Monday, 11 August 2014

Buttons from Buttons

Do you love buttons? I adore buttons, especially pretty vintage buttons; I mean look at these lovelies
Mmmm pretty buttons
 Aren't they just beautiful? Side note: button makers of the world why did you stop making pretty, intricate buttons like the ones above?  Most of the above pictured buttons were lucky finds  at one of my many thrift store trips, and from my research some of the buttons are over fifty years old. 

There are some problems using vintage buttons: firstly, they can react in strange ways to modern laundry detergents and don't like the tumble dryer, in addition to this some of the buttons are starting to show their age and I am worried about them breaking, one other problem was that the buttons were either in the wrong colour or there were not enough to actually use for a garment.

I came across one solution on Pintrest some time ago: polymer clay buttons! And I have finally taken some time to test it out.

First you will need some polymer clay, I used Fimo because it was what I had, but you could use any over bake polymer clay.  I also used some mould making putty to make a mould from the prettiest buttons in my stash
The putty I used is called Pinkysil and comes in two parts, once mixed together they will start cure within two minutes so I found I had to work fast
 I found that it was easier to form the mould over the button, rather than pressing the button into the putty, I also found that it was better to press the putty down and then not touch it again until it had fully cured.  There is another mould making product by the same company that is a liquid rather than a putty and I might try that next time as I found it hard to pick up all the detail in the buttons.

I have not worked with Fimo since I was a kid so it was fun to play with, Miss Loofie joined in as well and she loved it so much she has asked for her own Fimo.  the first step is to condition the clay by kneading it and working it until it is soft and pliable.  I then pressed the clay into the mould making sure to work it well into the details of the button in question.
I would then take my blade and slice off the excess clay- you have to be careful here not cut the mould.
The first few buttons I made were fairly chunky and I played around to see how best to neaten the backs on the buttons
I found a baby wipe handy to smooth out any imperfections on the back.  I the turned the mould over and carefully pealed the mould away.  I then baked the buttons in the oven for thirty minutes

I used some Adirondack alcohol ink on some of the buttons to enhance the colour and bring out the detail a bit

I must be honest here and say that I have no idea how well this ink will cope with the laundry process, nor do I really know how well the buttons will behave when actually used as, uh, buttons. I will say that they seem strong enough and the information I have been able to find suggests that, if baked correctly, there is no reason for the buttons to perform any differently to plastic buttons.

And there you have it, buttons from buttons! aren't they pretty?  Now I am not an expert on polymer clay by any stretch of the imagination but I have to say I am really pleased with the end results. I also love that I am able to make a button that matches the fabric perfectly.
 I am planning on using some of these buttons in my next project and I will let you know how they perform.  Have any of you made your own buttons with polymer clay? I would love to know if you have any tip or tricks with working with the clay.

We will be back to sewing in the next post with some more pretty clothes and a certain Ice Queen costume  for Miss Loofie.

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