Create a Unique Bowl Using Old Buttons

Got a lot of old buttons laying around the house? I sure did. So I decided to make a fantastic button bowl using a balloon and glue- I know it sounds crazy but stick with me here! Turn those piles, bags, drawers  (I had a lot of buttons too, no judgement) full of old buttons into something beautiful and functional.

These bowls are easy to make and the supplies are very cheap. Button bowls would be a fun craft to make with your kids on a rainy day, or as a one-of-a-kind gift for that someone who has it all. :)

 

 

What you will need:

flat buttons of desired colors and sizes (I have found that smaller buttons tend to stick better)

balloons

white glue- Elmer’s white glue works well, or Tacky glue, anything that dries clear

large paint brush

scissors

news paper

cup or can to balance balloon on while it dries (see photos)

patience

 

 

1. Blow up a balloon to the desired size you want your bowl to be and place it knot side down into a cup, can or jar that you don’t mind getting a little glue on

 

2. Cover half of the balloon with glue using a paintbrush (or your finger, works for me). You might have to alternate holding the balloon by the knot for a few minutes then setting it knot-side-down in your jar in order for the glue to have an even coat and not drip off.

3. Let the glue dry completely forming a layer of rubber-like protection between the balloon and your layer of buttons

 

4. After this first layer is completely dry, apply a second coat of glue using your brush (or finger) starting at the top of the balloon and working your way down toward the knot. Attach buttons to this layer as close together as you can fit them.

5. Continue adding the second layer of glue and attaching buttons until your half a balloon is covered with beautiful buttons.

6. Once all the desired buttons are attached turn your button covered balloon upside down in your cup so that the knot is in the air and the buttons are balanced on the lip of the cup- this is to keep your buttons from sliding down the balloon while they dry.

 

7. Let the layer of glue and buttons dry completely- usually requires about 4 or 5 hours.

 

8. Once the second layer of glue and buttons is completely dry, coat the buttons over again with a third layer of glue.

9. Allow this third layer of glue to dry completely- I usually let it sit overnight- and if desired you can apply a fourth layer of glue to strengthen your bowl even more.

 

10. When your bowl is entirely dry use a scissor and cut the knot on the balloon to slowly let the air out. Sometimes glue will drip down, just peel it back and use the scissor to snip any unwanted glue bits away from the button edge.

 

11. Admire your hard work and patience!

These bowls are a lot of fun to make and each one comes out unique! It is important to note that these bowls are NOT WATER RESISTANT, unless you choose to use a water resistant form of glue. They are for decorative purposes only and should not be used for food (unless, of course,  the food is decorative as well).

Here are a few other button bowls I have made using this technique:

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54 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by cpr11 on August 14, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Thank you for proving that this CAN be done! So many nay-sayers on another site…

    Reply

  2. Posted by Debbie on October 14, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    This is something I have been wanting to try. I tried making one with doilys, but didn’t work out. I guess I didn’t put enough of the type of glue that was used. I got if from one of the bloggers (sorry, can’t remember her name). 1/2 cup of sugar and 2/3 cups of water.. boil about 3 minutes then dip doileys in and lay on balloon.. I have no clue of where I went wrong.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Kim on November 2, 2012 at 10:37 am

    I made a buttin bowl using your method and it looks fantastic!

    Reply

  4. Posted by Kim on November 2, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Sorry that should say button ;)

    Reply

  5. Posted by Ashley on December 5, 2012 at 10:13 am

    How strong are the bowls & is there anything you can use to make the glue more clear or will that type of glue not work as well? I thought it would be neat to try to make one as a surving bowl for like chips or somethin but not sure how that would work out, maybe even for s decoration piece to put something in. was thinking maybe resin would be cool to try to make them out of. Never worked with resin before though lol. Thank you for your time & awesome tips! :)

    Reply

    • The more layers of glue you put on the balloon before adding the buttons, and after adding the buttons the stronger the bowls will be. More layers of glue will also make the glue less clear, I used school glue because it dries almost clear- there are other types of glue, like Tacky Glue, that will work too but the bowls will be more fragile and shatter when dropped. I haven’t found a way to make them water proof yet that is non-toxic- most sealants and varnishes are pretty nasty stuff and should not be around food!

      Thanks for the input, and have fun with your bowls!

      Reply

      • Posted by Brianna Titus on January 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm

        Have you tried wood sealant, like carpanters would use on wooden dishes? It would come out clear, and would lock water out.

