31st August 2020


Definition of barbola work from the Webster Dictionary: The decoration of small articles (as of wood or glass) with colored models of flowers, fruit, or other ornamental objects made from a plastic paste.

The Telegraph (Brisbane), 13th June 1931 page 12.

1939: Suggested designs for Barola buttons.

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 14th February 1934 page 14.

The craft is mentioned from 1924 til 1956 in Trove. It was all the rage in the 1930-40s for decorating picture frames, mirrors, vases, jewellery and the like. Items were moulded then painted and varnished once dry. Barbola paste was made in England from French clay, and sold in tins. By 1947 an Australian made version was on sale. Could this be the substance (or similar) out of which buttons were being made by a firm in Melbourne (see Mysteries page)? Could it be what Carol’s collection of ceramic-type buttons below are made from?








The back of a button I own. It is some kind of glazed and fired material, but softer than ceramic as I can scratch a white powder from the unglazed section of the shank. 

The Herald (Melbourne), 19th April 1950 page 18.

A similar type of button is found on some c.1950 Beauclaire buttons:

For all comments and questions, please use the Contact page.