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Buttons, Buttons, and More Buttons...

While most people refer to a button as the "thing" that holds your pants up, for 75-year-old Dalton Stevens, it's a work of art.

Stevens, better known as the "Button King," has been practicing this art form for 15 years.

He got involved with the hobby after suffering from insomnia and needed something to keep him busy.

"I didn't sleep some times for four or five days," Stevens said. "So I started doing buttons, the first thing I did was sew buttons on a suit."

The suit has 16,333 buttons sewed onto the material and took him two years and 10 months to complete.

Among the other items Stevens has put buttons on are: an outhouse, a hearse, a Chevrolet Chevette, a guitar, a piano and two caskets, one of which he will be buried in when he passes away. The hearse has 600,000 buttons while the Chevrolet has 149,000 buttons attached.

Recently he just opened a museum to showcase all of his creations.

The museum is located off of Highway 34 between Bishopville and Camden and is open six days a week.

Stevens puts the buttons on with contact cement and gets a lot of supplies donated by different companies including the Adelphia Button Co. of Philadelphia.

He picks and chooses what items he puts the buttons on.

"The reason I did the outhouse is because I have a lot of school children that come through here and have never seen anything like that before," he said. "And a lot of the senior citizens that come have seen something like that and have used it like I have."

In years past he has appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson, "The David Letterman Show" and "Nashville Now" with Ralph Emery. He has even appeared in Star Magazine and on local and national television newscasts.

"I've been on Carson show twice and Letterman three times," Stevens said. "When I appeared on the Carson show I had been married for thirty-two years. He asked me what was the secret of a long marriage. I told him if anything ever happens between me and my wife I'm gonna get one of your ex wives that gets all that alimony money. That was about one of the best things that I've done on TV."

Stevens said that he never thought that his hobby would lead to so many opportunities.

"On these shows you can't buy your way or you can't beg your way on," he said. "I earned the opportunity to appear on these shows and in the magazines."

Stevens has even developed a fan base out of this popularity.

"A woman from California called me and told me that I was the last thing that she saw at night and the first thing she saw in the morning," Stevens said. "I told her that I don't believe I understand what you're talking about. She told me that she had my picture above her bed on the ceiling. I told her that was pretty unique."

Stevens is also a vocalist and has two songs that he wrote about all of his creations.

"I have a unique song and it goes like this," he said. "If you like the color of my clothes, would you give me buttons instead of a rose. Buttons can be square or round, they keep my pants from falling down."

His other song, "Insomniac Shuffle" is as follows: "Give me a bag of buttons, buttons are my bag, I start sewing buttons before my eyes begin to sag. Buttons will make or break me when I sign the big contract, then I'll be the richest of all insomniacs."

As of this time, Stevens has no plans of creating any more of his patented items.

These days he enjoys spending time with his wife of 50 years and his three children, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

"I just got tired of going," Stevens said. "I decided that if people want to see it they can come to me."

Admission to the museum is free, but Stevens does accept donations.

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