Category: Colour Comes to Tangles

Who invented buttons?

Who invented buttons?

Now, this seems a silly question. You might answer who cares. Buttons are trivial nonessentials to everyday life. But since my week strangely enough has been besieged by buttons, I asked myself this question. Who invented buttons?

My week started ordinarily enough but then on two separate occasions; a button popped off my dress. Two occasions, two different dresses. Now you may say, “well, all your dresses must be close to their use by date.” And this could be true. I do hang onto things a little longer than the average girl. Returning home from the second outing minus another button, I decided to replace the missing buttons. Being a thrifty baby boomer, I had a ready supply of spare buttons in an allocated tin. My father who taught me such thriftiness, would have been proud of my preparedness.

Sorting buttons, Am I mad?

The buttons I needed were not immediately found in the large tin, so I poured the contents of the whole tin into a salad bowl and started sorting. By the end of an hour and two cups of tea later (plus one and a half slices of lemon madeira cake), I had piles of buttons sorted by colour. There were lots of white shirt buttons, and less of the coloured versions. The three orange buttons were an unexpected find.

Buttons sorted, I sewed on the missing dress buttons and put all the sewing paraphernalia away. If you have survived reading this far, well done! Silly lady chatter. This boring mundane activity did not pique my interest into the origins of the button. It was the next day at my weekly women’s group where rather than our usual mystery guest speaker, we had instead a craft activity. And, oh no, the craft material provided was, you guessed, it buttons. We were like kindergarteners or those at the other end of life, the nursing home inmates, making cards using buttons (and a few bows.)

The history of buttons

So, this weird coincidence led me to ponder the meaning of life, according to buttons. Who invented buttons? Were they always for fastening clothes? Let’s unpack a bit of fashion history. Buttons are traced to the Indus Valley (Pakistan) circa 2800 BC, Scotland c 2000BC and in the Bronze Age sites in China and Ancient Rome. So, buttons have been around a fair time. They were used for ornamental purposes on fabric but not as fasteners, just for decoration. The first buttons were made from seashells and then later of the newly formed metal, alloy of bronze made from copper and tin.

The development of buttons follows the history of materials available to man. Over their history, buttons have been crafted from shells, ivory, metal, glass, silk, enamel, leather, enamel, wood, china and plastic. Buttons used for fastening date to the Roman Empire where leatherwork shows buttonholes. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that where there were buttonholes there were buttons. These were evidenced in leather satchels before use on clothes and shoes. By the Byzantine, there were buttons to fasten cuffs and necks of shirts and tunics and for sleeves and necklines for women’s dresses.

The word ‘button’ comes from a German word meaning ‘to push through’ which makes sense once the buttonhole emerged.

Buttons as status symbols

At some time, the side on which the button was sewn became gender assigned.  The left for women and the right for men. This is believed to be due to a man having to draw his weapon from left to right without slicing off his supply of buttons. Another reason is that the maids need to dress their ladies with their right hand, and this is easier if the buttons are on the left. The badge like buttons also emerged and worn to advertise allegiance to a group or army. Soldier buttons could even serve as lockets with locks of their beloved one’s hair kept inside close to their heart. With all buttons, the fancier the button, the higher the status of the wearer. Buttons were status symbols just like rings and jewelry can be today.

Why do the Amish ban buttons?

Maybe this is why the Amish people ban buttons, calling them along with many other modernities, ‘proud.’Buttons are a sign of individuality and vanity, two things the Amish try to avoid. By not wearing buttons, all members of the community look the same regardless of their wealth or social standing. Anything individual brings attention to oneself, so buttons are not on the Amish agenda. Uniformity is the key.

I would not be happy as an Amish woman. I love colour and diversity in clothing. It makes me feel happy. That is why I wrote a book about colour; Colour Comes to Tangles.

Buttons for everyone

Moving on; The Industrial Revolution brought buttons and many other products to the masses. Buttons now could be made en masse not singly by artisans. The simple flat button with two or four holes was easier to manufacture than a button with a stud or post or a cuff-link toggle style. Most shirt and dress buttons were flat and white or bone coloured and this is still true today.

Then came the zipper

With time, other forms of fastening clothes evolved such as the press stud, hook and eye and the zipper. The last, the clasp fastener or zipper as it is now known, has revolutionised clothing, handbags and many, many other everyday objects. No one individual is responsible but a series of gentlemen. see the zipper link. 

Elias Howe, Jr. (1819–1867), the inventor of the sewing machine, received a patent in 1851 for an “Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure.” Elias did not pursue marketing his clothing closure system and so missed his chance to become the “Father of the Zip.”

