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How to make rustic buttons even when it all goes horribly wrong

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

There is a new sweater in my closet. (Well, not quite in my closet yet. It’s actually on the floor at the moment, being blocked.) You may have caught glimpses of it on my Instaflick stream. Sally has been ribbing me on Facebook about the GREENness of it, given how many green sweaters I already have, but hey – this one is Granny Smith green. The others are teal, kelly, and pine. One can never have too many different shades of green in their wardrobe, I say. Am I right??

I’ll show you the sweater properly after I’ve blocked it, and had a backyard photo shoot (oh, my neighbors must wonder about me, when I head out there with my tripod and shutter remote…)

Today, let’s talk buttons.

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

I had a plan for these, but I got a little lazy in one step, and my plan went awry. Still, I soldiered on, and I’m happy enough with the results, that I think it’s worth showing you, mistakes and all.

I wouldn’t call this a full-blown tutorial, but if you have any experience with polymer, you should be able to figure out how to do what I did without too much trouble.

I started with two shades of green clay – one lighter than the sweater, and one darker. I believe they are both straight-out-of-the-package Premo, but I can’t be entirely sure, since I found them just laying there on my work table. I rolled both colors out on a medium setting of the pasta machine, and set the dark one aside. That was to be the base of the buttons.

The light clay was for the top of the buttons, and that’s where all of the embellishment needed to happen.

I used a method I originally learned from Ellen Marshall (or, at least, that was the plan at first):

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

I selected a few colors of chalk pastels, mostly green, mostly darker than the light clay.

I used my tissue blade to scrape some dust from the ends of the pastels.

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

Using my fingers, I colored the surface of the lighter clay with the pastels.

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

Then, I cut up the sheet and re-arranged it as shown.

At this point, I should have gotten my lazy butt off of the chair and gone looking for my acrylic rod so that I could roll the pieces and fuse the sheet back together. But, well, I was lazy, and instead I tried pressing it together with my fingers and then running it through the pasta machine, which worked okay, until I tried making more cuts and then, blech! The sheet became a total disaster area.

I very nearly balled the whole thing up, but for some reason, I paused.

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

Then, I took all of those screwed-up pieces and arranged them on the dark clay sheet. Hmmmm. It had potential.

I ran that mess through the pasta machine, and decided to proceed as if my original plan had worked: I would texture the sheet, and make buttons from that.

I used a texture sheet of my own design. I’ve used this several times before – it’s kind of my signature texture at this point. You might remember it from this jewelry collection a few years ago, among other things.

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

This time I got out of my chair and retrieved the acrylic rod. Lesson learned.

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

Once the texture was applied to the sheet, I began cutting out buttons. I always make a few more than I need, so that I can pick the best ones. My sweater needed 6 buttons, so I made 8.

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

I used my little button hole template to mark where the holes should go, and then I poked pilot holes.

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

In order to protect the powders on top of the buttons, and also to smear them around in a way that would enhance the visibility of the texture, I put a tiny bit of Liquid Kato Polyclay on my fingertip and rubbed it on top of each button. I repeated the process until I was happy with the way they looked, and then I baked them.

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

Rustic Polymer Clay Buttons, tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

After they were cured and cooled, I drilled holes and lightly buffed them.

Now they are on my sweater, and I think they are such a nice match with the yarn! The texture is not as pronounced as I originally had hoped, but I have bonus texture on a lot of them, where the darker under-layer is showing through. That never would have happened if all had gone according to plan, but I really love that effect.

Hooray for lazy actions that pay off in the end!

Sometime in the next week or so, I’ll show you the sweater. If you’re a knitter and are looking for a long-term project, you might want to keep an eye out for it. This granny smith sweater is one I designed myself. I want to publish it, and I’ll be looking for test knitters to help me make sure the other sizes work!

17 thoughts on “How to make rustic buttons even when it all goes horribly wrong

  1. Nice!! I love the buttons you made. It looks awesome with the black top you are wearing with the sweater…matches the buttons and is a very nice contrast with that color of green. ­čÖé

  2. Sometimes accidents just turn into the coolest things!

  3. Yay, Lisa! I vote for lazy every time (or lazy and disorganized, in my case)…

    I was looking for fine-tuning on my button ideas for an upcoming blog hop, and this has provided great food for thought. Thank you, soul sista!

  4. Fun! I love the colors. I saw your button tutorial on Pinterest and decided to come in for a visit.

  5. Hi do lemme know when u r selecting test knitters for other sizes. Would love to do one!

  6. Lovely job, Lisa! How wonderful that your “veering off the path” turned into such a beautiful result. Green is a dominant color in my wardrobe, too, I love it. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  7. Love the buttons! I’m a big fan of texture and subtle color contrast for buttons. Looks like the perfect bit of interest without distracting too much from the sweater!

  8. I was recently in a craft show. I needed more “stuff” so I quickly made buttons out of stored canes. They sold like hotcakes. Thanks for some new ideas!

    1. That’s great! I’ve never had luck selling buttons at craft shows. I definitely think I have done the wrong shows in the past.

  9. OMGosh! The sweater is wonderful. I love the color. Thanks for the free tutorial. The buttons are great. THANKS, THANKS, THANKS

    1. You are so welcome!

  10. Thanks for sharing. The template for the holes is a great idea (I have struggled with this). Did you need to add varnish to protect the pastel colours?

    1. No, because once you spread around the liquid polymer, the pastel powder becomes embedded in the liquid.

      1. Oops! Missed that step – too busy looking at the pretty pictures ­čÖé

        Thanks.

  11. I’M NEW ON POLYMER…WONDERING FOR HOW LONG YOU BAKED AND WHAT TEMPERATURE USED FOR BUTTOMS?

    1. Hi, Cyra. I’m sorry it took me so long to respond! I had typed up a response several days ago, but it never sent.

      The temperature and time are different for all brands of polymer clay. You need to check the package of the brand that you are using. Generally, they give you a temperature, and then tell you to base the time on the thickness of the piece.

      For buttons, I usually bake them for at least 30 minutes. You can’t over-bake an item, but you can under-bake it, so it’s best to give it more than it needs if you are unsure.

      But definitely check the package for the temperature.

      I hope this helps!

  12. […] really like┬ámy granny smith Everyday Cardigan┬áand┬áthe Rustic Buttons I made to go with it, but despite this I very rarely wear […]

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