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A 1958 article in "British Buttons", said that Lionel Nichols was one of the last British outposts of the glass button craft.
It compared his colour sense and the richness and depth of his work to the windows at Chartres. He regarded such comparisons as "Tommy rot"
He never thought of himself as a craftsman but as a button manufacturer.In fact, he was neither, he was a gentleman amateur.
Before the war he had been a commercial traveller for a firm of button importers, after the war he thought he would make his own.
At first, like Mr Toad, he enthusiastically ran through a mad range of materials. What he produced was vigorous and unusual, and it sold, but he begun to experiment with glass and in glass he found a worthy mistress.
His approach was entirely experimental, nobody taught him how to do it. He had no industrial experience, what he fixed on was much more akin to cookery.
He cut the raw sheets of glass into squares, melted it in the furnace, brought it out, worked on it, returning each piece to the furnace three times. MORE>
Everything was done by one man and his methods were staggeringly uncommercial, but like all craftsmen he had no regard for his own time. He would work away with his unlit pipe in his mouth, his overall tied with string in his precarious workroom with no running water and gaps between the floor boards where nothing was used for its original purpose. MORE>
His customers included the leading English couture houses of Norman Hartnel; Hardy Amies; John Cavanagh; Matita and Ronald Paterson. MORE>
For two decades, 1946 to 1966, L. Nichols produced what were probably the most interesting and original buttons in England.
I have boxes and boxes of buttons, many of them unopened for decades, a treasure trove built up order by order as extras had to be made to ensure that a matched set could be found for each garment, inspite of the irregularities of the hand made process
By the late sixties buttons were no longer centre stage on garments, so my father re invented his buisness and began making costume jewellery for the hippy boutiques, a grandfather figure on the King's Road and Carnaby Street. MORE>