DIY Metal Buttons

Pam Damour
DIY Metal Buttons

Learn how to emboss metal using unique designs to create custom designer buttons. Use them to embellish pillows, jackets, curtains and more.

Supplies

  • Refiner & scribe tool (See "Sources.")
  • Double deer foot & crayon tip PTFE tool (See "Sources.")
  • Brush & wheel tool (See "Sources.")
  • #2 cup & ball tool (See "Sources.")
  • Brad maker tool (See "Sources.")
  • Tin-coated pewter sheet metal (See "Sources.")
  • 5"x7" rectangle of acrylic plastic sheet (See "Sources.")
  • 4"x6" rectangle of suede
  • Filler paste (See "Sources.")
  • Permanent double-sided tape
  • Half-ball button covers (See "Sources.")

Tools of the Trade

Refiner & scribe tool: Use this tool to draw the design onto sheet metal. The refiner side is thinner and curved and the scribe side is thicker and has a ball-shaped end.

Double deer foot & crayon tip PTFE tool: Use this tool to help deepen lines and details. The deer foot side is slanted and flat (resembling a deer hoof) and the crayon side is thick and tapered. The crayon side is perfect for drawing designs.

Brush & wheel tool: Use this tool to add attractive details to the design. Scratch the metal surface with the brush side and roll over the design with the wheel side to add interest.

#2 cup & ball tool: Use this tool to enhance and sharpen outlines. The cup side has a cylindrical end and the ball side has a small ball.

Brad maker tool: Use this tool to clip into the sheet metal, creating a circle with bendable "legs" that wrap around a button.

Embossing Know-How

Keep the following tips in mind as you create customized buttons:

  • The button wrong side is called the "pattern side." This is the side on which you'll position the suede to protect it from becoming scratched while embossing.
  • The button right side is called the "embossing side."
  • Work to keep the sheet metal flat, preventing the button from becoming misshapen. Use the deer foot flat side to keep the edges flat.
  • Minor imperfections add to the charm of the folk art and should be expected and embraced. Perfect embossing looks machine-made, not handmade.
  • Always begin embossing in the center, working outward; however, leave the puffiest areas for last.

 

Design 

Download the flower or heart template. Print and cut out.

From the sheet metal, cut one 2 3/4" square. Position the acrylic plastic sheet on a flat work surface to protect it. Position the suede over the acrylic.

Place the metal square wrong side (pattern side) up over the suede. Trace the design or freehand draw a design onto the metal (1).


Trace over the first outline using the scribe tool, leaving a stronger and deeper outline (2).


Turn the metal square right side (embossing side) up. Using the refiner tool, draw a thin line on each side of the previous lines to define the raised appearance, working from the center outward (3).


Position the metal square wrong side up. Using the ball end of the cup-and-ball tool, trace the design outline again (4).


Using the PTFE tool, draw details, such as lines on flower petals or hatch marks in a heart center (5).


Add small details using the brass brush or cup-and-ball tool (6).


Once the design is complete, fill the wrong side with filler paste to prevent the design from flattening (7).


Repeat to create as many embossed buttons as desired.

Covered Button

Learn how to cover a button with the custom-embossed metal.

Position pieces of permanent double-sided tape along one button cover perimeter and center.

Center one embossed metal square right side up over the button cover, and then gently wrap the edges toward the button wrong side. Trim the excess metal. Using a PTFE tool, rub and smooth the edges.

Or, after embossing, use the brad maker tool to punch the sheet metal to complete the covered button, following the manufacturer's instructions. Trim off 1/3 of the sheet metal "legs" to accommodate the thickness (8). Curve the metal over the button.

Sources

Michael's carries Imaginisce brad makers: (800) 642-4235; michaels.com.

The Decorating Diva carries the tools, sheet metal, acrylic plastic sheets, filler paste & half button covers: (518) 297-2699, pamdamour.com.

 

Appeared in:

June/July 2011

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