Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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On Singing Frogs & Embellishments


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It’s been a long time since I’ve written about needlework-related embellishments here on Needle ‘n Thread, and it’s been even longer since I’ve written about singing frogs.

The subject of Singing Frogs hasn’t come up too often in my life, actually, but when I came across this button in a little specialty shop one day, I succumbed to ISS – Impulse Shopper Syndrome – and I bought the darned thing! I thought I’d show it to you and share my needlework-related plan for it.

Singing Frog Button

So here it is. The button that caught my eye. The Ultimate Button. Completely unusable as a real button (except on… well, I don’t know what!). And I bought it. I had no immediate use for it. Not even an inkling of an idea.

Singing Frog Button

But two things compelled me to buy it, and they’re both right here in this picture. I love the high glass roundness of it…. and I absolutely adore that Wide Mouth Frog!

I saw it. I bought it. It was not one of those “Look-at-the-price-first-consider-your-priorities-make-a-sound-judgment” purchases. Instead, it was one of those “That is a Singing Frog Button and I Must Have It” purchases. I walked out of the shop clutching it (after paying for it, of course). I kept looking at it. The sheer Wind-in-the-Willows-ness of it enchanted me.

Singing Frog Button

I Like This Button!

But then I got into the car and began explaining the purchase to my ever-so-practical mother with whom I was shopping, and low! what question does she ask?

“What are you going to do with it?”


I felt as if I had just purchased a Van Gogh and someone had asked what I was going to do with it!!

“Um. Well. I suppose I’m just going to look at it right now.”

“But why would you buy a button that size, that has no practical purpose?”

“Well…. actually…. I have an idea for it.”

(At that point, my mind began to whir. An idea…. an idea….. there’s got to be one in here somewhere….)

“Yes,” I said, “I have an idea. I am going to make it into a needle-minder, and then I can look at it as often as I want.”

Singing Frog Button

The back of the button is flat, with this button-appendage attached with clear glue. I’ll remove that and replace it with a fairly strong magnet, and then I’ll pair the button up with another magnet, and use the set as a needle minder.

That’s my plan.

What would you do with the Ultimate Singing Frog Button? And go ahead – if you think I’m nuts for buying it, feel free to say it!


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(59) Comments

  1. You are absolutely not crazy! This will turn out to be something lovely, it’s just waiting for the right moment to be revealed.

    How often do you come across something that *speaks* to you in a shout, and not a whisper? Moments and things like these reveal a person’s inner style. I think when you take a random sample of the things that shouted out to you, you can begin to see the similarities, but the items themselves can be so disparate it’s hard to figure out what makes them so appealing to you.

    (ie: It took me a long time to figure out that I *love* things that look like one thing, but function as another: Earrings that were shaped like fishes, and a teapot that looked like an peach.)

    Mary, it’s a fantastic button! Those singing frogs are awesome, and I love the needle minder idea. It should be something that you use every day. If the needle minder doesn’t work out, how about sewing it onto the top button of your favorite sweater. Or use it to embellish a cute hat for the cold weather? Can you imagine a whole house full of things that make you smile like that every time you turn around? Happy Day!

    Have fun dreaming. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Froggy went a courtin’
    and came home with Mary.

    I love the button. I just hope the loop is glued on and not soldered. If you can’t remove it, I think you can buy earth magnets that are rod shaped, so perhaps you can find one that will fit through the loop.

    It’s a very charming button and a stitching magnet is the perfect use for it.

  3. Just wanted to let you know that you are quite normal and interesting. Anyone who would buy one button just because they wanted it is just my type of person. Glad to know you.

  4. Mary,
    I love the frog button. It reminds me of some of the wonderful wacky things I buy as embellishments. I buy (and am given) old costume jewelry. I dismantle it and use it on crazy quilts. I also find little oddities in junk shops and garage sales. Needless to say, I have way more little trinkets than I will ever use. But one would not want to run out, that would be a tragedy.

  5. Oh! How fabulous! A button this charming needs no purpose other than the immense pleasure it gives. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    However – if it must serve a more mundate purpose, how about as adornment on a beret, or as a clasp on a cape?