Forty-four years later, Whitcomb Judson (1846–1909) marketed a “Clasp Locker” device similar to Howe’s idea. As first to market, Whitcomb became the “inventor of the zipper.” However, his 1893 patent did not use the word zipper.

The 1851 Chicago “Clasp Locker” was first a hook-and-eye shoe fastener, a redesign of Elias Howe’s. Colonel Lewis Walker, Whitcomb launched the Universal Fastener Company to manufacture the new device. The clasp locker made its debut at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair but was met with little enthusiasm. Instead, Swedish-born electrical engineer, Gideon Sundback (1880–1954) made the zipper the hit it is today.

The “zipper” name came from the B. F. Goodrich Company, which used Sundback’s fastener on rubber boots. or galoshes. However, it took 20 more years to convince the fashion industry to use the closure on garments.

In the 1930s, a sales campaign began for children’s clothing featuring zippers. The campaign promoted zippers for self-reliance in young children as zippers made it possible for children to dress themselves.

No more buttons for the fly.

In 1937, the zipper beat the button in the “Battle of the Fly.” French fashion designers used zippers in men’s trousers and Esquire magazine declared the zipper the way to go for men. There would be no more peep hole embarrassments caused by missing or undone buttons. But the men still had to remember to zip their fly!

The next big boost for the zipper came when zippers could open on both ends such as on jackets. Today the zipper is everywhere. But we still have buttons!  Those cute little fasteners that led to the saying ‘as cute as a button.

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel Colour Comes to Tangles and her latest historical WWI drama, Time Heal my Heart. Joni has her own website;

Photo by elnaz asadi on Unsplash


Why do we run away from trauma?

Why do we run away from trauma?

Characters that run away from trauma

As I write this, I realize that all of my five novels have characters, mostly women that run away from their current lives. They run away from trauma. Maybe it is a coincidence I choose this theme or is it because I myself am a runaway? Mind you, history is full of examples of women running away. I never realized until I started researching the matter. The correct term for this response to trauma is called ‘dissociative fugue.’

In my first novel, Whispers through Time, set in early 1900s, two sisters, Francesca and Winifred run away from London to Australia to escape their unhappiness. The characters were inspired by me reflecting why my grandmother ran off from her large family of siblings in London. Then later in life she runs away again from her new family and that is why I barely knew her. Why do we run away from trauma?  She shut herself off from her loved ones.

Why does a woman run away? It is the subject of today’s blog, The runaway response to trauma.

Then in my best seller, The Last Hotel, my character Jenny escapes her abusive marriage for a holiday in France with her ballet dancer son. Unwittingly, I’m at it again, in Colour Comes to Tangles, my next book. One of the characters is missing in action somewhere and her friends mount a search. In Time Heal my Heart, another historical, it is a minor character but a mysterious one who leaves her native France to come to Australia. To tell you more would contain spoilers. Find more plot details on my website or Amazon books.

Agatha Christie, the runaway

So let me start exploring this runaway phenomenon as it is a recurring theme and true to life, not just the stuff of fiction. Did you know that Agatha Christie, the famous mystery writer ran away? In 1926, she disappeared for ten days and the police from two counties were looking for her. It was as sensational as her best seller of a few years previous, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, the book that made her famous.  After a quarrel with her cheating husband, Archie, Agatha drives off and parks her car precariously overlooking a Surrey quarry and plain disappears. She leaves behind her fur coat and driver’s license and also leaves the car headlights on.

What are the police to presume from this? Yes, of course, it looks suspicious, and Archie is the prime suspect. Agatha is missing presumed the victim of foul play. But in reality, she just wandered off and caught public transport to Harrogate where she booked into a hotel under the name of her husband’s mistress. Curious and curiouser as Alice would say. Finally, after an exhaustive police hunt and public newspaper appeals someone at the hotel recognizes Agatha and she is found.

Public opinion is mixed. Was it a staged disappearance to gain publicity or a desperate appeal to her husband to rethink his request for a divorce. Or was it neither of these and just amnesia? This seems more likely as Agatha was a shy woman not one to invite attention. Indeed, although today the answer to her strange disappearance is not any of these for sure, it makes sense that she was so distressed by the recent death of her mother and infidelity of Archie, that she just ran away. It was all too much.

Fugue or running away from trauma

I can relate to this myself as I did just that twenty odd years ago. Like Agatha it was out of character and surprised everyone even me. This condition is called ‘dissociative fugue’ and is a way of avoiding a situation because the trauma is too much to process at the time. This all makes sense but was not a known condition at the time. Nor is it today. I had never heard of it until I was researching Agatha Christie for my blog and a U3A talk.

