Recycled Art – Skull Made From Buttons
A couple of years back, I became obsessed with making art from recycled odds and sods. Also I became quite obsessed with skulls and such like. Ok yes I may have a bit of an obsessive temperament. The perfect solution: make a skull made from buttons as a large wall art. As you do.
A massive jar of buttons, begging to be made into something, and a collection of unwanted buttons from friends (and their mums and their grans) gave me most of what I neeeded. Scoring a massive win in a charity shop also contributed, so didn’t have to spend much money on raw materials.
- Large canvas roll
- Needle and coordinating threads
- Pad & pencil
- Wooden stretcher frame (I outsourced this part)
The first thing I did was sketch out a skull shape on a notepad.
Cut a huge piece of canvas (available in a roll or by the metre in art shops). Paint the whole thing in whatever you want as your background colour. I used a mixture of browns, blacks and greasy to get a texture effect.
In deciding what size of art work you want, don’t forget to leave a 10cm border (at least) for mounting on a box frame. Once the paint is dry, transfer the roughly skull sketch by lightly drawing in pencil on top of the paint. Then just fill in the buttons, by sewing on one at a time.
I did the outline first, and then the features, before filling in the rest of the skull. A bit hard going on the fingers, even with a thimble, but very therapeutic.
My piece is pretty large – about the size of a single bed, as I wanted some scale to the project.Sewing all the buttons took me most of the summer. It lived mostly on the kitchen table, and it was like a massive communal jigsaw puzzle, with anyone who came round wanting to pick a button and choose where it went. (It was quite difficult for a control freak like me to deal with this!)
A lot of the buttons are the spares from our old clothes, so its quite nostalgic, as I can remember the kids wearing the clothes first time round. The kids also chose a few of their favourite buttons to sew themselves, which they like to point out. Coordinate the thread with the buttons so they can’t be seen in the final piece.
Once the buttons are all in place, I took it to a framers and had it stretched over a wooden frame. It keeps the canvas nice and taught, and makes it easy to hang. I haven’t added a frame, as the piece is already quite heavy, and also I like the unframed style.
The finished project is over a metre high. Its not everyone cup of tea. It used to hang in our spare room. We had one friend whose daughter asked for it to be taken out of the room as it was scaring her and she couldn’t sleep!