Are you an artist? Button painting is the new thing! February 02 2013

Making Canvas Buttons - Button painting

Making canvas buttons is a great way to put your art on a button - and a refreshing artist material to work with.  Making a canvas button is very similar to regular pin-back button making except that you use canvas instead of paper and mylar.  You will also require a shell and preferred back.  In the following example, I chose to make magnets and therefore used a flat back.  In terms of fabric, I found that a light-weight, tight weave 100% cotton unbleached canvas works best for button making.  You can experiment with different thicknesses of canvas but I found that heavier canvases did not press properly.  Also pay attention to the weave - look for tightly woven canvas as it will produce less fraying when cutting and pressing, and helps to add to the opacity of the finished, pressed button.


Put your art on buttons

  Put your art on buttons 



Cut out Canvas Circles





buttons for artists, art buttons

To begin with you need to decide what size of button you wish to make and then cut out appropriate sized circles. I prefer to use an adjustable rotary circle cutter which is great for cutting fabric and is more accurate and faster than using scissors but of course using scissors will work too.  The adjustable rotary circle cutter cuts in pre-set stops for five popular button sizes: 1", 1-1/2", 2-1/4", 3", 3-1/2" with easy and fast adjustment between sizes. If you use this cutter there is no need to trace a circle on your fabric beforehand.  Just place the cutter on your blank sheet of canvas and cut away.  If you are using another cutting method, like scissors you will need to trace the appropriate diameter cut line onto your canvas.  For a list of diameter cut lines for popular button sizes you can view them on our website or you can simply trace a piece of mylar appropriate to the size of the button you wish to make.  




  Paint your own buttons.


 Paint your own buttons.

I thought it would be cute to paint cats on my buttons so I drew the black lines with a permanent marker (Staedtler or Sharpies work well) and then painted them with artist's grade acrylic paint.  Artist's acrylic paint isn't the same as fabric paint but I find it works just as well, is flexible when dry and the colours will be more vibrant and will not fade.  I chose to create my artwork on the canvas prior to pressing the button as it becomes more difficult to draw on the convex shape once in pressed state.  But that is up to you!  Also, I intentionally drew my art work right to the edge of the canvas surface, so that the image will wrap around the edge of the button and tuck in when finished.





Ironing your canvas




painting buttons, artist buttons

Once dry, the application of paint will have warped your fabric which makes it harder to seat in the crimp die of the button maker.  To combat this iron flat before pressing.


Pressing a Canvas Button




button painting for artists

Place your artwork on top of a shell in the pickup die of the button maker and proceed as though you were making a button.  Make sure to wipe the upper die of your button maker with a cloth before pressing with canvas as grease/dirt may have collected from previous use.  If making a button, make sure that your artwork is seated in the right direction in relation to the pinback, but in the case of magnet backs/flat backs, it doesn't matter. 

canvas button painting for artists

Cut off or use tweezers to hide any stray threads that may have resulted during the button-making process.


Make a magnet











magnet buttons for artists, button painting

I chose to make magnets out of my canvas button fronts.  With this type of magnet, peel and stick the magnet onto the centre of the flat back of the button.  You could choose to make other items such as key-chains, mirrors, bottle openers or pin-back buttons.  To view our selection of button parts please visit our website.

Make your buttons unique and original!


Making Canvas Buttons, button painting


Happy button painting!

For ideas and useful information on making buttons checkout The Button Guy Blog or take a look at the Video Page.