This fugue state is one of four reactions to trauma that all start with the letter ‘f’. They are freeze, fight, fawn or flee. Fugue is the equivalent of the flee version. The others involve doing nothing, fighting, submitting in that order. These are common responses seen in domestic violence situations. Often the woman abused is too afraid to do anything and so ultimately submits and tries to please or appease her abuser. Fighting is not often a viable method especially if the other person is much bigger or stronger. Fleeing can work if you have somewhere safe to go. Agatha had a car and money to stay at a hotel, but many women cannot just run away especially if children are involved.

Historical cases of women running away from trauma

Decades ago, many women had unwanted pregnancies and had nowhere to turn. The shame of their situation led them to be dismissed from their domestic service and shunned by the father. This terrible situation is the plot for many a historical novel ie beautiful young servant impregnated by rogue son of the manor. Thomas Hardy was the master of such tales. Tess of the d’Urbervilles is a tragedy due to the Victorian morals that set one rule for men and another for women. Tess is seduced and shamed by a bad man and suffers the damnation of society.

Women who cannot run away from trauma

Fortunately, in Western countries this is not such an issue. Governments now support unwed mothers to be. But in many African and Arabic cultures the shame is still there, and fathers or brothers still murder female family members that dishonor the family name. It is very difficult for these women to run away and start again. Women instead often stay and submit to the penalty. Most times it is not even their fault that they shame the family. Many are victims of rape or incest. It is a sad world where this still happens.

Despite progress, it is still a patriarchal world where women and girls suffer. The suffragettes fought for women’s rights, women gained the right to vote but they are still often the victims of men’s aggression.

If you like to read books about real women, then try one of my novels. I have three historical and two contemporary and all are based on real lives and situations.

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel Colour Comes to Tangles and her latest historical WWI drama, Time Heal my Heart. Joni has her own website;


How to start writing your book

How to start writing your book

Want to start writing your book? Are you itching to write that memoir, that sweeping romance but are stumped for a place to start? How do you start your book? Starting something is often the hardest part of any project. Concede this and that is a start in itself. Get organised. Write down some ideas. Do phrases or images come to mind when you envision your book? Well, jot them down to.  They could be memories, scenes, snatches of dialogue or you may even have some plot sorted. This is your inspiration that will kick start you into writing mode. You need to use some, but maybe not all of this for the start to your book.

In school they teach that there are three main parts of a story. First, (surprise!) there is a beginning that leads into the conflict which is the longest part. In this part the plot develops so characters interact in a way that should captivate the reader and want them to read on.  Then follows the resolution or ending that usually tidies things up.

Making a start

The beginning of any book must act as an introduction. If it is a non-fiction or fact-based book, then the beginning introduces the topic and aspects of it that will be covered in the book. Sometimes there are chapter headings at the start or an index at the end to make this clear. For fiction, we don’t have these. Sometimes authors include a prologue to introduce a historical period or give some background. Publishers have told me that this is not so popular now. Everyone is in a rush to get into the book as everyone is always in a rush these days. That is why we need to chill out with the slower pace of a book! Reading books is good for you.

The start of a fiction book establishes the setting, time and characters.  It sets the story in motion and if done well should carry the reader along with it into the following chapters. Think of it as the start of a movie. If the first ten minutes of the film don’t grab you, then you are inclined to switch channels. For me, I love a film set in exotic places. The scenery can suck me in. But if the characters are not exciting as well, if they just talk and don’t engage me, I will flick channels.

Start with some action

For men, the beginning of a film and probably a book often needs to be action packed or they get bored. But action takes different forms. There is physical action and there is action dialogue wherein two characters are interacting. They may be arguing which could include some physical action too. Or they just be talking about someone or something that is interesting. They could be plotting a murder or robbery or talking about how they can get away from one they already have committed. Either way, the viewer wants to know more. So, we keep watching.

A film can start with the actual murder and proceed into a ‘who dunnit’. Click the link to read the interesting history of this genre. That is pretty addictive too and this works in books as well. Agatha Christie is the queen of mysteries or ‘whodunnits.’ Whatever the beginning it has to hook you. That is why the beginning is often referred to as ‘the hook.’ They use this term in advertising too. You will watch an ad if it hooks you early on. Cute animals always do this for me. But others like sexy women or hot men or cars.

The start is the appetiser.

