Customize Your Buttons with Surface Design

We have a saying around the office when it comes to a particular notion/embellishment: Give us all your buttons and nobody gets hurt.

surface design button technique
These surface designed buttons match the artwork perfectly. By Linda Calverley in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.

Of course we're jokingsort of. Because, in reality, can you ever have enough buttons? To me, it seems that no matter how many I collect, there are times when my stash is lacking just the right button to complete a quilt's surface design.

But what if you could apply surface design to the button itself to create the perfect matching or complementary embellishment? I saw a technique in the latest issue of our sister magazine, Cloth Paper Scissors, that would help me do just that.

Mixed-media artist Linda Calverley uses found or decorative papers she makes herself to cover buttons to use in her artwork. Quilt artists can adapt this technique to fiber art by scanning their artwork and printing it out on paper.

You'll need buttons, gel medium and brush, thin paper, scissors (for paper) or a craft knife, cutting mat, an awl (or similar strong, pointed object), an ink pad, an emery board or fine sandpaper, and acrylic sealer.

1. Cut a small square, slightly larger than the button, from the paper. Brush gel medium on the flat side of the button and also onto the wrong side of the paper or artwork.

2. Place the paper on top of the button and smooth the paper down firmly.

3. Place the button the cutting mat and trim the excess by scoring around the button with the awl. Gently tear away the excess paper. Tip: It usually works best if the awl is dipped in water to dampen it slightly.

surface design button technique
Steps 1-4 of this button customizing technique in
Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.

4. Sand around the edge of the button to smooth any loose bits of paper. Use the awl on the cutting mat and poke through the button holes, both sides.

5. Drag the edges of the button over the ink pad. The ink will cover any white bits and the sanded areas.

6. Apply two coats of acrylic to the surface of the button to seal it.

I could see you taking this technique further by screen printing or stamping over the paper before or after applying it to the button.

This is just one of many ideas for mixed-media art I like to borrow from Cloth Paper Scissors. Each issue has techniques fiber artists can use for surface design and more, such as fabric painting, screen printing, fabric stamping, and embroidery. I'm sure you'll find inspiration for your fiber art in the pages of Cloth Paper Scissors.

P.S. Do you care about making quilts and fiber art uniquely your own? Then you might be interested in our free eBook Know Your Rights: Copyright 101 for Art Quilters.

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