- Wood and wooden dowel pieces
- Lego bricks
- Super sculpey
- Epoxy resin,
- Silicone rubber
- Copper wire (2mm),
- Plaster of Paris,
- Writers Gold Size,
- Bronze powder
- Acrylic paints
- Thin wires (for hanging buttons)
- Natural sponge (small piece)
- Artist's Matt Varnish
- Face mask
- Barbecue sticks
- Sculptor's modelling tools
- 2x Artist's small paint brushes
- Pliers, nose pliers, cutters
- small scissors
- Dremel with grinding bits
- Drill with drill bits
Step 1: Creating a Master, Mould, Copies and Another Mould.
This instructable is only possible because I had managed to hold on to these pictures since 2006, when I used to make and sell them, but unfortunately not anymore as they were very time consuming to make.
So I thought, 'the process' could be useful to someone out there even if not interested in making these particular buttons.
At the time when I was making my Jack Sparrow costume, lot of materials were hard to come by, including the buttons for his frock, and the only place (in the USA) you could buy a set (48 of them) were too costly, so I decided to make my own.
The first thing I did, was to gather as much reference pictures as possible and based on my observations from those pictures make a master model using super sculpey.
After 'baking' the master model, I made a rubber mould (just for the single model-unfortunately no picture of that or the actual mould can be found), from which I made over 30 Plaster copies.
Then constructed a small rectangular box out of wood pieces, with a shallow wall(2.1/2" high), coated inside the box as well as the button (plaster) models with Vaseline and aligned the buttons (flat sides facing down) inside the base of this box. After measuring and mixing the right amount of silicone rubber, poured over them until they were completely covered with at least an inch of rubber from the tops(domes) of the buttons.
Overnight curing required before moving to the next step.
Step 2: Handles From a Copper Wire
At first I was cutting and bending each handle piece individually but when this proved to be not only time consuming but also hard to bend each piece, I devised s simple method (see pictures above) of bending a long piece of wire in one go and then cutting each piece.
Step 3: Aligning Handles and Pouring Resin
In order to suspend the button handles, I used barbecue sticks over the mould piece as can be observed from the pictures. After mixing the resin, I poured into the moulds without the hadles and lowerd the handles afterwards and made sure they were centered as much as possible and let them set/cure overnight.
Care must be taken to avoid sticks touching the resin.
Step 4: Cleaning Rough Buttons
When they were set and pulled out of the mould, they all had rough and sometimes sharp edges so this had to be fixed. A dremel tool (along with a face mask) was used to do all the clean up.
Step 5: Applying Adhesive Liquid
When all the cleaning was done, all the buttons were washed under cold water and all the dust removed, then dried with a kitchen towel. The next step was necessary in order to coat the buttons with a metallic layer.
(Using a metallic paint spray would probably have worked as well but I opted for a technique I learned at Art school).
Besides, I already had these materials from my previous projects.
For those, who do not know, Writers Gold Size is a dark liquid and has a similar consistency as well as look of a runny syrup, which is primarily used for applying gold or silver leaf to art pieces or letterings.
Caution: Writers Gold Size is NOT edible and Harmful if swallowed as its Turpentine based.
Holding each button from their handles I applied a thin layer of gold size with a fine sable brush all over the buttons and hanged them to dry for few hours or until tacky to touch.
Step 6: Coating With Bronze Powder
After few hours (in summer months)when the Gold Size on buttons became bit sticky to touch, it was time to apply the bronze powder.
Again, holding each button from their handles, apply generous amount of bronze powder all over the button.
Bronze powder will cover all the sticky surface but will not build up on top of itself so you will get a nice smooth shiny surface.
Yes, they all look nice and shiny. But we need to make them look 'old'.
Step 7: Ageing Method With Sponge and Paint
To create the aged look, I mixed some browns and black (water based paint, could have been acrylics or water colours) and after slightly wetting the natural sponge piece and dipping it into the mixed paint, I dubbed several times onto the buttons to give them a coating of 'old look'.
Step 8: Finished Product
Later on, I also opted to coat the buttons with an Artist's Matt Varnish to preserve and protect them from the elements.
Step 9: Advert Picture.
This was the image I used to use to advertise when making and selling them at the time.
Nowadays similar (factory produced buttons) can be purchased from several suppliers at a reasonable price.
Happy to answer any questions you may have!
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