We Must Not Lose Kansas Now

I attended a fabulous presentation from a few ladies of the Topeka-Shawnee County League of Women Voters this morning, who distributed an account of women’s suffrage in Kansas including this brilliant quote from Susan B. Anthony


Yeah, so I needed to make that a button ASAP. Kansas was a key battleground for women’s suffrage. In 1867, advocates including Susan B. Anthony trekked across the state stumping in favor of a constitutional amendment allowing women and black men to vote in Kansas. Anthony wrote in a letter to her friend:

“Mrs. Stanton and I start for Kansas Wednesday evening, stopping at Rochester just to look at my mother and my dear sister, sick so long, and I devoting scarce an hour to her the whole year.  How will the gods make up my record on home affections?”

“You see our little trust fund—­$1,800—­of Jackson money is wrenched from us.  The Hovey Committee gave us our last dollar in May, to balance last year’s work, and I am responsible for stereotyping and printing the tracts, for the New York office expenses, and for Mrs. Stanton and myself in Kansas, in all not less than $2,000.  Not one of the friends wants the Kansas work to go undone, and to do it, both tracts and lecturers must be sent out.  We need money as never before.  I have to take from my lean hundreds, that never dreamed of reaching thousands, to pay our travelling expenses.  It takes $50 each for bare railroad tickets.  We are advertised to speak every day—­Sundays not excepted—­from September 2, one week from today, to November 6.  What an awful undertaking it looks to me, for I know Kansas possibilities in fare, lodging and travelling.  I never was so nearly driven to desperation—­so much waiting to be done, and not a penny but in hope and trust.  Oh, if somebody else could go and I stay here, I could raise the money; but there is no one and I must go.  We must not lose Kansas now, at least not from lack of work done according to our best ability.”

– Passage from The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony 

They lost Kansas. That time. They did not give up.  On November 5, 1912, Kansas voters finally approved the Equal Suffrage Amendment to the state constitution, ensuring full suffrage for all Kansans.

Later civil rights advocate Martin Luther King Jr. explained it well: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”



Sexual Assault Awareness Month Buttons with Taglines

Matt is still busy at the press tonight to finish an order of buttons for Sexual Assault Awareness Month for the YWCA, coming up in April.


These buttons make use of a tagline, text that runs along the back of the button, to share the program name and 24-hour hotline. It allows each button to carry resources in addition to the message of support on the front.


If you have survived sexual violence, it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to not know exactly what kind of help you need. There are people who want to support you. If you are near Topeka, Kansas, call the YWCA at 1-888-822-2983. If you’re somewhere else, contact RAINN at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).


Riots Not Diets Pocket Mirror

We’ve made a very special item for the upcoming Concealed Revealed Art Auction to benefit the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment here in Topeka. The YWCA serves survivors of sexual and domestic violence, offering crisis intervention, support services and prevention programs. It’s a very worthy cause and we’re proud to support it with this lovely, 3.5 inch pocket mirror created especially for this event.


We put an art deco pattern and embellishments with an art nouveau typeface and a great modern sentiment. The design is printed on vellum, allowing the silver of the mirror front to show through. It’s the perfect gift for someone who shines just as brightly!


Want it? You’ll just have to come bid! Get tickets and more information at the YWCA’s website.


Transgender Pride Flag & The Power of Symmetry

We recently had a young man trade us some custom art for custom buttons (a very fair trade!) and he requested these awesome pronoun buttons featuring the Transgender Pride flag. The designs are ours but the idea is his, and we think these buttons are a very elegant solution for anyone in a safe space whose friends may need a gentle reminder of the right pronoun.


Custom pronoun buttons by Meadowlark Graphics, 2016

The colors come from Transgender Pride flag, itself a great design story. The flag was designed in 1999 by Monica Helms, a transgender American woman, activist and US Navy Veteran. She explains:

“The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional color for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional color for baby girls. The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are intersex, transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender. The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives.”

We love the symbolism of symmetry in this design, that it’s always correct no matter how it flies. A beautiful and powerful message told in color and symbol – that’s what makes brilliant graphic design.

In 2014, Monica donated the original flag to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.


A Nice Package

There’s an old story about the design of the classic glass Coca-Cola bottle. The legend goes that Coca-Cola wanted a bottle so distinct that someone could tell they were holding the bottle in the dark, or know they were seeing it when they saw a piece smashed on the sidewalk. The soda was important, but the packaging mattered just as much to the overall brand.


Carded Kansas buttons we made for a customer to take to Indonesia as souvenirs – wow!


Thousands of free cards with the details of random books? Sure, we’ll take ’em.

Businesses that use buttons would be wise to keep in mind the power of consistent, beautiful visuals to represent them (this is why it’s smart to hire professional graphic designers to create your collateral…), but could also take a lesson from Coca-Cola in the power of the package.