  6. Wow! What a quick thinker you are Mary. If I had been in the car with my mom the minute she asked “what are you going to do with that?” I would have broken out in a sweat and stammered, hemmed, hawed and probably feigned a choke or two before I spit out, “I don’t know mom”. ๐Ÿ™‚

    A needle minder. What an ingenious idea! And every time you look at it you’ll think, wow, that is the coolest needle minder I’ve ever seen and no one else in the world has one like it so it’s a one of a kind! An heirloom hand-me-down if ever I saw one. (insert a drool here). ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Oh you are not nuts at all. I love your frog button and probably would have been tempted to buy it myself. It reminds me of the Frog and Toad books, a particular favorite series of books I loved reading to my boys when then were younger. I don’t know why – there are no toads on the button and I don’t remember any singing frogs in Frog and Toad but nonetheless. MAYBE we just like frogs Mary! I might make a biscornu with a frog theme and attach the button to the biscornu? Whatever you end up using it for, it is simply delightful! Enjoy!

  8. Oh Mary, I love that button too! What a wonderful purchase! I thought of Beatrix Potter and of course Wind in the Willows as well!!

    Please forgive me but what is a needle minder?

    1. Aha. So I’m NOT crazy. That’s good. So far, that’s great, actually! I’m so glad other people like the button, too!!!

      Tania – yes, Frog and Toad are from Wind in the Willows, and that’s exactly what it reminds me of, too! That, and the Bugs Bunny Cartoon with the Singing Frog in it, that refuses to sing when put on the spot. Two faves!

      Cheryl – a needle minder is usually a magnetized something-or-other that goes on top of your needlework project (usually, when it’s in a frame), and there’s a corresponding magnet underneath the fabric, to hold the piece in place. Then, you can just “park” your needles on the magnet on the front – very handy, especially if you’re using more than one threaded needle at a time.

      I hadn’t thought about decoration on a hat, beret, cape, etc. – good ideas!

      Another idea that occurred to me when I bought it was that, if I had a baby nursery with a dresser in it, I’d buy a set of them and turn them into drawer knobs! Wouldn’t that be cute? But then I’d start thinking about how I could make my own similar buttons, with the images I wanted in them…. without having to pay an arm and a leg for enough to make dresser knobs out of……. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Hi, Mary

    Love your quaint spur of the moment purchase. I think that you have a great idea for the needle minder. I would like to know how you will attach the magnet to the button.

    1. Hi, All! You really make my day – I love reading your comments! They make me laugh, smile, chuckle….!

      Jayashree – I think I’ll probably use a glue we have here called E-6000. It works very well on all kinds of surfaces like this. Not so great on paper, but good for jewelry-making and so forth. It dries crystal clear.

      I’m so glad there are “frog fans” out there. I’m one, for some reason. And PAM – the wide mouth frog – that’s EXACTLY why I love the button!!! “Hi, I’m a WIIIIIIIIIIIIDE mouth frog, and I eat flies…. what do you eat?!” I used to love that joke. I used to tell it all the time when I was younger. It’s great to tell little kids, because you can really exaggerate it into a story. Then, I found out a couple years ago, that someone actually did turn it into a children’s book, with great illustrations (a pop-up books, I think). Funny! (I don’t suppose we knew each other as kids, did we?!)

      Sarah – your tote bag sounds fabulous! Right up my froggy alley.

      Susan – I shelled out too much for it. That’s one of the reasons it strikes me as a “I can’t believe I bought it” purchase – but at the same time, I’m glad I did, as long as I do eventually turn it into something that I actually can use and enjoy. For the record (ahem) it was … uuuuuuhhhh. oooooh. Never mind. I can’t bring myself to say it. But you can probably look it up online… it’s called “Frog Concert.” Well. Then. I might as well say it. twentybucks There. I said it.

      Irene – yes, I’m trying to figure out how to get that off the back. I might have to go with someone else’s suggestion, and use a different shaped magnet. They have “donut” shaped ones that might have a big enough hole to go over the finding on the back. We’ll see…. but I will be careful!!!

