Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ten on Tuesday: Polymer Clay Buttons

Button, button, who's got the button? ;o)
Remember playing that children's game?

I have a few family members who are interested in polymer clay. They're already involved in quilt-making, and they're particularly focused on using polymer clay to make buttons to use as embellishments on their upcoming quilts.

Until the last week or two, I hadn't really made buttons before (except for a couple to use in jewelry), but I decided to look into the possibilities, since I may host a "clay day", sometime soon. To start myself off, I did a little research on the subject of polymer clay buttons. Here's some of what I found online:

Ten on Tuesday: Ten Links Relating to Polymer Clay Buttons

1. Sarajane Helm's page on polymer clay buttons
She's tested buttons made of Fimo Classic and Premo. Both held up well to washing (with detergent and warm water) and drying. (She even links to photos of the tested buttons, if you want to see the proof for yourself. (g)) One thing I noticed in the photos of the Fimo tests is that the mica powders seemed to have worn off after washing, even thought she finished them with Varathane. . . One other thing to note-- her buttons have acrylic shanks, but if you use a strong brand of clay, you should be able to make buttons with holes, too.

2. Layl McDill's Silly Milly Polymer Clay Buttons
She mentions (as I think I've heard before) that though pc buttons are "washable and durable", they may not be compatible with dry cleaning chemicals, so you should tell your dry cleaner about them beforehand, to be on the safe side. (Other resources simply state that dry cleaning is a no-no. . .)

3. Polymer Clay Button Tutorial from Crafty Daisies
This is a little video tutorial for making simple, chunky buttons. Personally, I probably wouldn't use Fimo Soft. From what I've heard and read, it's not the strongest brand of clay. (Fimo Classic, Premo, or Kato are all supposed to be stronger.) However, they might be fine if they aren't going to be under a lot of stress.

4. CandyFimoWebTR's polymer clay button video tutorial
Another video tutorial using Fimo (not sure if it's Soft or Classic) to make buttons. This tutorial uses cookie cutters to make some of the basic shapes.

5. CraftyGoat's (Angela's) blog post/video tutorial on button-making
Covers not only making button holes or adding a shank using a jump ring (a very common jewelry finding), but also making a mold from an existing button using Amazing Mold Putty.

6. GlassAttic page on buttons
The good old stand-by. ;o) Here are a few tips I found on this page:
  • For added strength, bake buttons longer than the minimum time recommended. (I do this for most stuff, actually, unless I'm really concerned about darkening. Of course, I also tent everything with aluminum foil to prevent darkening. . .) This means baking for at least 30 minutes no matter the thin they are. (I usually bump it up to 45 minutes minimum. As long as you're monitoring the temperature, it shouldn't burn even if you bake it for hours.)
  • To create a raised rim (or an impression in the center, depending on how you look at it), just press something smaller than the diameter of the button into the middle of the button. (As I read in a book recently, this can also help protect the thread, since it will sit lower inside the button and won't be rubbed against as much.)
  • Make your own shank with a "U"-shaped wire.
  • You can use a tiny round cutter (even something as simple as a drinking straw) for cutting holes, if you don't want to "poke" holes with a needle tool. (Poking may cause some distortion in the button. It's mostly a matter of preference.)
  • Holes can also be drilled after baking. (Use a hand drill or even just a small drill bit.)
  • "Some one suggested using two holes, angled inward toward each other (rather than straight up and down) to decrease the stress on the clay between the holes.... mostly important if the buttons will actually be used as buttons (rather than being decorative)" (Would that really make much difference? It might be worth a try if you're planning on using the buttons in a higher-stress application.)
  • Washing and drying (even under high heat) should be ok-- just don't dry clean. (Of course, to be on the safe side, it's best to test one or two before committing to a larger project. Sew the button to a rag or something, then toss it in with your regular washing. After it's been washed and dried a few times, you should be able to see how well it'll hold up.)
  • Buttons may even become a little polished with repeated washing and drying.
  • One person reports that buttons antiqued with acrylic paint hold up to washing.
  • Sarajane Helm notes that metallic and mica powders, even if sealed with Varathane, tend to wash off. But if you make a glaze/stain of paint or Pearl-ex mixed with Varathane, they hold up better. (Must be something to do with the layer of powder preventing a good "connection" between the clay and the sealant.)
  • Alcohol-based inks left unsealed on buttons holds up in the washer and dryer. (But be aware that they'll wipe off with alcohol.)
  • Future as a sealant may not work well if you use strong detergents or bleach. It can come off.
7. Creative Kismet's (Regina Lord's) button bracelet tutorial
This one's not so much for making buttons to use for traditionally button-y purposes ;o) but it's pretty cute!

8. Polymer Clay Button Cover tutorial by Michelle Ross
Step-by-step for adhering polymer clay slices to metal button cover blanks. Could be useful if you wanted to use your buttons on something that had to be dry cleaned.

9. Polymer Clay Button Cover tutorial by Donna Kato
Another style of button covers.

10. Button hole positioner, by Lisa Clarke
The link above takes you to a photo of this handy tool, and you can read about it (and some other tools) on this blog entry. If you're going to be making lots of buttons with a particular shape cutter, this is a great idea for getting the holes in the same place on each and every button.

These links (and a couple of pages in Sue Heaser's new Encyclopedia of Polymer Clay Techniques) helped me learn most of what I needed to know about polymer clay buttons-- plenty enough to get started. It's always such a satisfying feeling when two or more of your interests coincide. Now I'm all geared up to make some polymer clay buttons to use in my next sewing project! :o) (They can also be cute in scrapbooks, altered books, and other arts and crafts that use mixed media.)

Happy button-making! :o)


Cristalline said...

Thanks you for this links ! It's very interesting !

Michael said...

I'm glad you enjoyed them! :o)

Deabusamor said...

Ooh, I've never thought about making buttons from clay before! I must give it a shot. A clay day sounds like so much fun. Tell us how it goes! :)

Beth Norman said...

Found you by way of Google search. I appreciate all of these links.

Natalia said...

Very late to the party here! Thank you so much for these great links--I'd been searching a long time for some of that info. :)