Friday, August 3, 2012

Button, Button, who has "Lots of Buttons?"

Several weeks ago I showed this Advent Christmas Tree on my blog. At that time, I promised I was working on something new for this space, since a winter tree looked completely out of place for the entry to my studio. Lo and behold, I was given an opportunity to change that tree

to this, the new entry to my studio, and the object of this tutorial. I was given that opportunity thanks to Lots of Buttons, whose buttons I used, and Totally Tutorials and their exchange program, with whom I created tutorials for before. However, I had never worked with Kym, the new owner, only Dotty.

According to Kym, whose blog brought this exchange to my attention:
Lots of Buttons is offering a number of $30 gift certificates to bloggers who would like to create tutorials on their blogs using buttons from their online store.
So I went to Lots of Buttons, read this:
We will be providing a limited number of $30 gift certificates to bloggers who would like to create tutorials on their blogs using buttons from us. We invite you to apply with a craft in mind to and thank you in advance for your participation.

The cutoff date for submissions is Monday, July 9.

We will send you a $30 gift certificate for use on There aren't any firm requirements; we're just looking for bloggers who like to share and who have something cool they want to make with buttons. There are no restrictions as to what the craft item should be, as long as most of the buttons bought are used in the craft.

and applied. They further requested I show pictures of what I purchased for the tutorial.

Through a screen capture, I was able to show

all the buttons I purchased, 60 in all. I knew I had less than a month to create all that I promised in my application, part of which I show below:
I’m a mixed media artist, so any project of this type would involve some of my hand dyed fabric, as well as polymer clay, wood, caulk, wire, spackling compound, and other media, such as the use of paper, beeswax, and/or resin on tea bag papers. The idea is to begin with a plaque (I’m thinking fabric) that displays the name of my studio. It will affix to the door of my craft studio and welcome visitors as they enter.

Add to that various tasks I perform each day, which would attach through the use of buttons and let everyone know where I am at any given moment. For example, I might be in the garden, posting to my blog, taking photos, dyeing fabric, creating a page in my altered book, or even out to lunch or grocery shopping. Each of these “tasks” would be decorated using buttons in a unique way. For example, posting to my blog might have buttons on a block of wood that was shaped in the form of a post, while working in the garden might be designed using fabric and include buttons that looked like flowers, just like several of your buttons do! I think you can see how this project will appeal to many, not just fabric, clay, wire, wood, or paper aficionados.

~ Submitted to Lots of Buttons on July 6, 2012

After I learned my tutorial had been approved, I began making a few backgrounds and dyeing a few pieces of fabric. I was well aware I had to create this tutorial no later than August 4, so was getting really anxious when July 27 rolled around and I still had no buttons.

Little did I realize these beautiful buttons were coming from Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon, in Hong Kong. Imagine my surprise when this package arrived later that day (July 27) with all these lovely postage stamps,

two really darling envelopes filled with Lots of Buttons,

and all these beautiful buttons I now had free reign over.

After I learned my tutorial had been approved, I began making a few backgrounds and dyeing fabric. Those of you who visit my blog often, have seen the fabric I dyed, in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of a three day tutorial on resist dyeing. Those of you new to my blog may click on the links to see these tutorials. I began with this flour-resist dyed fabric that was a favorite of my internet visitors, and mine as well.

I sewed this fabric favorite using gold thread. Next, I tried stamping Bleubeard's and my names using clear acrylic stamps I placed on an acrylic block, but the stamps kept falling off, so I ended up stamping each letter by hand (yes, just using my hands and the acrylic stamps). I'm not really a stamper, so this became a challenge right off the bat! Once I got the buttons, I added two "Archie" and two "Verneli" black buttons, one at each corner (please see screen captures above for a larger image of these and all the buttons I use and name in each piece). Finally, I attached the ribbon. If nothing else, one sign, the main one in fact, was finished.

The next photos are in no particular order, because I started the prep work on many, then finished them after I got the buttons.

For my bird watch I used a Tim Holtz stencil and walnut ink on a substrate of cardboard and a dictionary page. To that I added the flower from my yard I pressed and birds from paper I colored using a bingo dabber, then punched from a Martha Stewart punch. For the buttons, I used three "Waldo" buttons I thought looked just like love birds, and two "Ji" buttons to hold the ribbon in place, which I thought also resembled birds.