      Thanks again, all, for your cheery, fun responses!


  10. My world would be a much less colourful place if I always went around saying, “But what am I going to do with it?” It is a brilliant purchase and I would’ve snapped it up too!

  11. I love that button. I would do something that I could see it all the time also. My friend told me that joke when we were young of the Wide mouth frog. I can still see her plain as day, cracks me up. Have a great day.

  12. A great button! My mother recently gave me her button collection–and she’s 89 so there are some wonderful old buttons. Now I have something else fun to do with some of them! Thanks for the idea.

  13. Oh, Mary, it is simply the beginning of a “collection”!! You should see MY collection of amusements! It did remind me of a time (long ago) when I was selling lace. There was a line of ladies and they were discussing what they wanted to purchase w/ each other. One of them was going to get some $15/yd. stuff. The woman behind her asked, “What are you going to DO with it?” (ala your mom!) She turned and said, “I am going to OWN it!” Nuff said! By the way, LOVE the button!!

  14. Mary, I’m just glad to know I’m not alone in the world. We must be kindred spirits. I must say though, I would have been hard pressed to come up with a use as quick as you did; what a ingenius idea!

  15. I think everybody should have several “singing frogs” in their possession, and I also think you should do what you planned when you bought it. Nothing. Keep them all in a safe place together. Take them out every once in a while and admire them. Have fun!

  16. What a perfect little button. I have a box of buttons that I’ve collected over the years. Some are practical, many are just unusual or cute.

    I don’t have any wonderful ideas on how to display your beautiful frog chorus but I’d be leery of trying to remove the shank on the back. If you pry too hard, it might crack the button portion. Can you think of another way to use it?

  17. Well……….you didn’t say how much you shelled out for it. But I’m with you on this one…..I totally understand you’re enchantment with this wonderful button. Some things just speak for themselves, and this one is obviously singing your name!

  18. Re: the frog button

    Last year I cross stitched a lovely Charlie Harper frog for my daughter, who loves frogs. I was planning to make a purse for her with the frog on an exterior pocket. “Mom, I don’t wear green. I have nothing to use it with,” was her response.

    Then I signed up for four courses at ANG seminar in Columbus. And I found a wonderful totebag pattern with lots of space and LOTS of pockets. I bought some dark green outdoor canvas at JoAnn’s and found five different frog patterned fabrics at quilt shops and on the internet. I found pewter frog charms to use on zippers. I found a hand-made frog bead for the planned scissors case. Then I began to sew.

    The resulting bag is two toned, with pocket edgings and lining in one of the frog patterned fabrics. It is large enough to carry a 16 x 22″ framed canvas plus all the supplies. Each of my four projects is now in a different frog patterned cotton sack with a drawstring closure and a pocket on the exterior to hold the threads for the specific project in that sack. I could/can easily switch out projects for the different classes this way, keeping all the other necessities — light, magnifier, scissors, extra tacks, etc — in the big bag. The big bag itself is easily identifiable by the design, color, and the Charlie Harper frog on one of the exterior pockets.

    In addition, I located a wonderful scissors’ keeper pattern with a frog on each side. One side says, ” I never rip.” The other side says, “I reverse stitch.” Now whatever one may call it, I do plenty of “ripping.” Sometimes I think I rip out two stitches for every one that stays in! In fact, I in regard to ripping, and having had so much fun creating this very practical and yet humorous frog project, I am now the self proclaimed “Frog Queen. ”

    As the Frog Queen, I applaud your cherishing your frog button and I encourage you to enjoy it and display it as the work of art that it is!

  19. Since I’m pretty sure I can’t talk you into giving it to me (!), I’m going to ask Paula Sibbold @ Kelmscott if she might be able to reproduce your Singing Frog button as a needle-minder! It wouldn’t be the same as your button, of course, but I would be a little less green with envy.

  20. So glad you shared your frog button. I has inspired me to take a look at all those beautiful buttons I’ve purchased in the past, and see if I can actually put them on something that I can use and enjoy everyday!

    Your readers always give such good suggestions and I love it when they share a project like Sarah’s frog tote! It gets the creative juices flowing!

