Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Button painting and pesky holes

Someone  read my button-painting tutorial and asked a question and blogger wouldn't give me her email so I couldn't answer.  But she persevered and reached me through Etsy.  Since the answer was going to be lengthy I thought I would post it here in case anyone is curious how I started or where I got buttons and what about those pesky holes.  Her question was: "When you use putty to plug the holes on the buttons do you take the putty out when you’re done? Which is more desirable?"  and "Where to buy buttons."

I started painting buttons about 15 years ago and I did them to add to each round robin block  as a personal touch.  For a long time dear Susan Elliott kept urging me to paint and sell them... It took a while but I finally listened to her...  At that time a woman sold buttons on Ebay under the name Button Glutton.  She had bought a house that had an outbuilding that was packed with inventory from a turn-of-the-century-button factory.  I initially bought her lovely 1 1/8" blank mop buttons as she posted them on ebay and finally contacted her and bought all she had (400) at $1 a button. After I went through them I bought all her 1" long gone.

 Then I started painting the vintage ones with a wire center shanks.  I still have about a quart of these antique ones left.

 The shanks in the center were a problem and I handled it in several ways.

First I incorporated the metal "nub" into the designs....the nose on the rabbit.

Another solution was to take the shank out and paint a design around the hole and someone could attach it with a bead that would blend with the design.

And of course I often filled the hole with putty.

But to answer Andrea's question   when I fill a hole or holes with putty I add a metal shank to the back.  These shanks are readily available on Etsy.

Now the question where to buy buttons... The really old ones are so expensive anymore that it is not practical to paint them to sell.  The antique 2" ones of mine which I used to paint pet portraits on are all gone now. I did the portraits for $25 and I only see this size for sale for around $20  per button unpainted.   I rarely see the high quality vintage 1 1/8" and 1 1/4" ones. You have to be cautious because most of the ones you see on ebay and etsy are newer and  thin, warped and very poor quality. I have been painting for the last couple years on really nice, high quality MOP blanks I found and adding shanks to them.  I did the same as before and bought in bulk when I had the chance.  But for just a few to paint on I would recommend both Etsy and Ebay for vintage ones.

Now having said all that.... who says it has to be mother-of-pearl.... I just happened to start with gorgeous antique ones and became addicted to the luminosity of MOP.  There are perfectly lovely plastic buttons that would work just as well and I have some fantastic old flat brass  ones I've used for barns but would be good for anything...

And I used some of the cheap warped square ones and painted on them to use to back the anniversary quilt...fantastic.

Because of overwhelming vision problems I'm not painting 1" buttons anymore but enjoyed it all the years I did.  I encourage anyone interested to read the tutorial and give it a try.


Sunday, August 5, 2018

Carefully Carded Vintage Buttons

I love it when I find buttons like these, that have been carefully carded by a button lover!

 green glass
 black glass
 red glass (plus a bit of plastic on the left...)
dyed shell
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