Hand Painting on Buttons

Jakkie Lease © 2007

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Painting buttons you don't have to be an artist to do it!

I was introduced to hand painted MOP (Mother Of Pearl) buttons by a fellow RR stitcher, Debra Coon of NY. She would add her beautiful buttons to RR pieces we were working on. Following her advice I experimented and developed a technique that works for me. I think it will work for you too, even if you've never painted!

First assemble your supplies.

I use acrylic enamel craft paint that you can buy at a craft store, very tiny brushes, (an eyeliner brush works great), alcohol (to clean the buttons), paper towels, and of course buttons. I used large plastic buttons from my stash for practice. A China plate also makes a good practice tool, draw button size circles (about 1" in diameter) and paint away!

You can experiment with regular acrylic or oil-based paints; I just stick with the enamel because I don't have to seal it after the button is finished. I always do my greenery first (you can add touches later if you need them).

Some brushes shown with #12 silk perle thread. 

The color pallet I use includes red, yellow, white and dark green. Blue is optional.

You must first clean your buttons using a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. Let the buttons dry thoroughly.

Handle the button by the edge to prevent transferring the oil from your hands to the cleaned button surface.

Begin with the leaves or background they may look like paint smudges but that is alright at this point. When I began painting on buttons, I painted on the back of big (1" diameter) buttons. The back is flatter and you can still use the buttons later!

Have paper towels or a rag handy to wipe your brush and clean water to rinse it!

Don't dilute the paint. Pour 4 small puddles of green paint on a China plate. The first puddle is left without additions, to the second puddle a little yellow, the third will have a small amount of blue added and the to final green puddle add some white.  

Tip:Cover your palette with plastic wrap to keep the paint from drying if you're called away.

The leaf stroke is a push- down…. pull-up motion. Work from the top of your greenery to the bottom. Load your brush with a green, push down lightly where you want to start a leaf shape. Pull up on the brush as you move it forward. 
Lift your brush, pulling the tip where you want to end your leaf shape. They will look messy! Don't worry about it! They will be covered by your roses. They are just background! 

Finished Greenery

Sample Designs

I have tried to show how the stroke looks like an upside down comma. Begin at the base of the leaf, lift and pull until the brush no longer touches the button. You can go back and fill in open leaves. I find it easier to pull toward myself; you can lift away from yourself if you wish, whichever you find most comfortable.

Watch for the April issue of CQMagOnline, for the second in the series of Painting On Buttons, Painting the Roses.

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