    If you cannot pry the glue off the button back, perhaps you can saw it off with a diamond dust imbedded wire. Not sure where my mother bought hers, but it works like a jiffy to remove things like a button shanks without shattering them. The hardest part of using the ‘thread saw’ as we call it, is holding the item being worked on!

    I hope you’ll share your completed project someday!

  21. Mary,

    I love this post of your frog button – you have a gift for writing, well………you have many gifts! The button is enchanting – I’m so happy you bought it. I really ‘get it’, no explanations necessary! As my Mom used to say, ‘beauty is it’s own excuse for being’.

    Enjoy it ๐Ÿ™‚
    Tomi Jane

  22. I like the froggy button ! It intantly made me chuckle! I think I’d put it smack dab in the middle of a large pincushion so I could look at it every time I sewed.

  23. I love the button and i loved it when you wrote “I felt as if I had just purchased a Van Gogh and someone had asked what I was going to do with it!!” Treasures need no explanation or purpose–but it is great when they can be used or at least seen daily. I’ve never used a needle minder–what a wonderful idea!

    p.s. My thread story for the weekend: I am making my annual Christmas ornaments for my granddaughters. This year, they’re angels with teddy bears (the ornaments. my girlies are always angels.) Anyway, i took the girls along to buy thread for my secret project. They had to find floss that matched their sister’s hair color. They took the job very seriously and we all had a memorable shopping trip.

  24. I would covert it for use as a brooch, and I’d wear it on the lapel of my jacket on appropriate occasions. It’s a fine piece of jewelery.

  25. Love the button. I keep thinking of Bugs Bunny when I look at it for some reason. As for “what are you going to do with it?”, I’d have answered “Darned if I know, but in the meantime I have it by golly!” or “Look at it and giggle”. I’d really try to not remove the loop, that way it could be used as a button again if desired.

    Is there any hope your Mom was secretly hoping for a practical use so she had a reason to get one?

  26. LOL I could never come up for a reason to buy all the silly stuff I have got. I am surrounded by useless Colored glass Wheaton bottles. I ran out of room for them long ago. But when out shopping, if I see one my eyes glaze over I go into a OH I HAVE TO HAVE THAT ONE!” trance.Friends and family have given up on me long ago.

  27. Well, I’m glad you purchased this! Had i been with you we would have had a real girl fight over it! I LOVE IT!!! I’d hunt for more of them just to keep one ‘hidden’…I might just attach one using peyote stitch and bead it to a really cool purse. That way I could touch the little guys every time I used the purse!! I’m jealous!!

  28. Mary, in less than a blink of an eye I would buy that frog button — in fact, at least two would be home with me.

    A needleminder sounds wonderful.

    Now I must hop along out to the Internet — in search of such a button, or two, too!

  29. A member of my guild has been making needle minders by gluing “earth magnet” on the back up thrift store and bargain store finds. I have a “candy corn” and a beautiful Art Nouveau needle minder she made. Just use a strong glue. Christine

  30. G’day there Mary,

    Home from the bush last night. After 10 yrs of drought and frizzled up crops, if any, this year has been wet and they have bumper harvests ready. Some are getting more, some less, off but more rain now is stopping harvest and some will be lost again. Too bad.
    Everyone needs a happy-button, whether the conditions of heart and soul, weather or Government policies are good or bad!

    The rain is making the frogs happy though. And when Granddaughter hears one she purses her mouth up into a tight ‘O’ and says “ooooh” as in “did you hear that Nanna”? You know what this is leading to don’t you. The Wide Mouth Swamp Frog joke. Maybe the Swamp part is the Aussie side of the joke. Just Googled it and amongst the WMF jokes and videos (have go back in later!) I found that we do have a Marsh or Swamp Frog here.

    I first heard the joke from my brother when his kids were, well, still children. They must have heard it heaps of times but they roared with laughter. It’s a favourite memory, one of my last of him, he telling it and the absolute delight of his children, wife and us too.

