How to Make Buttons With Faux Bone

Last fall I shared a process for how to make buttons using epoxy clay. I made those buttons as embellishment for fingerless mitts. Lately I’ve been making a lot of painted canvas clutch purses, so I’ve been in need of bigger buttons. Making buttons seems like a natural completion to the creative process, so I set out to find a fun way to make my own buttons. Using Robert’s Real Faux Bone (the same material from which I previously made a Story Bracelet), a few shaping tools, acrylic paint and alcohol ink, I’ve found a new way to make buttons and want to share it with you so you can make your own buttons as well. Because we all love buttons.

Scoring Faux Bone

Cutting Down the Faux Bone

Faux Bone can either be scored and snapped like Plexiglas, or you can cut it with a jeweler’s saw. I find it easiest to score/snap it when making a straight cut, which is what I did to start with a smaller piece of material to work with.

shaping faux bone

Adding Texture to the Faux Bone and Cutting Out Button Shapes

I recently bought a Walnut Hollow Creative Versa-Tool and used it to show you how to make your own stencils. If you bought that tool, here is another fun use for it! You can use it to create awesome texture on Faux Bone. I used two different tips to create a pattern of random circles on my faux bone strip.

After creating texture, I used the jeweler’s saw (loaded with one of Robert’s Faux Bone Blades) to cut organic shapes for the buttons. (I used my best “Sawin’ Where Y’at” form, hoping to make Tom proud. If you’d like to learn all about using this tool, check out Thomas Mann’s book.)

I then used my Faux Bone Shaping Tool to removed the burs left from the saw. (You can carve with this tool as well.) Alternatively, you could use a rotary tool, such as a Dremel to soften the edges and remove burs.

acrylic paint on faux bone

Apply Color to the Buttons

Next it was time to sand and add color! The hot tool left a bit of a rough texture on the pieces, so I used a progression of sand paper to smooth and polish the buttons. (Robert Dancik—the incredibly creative soul behind Faux Bone—teaches this process, saying you should always start with heavier grit, then medium and end with fine. Actually, I always remember him saying he finds it effective to polish the piece on the leg of his denim jeans, so I always end with that, after the fine sandpaper.)

With the pieces sanded and the textured surface nice and smooth, I went on to first add color with acrylic paint before using alcohol ink. I rubbed the paint in with my fingers and rubbed off the excess with a paper towel. (See those areas that look white? I wished I would have added more texture there. . .)

alcohol ink on faux bone

Next, I drilled holes through the pieces to make them into actual buttons, using a drill press, but any sort of drill will work. To coat the pieces with more color, I applied some alcohol ink, rubbed it in, rubbed off the excess and repeated a couple more times until I was happy with the flow of color. Finally, I sprayed them with a coat of clear varnish. Alcohol ink works really well on Faux Bone if you like a variety of colors. I’m not sure exactly what bags these buttons will end up on yet, but it will make me happy to stitch on buttons that I made myself. I hope you enjoyed this little button tutorial enough to try making your own buttons.




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