A good start of a book as in film makes you anticipate more. Like an appetiser for the main course. It must tantalise with a little but not overwhelm the reader with names and details. It’s tough but worth taking the time to get it as right as you can. Now, one mistake many writers make, me included, is starting too early and trying to explain everything. This is the undoing of a good beginning. For the start of a novel, you do not have to start at the beginning of the character’s story. It is better to just hop in at some interesting point in his/her journey than ramble along for pages telling us about him/her. Just like a film. Start with some action not just a long shot of the scenery.  Overly descriptive starts to novels are not so in anymore.

Descriptions can set the scene. They tell us where we are in place and time. However, overly long descriptions of the setting can bog us down. Novelists of previous eras did use description a lot more. If you read any Jane Austen, Conrad or Dickens you sure notice the slow pace of the action compared to today’s novels. They lived in a slower paced world, so their writing reflected this. Now we live in an instantaneously gratifying world that is fast paced so we aren’t into that anymore. So, with that point, I should move along myself.

Introduce the characters

Start with the character’s dilemma. It could be a letter or parcel they receive, an unexpected visitor or event that plunges them into a dilemma or situation. In my novel The Last Hotel, my beginning includes the unexpected events in the lives of a few of my characters that leads to their eventual meeting at the last hotel open on the French Riviera. So the book starts there in the beautiful French Riviera village of Beaulieu-sur-Mer and presents Lotte and her father who will later host these characters at their hotel. It is a short chapter about the dreams of Lotte and her father. The second chapter skips across the world to Australia. Sasha has just won a ballet scholarship for The Nice Opera. Chapter after chapter introduces the rest of the characters. Readers have reported this worked for them. They wanted to keep reading as they had become interested in the characters and their situations.

Tangling the characters

You may have watched films presented this way. Snapshots of people’s lives that will soon cross and tangle. I used this tangling method in another book. Colour comes to Tangles. In this one, ‘Tangles’ refers to the tangling of the characters but also it is the actual name of the hairdressing salon, Tangles, where the characters meet. A dilemma soon arrives wherein Tanya, the hairdresser’s friend goes missing. Also, to confound matters more, a new interesting tenant arrives to set up practice upstairs from the salon. Tanya at first only catches glimpses of this colourful new tenant but she knows from the business plaque and brochures that she is a colour therapist. How interesting, she muses. She anticipates meeting her as does the reader. The arrival of Vidisha this exotic Indian woman and the disappearance of Josie are more than enough to keep Tanya and the reader occupied and continue reading.

Note that I didn’t have to tell the whole story of Tanya’s divorce or how or why Vidisha came to Australia. That will emerge later. It is better to emerge later as by then we want to know these things. Telling us all this too soon will be more like reading a newspaper article or biography. Novels must enthrall and entertain not just inform. If you are asking questions as you read then that means the book is working its magic. And books should be magic. They should transport you to another exciting world of places and people where anything can happen.

starting your book

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

Colour Comes to Tangles

Colour Comes to Tangles

Tangles is a hair salon on Buderim Mountain, Queensland, Australia and Tanya, the owner and sole hairdresser. With an ex stalking her and a girlfriend missing, Tanya considers her life complicated enough. But then colour comes to Tangles in the form of exotic Vidisha, a colour therapist who takes tenancy upstairs. Tanya seeks therapy and becomes entangled in Vidisha’s world. Tanya ’s life will never be the same again. It spirals out of control in a swirl of colour.

From tropical Queensland, the story shifts to rural Australia then to colourful India. Tanya and her friend, Josie not only encounter conflict but face decisions that alter their lives forever. Accompanied by a cast of zany characters and small animals, Colour comes to Tangles is a contemporary mystery romance infused with insights into modern marriage and its issues. A book for any woman who has ever wanted to escape.

Available as paperback and e book and on Kindle Unlimited. Colour Comes to Tangles  click here.



colourful book cover

The swirling blue river, the purple hills and the huge pink flowers tell Dorothy and Toto that they are in a special and different place. They have arrived, blown in by a whirlwind, from black and white Kansas to technicolour Oz.

Dorothy feels, as well as sees, the effect of colour. She skips along in her crimson shoes, following the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. She has entered the scintillating world of colour.

Colour is Everywhere

We are so used to colour in our everyday life that we take it for granted and don’t realise its effects on our choices and our psyche. When we dress, decorate our house, prepare and choose our food, we unconsciously engage with colour choices.

Unlike animals we see in glorious technicolour due to the rods and cones, the light receptors in our eyes. Cones are the ones that detect and interpret colour so we are lucky to have these little guys.

What is Colour?

So now you know how we see colour, but let’s understand exactly what colour is. Here, it gets a bit scientific, but hang in there, the fun bits will come.