    • Posted by GmaSheila on March 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      I would suggest putting a clear glass or plastic bowl inside the button bowl for food use.

      Reply

  6. Posted by Ange on December 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Just wondering if pva would work as well.

    Reply

  7. [...] of fourteen seconds on Pinterest, then you’ve no doubt seen roughly seventy jillion pins for button bowls, like the one pictured above by designs by kristen. They’re all based on the original button [...]

    Reply

  8. Posted by cathy on February 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    i tried this and it came out great for a few days, then the bowl started to loose it’s shape, it’s also bendable…did I not use enough of the glue? Should I put it back on a form and put on more of the modge podge? Or another glue?
    please help….

    Reply

    • Hi Cathy, It sounds like you might need a few more layers of glue. I did this for the first few bowls- one completely collapsed into a pile of glue and buttons! You can blow up another balloon and put the bowl back on to add more layers, hope this helps!

      Reply

  9. Posted by Jess on February 14, 2013 at 8:20 am

    hi my names Jess and i’m fresh out of high school and lately i’ve been crazy arty and doing all these things. i’ve done toilet roll art, blending art, crayon art and real life art. i was looking for something new and unique and then i found this! can i just this is amazing, of all the art things i’ve been looking at this just…it inspires me to do more. i mentioned it to my friend and she told me last year she made a chocolate bowl using a ballon. honestly i was like who makes stuff with balloons then i saw this. first website to show and must i say thank you. i’m gonna make a few to store my new art yarn balls in.

    Reply

  10. Do you think Mod Podge would work instead of glue? I have significantly more mod podge but never know if it and glue are interchangeable

    Reply

    • I don’t have too much experience with Mod Podge, but have seen it used to seal and things like jewelry and paper crafts so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! It dries clear as well, but i’m not sure that it is water-resistant?

      Mod Podge also works to make transparencies from magazine photographs if you coat the front side of a picture from a magazine with 6 or 7 layers of Mod Podge (letting each layer dry before applying the next coat) then run the back of the picture under water and gently rub off the paper pulp the Mod Podge holds the image in a cool transparency!

      Reply

  11. [...] Designs by Kristen shows you how to make a super cute bowl using buttons and balloons. You gotta know this is an awesome Girl Scout craft! [...]

    Reply

  12. Posted by Whitney on March 12, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    in the process of making my first button bowl! Im very excited for the outcome. ;) thank you for the great idea, its something too keep me busy on my days off. haha

    Reply

  13. Posted by Joanna on May 16, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    I’m home from college and sitting around all day doing nothing until my job starts next month, so I’ve decided to make all of my favorite pins to life for my college apartment next year and this is my first step. The button layer is drying right now and I’m excited to see how it turns out!

    Reply

  14. Posted by Joey on May 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    I’m trying is right now!

    Reply

  15. Posted by Dana on June 18, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Trying this as well. Cute idea. What if the glue runs down the balloon and dries and no buttons are put there. Is that going to matter after I pop the balloon? Will the glue just be able to be pealed away? Thanks

    Reply

    • Good question! The glue almost always does drip down to the spot where there are no buttons, after your bowl is dry and you pop the balloon you can clip these extra gule drips off with nail clippers or sharp scissors. Happy crafting!

      Reply

  16. Posted by Ron on July 1, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    I am now on my 3rd attempt at making a button bowl . I put 2 layers of school glue on, let the ballon dry overnight each time, then put the modpodge on and buttons, then this morning l let the air out slowly and the balloon came away from the glue and I ended up with what looked like a crinkled shower cap with buttons attached…I am on the verge of giving up !

    Reply

    • Hi Ron, so sorry the balloons keep collapsing! I had this happen the first few times I tried as well and it is super frustrating. I tried doing the layers of glue, with and without buttons, all within one day instead of doing one a day, it seems like the balloon when it is inflated has about a day/ day and a half life span before it starts loosing air. Also, if you want to save the buttons from the collapsed tries you can soak them in water overnight and the glue will wash off. Sort of a pain but saves some money/ effort on finding new buttons. Don’t give up, you can do it! :)

      Reply

      • Posted by Ron on July 2, 2013 at 1:49 am

        Thanks for the quick reply, am in the midst of another one, hoping it will go well as I have balloons hanging all over the place as well as some in mugs as hoping to run a surprise craft class for a friend who is returning to Japan. Shall soak the buttons..