    Like Cassandra, I thought of a brooch. My thoughts differ in just one thing from her comment. (Appreciate the comment though) I would wear it not only on appropriate occasions but inappropiate ones too!! Yes, I suppose my family wouldn’t mind if I had a little more sense (the common sort anyway) of occasion but “you’ve gotta make your own fun in the bush” I say. That little comment gets me out of all sorts of little embarrassments. Well, the other person anyway! While they’re digesting those words the moment passes and one can move guilt free onto the next unsuspecting victim. Just trickin’. Gotta make your own fun in the bush.

    So, after all this rambling, just absolutely love that frog-hopping happy-button. $20? What price the priceless? Good on ya. Gotta make your own fun in the bush!

    Cheers, Kath.

  31. Mary, didn’t realise how long my comment had got until I saw it there above. Sorry.
    By the way….(sigh, here I go again) Dad used to tell us as kids, in a croaky voice, that the frogs in the dam were saying “Knee-deep” and an answering “Go-back”. The “Knee-deep” was in a higher tone and “Go-back” was lower. We still say it. Kath

  32. It is lovely and you would have been mad to leave it behind. You would have hated yourself in the morning. How big is it? It looks pretty big, but it’s difficult to tell from the pictures.

    Also, the “what are you going to do with it” is a question that drives me up the wall. Sometimes, it is enough to create or own a button, embroidery, or picture. Even if its sole purpose is to sit in a box until you need a smile.

  33. Splendid!
    This reminded me of the story โ€œThe Lost Buttonโ€ by Arnold Lobel. I am sure that you know that Frog and Toad go for a long walk at the end of which Toad realizes that he has lost a button. Toad is very upset so he and Frog retrace their footsteps and although they find many buttons they donโ€™t find the right button. Of course Toad actually finds his button on the floor when he gets back home, but I found myself imagining that maybe you had found it ๏Š although your button did not fit the description of Toadโ€™s button.
    What a wonderful way to preserve and to continue enjoying your button as you stitch away.

  34. I’ve had so much fun reading everyone’s responses to The Button! I was happy enough that I bought it – though admittedly, I wondered that it might be a bit extravagant, as I didn’t have a use for it! – but now I’m convinced that it was one of those Great Purchases. I’ve now got all kinds of ideas that I could use it for, but best yet, I like the idea of just enjoying it, no matter what I do with it.

    Kath – I was cracking up at your comment… might be long, but always entertaining! Length never bothers me! (if you hadn’t noticed!)

    Kim – the button is just around 2″ in diameter – so it’s rather large. It would not, for example, make good earrings.

    Wendy! Yes, exactly. I love Frog and Toad! Thanks for the story!

    Christine – thanks for the glue suggestion, and I love the idea of a candy corn needle minder!

    Marny, did you find it? & Robbie (don’t be jealous! there are more out there!) – here’s a link to the frog buttons on the Susan Clarke website:

    Frog Concert Button

    I just may have to order one and make a needleminder for a Christmas give-away or something… hmmmm…. the wheels are churning.

    Tomi – I love your mom’s quote!

    Bobbi – oh, no. Not another collection. Don’t do this to me.

    Karen – yes, I totally agree! My readers always come up with the best ideas!!

    Tomi…. aw shucks! Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    Mary Ann – LOL!

    Thanks all!!!

  35. This button is FABULOUS and I can see exactly why you succumbed to its charms! In addition to a needle-keeper (which is a great idea) I would consider it for the center of a fabulous pincushion, perhaps something in green velvet(een) with pond lilies and leaves embroidered ’round. Whatever you do with it, keep it out where you can enjoy it!

  36. Yes! As Julie said, use it in the middle of a pin cushion.There are so many wonderful patterns for biscornus out there. I recently made one for my husband with thistles on it (he’s Scottish). Or I’d love to see you make a cool froggy design with lily pads and frogs. Then put the singers right in the middle. I may have to look up the info on the button and get one for myself. I have a small but interesting collection of frogs. A friend of mine went even further and bought a Cane Toad purse (made from a real toad) while in Australia. Eww.