We are surrounded by all sorts of invisible waveforms called the electromagnetic spectrum. There are x-rays, infra-red, ultraviolet or UV, lots of different waves that are like, the now ubiquitous wi-fi, which is everywhere. These waves have different wavelengths. The shorter the wavelength, the more intense the wave is and the more damaging to human tissue, eg x rays.

Visible light is one such band of waves that varies from violet at 400, to red at 700 nanometres in wavelength. A nanometre is only very small, 1,000,000,000 smaller than a meter. Way back, Sir Isaac Newton studied light and discovered its ability to break into seven colours as it passes through a refractive glass prism.

After it rains, there are water droplets in the air that act as tiny prisms, splitting the light and creating the beautiful phenomenon of the rainbow. Science after all, is just a confirmation to understand the wonderful natural world.

Science also tells us that we see different coloured objects, due to the wavelength of the light reflected from that object, because all other wavelengths or colours have been absorbed. So, a red apple is red because only the red wavelength is reflected our way into our eyes and processed by our cone receptors. White objects reflect all light wavelengths and black objects absorb them all. This also explains why white is cooler to wear and black warmer.

Colour as Therapy

So why do different things reflect different coloured light? Well, that’s a good question and at the same time a mystery. Answers vary from God made it so, to complicated explanations on the matter of various substances. Just be happy with the fact that the trees are green because their leaves reflect only green light which is proven to be a restful colour for us humans.

Blue and green, the colours of nature, are good for us. We feel this when we enter a natural area or sit under trees. Their light, and also emitted oxygen as they photosynthesize, are good for us.

This brings us to the subject of colour therapy or chromotherapy, using colour to heal or motivate. ‘Chromo’ refers to colour, so chromotherapy is therapy using colour to heal physical, mental, and spiritual issues. Dating back to ancient times, colour therapy is one of the most holistic and simplest therapies involving immersion of the human body with light of assorted colours.

All light forms have varying wavelengths and frequencies so light is a vibrational energy. Different colours affect our body cells in different ways. Chromotherapy uses this concept to adjust our creativity, energy, and mood, clearing stress and inducing restfulness and balance.


Your personal palette

Finding your own therapeutic and beautifying colour palette is fun. I had mine done years ago and used this experience to explain it in my latest book, Colour comes to Tangles. I include an excerpt here as it is self-explanatory and saves me reinventing the colour wheel, so to speak.

Vidisha the colour therapist character treats her client, Tanya to the ‘colour me beautiful’ ‘discovery process.

Excerpt from Colour Comes to Tangles by Joni Scott

“Vidisha draped a brilliant piece of pink cloth around my shoulders. ‘Now, there, that is better. Notice how your skin glows and your eyes shine?’

She removed and then replaced the large silk scarf. Yes, there was a difference, and it was not just the covering of my embarrassingly stained shirt. I definitely looked better in pink. My eyes seemed greener and my skin glowed.

Then the pink disappeared, and Vidisha draped me with a shimmering turquoise. ‘Oh, that is beautiful!’ I exclaimed. ‘And now you look beautiful, Tanya. This colour is lovely on you.’

I blushed. Beautiful? How could I be beautiful when my reflection seemed so plain compared to Vidisha’s exotic appearance? There seemed no comparison.

‘Tanya, you are, I believe, a spring personality. Adventurous, brave, and fun-loving.’

‘I am?’

‘Yes. But to confirm this, we will drape you in a few wrong colours. Red and navy blue, even black.’

She drew away my beautiful cape of turquoise and draped me with red, then navy and lastly black. None of these colours liked me. I looked drab and dull, as if the sun had gone behind a cloud.

‘Oh,’ is all I could say.

‘Yes, oh. Now some magic again!’ A soft, lemon yellow appeared around my shoulders and again softened my face and I glowed again.

‘There we go. Now your homework, Tanya, is to go home to your cupboard and take out the right colours for you according to this chart. I want you to only wear these until our next session and let us see how you feel. If you don’t have any of these colours, then you may need to buy a few shirts or drape yourself in a scarf. Your skirt or pants can be a different colour but nothing too different. No red, navy or black. Denim is acceptable though.”


Suggested reading (as well as my book!) is The Little Book of Colour by Karen Haller. Karen is a world renowned colour expert and her book is not only fascinating reading but beautifully colourful as well.

They may be able to point you to happiness so you can skip along the yellow brick road like Dorothy. Don’t forget to take Toto, though, animals are great therapy too. A topic for another day.

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paperback cover for Colour comes to Tangles


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