I hope by now you are running your fingers through a big bowl of buttons you made yourself! I also hope you have enjoyed learning a little bit about polymer clay.
Some of you have asked questions about the process I use to make the buttons I sell. While it is beyond the scope of a beginner class to go too deeply into my method, I can tell you a few things about them:
Most of my buttons are made similarly to the Polka Dot Focal Buttons, in that they begin with a slab, a pattern is placed on top of the slab, and I use a 1.25-inch circle cutter to cut them from the slab. There are some key differences, though:
- I use a pasta machine to roll out smooth slabs of a consistent thickness.
- The pattern is not made up of dots, but is rather a very thin veneer of a millefiori cane slice.
- I usually don’t use the plastic wrap.
- I use a button hole positioning tool I created so that the holes are always in the right place. And when I poke the holes, I don’t worry that they are poked all the way through.
- I bake the buttons once, add a very thin layer of solid-colored clay around the edges to act as a frame, and then I re-bake the buttons.
- I use a handheld drill bit to enlarge and refine the holes.
- I sand each button through several grits of sandpaper, and then buff them on a soft cloth.
If you like the matte look of the buttons we made in class, then you are probably quite pleased with your collection. You can feel free to continue using and refining the Beginner Button Class techniques as long as you like.
But if you feel that the buttons you made still need a little “something,” you will want to employ some more advanced construction and finishing techniques. I can help you there, but it requires a little sales pitch that I hope you will forgive.
In my Polka Dot Cottage Hearts tutorial, I include a description of two possible methods for giving your pieces a nice shine. These methods work as well for buttons as they do for heart pendants. The tutorial is written at the same level as the button class, so if you felt comfortable with the button-making instructions, you should also have no problem with the hearts. You can buy a downloadable pdf copy here.
My Plaid Shawl Pin tutorial is an intermediate-level lesson that builds on some of the techniques we’ve learned in button-making, but assumes a familiarity with building millefiori canes, and expects that you have access to a craft-dedicated pasta machine and other common polymer tools. Some of the basic techniques used to construct a shawl pin are the same as those that I use to make my focal buttons. If you want to better understand my process, you can buy a downloadable pdf copy here.
You can also get both tutorials together for a discounted price here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this class, and that it has helped you get your feet wet in polymer clay. If you feel the urge to expand your knowledge, you can visit Polka Dot Creations, where you can find a nice little collection of free polymer clay tutorials, as well as hundreds of books, project books, magazines, and dvds on the subject.
Additionally, I’ve written a few blog posts that you might find helpful:
- Come rifle through my toolbox – a description of the handmade tools I use regularly in my claywork
- So you want to try polymer clay – a list of supplies, tools, and recommended reading/viewing for those just getting started in polymer
Thanks for playing, and Happy Claying!