Paper Mache Buttons

You really just need a few things for this project:

  • paper mache
  • acrylic paint and paint brush
  • spray fixative
  • toothpicks
  • cookie sheet (I like to cover it with something like foil, parchment paper or in this case an old silicone cookie sheet I don’t like to use for food just to make clean up easy)

Use the this paper mache recipe.

Decide how large you want your buttons and roll a piece of your paper macheRoll paper mache dough into balls *dough* into a ball.  Flatten it out and see if that’s about the size you want.  If not, remove or add a little and roll it into a ball again, continuing until you get the size button you want to make.  Now make as many balls that size as you want, for as many buttons as you want to make. Or make them various sizes if you want different sized buttons.

Once you have your balls made, you can start flattening them.  I just flatten them between my thumb and finger, gently.  If you press too hard, they tend to crack. You can fix this, and if they break apart, it’s a simple matter to just roll them back up and try again.  If your paper mache is a little dry, sometimes it’s more difficult to work with, too.  I had that problem this time, because it had been in the fridge a few days.  Just keep at it.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Flatten the ballsAlso, if you try to flatten them by pressing them onto the cookie sheet, they may stick, so it’s better to do it between your fingers.  But, whatever works best for you.  If you get cracked edges, and want them smoother, just smooth them out before you put them into the oven.  They will tend to shrink as they dry, so they won’t get BETTER.  Fix that before you pop them in there.

After you flatten them out, take a toothpick and make holes in the buttons.  You can make 2 or 4, and be sure to make them large.  Tiny holes will be likely to heal up as the buttons shrink during drying.  I had a little difficulty making holes this time, I think because the paper mache was a little dry.  If they break apart while you are making holes, don’t worry, just roll them back into balls, reflatten and try again.  I intended to make only 4 hole buttons, but some were uncooperative and so I ended up with a lot of 2 hole buttons.  Oh well, you sometimes have to let the buttons decide.

Dried paper buttons

By the time you are done with this your oven should be a nice 200 degrees F.  Put them in there, and leave them until they are completely dry (20 or so minutes — but it will depend on the size and thickness of your buttons, just keep an eye on them).

When they are completely dry, remove them from the oven and let them cool.  Then you can paint them.  Be sure to let them dry between coats, and be sure to open the holes with a toothpick if they get clogged with paint.  After the paint has dried thoroughly, spray a couple of coats of fixative on them to protect them and let them dry one more time.  If they feel like they have softened up (if your paint was a little too wet, I think it absorbs into the paper a bit) you can put them back into a 200 degree oven for a little bit before you spray them with the fixative.

That’s really all there is to it.  Don’t forget. These are decorative only.  You can’t use them for things that will need to be washed, like clothing, because they are made of PAPER!

Finished buttons


  1. Lau W says:

    Love them ! perfect as you said : perfect for decorate a bag or other, superb work my dear friend !

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