The Pearl Button Queen Paddle Wheel Boat, a cardboard and button creation designed by Vada Baker and artist JoAnn Carlson.

Featured in: Make It Muscatine Weekly | August 19, 2021

Throughout the year, Vada tries to come up with new ideas for the Museum’s window display. This season, JoAnn gave her the idea to build a paddle wheel boat. It is their hope that these displays will entice the public to enter the National Pearl Button Museum and learn the history of the beautiful pearl button and the many industries that came to Muscatine after the pearl button industry ended. It is the goal of the Museum to entertain, while educating, the public with their displays and stories of the pearl button. The Pearl Button Queen was made possible by Musser Public Library for their donation of many cardboard boxes and the Industrial Packaging Corporation in Wilton Iowa who graciously donated a truck load of cardboard and heavy brown paper for our creation. Museum Director, Dustin Joy supported each step of the design, allowing them to take over the upstairs conference for a few months while they sculpted cardboard, painted, and glued hundreds of buttons on to the seven sections of the boat. Each section was carefully carried to the first floor by Dustin and Abby Klug, Museum Assistant Director. Each section was arranged in the window and tweaked by museum board member, Dave Cooney, and Toots Garvin, another local artist. “It is so delightful to talk to the children who are enthralled with the boat. They love to count the many buttons and asks several questions about its construction. This leads to a tour of the museum where they learn of the history of the Pearl Button Industry! Our goal has been met!”