Button Art Experiment – Part 1

One of the crafts that I’ve always found fascinating and wanted to try is button art.  I love the idea of taking something so simple and making art from it!  I decided to take notes and photos while I made this so I could share my steps and lessons learned with you.  I’m so glad I did, since I received so many questions at my recent craft shows.

As usual, my first step was to do some research on Pinterest for ideas and techniques.  There are some amazing works of button art out there!

My next step was to buy buttons.  That sounds so much easier than it really is.  Sure, there are lots of places to buy buttons, but when you need them in bulk, you don’t want to spend money on lots of little packs of buttons.  After some searching, I found this great bucket of buttons on Amazon.  16 ounces of buttons for less than $8!  The reviews were mixed so I was a bit skeptical, but decided to take the leap and I’m so glad I did.  The bucket I received was perfect!  (I’ve since found that Blick Art Materials also sells a 16 oz bucket for slightly cheaper).  When the bucket came in the mail, I couldn’t wait to open it and see what was inside.  So while my son played on his activity mat, I sorted all of the buttons into color themes and put them in Ziploc snack baggies.  There were definitely a lot more dark brown and black than any other color, but that worked out fine for me!

Since I had so many dark buttons, I decided to paint a canvas with bright sunset colors and use the buttons for a silhouette of a palm tree.  I have lots of canvas stored up since I love to paint, so I grabbed a 9×12 canvas.  A little orange and a little yellow and I quickly painted an abstract sunset backdrop.  (My apologies for the awful photo!)


Next, I drew an outline of a palm tree on plain paper and cut around the edges, then traced it lightly onto my canvas.  You can certainly draw directly onto the canvas, but I thought it would be a good idea to take this extra step in case I wanted to change the size or shape.  I had to be careful not to add too much detail, because I am working with buttons after all.

Then, I just needed to figure out how to attach buttons to a canvas.  There are lots of craft glue recommendations and comparison charts out there.  Wow, who knew this was a science!  The E6000 sounded like it had the right holding power, but every review said to use in a well-ventilated area.  I didn’t think it would be a good idea to use this around the kids.  So I decided to try Mod Podge and see what happened.


I opened my Mod Podge and discovered that while it’s non-toxic, it also has quite a strong glue odor so I had to figure out a way to use it when I wasn’t around the baby.  I bought some 1 inch sponge brushes on Amazon and I went to work.  My original strategy was to Mod Podge the back of each button and place them on the corners of the leaves.  It appeared at first that the Mod Podge wasn’t going to work as the buttons were sliding all over the place.  But I left them to dry and when I came back, they were stuck perfectly!  While that was drying, I watched a few YouTube videos on Button Art and discovered that some people paint the Mod Podge onto the canvas and then place the buttons on rather than trying to put glue on each button individually.  I mentioned it to my husband and he said he wondered why I wasn’t doing it that way.  As my daughter would say…Silly Mommy!  It just never crossed my mind.

Stay tuned to see what happens in Part 2…

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