DIY: Vintage Button Wall Display

button_wall_hanging

Back in 2005 I visited New York City, and shopped at an open air flea market.  While I was there I found and bought a few bulky and ridiculously inexpensive vintage pieces.  One was an old ledger, and one was a wooden tray originally used to hold the letters/type from a printing press.  I found these items early in the day, and unintentionally drove hubby crazy as I lugged these two clunky items around Manhattan for the rest of the day.  I think the wooden tray was $2, which was a steal, and I was thrilled to have found such wonderful items so cheap!

Somewhere along the way I decided the tray would make a great display for some of my vintage buttons.  I probably thought of this project at least four years ago, and recently sat down to make my vision a reality. Finally.  Better late than never though, and I knew it was just a matter of time before I put this cool piece of print history to good use!

tray_before

Materials
*

  • Wooden print type tray (consider looking for a modern alternative to this vintage piece at your local craft store if you’re not into vintage)
  • Pop-Up Glue Dots
  • Wire Cutters
  • Buttons

Button Selection

I have a box full of vintage buttons – I started collecting around ten years ago – and started this project by sorting through them.  I decided to do one row of each color, of eight different colors, and looked for buttons that were a good representation of the variety in my collection.  I chose mostly one-of-a-kind buttons, meaning that I only had one of them in my stash.  If there were three or more of a button I didn’t use them, since I tend to use either three or four of a particular button in my collages.

button_closeup

Each little niche was labeled with a paper letter when I purchased the tray, dating back to its original use, and I opted to keep the labels on and preserve that bit of history as well.

Directions

1. Select the buttons you’d like to display.  I used one button per spot.
2. Cut the shanks off the backs of any buttons that have them.  I used wire cutters to remove the buttons’ shanks, whether the shank was metal or plastic.
3. Lay the buttons out in the grid, shifting buttons as needed until you’re pleased with the layout.
4. Attach each button to the grid with a Pop-Up Glue Dot, being sure to press the button down firmly.
5. Attach a hanger of some sort to the back of the wooden tray – like a sawtooth – and then hang on the wall.

This project is easy and versatile.  Not only can you customize the colors and patterns you display in your grid, you can take buttons out and put new ones in once it’s been hung.  The glue dots hold firm, but should allow you to pull a button out if you find a “new” button you’d like to display later on.

corner

Please let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to comment!

Warm regards,
Melody

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12 Comments

  1. Posted May 8, 2012 at 8:01 am by Denise | Permalink

    What a totally awesome idea! I have a tin of buttons that belonged to my grandmother and now I have an idea on how to display them. I do occasionally use them on special pieces but would love to show them off. Maybe I can have hubby build me something along these lines with a spot to incorporate a photo of her. Hmm,,, off to the sketchbook!

  2. Posted May 8, 2012 at 8:21 am by Robin E. | Permalink

    LOVE this, Mel! Bravo!

  3. Posted May 8, 2012 at 10:44 am by Jani N. Howe | Permalink

    Oh very sweet, Melody! I do love your project, and isn’t it a good feeling, at last, to have your beautiful button collection hung up so everyone can enjoy it? Gives you the Warm and Fuzzies!

  4. Posted May 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm by Barb L. | Permalink

    I LOVE this! How clever! I love buttons, too. What a great way to display your favs! 🙂

  5. Posted May 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Denise,
    I love the idea of combining the buttons and a photo of your grandmother – so sweet! The great thing about using Glue Dots to adhere the buttons to the display is that I can peel a button off and replace it with something else. So, if I decide I just HAVE to use one of the buttons I chose to display, it’ll be easy to fill the void. No muss, no fuss. I’m glad you like the project, and I thank you for commenting!
    Melody

  6. Posted May 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Robin,
    Thanks! I’m so glad you like it, and appreciate you popping in with your feedback.
    Melody

  7. Posted May 8, 2012 at 7:45 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Jani,
    I wish I could display more buttons, but this is a nice little sample. And yes, it’s nice to be able to share some of my “little beauties” with guests and folks online. Thank you for your kind words, and for commenting!
    Melody

  8. Posted May 8, 2012 at 7:46 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Barb,
    Thank you! I’m really pleased that it turned out so well when I finally sat down to make my idea a reality…
    Melody

  9. Posted May 9, 2012 at 7:25 am by stephanie | Permalink

    great idea and display

  10. Posted May 9, 2012 at 7:44 am by Melody | Permalink

    Stephanie,
    Thank you! It took a bit of time, but was easy to make. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!
    Melody

  11. Posted May 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm by Carol | Permalink

    Glue dots! Brilliant idea, Melody, and a lovely way to display both the type case and the buttons.

  12. Posted May 15, 2012 at 6:57 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Carol,
    Thank you! I’m a fan of both buttons and grids, so I particularly love this project.
    Melody

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