These buttons were carved by either George Bain himself, or one of his pupils. They are just right for fastening a jacket or heavy cardigan. They add a distinct flair to an everyday item of clothing.
Made entirely of wood, it looks like each was originally a small, smooth ball. The loop to sew on the button must have been carved out first. We think this because the carver wouldn’t want to use time on the complex decoration and then accidentally break the loop while creating it.
A very steady hand and a fine, sharp instrument then carved the same design onto the buttons. Carving the knotwork into such tiny, round objects requires great skill. The pattern of two smooth, interlaced strands is very like that used in Pictish carvings. Bain unpicked similar circular knotwork on the Shandwick and Hilton of Cadboll stones. These buttons are miniature versions of that craftsmanship.
See Bain’s Celtic Art, Methods of Construction page 51 Plates 13 & 14