Thursday, December 11, 2014

Covering buttons with image transfers

Some of my fabric covered buttons created with iron-on photo transfers.

Seeing the hand-embroidered buttons shared yesterday on FB by curator extraordinaire, Folt Bolt, reminded me that I used to dabble in buttonry.
A wealth of glorious embroidered buttons, not done by me.
The photo transfer samples shown at the top of the page were included in Lynne Perrella's rich volume, "Artists' Journals and Sketchbooks."  Following are the directions I gave.

Fabric-transfer-covered buttons

For this project you'll need forms for covered buttons in assorted sizes.  If you haven't covered buttons before, be sure to follow the instructions on the packages.  You can get starter packs, which contain the pattern size and the mold into which you press the fabric and button blank.  You'll need plain cotton fabric, such as muslin, and photos of faces.

1. Plan the look of your buttons by selecting images of faces and sizing them to fit.  Include enough of the image to fill the entire button, plus the margin that gets turned under to construct the covered button.  Make color copies of these images.

2. Cut out and paste these copies onto a master sheet of paper, allowing sufficient space between images for the diameter of the temple you'll use for each one.

3. Copy the master sheet of paper onto iron-on fabric transfer stock.  (In the old days, I had them copied at Kinko's.)

4. From the fabric transfer stock, cut each button-cover-to-be to size using the template from the kit, centering the face in the middle.  You can copy the paper template onto clear plastic or acetate to make placement easier.

5. To transfer, set a dry iron on the cotton setting, place the transfer stock image side down over your fabric, and iron with a blank sheet of paper or bit of fabric covering the transfer paper, moving the iron in a circular motion for about 20 seconds.  You can test an edge of the transfer to see that it has worked.

6. Peel the transfer stock away from the fabric to reveal your clear image.

7. Follow the directions provided in the button covering kit, cut the fabric to size, press in mold and, voila.   You can use images in addition to photos, such as your own illustrations.  Be mindful of copyright.

Lynne's book has a two-page spread about image transfers, text and samples of each technique.

In the years since Quarry published "Artists' Journals and Sketchbooks," there have been many fine volumes produced on the practice of journal-keeping.  Because of the vast diversity of styles and techniques shared, I think Lynne's book is timeless.  It presents the work of 40 artists and, in browsing through it this morning, I remembered how many projects I've yet to try.

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