Posted on 18 Comments

Beginner Button Class – Striped Snail Shells

Welcome back to the Beginner Button Class! I hope you were able to complete Lesson One without too much trouble. Have you been taking advantage of the gallery at the end of the post? Add your own buttons. Visit your classmates who have added theirs, and add a comment of support on their blogs.

For this second lesson, we will be building on the skills from last week and learning how to make snakes, twist them together, and create a snail shell shape. We’ll be making six buttons, all the same.

If you need a refresher on Conditioning or Baking your clay, you can find these instructions, as well as a Supplies + Tools list in Lesson One.


You should have three quarters plus two sixteenths of clay in each color leftover from last time. We’ll be using those smaller sixteenths today.

Condition each piece, and then roll it into a snake: You can start by rolling the clay back and forth between your palms until it begins to be elongated. Once it outgrows your palms, place it on your work surface, and roll it back and forth with one of your palms. Stop when the snake reaches about 4 or 5 inches in length. Repeat with each small piece.

Stack the six snakes on top of each other as shown. Make sure that they line up nicely at both ends of the stack, and all down the middle as well. Press gently down the length of the stack to ensure the that snakes are all adhered to each other, and to minimize air pockets between them.

Grasp the stack at each end, and turn your hands in opposite directions. This will cause the stack to twist. Press gently down the length of the twisted stack as before, and then roll between your palms to smooth the edges. Your goal here is to turn this twisted stack of separate snakes into one unified stripey snake.

Place the striped snake on your work surface and roll it back and forth to smooth and elongate it. Use both palms this time, one at each end, gently guiding the snake towards the edges of your work surface, but in opposite directions – the movement will lengthen the snake, and at the same time, tighten the striping.

Continue in this manner until your snake is roughly a foot long.

Cut the snake into six equal sections, one piece per button.

Take one of the sections, and roll it on your work surface, keeping your hand at one edge. The goal is to bring one side of the snake to a point, and make a cone shape, leaving the other edge as wide as it began. (As this is a smaller snake than the others, your palm may be too cumbersome for the job. You can switch to using a fingertip or two when you are dealing with more delicate sizes like this.)

Beginning at the pointy end, roll the snake into a coil.

Poke two holes with your knitting needle. In spacing the holes, take notice of how much thinner the center of your button is than the outer edges. Don’t put your holes too close together, or you will risk breakage in that delicate center area.

Repeat the coiling process with the other five pieces, poke some holes, bake, and there you have it: Six new Striped Snail Shell Buttons!

Your turn

Time to go make your snail buttons! If you have any questions, you may leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. Once your buttons are done, I hope you will blog about them, or post them to flickr, and leave your link below so we can all see how you did!

Next week

Asymmetrical Stripe Buttons!


All five lessons, plus other useful tips included in one PDF.


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Posted on 18 Comments

18 thoughts on “Beginner Button Class – Striped Snail Shells

  1. I’m loving your button series. What a great idea for tutorials! Thanks so much for the how-to, I’ll be linking.

    1. Great! I always appreciate the word-of-mouth 🙂

  2. I hope you've joined Lisa for some polymer fun….She's sharing how to make buttons with polymer.

  3. Thanks Lisa! Can’t wait for Lesson 3!

  4. Love this class! Check it out…RT @lclarke522: Beginner Button Class – Striped Snail Shells

  5. […] how was Lesson Two of the Beginner Button Class for you?  There weren’t very many comments or additions to the […]

  6. Lisa,
    I love this series! 🙂 But on my Striped snails, I have a couple that only show two of my colors…what can I do avoid that? Did I not twist my ‘snake’ evenly? One end has all three…one only has two..
    Thank you!

    1. You probably just didn’t twist it enough. The more you twist while elongating the snake, the closer together the stripes will be, and the more likely you will get all of the colors in there. Another possibility is that the three colors are not conditioned evenly. If two colors are softer than the other, they will be more responsive to your hands and may “crowd-out” the third color. It just takes a little practice 🙂 Hope this helps!

      1. Lisa, when you say to just post the addy to the picture, I don’t know how to do that, I just know how to put my blog addy on.

        Also, on the stripes coming out with only 2 colors, I think your ideas are right. All of it makes sense.

        Now, is there some way that I can save these lessons to my desktop?

        1. It’s ok. I’ve been editing them and putting on your direct link myself 🙂 Blogger makes it tricky sometimes, particularly when you don’t give your post a title. On posts with a title, you should just be able to right-click on the title and select “copy link location” from the menu. Then you can paste that link in the box where it asks for URL.

          As for saving the lessons, I’m glad you asked that! I’ve been meaning to provide a way to turn blog posts into pdfs, but I keep forgetting. Thanks for the reminder. I’ve just installed a plugin that will let you do one of three things with every blog post: print it, save it as a pdf, or email it to yourself. Just click on the “pdf” link in the “share the love” box at the bottom of each lesson, and you will be given a chance to save the post as a pdf and then download it to your own computer. Hope this helps!

  7. I figured out how to save the posts to my desktop. At the bottom of the post, click on comments. That takes you to a seperate page of just this post. Then click on save to desktop. simple

    Lisa, yikes, I didn’t ask permission to save them. Is that ok? I was afraid that I would forget how to make the buttons. senior brain skips a bit now and then

    1. Oops, I missed this comment at first. Sure, you can do it that way if you like 🙂 Using the pdf option is probably neater and cleaner to look at later, but whatever works for you is fine. Please feel free to save whatever you need!

  8. […] hope you enjoyed making the Assymetrical Stripe Buttons last week. Be sure to go back and check the comments and galleries on the previous lessons, because […]

  9. This was a fun lesson. My snails are a little smaller, but they work. Thanks again for sharing with us. I call that PIF
    or Pay It Forward. I will think of something I can share and PIF.

    1. I actually think that smaller might be better with these 🙂

  10. […] Claying Mama || Sew Chibi The Key To My Art || Artistic Life Fresh Stitches || Polka Dot Cottage […]

  11. […] here Lesson 2: Beginner Button Class – Striped Snail Shell Buttons Find the tutorial here Lesson 3: Beginner Button Class – Asymmetrical Striped Buttons Find the tutorial here […]

  12. Hi Lisa! Thank you very much for your tutorial!

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