  17. Posted by Tash on July 5, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    Great idea. Going to try it now. By the way what was the newspaper for? Thanks😄

    Reply

  18. Posted by Ron on July 7, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Well I had another go and still no success, did this over a period of four days. it appears if you put too many layers of glue on, the ballon disintegrates and then the whole thing caves in. Think it is time to admit defeat.

    Reply

  19. I am in so much love with this tutorial . thank you for such a lovely tutorial. I tried it with Fevicol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fevicol) . I live in India and Elmer’s glue is not available in my country . The bowl started to loose it’s shape, and mostly all the buttons shattered. Can u please help me or suggest anything else ? I so much wanted to do this .

    Reply

  20. Posted by Adt on August 5, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    I tried it but while I put the buttens on they kept sliding of it was so frustrating. And I’m the kinda girl that gives up easily. Please help !!!!

    Reply

    • Posted by Ron on November 23, 2013 at 1:15 am

      forget this project, it is impossible unless you have a lot of spare time, patience and accept a lot of failed attempts, believe me I followed 3 set of advice enrolled 8 friends and the decided there are a lot better projects out there

      Reply

  21. Posted by Adt on August 5, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    I tried it but while I was applying the buttons they kept sliding off. It was so frustrating! And I’m the kinda girl that gives up easily. Please help!!

    Reply

  22. HI Kristen,

    I’m writing a book for my site CraftFail, and I need an example of a successful button bowl. I would love to use one of your bowls in my book! Could you email me so I can discuss it with you?

    heather at craftfail dot com

    Reply

  23. Posted by linda purcell on October 6, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    what is the best glue to use?????

    Reply

  24. […] happen to have an enormous stash of buttons right now, so this tutorial for making a button bowl caught my […]

    Reply

  25. […] Making a Button Bowl – maybe a little messy, but pretty simple and what a neat gift! […]

    Reply

  26. Wish I had found this before attempting my first bowl :) But I did figure out most of what you have here during the first 2 attempts. I didn’t know about letting the first layer of glue dry before adding a second layer and the buttons. My third attempt is drying right now so we’ll see if it is a success this time! Thanks for the instructions :)

    Reply

    • Posted by Ron on April 2, 2014 at 2:26 am

      I would not even consider doing this with your Grandchildren if they are under the age of 16. and very keen on crafts and do not mind a failure. It is very difficult, takes load of patience and you cannot expect great results even after after numerous experiments. I worked on mine for 3 weeks before conducting a Craft Class and we used hairdryers to get the first layer of glue dry, and then a second layerl and then the next day another and buttons. The Balloons also deflate and no one had a good result despite taking them home as to not rush the process. I ended up with a lopsided bowl 1/3rd of the size and no I did not think it worth trying again with the buttons that I removed from the balloon and washed..

      Reply

  27. […] via Designs by Kristen   […]

    Reply

  28. […] via Designs by Kristen […]

    Reply

  29. Posted by Jennifer on March 22, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    It works!!! I just finished. There was a great deal of fear and hesitation when I let the air out of the balloon- but it looks awesome!!!

    Reply

    • Posted by Jennifer on March 22, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      I used mod podge- 6 coats :-/

      Reply

    • Posted by Ron on April 2, 2014 at 2:27 am

      I would not even consider doing this again, SO PLEASE POST HOW YOU MADE :IT WORK<<< if they are under the age of 16. and very keen on crafts and do not mind a failure. It is very difficult, takes load of patience and you cannot expect great results even after after numerous experiments. I worked on mine for 3 weeks before conducting a Craft Class and we used hairdryers to get the first layer of glue dry, and then a second layerl and then the next day another and buttons. The Balloons also deflate and no one had a good result despite taking them home as to not rush the process. I ended up with a lopsided bowl 1/3rd of the size and no I did not think it worth trying again with the buttons that I removed from the balloon and washed..

      Reply

  30. Posted by Fruit loops on March 25, 2014 at 4:18 am

    I tried this but each time I left my balloon to dry, the air from it ran out and all my buttons fell off:( can u help?

    Reply

  31. […] Kristentool – Unique Button Bowl Craft […]

    Reply

  32. Posted by Brenda Baker on April 2, 2014 at 12:20 am

    I am going to try this with my grand kids the next school holidays . I have hundreds spare buttons . I’m just a bit concerned about which glue to use

    Reply

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