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At the beginning of October I was sent a set of heart shaped buttons, handmade by a talented group of women in South Africa. They are called Incomparable Buttons and you can see their beautiful creations here.

In return, they asked me, and other 14 lucky craft souls from around the world, to use their buttons in a crafting project of our choice, followed by posting a tutorial on how it was done. I chose a set of heart shaped buttons for my wedding box. I also planned to use a piece of cream linen to complement the earthy feel of the clay buttons. I very rarely say this about my creations but I absolutely love this box and everything about it :). The linen was a bliss to work with, embossing folders cooperated smoothly as stamps, and the colour scheme made a perfect background for the buttons. The only thing I’m not happy about are the photos. I was in a hurry to finish the piece before flying to the wedding, … rainy day, not a glimpse of sun.. you know how it is. Anyway, the couple loved their gift as well and that’s what matters most:

It took me ages to make up my mind which set of buttons I would like to use for my project, but eventually I decided to go with these ones:

Here’s a quick step-by-step:

1. Grab your Mod Podge, a piece of fabric and something you want to glue the fabric to. I used a blank wooden box, removed the hinges and the clasp and made sure it’s dust free.

2. I used antique white to prime the wooden surface prior gluing down the fabric so that the wood grain does not show through the linen. It dried quickly so the next step was to apply a medium thick layer of Mod Podge to the surface and let it set for a while. I took this moment to cut out a square from a linen tote bag I grabbed in my local craft store for a pound! The square had a 3 cm excess on each side for covering the sides and that small edge underneath. A small (and clean!) paint roller was perfect for smoothing the fabric, it allows to use even pressure with ease. Mod Podge does not bleed through, so you don’t have to worry about staining even the lightest material. At this stage I kept the edges loose.

3. I mixed Amish gray, spa blue and linen to create the colour I wanted to use for the next step: stamping with embossing folder. That’s right! Embossing folders work great as a background stamp. Recently I’ve been experimenting with ornamental textures; got ever so slightly bored with just plain paint painting :). And I’m crazy excited about embossing folders. I think I need to create a separate post on how to utilise them without embossing a single sheet of paper :).

For this project I used a stencil foam brush to apply the paint onto one side of an embossing folder. Pressing lightly, just as if I was stamping, I managed to create a pale turquoise background. The folder was too small to cover the entire surface so I had to move it four times. What are the biggest embossing folders, does anyone know?

4. The paint on the fabric dried quickly, so I was able to tidy up the sides with Mod Podge (really easy thing to do; fabric behaves better than any paper, it took me less then 10 min to have the edges finished). I folded the fabric in a way shown below, applied a thin layer of glue to each side and pressed the linen onto the sides – it does not take much pressure (or skill for that matter!) to have a stripe of linen fitting the sides perfectly. It also rolled nicely underneath onto the rim (the biggest picture below). Just note: when working on sides you first glue the longest part of the fabric and then apply some Mod Podge in between the creases on the corners and press down with your fingers again to ‘close’ the corner/side gluing process. There is no need to go with your glue over the linen. Actually, I wanted to use as little glue as possible to preserve the woven look and feel of the linen.

5. I could have left the cream colour of the linen as it was, but I was really eager to try out a little bit of distressing and see how linen absorbs ink pads (my favourite distressing tools). Also, at this stage I cut out a beautiful image of a coal tit from a paper napkin and glue it down with a bit of regular glue (Ocaldo friendly glue) and a flat brush.

6. I arranged the buttons and glued them down:

 7. Using the same paint trio as for the heart background, plus a drop of iridescent medium by Reeves (gives a finished piece a subtle opalescent shine) I painted the outside and the inside of the bottom part. Using pinecone, charcoal ink pads by Versa color and some bitumen I distressed the outer and inner corner/edges. I glued a small wooden heart coloured with pinecone/charcoal inks with 7Gypsies rub-ons saying Once upon a time to the inside of the lid. I finished the piece with only a couple of layers of satin varnish to preserve the roughness of the wood.

And that’s it! Happy crafting and if you need a bit of advice either on this project or on anything else, just drop me a line!