  37. When the day moves to 26 hours, I will make a padded picture frame with embroidered willow, ala William Morris, then put the button at the top (pulled in tight, for dimension) and frame a picture of my grandchild. If I had a grandchild. Meanwhile, Winter 2011 is calling. Don’t tell my graphics gal that I took a break.

    1. Oh, gosh, Jacquelyn – that made me laugh tears! Funny!!!

      De, a break is good!! But a 26 hour day – no, no!!!! a minimum of 36 hours! That’s what I’m shooting for, anyway! Looking forward to the next Spool!

      Megan – yes, yes. I’ll keep it. I feel kind of like Gollum. My “precious”…..!

  38. OMG, Mary, you didn’t say there were other Singing Frogs available! We may have crashed Susan Clark’s website today!

    Now I can hold it in my hand, look at it,and think of things to do with it. I am so happy!

    I have a story too! We went to a very toney dinner party, and I wore a Victorian style high neck lace blouse with a long velvet skirt. The blouse was screaming for a cameo at the neckline, and since I don’t have one, I attached Kelmscott’s absolutely authentic antique looking needle minder. The effect was perfect, until I did something weird with my hand and the cameo fell into my soup! Cameo was easily fished out, but the magnet, alas, had fallen deeply into decolletage, possibly found an underwire. I wore that magnet on the inside until we got in the car and I could really look for it. Think I know how to make an impression on the posh??

  39. Don’t you dare give it away! Keep it for yourself!

    I have a collection of favourite buttons sitting on part of my bookshelf, to walk past and admire occasionally. Then there’s my button collection in my Grandmother’s button box….

    The biscornu/pincushion embroidered with lillies etc with the button in the middle sounds like a lovely idea.

  40. Now THAT ia a button, a wonderful fabulous button. And using it for something you will use everyday is a great way for you to use it. I would probably use it on a fabulous outfit to wear to concerts as I am a keen classical music freak and go to lots of concerts. Perhaps a simple green or white cardigan with just the one button front and centre ……
    whatever you do, just love it.

  41. Hi there Mary,

    Oh, the button is just so beautiful………..I have quickly scanned the comments twice to try and see where you bought the button from.

    I am flying back to the U.K. shortly and staying for almost 4 weeks. There is a very famous shop in York called DUTTONS FOR BUTTONS. We are renting a cottage about half an hour away so I will just have to go there and see what spectacular buttons I can find and make myself a needle minder……………….

    I have to go to Duttons anyway, buying buttons for a Chanel Jacket that I will be making…………However, I would be thrilled to find a button as tremendous as your frogs……….sheer bliss and joy!

    As ever, thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi, Marysia! Duttons for Buttons sounds like a fun place! I bought this one in Kansas City (a bit far from York, I’m afraid) at a little shop called Florilegium. The button is by Susan Clarke Originals. Maybe Duttons will carry them? I just love the frogs – they’re so whimsical and fun! They remind me of Wind in the Willows. I hope you have a terrific trip back to the UK! ~MC

  42. When I saw the picture, I thought “Wind in the Willows”, then you said you’d had the same thought. Hmmm, is this the bass chorus for a spring peeper competition?

  43. Can you tell me where you got the button shank? I need a TON of them and cannot find them to purchase in quantity. Thank you so much!

  44. Hi! Bravo on your purchase! I love it too! I know why ya bought it! It made ya smile. I tend to like having things around that make me smile when I look at them.
    I just had to tell ya that you did so well. Just looking at it makes me smile and lightens my heart as well!!!


  45. I am glad that you found the button and that I did not. I probably would have purchased it also and given it to a friend who collects frog items. She will probably find a practical but show-off use for it, too. After all, she also lives in Kansas!

  46. I know this is an old post, but I just stumbled on it while looking at another of your posts. I don’t know what possessed me, but I did a search, and guess what I found? Take a look!


    And there’s also a slightly smaller one:


    I, too, remember with fondness the Frog and Toad stories! We even made up our own Frog and Toad stories when my kids were little. They all ended with “. . . and he brushed his teeth and went to bed.” I never knew, though, that they were characters from The Wind in the Willows. Now I’ll have to go read that book. And the Bugs Bunny cartoon with the Singing Frog. . .hysterical!!

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