The two buttons I bought there served as little tokens that my fellow and I could carry with us. He's not really into jewelry or presents, so a button seemed like a perfectly reasonable present to give this man. He loved it. So when we decided to make invitations to our wedding, the image on the button sprang to mind as the motif for the invitations.
This instructable details how I went from button to wedding invitation, using a camera, craft supplies, some software, and a fancy little machine. Full disclosure: I run the company that builds the little machine, but this instructable is really just me exploring what it can do for my life and the lives of others. All the files and plans and everything you need are included in this instructable.
Now, this technique could be used for things other than buttons. It's more like just a plan for how you:
A. Take a physical object and turn it into a digital file.
B. Use a little machine to cut a custom linoleum stamp from your file.
C. Use your custom stamp to make beautiful prints.
Step 1: Gather Stuff
The first "stuff" you need is for cutting out the linoleum stamp:
1. A linoleum block (uncut, and about $2.50).
2. A bit to cut the large areas of your stamp. I used a 2 flute, 1/32", flat end endmill with a 1/8" shaft.
3. A bit to cut the fine detail of your stamp. I used a single flute, 90degree, half-round endmill with a 1/8" shaft.
4. Double sided tape.
5. An Othermill (or other CNC milling machine).
The second stuff you need is for using the stamp for making the prints:
1. Ink of your favorite color.
2. Your custom linoleum stamp.
3. Blank Cards.
4. A roller for the ink.
5. A flat plastic surface for rolling the ink (like a palette for painting).
6. A spoon for burnishing
Step 2: Photograph and Digitize the Buttons
First take a photo of the button (or other object). It is best to have a high res version, if you want good detail, but for this project, I wanted a rustic feel, so I just used my phone to take photos.
Then import the photo into a software program like Inkscape (FREE) or illustrator. After that, you will want to use the "trace bitmap" feature. It will trace the outline of your shape. After that, you will need to clean it up. I've included the vector file (svg) that I used for the button. Someday, much of these steps will be simplified, but for now, the process is a bit involved.
Once I created a clean vector file of the outline of the button image, I exported an .eps file. The next step was taking that outline and turning it into toolpaths with a piece of software called vCarve. vCarve isn't fantastic, but it did work very well. I was able to import my .eps file and export two path files: one for the inside pocket of the stamp (bigbuttonpocket.tap) and one for the outer detail of the stamp (bigbuttonoutline.tap).
Armed with the files, I was ready to set up the Othermill and do some cutting!
Step 3: Let the Robots Do the Work
Step 4: Printing the Cards
We made 70 beautiful custom cards in a few hours. And it was one of the more relaxing parts of planning our celebration.