There are a lot of ways to package buttons and we’re happy to brainstorm what will work best for your project, depending on quantity and where/how they’re being distributed.

One customer favorite has been the carded button. Since we did these for Kansas Day, we’ve gotten a lot of requests for carded buttons. Oddly, they’ve all been for Kansas cards, but we’re cool with that.

At venues and art fairs with The Craftivists, we mount button sets on old card catalog cards. We once had a family member who had cases of these cards from a library changing systems – we just HAD to take them and sure enough, found a great use for them.




Have Button Machines, Will Travel

We’ve had some requests for button booths lately, which we absolutely love to do. We offer button booths as a service for nonprofit organizations. If you’re interested in a button party or booth but are not a nonprofit, contact us and we’ll talk about cost.

For nonprofits, we thought we’d put together the skinny on booths for those interested. We do a lot of booths for kids events but adults love them just as much. There’s something really cool about making your own button and people love to operate the presses.

Our presses are also easy to use, we routinely have kids as young as 2 at button booths pressing buttons (with our help). Button booths are a lot of fun no matter how we run them, but there are options.

button booth

100% DIY button booth at the Craftivist Pop-Up Shop in NOTO, Topeka, Kansas, 2015

There are three ways to run a button booth:

  1. 0% DIY: we design, create and sell buttons that we know your event attendees will love. This option is great for bazaars, art shows, conventions and other places with lots of vendors and patrons ready to buy and wear.
  2. 50% DIY: we design buttons in the theme of your event, and we bring paper circles with those designs ready to be pressed. People choose which design they want and use our presses to make the button themselves. This option is great for events where you want the excitement of pressing buttons on-site, but have a big crowd, limited time or limited space.
  3. 100% DIY: we bring blank paper circles, markers, and other art supplies. People create their own designs and use our presses to make their creations. This option is great for events with a good amount of physical space and time for button creation. It’s also by far the favorite for kids.


washington days

0% DIY button booth at Washington Days in Topeka, Kansas, 2015.

We would love to do everything for free, but we do need to cover our supply costs. One thing we love about button booths is that there is no up-front expense for your organization, and there are two ways you can pay for a button booth:

  1. They pay: We ask for a suggested donation or price for every button, we cover our expenses, you get the rest.
  2. You pay: you cover our expenses for all the buttons people press and it’s free for your guests.
So is a button booth for you? You tell us!
  • Do you have an indoor space with a sturdy table for us to use?
  • Do you want your event to have a fun, interactive activity?
  • Do you want people to have something from your event they keep for ages?

If so, contact us to get on our schedule!


Political Buttons: worked for Lincoln, gonna work for you

Fun trivia: what does every winning presidential candidate in the history of the United States have in common? Answer: Campaign buttons!

Okay, yes, the losing candidates also used them, but we’re pretty sure buttons gave the winners the edge.

Political buttons have come a long way, but they’re one of the few tools that savvy political campaigners have used for over 227 years. There are good reasons they’ve stood the test of time: pinback buttons are inexpensive, fast to produce and come in infinite numbers of designs to suit different campaign messages.

447px-Lincoln_button_1860-2 copy

Photo by Mathew Brady – Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

There’s also something wonderfully democratic about pinback buttons. They’re not a TV ad – a message sent by the campaign to passive viewers – they’re a message distributed only via public support. The more lapels your candidate adorns – the more credibility she appears to have in the eyes of undecided voters.

If you’re running a campaign, you know you need some buttons. You probably needed them yesterday. You also need them to look sharp. They should show you as a professional campaign that should be taken seriously.

That’s where we come in.


One of our campaign templates – ready for your name! Our love for Leslie Knope is gonna need to be a whole ‘nother blog.

We’re fast. You get your buttons in less than a week, as quickly as overnight if needed. We offer professional graphic design and a number of great templates to choose from. You just have to describe your idea and we’ll do the rest.

Since you’re campaigning to make our country stronger, you should know that all of our parts and presses are made in the USA. Our buttons are printed and pressed in Topeka, Kansas.

How can we help you? Give us a call today to find out.


Because We Like Shiny Things

Be honest: deep down inside, we’re all just birds on the lookout for discarded sparkly ribbon to bling up the nest. It’s a universal truth that people love shiny stuff. In honor of that, we’re excited to launch something new: transparent buttons!

These special buttons don’t have a paper insert. Their design is printed directly onto durable, clear vellum – in reverse to protect the designs. What this means is that the silver back of the buttons shines through, giving you a great silver color to play with that you could never produce with traditional inks – and a nice sheen over the whole button.


We tried these out with a new Topeka design in black and silver and they’ve been very popular. They definitely stand out! You can use color with these as well. Simple designs work best on these. These are priced differently than our regular buttons but we’ll be happy to quote a project for you.

If you dig these Topeka ones, they’re for sale at Kaw River Rustics at 901 N Kansas Ave in NOTO.