When I got the buttons, this was all I had ready for drinking tea. I had drizzled black tea on a sheet of watercolor paper, then cut the name from a green tea can. I debated which buttons to use that would best set off the rubber stamp. Luckily this was my final sign because

sadly, I broke my next to the last needle I own when I ran it through the aluminum can, laminating material, watercolor paper, and fabric. Thankfully, I didn't need the needle to add two of the four "Glady" buttons I decided to use to attach the ribbon to this sign.

When altering a book, anything goes, but I fell in love with both "Jeannette" buttons I used to attach the fibers. I couldn't decide which side of these buttons I liked better, so used both sides. I thought they both went well with "Jackson," those two large buttons I used as a focal point. I fell in love with the heart holes and was so glad I didn't have to cover the button holes with thread. I placed "Wilbur" in the lower right corner over the hole of the metal embellishment.

I thought I had to wait until I got the buttons to start my polymer clay project. I'm not sure why I felt I had to wait, since I didn't use any buttons in the clay. Above are the supplies I used, including a rubber stamp, the pasta maker, and two types of polymer clay.

When finished, I took a coffee break. Besides the polymer clay coffee pot, which broke, I might add, when I attached it to the granite base, I also added some of the tea stained watercolor paper, then attached the deep blue ribbon using the other two "Glady" buttons, which I thought looked like flowers. The substrate was some hand dyed fabric. I'll show how I made it a bit later in the tutorial.

For someone who doesn't stamp, I used a lot of rubber stamps in this project. The cardboard substrate was covered with a piece of watercolor paper I painted and hoped it would look like an abstract landscape.

I hate my handwriting, so this is probably my least favorite of all the pieces I made. However, that shouldn't take away from the two (of eight) darling "Corrie" buttons I used that will show when I'm out and about. Note how I wound the fiber through the two button holes.

As soon as I received the buttons, I wanted to get started on my post sign. This will be displayed any time I am posting and publishing to my blog. That way visitors can find me in the office.

To begin, I needed to melt the beeswax I planned to use. The rest of the supplies are (from left):
Needle nose pliers
Natural bristle brush dedicated to beeswax
Various buttons (shown: "Loyce," "Jenae")
Wood scrap
Baling wire
28 Ga wire

I began by laying out the buttons and wire I formed on a piece of very old wood, then realized I only needed three "Loyce" buttons to go with one "Jenae" to make the "P" in the word post. Otherwise, the scale would have been all wrong. For the "O," I used "Yee," a lovely variegated brown concave button. I formed both the "S" and "T" from baling wire. Sorry, I don't know the gauge, but it is quite heavy. I then removed all the pieces and brushed on beeswax, over which I added the buttons and wire so the beeswax could act as the glue. I looked for buttons to affix the 28 Ga wire I wrapped several times around the wood, then decided I had enough buttons on this piece. Adding any more would disrupt the wording and be overkill.

I did use buttons for the wooden sign I made next, which signified building a fire. When someone sees this sign, they will know I'm out back at my chiminea, although that may take awhile since this excessive and extreme heat pattern we're in doesn't want to let go. I first printed the words on the computer, then used a Sharpie pen to draw the flames, after which I colored the paper using three oil pastels and blended the pastels with my finger. I attached the wording and buttons using beeswax.

I wanted to color this sock to use when doing laundry. For this technique I used (from back left clockwise:
Staz-on reinkers
91% Isopropyl Alcohol (called rubbing alcohol in the US) do not use 70%
Mixing cup
Child's sock, clean (found in the street in front of my house)
Foam brush

I began by placing 8-10 drops of Mustard Staz-on ink into a mixing cup, along with a bit of alcohol. Using the foam brush, I saturated various areas of the sock.

I repeated the technique, this time with Blazing Red.

You can see how I colored the sock and this fabric. I added the words using a Sharpie marker. Once again, I wound fibers through the long button holes of two more "Corrie" buttons. I added "Ghislaine" to create the perfect embellishment for dotting my "I."

Possibly my favorite sign started with green and yellow flour-resist fabric, to which I added two sizes of old rick rack and buttons.

In the garden is where you'll find me much of the summer, so it was only appropriate that I make this sign special. For flowers, I used (from left to right) "Hannah," "Daina," "Rivka," the second "Hannah," and "Weldon." I placed two "Ji" buttons on top of the rick rack hanger.

When I am making handmade paper, I'm usually on my back patio. That's where I have an outdoor electrical outlet that facilitates my blender. I thought the two "Siobhan" buttons went well with the ribbon I chose for this sign that started with cardboard that I painted with fluid acrylics and added some very heavy handmade paper.

