OK, so my daughter got some old buttons from my mother and asked me to help her make rings out of them. How can I tell her no? Of course I can't.
You can skip the backstory if you just want to get to the rings...
Backstory: I used to answer phones for a living, and most of the time I didn't have to use my hands for anything terribly important while talking to people. So, to keep my hands occupied, I decided one day to bend a paperclip on my desk into something a little more interesting than a paper clip. The end result was that I made several small wire sculptures (mostly little fantasy style characters) with the remains of the box of paperclips, and decided that I should buy some craft wire. I began making all kinds of simple little things from wire and brought some little wire flowers home for my wife and daughter. My daughter now thinks I can make just about anything from craft wire. Long story short, I have some craft wire that I keep handy.
Now on to making the rings...
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Step 1: Materials
Buttons - We had some buttons that have a single ring on the back to be sewn to fabric.
Craft Pliers (or simple needle-nose will do, but you may end up with some teeth marks in the craft wire).
Step 2: Straighten and Then Wrap the Wire
Get a nice length of wire and straighten it out so there are no kinks or 'sharp' bends in the wire. The pliers shown here are flat on the inside and don't leave any little teeth marks on the wire.
Once the wire is sufficiently un-kinked, begin wrapping the wire to the appropriate size. I used my first knuckle on my pinky because that gave me a ring that would fit my daughter's ring finger. Wrap the wire around several times at the desired diameter. The number of times will ultimately depend on how wide the string loop is on the back of the button. Too much is better than too little for this step, since you can always cut the wire shorter, but you can't make it longer without starting over. Cut the wire once you have enough wrappings (This is really just a best-guess, so again, cut long just in case.)
Step 3: Thread the Wire Through the Buttonhole
Ok, so now you have a small coil of wire you simply take one end of the wire and thread it through the buttonhole on the back of the button. Go around again and thread the end through again so there's 2 coils going through the buttonhole, and repeat this process until you absolutely can't possibly fit the wire through again. Leave about a half inch (or less) of wire on either side and make your 'final' cut on the wire.
Step 4: Finishing Touches
Ok, now just wrap the loose ends of the wire in opposite directions around the buttonhole and above the ring. Be sure to keep the end of the wire away from where it might hit the finger of the wearer. Use some pliers to pull the ends tight around the buttonhole and tuck the ends (as best as you can). Violia. A new ring. My 9 year old daughter (hand pictured here) watched me make the first one, and did a beautiful job on the second (and several more) on her own. All in all, this a very easy and (nearly) free crafty project for kids. I plan on introducing this to my daughter's girl scout leader to make some simple SWAPS.