Friday, 30 November 2012

Button Swap

Galaxy Girl on UK Stampers organised a rather different swap for November.  We were to make 6 round buttons out of clay (polymer, air-dried or whatever), and decorate them with stamping, paint or whatever, and make half the number with holes (1 or 2) and half without.  This sounded very interesting and, from my point-of-view, achievable, so I decided to join in.

I tried polymer clay years and years ago, but I couldn’t condition it properly, because my hands are not strong enough, so the pieces I made had cracks in them.  In those days I had never heard of putting the clay through a pasta machine to soften it!  I also had serious trouble with the fumes, when I baked the clay.  It gave me terrible asthma, even with the fan on and the back door wide open, so the remaining clay went back into the packet and eventually, the bin.

This time I decided to try using air-drying clay.  I did a “make and take” at a craft show some time ago, coming home with a small textured butterfly charm that I just needed to let dry.  It seemed ok, so I decided to use the same method for my buttons.  I squished a lump of clay in my hands, until it was as smooth as I could make it, then rolled it out to roughly half an inch thick, laid it on an open embossing folder, rolled it to its finished thickness, peeled it off the folder, laid it flat-side down on the table and cut it into a round with a metal cutter.  At this point the edge looked really messy, with a “fringe” of fibres sticking out all round.  I thought this would leave me with a very difficult sanding job, so I tried pushing the fibres back into the clay, by nudging them with my fingernail, held vertically against the side of the button.  It worked, and I had very little sanding to do, once the buttons had dried (I left them for about 3 days).  The clay made an appalling mess of the cutter, and I had to keep washing it!  Yuk!!!!  I pierced holes in some of the buttons, as required for the swap, using my pokey tool.  I made the holes fairly large, hoping that jump-rings or bails would fit through them.

To decorate the buttons, I painted each one all over with the background colour (I used acrylic paint), let it dry thoroughly, then picked out the raised texture with a contrasting colour, using a tiny paintbrush.  (The metallic paints I used were from Ranger paint dabbers).  When the paint was thoroughly dry, I covered the top surface of each button entirely with Glossy Accents, starting with the dips first, then the outside edge, then filling in the rest, pricking any bubbles with a pin as I went along.  That was when things started to go wrong!!!  On some of the buttons, I must have put the GA too close to the edge or the holes, because it flowed off the edge of some and down the holes of others!  I tried to sort things out before the GA dried, but only succeeded in making a worse mess, so I just had to abandon some of the buttons.  When the GA was finally hard and clear (about 3-4 days), I painted a very thin coat of it on the backs and edges, to seal them.  The thick layer of GA on the front made a lovely effect as it dried.  It shrank down slightly in the dips, so you can feel the texture as well as see it.  Very nice!

These are my buttons in their “raw” state:

These are the 6 buttons that I sent for the swap:

And I used this button to make a necklace for my younger daughter:

I put the largest jump-ring I could find through the hole of the button, then through the hole of a spider charm, then round a length of thin chain.  I hope she will like it!

Having finished my 6 buttons, I waited for instructions for posting them off, and got on with the rest of my life.  Imagine my dismay, when one of the swap participants pointed out that the wording of the swap instructions meant we had to make 6 per person (ie 36!) and not just 6 altogether!  Oh dear!  Bearing in mind the 50% failure rate and the fact that I only have enough space to make 12 buttons at one time, I decided that there simply wasn’t enough time to make another 30, so I just sent in my 6 buttons and hoped no-one would mind too much.  Very embarrassing!


  1. Beautiful buttons! Thank you so much for explaining how you made them and your problems and how you overcame them. You showed such patience! They are absolutely lovely,

    Lucy x

  2. I'm sure that you'll be forgiven... they're very beautiful buttons! What an amazing lustre... I haven't used that air-drying clay for years, but I'm starting to get ideas now! Thank you for the inspiration...
    Alison x

  3. Your buttons look amazing Christine! Thanks for sharing how they were made.
    Alison x

  4. Aha so that is how you achieved such gorgeousness :) I love your buttons Christine and I'm so glad to have a couple of them. They are truly beautiful.
    Lynn xx