Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Warther Museum’

Button Designs by Frieda Warther

frieda-and-her-buttons.jpg

Frieda surrounded herself with buttons and more buttons.

Almost everyone keeps a container of buttons someplace in their home. At one time, many cut off the buttons on old clothes and kept them in a jar or can. You never knew when you might need an extra button.

Frieda Warther did much the same thing.

Frieda Button Strings

Buttons hung on strings around the walls of their dining room so she could reach them easily.

Living in Switzerland until the age of four, the family then came to the United States and settled in Dover, Ohio. Frieda was the oldest of thirteen children. It was a Swiss tradition that the oldest child would receive their mother’s box of buttons and sewing tools. Thus began Frieda’s love of buttons.

Frieda Button House

This Button House originally housed the Warther Museum to display Mooney’s trains.

Today those buttons have been used in some of the designs at the Warther Button House, which is just outside Warther’s Museum in Dover.

When Frieda first met Earnest Warther, called Mooney by his friends, their first date consisted of a field trip to hunt arrowheads. After marrying Mooney, Frieda became a wonderful mother to their five children and Mooney’s main support as he developed into a master woodcarver.

Her main relaxation came from tending the gardens outside their home and Mooney’s workshop. She designed them to remind her of her back yard in Switzerland. When the children were young, these gardens contained many vegetables as well. Today, those flower gardens provide a peaceful place to relax with many benches available.

Frieda Bank

During the depression, Mooney hid his money under the coal in this train. But Frieda knew!

Mooney frequently ‘borrowed’ items from his wife to use in his carving creations. When he needed a belt to run one of his model trains, he would borrow it from her sewing machine and replace it when he found one in his journeys. He often liked to use red and green sparkling gems on his trains as well. These he borrowed from Frieda’s brooches.

When visitors came to see all of Mooney’s carvings in those early days, they often spent the afternoon viewing trains brought from storage in the various rooms of their house and even the attic. Frieda decided in 1936, it was time for a museum, so they built the small museum, which is today her Button House.

Frieda House

Kristen, great-granddaughter of  Mooney and Frieda, stands on the porch of the Warther’s’ home.

The porch of the Warther Home gave Mooney and Frieda the perfect place to watch trains go by on tracks just across the street. From here they could also watch their children playing in a large playground Mooney had created for them. It’s no surprise that there is a red caboose there also, since Mooney carved so many trains during his lifetime.

Inside the Warther Home, you’ll learn more about Frieda and the family. They lived in their original residence for sixty-three years.

Frieda Table 2

This table served as Frieda’s workplace for most of her button creations.

Life was busy for young Frieda, so it wasn’t until she turned sixty that she began working on her button designs at their dining room table. She began experimenting with various combinations and then attached them to a board with either wire or dental floss to make beautiful hanging designs.

Frieda Button Wall Favorite

Beautiful button designs fill the walls and ceiling of the Button House.

Mooney enjoyed her artistic endeavors by saying, “Sometimes while Frieda was working, she would drill too deep and hit our table. One look at her breathtaking designs and you will realize it was well worth all the holes.” Those holes can still easily be seen.

She also used buttons to make jewelry, a button tree, chess sets and many games. Strings of buttons hung in her kitchen just waiting to be used.

frieda-warther

This picture postcard show Frieda in her Button House.

Today many of those creations containing 73,000 buttons can be found on the walls and ceiling of the Button House. Here you will find buttons of many kinds of materials: hand-painted ceramic, pearl, metal and wooden. Amazing as it may sound, there are no duplicates in the displays.

Frieda Lincoln Button

This button design features a button in the center from Mrs. Lincoln’s inaugural dress.

One of her favorite designs has, as its centerpiece, a button from the Inaugural Dress of Abraham Lincoln’s wife. Lincoln was a favorite of the Warthers, and Mooney followed Lincoln’s philosophy of life.

Because the family loved children, Frieda made one design especially for them. It consists of Cracker Jack prizes, novelties, and what she called Goofy Buttons.

Frieda Arrowheads

Arrowhead displays by Frieda also hung in Mooney’s workshop.

If you look carefully, you can also spot her button designs in another spot – the ladies’ restroom inside the Warther Museum. Had to inquire from a gentleman visitor regarding what was on the wall in the men’s restroom. Here Frieda made a creative display of Mooney’s arrowheads he found on his trips to the country with their family. You never know where creative objects might be found.

Frieda back

The back of a button display was shown by Sheila, our guide and daughter of Mooney’s barber.

There are still unfinished patterns that Frieda had planned. Even when she was in her final days at the age of 98, she was still asking people for one of their buttons if she saw an unusual one.

Soon thousands of springtime tulips will be blooming in Frieda’s Swiss Flower Garden. Many of the spring flowers were originally planted by Freida. Stop by and relax on a bench and imagine what it would have been like to live at “Dumb Street” along the Calico Ditch.

Warthers Museum can be found easily off I-77 in Dover, Ohio. Take Exit 83 to the east and follow the well placed signs to Warthers.

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Warthers Woodcarvings

Ernest and Freida Warther were two hard working individuals, who loved their family above all else.  Their life and accomplishments can be seen in Dover, Ohio at the Warther Museum.  Ernest had only a second grade education but that never stopped him from being curious about how things were made.  Sometimes we think we just don’t have enough time, but Ernest made time by working from 2-7 every day before the family ever got up.

His fantastic creative abilities were inspired by a man who was making a pair of small pliers from a single block of wood.  This fascinated him and led him to make multiple pliers and designs from one block.

If you are going to carve, what is the thing you need the most?  A good knife!  Ernest, called Mooney by his friends, couldn’t find a knife that stayed sharp and had lots of strength. Thinking sometimes the best way to get something done right is to do it yourself, he developed a knife that would keep its sharp edge.  Those knives today are the finest kitchen knives you can find.  Furthermore, a knife was needed to be strong enough to carve ebony and ivory.  So Mooney developed quite a few different knives that can be seen and purchased at the museum.

His carvings of trains are something you have to see firsthand to understand their intricacy and detail.  Smithsonian Institute says this collection is a “priceless work of art.”  A favorite of young and old alike is the Funeral Train of Abraham Lincoln, which has fantastic details both inside and out. There are 64 ebony, walnut, and ivory train carvings on exhibit.  Remember that every piece is carved by hand.

Even a stop at the restroom is interesting as the walls of the Ladies room displayed many of Freida’s button designs. Had to ask what was on the walls of the Men’s restroom, and the answer was framed designs of Mooney’s arrowhead collection.  There is beauty everywhere.

Don’t forget to also check out Freida’s Buttons.  The lady of the house made beautiful designs out of 73,000 buttons that are displayed in the original workshop. Some are just for beauty but many have a story to tell.  All are quite lovely.

Outside the workshop is a lovely Swiss Style Garden.  This is a peaceful place to relax as there are plenty of benches for visitors.

Just this year, the Warthers’ original family home has been opened and is part of the guided tour.  You can just imagine the family with five children working and playing within its walls.  Many of Mooney’s early carvings are on display here also.

Before you leave, stop by the gift shop and purchase  one of the Warther Cutlery knives.  My little paring knife was purchased there nearly twenty years ago and is still like new.  Whenever you happen to be in the area, visit their knife shop where they will sharpen your Warther knife for life at no cost. When you stop by, they will ask you which hand you use to cut with so they can sharpen the blade accordingly.  They strive for perfection.

This is a great place to take family or friends as there is something to interest all ages.  Also their story is an inspiration to organize your time so you can create something special and still leave time for your family.

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