curled tails and six cat faces—were included. All
are sew-thrus and matched her drawings that also been offered for sale. Each
cat has a different colorful design.
Also in October,
2004, a set of twelve different animals called “Jungle Songs” was offered by
Dill. Like the cat buttons in the first set, the animals were enamels on brass.
Each button is identified by the Laurel Burch signature that is also found on
the reverse of her jewelry and is her trademark. In addition, each button is
marked “made by Dill.”
In October, 2007,
soon after her death on September 23, 2007, Dill offered the last sets of
Laurel Burch buttons—eleven colorful fantasy florals and a butterfly, the
twelfth button of the set, as well as six other cats—two thin cats with kittens
called stacked cats, two fat cats with kittens called parent and child, and two
more full-bodied cats. After contacting the American representative for Dill, I
was told that there are plans for releasing a “best of” set in the future. The
exact date has not been determined.
used the Laurel Burch cat fabrics of faces to make a set of fabric buttons. These
were made from the Laurel Burch fabric by Clothworks Textiles and would be
considered studio buttons. My set is not signed or dated, so I do not know who
created them. Many of the fabrics are available online but most are out of
print, especially the leopard cat faces.
used her art of provide financially for her family and to communicate with
others. The naïve fantasy and colorful warmth of her drawings combined with her
business acumen in spite of a debilitating disease that eventually took her
life make the story of Laurel Burch inspirational. The three sets of buttons
guarantee her interest to button collectors.