Oatmeal-resist fabric was chosen for this, my smallest sign, that I added two more "Jenea" buttons to. I used brown thread to compliment the buttons that tell when I am in the studio. I added a piece of hand dyed elastic as the hanger.

If I'm off on a stay-cation, I'll place this map/sign on my studio door. I tried to keep most of these signs relatively flat, but for this one, I added a metal van I found in my stash. I was going to attach the van from its side, but decided, since it was hollow, to attach it by its wheels. I used two "Lakendra" buttons to attach the torn hand-dyed fabric to the sign.

To mark the spot, I used a real map of a portion of the city where I live and marked my location with this fun button called "Trista."

Oatmeal-resist fabric was the substrate for dyeing fabric. I attached the red shimmery ribbon with two large "Lavinia" buttons that reminded me of the smaller "Corrie" buttons I had been attaching fibers to. At the bottom, I attached various strips of hand-dyed fabric using (from left to right) "Vergie," "Collette," "Kimbra," and "Delora."

Unless I have company, I seldom shop til I drop. But I do love to find rocking horses and window shop for tea accessories. I used the other two "Lakendra" buttons to hold the hand-dyed torn fabric in place.

It seems difficult to make any art associated with shoveling snow when the temperatures in my neighborhood are topping 106 - 111 degrees F (over 40 C) every day. But that couldn't deter me from making this sign using a snow shovel I found on the internet and lots of snowflake bling. However, I couldn't help adding a bit of whimsy with the lone flower, "Verlie." I thought it was the perfect color and hoped it would look like it was trying to push its way through the snow.

I documented how I made write here,

Because I had trouble with the lettering showing properly, I moved the E to the final "Loyce" button, where it now takes center stage.

I got a good laugh out of the ancient lawn mower I found on the internet that would help represent yard work. I even used the last of the "Corrie" buttons to hold the fiber in place.

As a final piece, I realized I needed something that would hold all these signs in place. Once again I reached for the flour-resist dyed fabric I liked so well, along with a cardboard substrate I painted using a combination of two fluid acrylic colors.

I was afraid to sew the fabric to the cardboard of this storage container for fear of breaking my final needle, so I glued it in place using fabric glue.

With time at a premium, I was anxious to see how well my plan actually worked.

I realized the storage container was not painted on the back, so I couldn't leave it in its current position or state.

After I removed the storage container, I liked the way the signs sat on the door much better.

So what did I do with the storage container? I hung it on the back side of my studio door, where it is now handy when I want to change signs.

As a bit of recap, I ordered 60 buttons and used 54. I was given $30.00 (US) and spent $29.96 (US). From those, I made 18 signs and one storage container.

Can you see how useful these buttons can be in mixed media art? Do you have a favorite button? Or a favorite sign?

Once again, I would like to thank Sharon at Lots of Buttons and Kym at Totally Tutorials for making my studio sign project possible.


27 thoughtful remarks:

CraftyLoops said...

Wow, wow,wow. You certainly did those beautiful buttons justice. Such an amount of beautiful creations, I love them all. Stunning buttons too. Lee x

voodoo vixen said...

Love the buttons you chose and used and can see why you have been so darn busy!! That is a lot of work and it turned out so beautifully and is useful too!!

FabricFascination said...

Amazing! Lots of information here. Thanks so much for participating in the exchange.

Halle said...

Wow!! That's a lot of signs! So fun. I LOVE the Bleubeard and Elizabeth sign...the colors of the resist dye fabric are beautiful along with the decorative stitching around the edge.

Rubber Stamp Sheet said...

Wow amazing post, i love it. Thanks for sharing important post with us.

see you there! said...

I am in jaw dropping awe. You are so clever and did so much work with your buttons. It is hard to pick a favorite but I will go with the wooden POST sign, just because it is different than what I have seen you usually do.


Corrine at said...

These are fantastic. You were working like a demon to get them all done and the buttons are swell. What a great entry. xox

Rebeca Trevino said...

OMG! do you ever sleep?
i had a hard time picking one, they are all so darn cute! but if i have to choose one, i pick 'doing laundry'- (ok i'll pick 2) i also like the 'bird watch', oh and the 'elizabeth and bluebeard' one too.

elle said...

You are SO clever! What a great idea!!! The buttons are really lovely. I luv the Post sign.

