Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tutorials: Making Buttons Using Molds and Sculpey Clay

So in my last post, we talked about ways that wooden and plastic buttons could be altered.  But what if you want to make your own buttons?  These days it can be easily done if you're willing to put in a little elbow grease!

Here's a tag I created featuring one of these made-from-scratch buttons:

So how do you make a button from scratch?  Start by making a mold.  The mold material I used is by Sculpey and is called Mold Maker.  It's got a consistency similar to clay.  It cost about $11 at JoAnn's.

Next, find some buttons or embellishments with distinct textures or deep etchings that will transfer nicely into the molding medium.  

Make the mold by flattening out a blob of molding medium into a patty shape.  Make sure it's deep enough to accommodate the depth of your button.  

Before pressing your button into the molding medium, apply cornstarch or baby powder to your button using a brush (a make-up brush works well).  This will make it so that you can pull your button out of the molding medium easier.  Coat the button generously.

Press the button into the molding medium.  This takes some practice because if you press it in at an angle or go too deep or too shallow, your finished button will reflect those errors exactly!  You'll notice also that I decided to make six at once since I'm too impatient to do one at a time.  Plus, if you make multiples, you have some leeway if you make a couple of dud's.

Once your molds are done, bake them according to the package instructions (I did mine for 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes).  After you bake the molds, they will remain flexible so that you can bend them to pop out the clay forms.

At this point, you have two options.  You can fill your mold with either air-dry clay that you don't have to bake, or you can fill it with Sculpey clay and bake it.  I didn't know if Sculpey baking clay would work or not, but it worked great!  And since I am impatient (as established earlier) I like oven-bake clay so I don't have to wait as long for the clay to dry.  Just press the Sculpey clay (white in this case, but other colors are fine, too) into the molds.  I tried hard to get my clay flat and even with the edge of the mold.  If you have too much clay, you'll have a weird lip on the edge of your button and if you don't use enough clay, your button will have a jagged edge.

Note!  Tell any hungry husbands or children that these are NOT COOKIES!  My cute hubby almost ate one. 

Bake these in the oven as per package directions.  Just like with the molds, I went with 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.  After they're done, let them cool (for my fellow impatient people, you can also put them in the freezer for a few minutes to speed up the cooling process).  The molds are flexible, but you may have to bend and tweak some more than others to get the button out.  Here they are:

Next you get to color them!  I used Tim Holtz Distress ink (Peacock Feathers) and applied the ink with a make-up sponge to get into the crevices.

You could leave it like this, of you could take it a step further and add a metallic tint, which is what I did.  I added some black ink, then I rubbed some embossing ink onto the button, sprinkled on some metallic embossing powder and hit it with my heat gun.

You can go as shiny or distressed as you want depending on how much metallic embossing powder you use.  Here's an example of three buttons, ranging from using just a little embossing powder to a lot.  The more metallic embossing powder you use, the shinier your button will be.

So there you have it!  All that's left is to adhere your button to your project!

And what else did I use on my little tag?  The fabulous banner is a die-cut from Simon Says Stamp called "Ribbon Banner."  The paper is from My Mind's Eye and the tag itself is an actual vintage button card.  The stamp set is from Close to My Heart and is called, "You Are..."  I finished it off with a fabric strip and some yarn at the top.

So there you go!  Is it easy to make your own buttons?  Not as easy as buying them, of course, but there is a sense of satisfaction in creating something from scratch.  And hey- whatever buttons you make are ALL YOU, so that's got to be worth something!


  1. Very cool!
    I love your tag and your buttons are awesome!

  2. Great detailed tut. I'm glad you take the time to share techs and ideas...and in such detail. Crafters and artists shd share info, ideas...we shd be creative enough to make them our own and spread the mojo!
    We shd spark each others creativeness! ~Terry Y.