Tag Archives: Starman

71: Buttons!

Okay, this one has been on the list forever, and it was so easy it almost feels like a cop out. But the results are pretty adorable!

I am in love this this new anchor design etched into bamboo!
I am in love this this new anchor design etched into bamboo!  The buttons are 3/4″ or 30L.

Buttons have a history stretching back at least 5,000 years, and are as often decorative as functional. They can be made of nearly anything – wood, plastic, shell, leather or even metal. There are several ways of attaching buttons – the sew through method is the most popular, followed closely by shanked buttons (or buttons with the loop on the back.)

Sew through buttons are also called flat buttons, and are easily replicated with a laser cutter. So, to make this post, I basically had to pick my favorite designs, and decide where the holes would go! I found that in designing I preferred the 2 hole look, while Ryan had the four hole mindset. In doing a little research, apparently 4 hole buttons are used more regularly on menswear. I had no idea! Perhaps it’s assumed men are a bit more rough on their clothing and need a stronger button attachment.

Starman! Super Mario Brothers 3, for those who are curious and love Ryan's level of authenticity.
Starman! Super Mario Brothers 3, for those who are curious and love Ryan’s / Pixelaser’s level of authenticity.
The 4 hole set up is perfect for the Starman.  The threads make his eyes!
The 4 hole set up is perfect for the Starman. The threads make his eyes!

Buttons have a whole different measurement system, as any serious sewer or button collector would tell you.  Buttons are measured in “lignes“.  I decided to make my buttons medium sized, between 3/4″ and 1 1/4”, or 30-50L (lignes).  The holes are 2mm, which just seemed to fit rationally with the button surface area.

Glue on shanks are available in metal or plastic - I got mine from Rio Grande.
Glue on shanks are available in metal or plastic – I got mine from Rio Grande.

I’ve been wanting to try making buttons for years, so I had a package of glue on shanks ready for the occasion!  Find a strong enough glue, and virtually anything can be a button!  I recently made a vintage camper design for a swap, and it makes a perfect button.  Putting holes into it to make it a sew-through button would just mar the design.

Cute camper on the front, button shank on the back.
Cute camper on the front, button shank on the back.

Overall, I’m tickled with how they turned out.  My favorite are definitely the anchors (a new jewelry design) followed closely by the Moroccan inspired set and the Starmen.  Now I just need to learn to sew so I can have something to put them on!  Any of the Isette or Beadeux designs you’d like to see at buttons?


Buttons (12 of 13)

Holed vs. Shanked
Holed vs. Shanked

43: Starman Coasters

A close-up of one coaster. Look at that texture!
A close-up of one coaster. Look at that texture!

Not the Starman you were expecting, was he? These coasters feature the Starman, an emblem from Rush’s  album 2112, as opposed to the Starman, an enemy from APE’s game Earthbound.

The original cork engraved well but cut poorly.
The original cork engraved well but cut poorly.

This project was originally intended to be cut out of a sheet of 1/4″ cork that I’ve had lying around for quite some time, but when I was preparing the job, I had much less time for iteration than I wanted. I only gave the cork about three attempts before I moved over to salvaged wood.

Too much power while engraving means cooked cork.
Too much power while engraving means cooked cork.

Cork engraves beautifully with very little power. My initial engraving was so overpowered that the burnt cork impacted the fidelity of the art, but lighter power settings engrave so well that I might be able to get two or three shades of art without having to rely on halftones. I expect to experiment with that in the future.

Did I mention this is some dirty, sooty stuff?
Did I mention this is some dirty, sooty stuff?

Unfortunately, laser cutting the cork is much less useful. At the quarter inch thickness I went with, the power required to cut clean through burned the cork too much. Unfortunately, some of the outer shape broke off easily despite the material’s thickness—cork isn’t all that sturdy!

Starman Coasters (2 of 7)The design engraved and cut into the same salvaged wood that I use for the Beer Goes Here coasters on Etsy. I normally use one standard power pass when engraving the wood I salvage, but for this project I did two engraving passes of a lower power to try to let the grain texture come through better. It seems like a success, though the contrast of the wood grain almost makes it hard to see the Starman.

These were a housewarming gift for my nephew Kevin, who recently moved into his own place in Chicago. Now they can accompany the Rush sign he and I made at least 52 weeks ago: it’s mounted on a wall somewhere in his new place, too!

Another close-up angle. Down with collectivism!
Another close-up angle. Down with collectivism!