Gina Sismilich said...

I am exhausted just looking at all of this!! Lovely work - your creations really showcased the buttons.

Anonymous said...

Fun and more fun!

XX Rachel XX

Terrie Purkey said...

Holy moly! What a project! Each of those flags or 'pages' is so different, so creative and so you. I love the idea of having a different one for your main activities - so fun! And you showcased the buttons beautifully.

Thanks for the nice comment on my APR series - I don't consider myself able to draw either which is why when I showed my bird efforts to my hubby he said that it looked like squirrels sitting on the phone wire. Ah well - birds, squirrels - pretty much the same, right? Ha! At any rate, I don't consider myself to have any drawing skills particularly, so stick to simple shapes that are easy to copy......

Craftymoose Crafts said...

Wow! So that's what you have been up to! It was fun as a regular reader of your blog to see how you used some of the pieces you dyed or make for another challenge. Some of those buttons are gorgeous enough to bead around! Amazing job & tutorial!

Julia Dunnit said...

My word you have been busy, what a fabulous concept and of course, execution! The bittons are lovely arent they, I particularly love that you used one to mark home for the staycation sign, and the hint of spring for the snow shovelling hanger. Well done you, I expect Lots of Buttons will be really pleased with you ....indeed, very chuffed!!

Dawn said...

OOh err missus, one hell of a project there Elizabeth. I have to say I'm gobsmacked at the detail and variety involved, no wonder you were busy my lovely. I love it all but would have to say my fave is the tea break one, gorgeous.
Thank-you for your very lovely comments on my blog today, really cheered me up after a difficult couple of days.
Big hugs to you and Bleubeard x x x x

Dandelion and Daisy said...

What a wonderful project! Looks like a lot of work and that you kept track of all the steps is amazing. There is a lot of information there. I love buttons and I love how you used them on this project.

Dianne said...

Love them all! My favorites are the tea sign with the stamped tea pot and cups (of course I'd love that one!, the in the garden one with the flowers and the long narrow wood assemblage! Thanks so much for the tutorials!

Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

Oh wow! These are beautiful. You know, I've only ever seen your calendar pages when I've stopped by and did not realize how many wonderful tutorials you have. I have been contemplating an altered book and seeing all your tutorials to the side is kind of motivating me. Can't wait to start digging in.
Thanks for coming by today and for the nice compliment. :)

Currie Silver said...

YOWZAH!! YOU are one busy and amazing lady!!

Gracie wanted me to thank you for her as well for me that you popped over onto 366 Daze.

As I have been dabbling in various challenges and "meeting" new friends, I sometimes think back to where this all started, on CED, and how the pebbles in the pond just keep circling outward.

Keep having fun and sharing your process. It's remarkable as are YOU!!

Carolyn Dube said...

Wow- do you get time to sleep? These are wonderful and it is making crave buttons for my art now for some you used the buttons is great- the details on the buttons really stood out!!

Lots of Buttons said...

Amazing work! The gardening one is so beautiful, and the shoveling snow is so whimsical and cute! But I love them all! One thing I might add is, your handwriting, even though not the neatest, adds so much character to your craft. I especially like the "Out and About"... there's a certain carefree atmosphere to it.

Keep them coming!

paulaexuk said...

Oh my goodness, so many beautiful buttons and so many projects with them. Where do you find the time. I have to say that I love your resist dyed fabric and the sign you embroidered with your names. I will have to check out your tutorials I must have missed them somewhere along the way. Good luck with the Lots of Buttons challenge I am sure you are in with a chance at one of their gift certificates.

Healing Woman said...

I would have a hard time deciding which button creation I like the best. I love the beeswax applied to the wood and buttons, I also think the garden button theme is wonderful. My favorite button though, is the 'trista.' I'm sure you saved those great looking stamps that the buttons arrived in, for a future project.

Dianne said...

Your signs are amazing and beautiful! I would not have thought of 'signs' in the first place...and of course I ADORE buttons, so this is really brilliant. I think my favs are the Green Tea and the Post signs, but all are so cool. Now we know what those resist fabrics were for!

Sandy Leigh said...

I love stitching signs - and these are just amazing!

Cardarian said...

I am hooked now - my next project must be BUTTONS!!!!! Well to be honest I love to use buttons on my projects but with all your lovely ideas buzzing in my head I must make more stuff! Thank you so much for the inspiration!
Lots of hugs,

kayla said...

LOVE all the quity signs!