Hand built by robots. (onceupon) wrote in salvage_style,
Hand built by robots.

You've Got the Button: From Yard Sale Find to One of a Kind, a Side Table

First, the survey!

1. your favourite season: It's always summer here; I live in Orlando, FL. Actually, we have about a week and a half of Spring and Fall and maybe a month of mild Winter.
2. your favourite color combo for this style: Since I'm really big into altering my finds, I don't have any real color preferences. But I do love metals, so if I make a find with metal construction, I'm thrilled.
3. do you live with others who share your aesthetic? My husband is a big fan of salvaged stuff - he turns his finds into steampunk ray guns.
4. do you frequent charity shops/flea markets/garage sales? Absolutely. We drive around yard sales pretty much every Saturday morning.
5. what's the best thing you've found? A giant, solid wood armoire that works perfectly for our tv and video gaming stuff - we can hide it all away behind the massive doors.
6. what's the best thing you've left behind? An antique tuba at a yard sale. I couldn't justify the $75 price tag.
7. What sort of style does your run-down aesthetic take the form of (mid-century, country, ethnic etc)? We tend towards steampunk with a touch of circus, both center ring and sideshow. Lots of bright colors and bits and bobs of oddity.
8. Any horror stories? I found a fantastic book of natural paper samples at a wallpaper place. Unfortunately, once I got it home, I discovered it was full of roaches!

And now, my latest find and project:

If I were going to write an article for a craft magazine about this project, this is how it would go:

One Saturday afternoon, at a yard sale, I had one of those moments. One of those moments when the heavens parted and a ray of sunshine fell on an item I just couldn't leave behind. Sometimes this happens to me at yard sales.

This particular ray fell on a small side table, about knee-high, with angled legs and a slightly recessed top. After some smart bargaining, the table went home with me for the low, low price of $5.

My next step was to start combing ebay for buttons. Buttons can be purchased in bulk lots for between five and twenty dollars, plus shipping. I ordered two bulk batches for a total of 1600+ buttons in a green and white mix. Always order more than you think you’ll need for a project like this. The table I was working with had about 2 sq feet of surface area and I had around 100 buttons when I finished.

When you’ve picked a color scheme for your buttons, and you are waiting on them to arrive, take the time to sand and paint your table. I used a white semi-gloss spray paint and applied three thin coats. Thin coats are always better!

Once the paint is dry and your buttons are in hand, it’s time to start applying the buttons. I used a basic tacky craft glue to affix my buttons. Spread a thin layer of glue on your surface and start applying your buttons. Nestle them up close to each other, but don’t go too crazy. It’s easy to get a bit obsessive with this sort of project but the random spacing is part of the charm of the finished object. Make sure your buttons, if you are using a table with a recessed top, do not rise above the top of the lip that goes around the edge of the table. Snip the shanks off of any buttons that do not have flat backs.

It makes life a lot easier if you start at the corners and work your way in to the middle. Cover small areas at a time and take breaks if you start to feel a little crazy.

When you have covered the surface of your table with buttons, allow the glue to dry at least overnight. The glue must be totally dry before you move on to pouring your resin.

Resin can be a little tricky to track down locally. Try your major craft stores and home improvement stores. You are looking for casting resin, not fiberglass resin. I use a brand called Envirotex because it is super easy to mix and use.

You’re going to need resin, catalyst (sold as part of the Envirotex kit), two containers, and a mixing stick. Add you resin and catalyst in equal parts (or according to the directions that came with your kit) to one of the containers and mix vigorously, as if you were mixing cake batter. Because it is essential for the resin and catalyst to thoroughly mix, pour the mixture of resin and catalyst from one container into the other. Use your mixing stick to continue vigorous stirring. After about a minute, you should be ready to pour.

Ideally, you will pour your resin in thin layers (just like with spray paint, thin layers are better with resin, too). Don’t pour layers that are more than 1/8 of an inch thick – you’ll wind up with improperly cured resin and a lot more air bubbles.

Make sure, as you pour the first layer, that you use your mixing stick to spread the resin out like cake frosting – just don’t lick the spoon. Air bubbles will begin to rise to the surface. As they reach the surface, blow on them. The carbon dioxide in your breath will help release the bubbles. Just be careful not to inhale the fumes.

Allow your resin to set for a few hours. The setting time depends on temperature and humidity. Hot, dry climates will need less time than cool, damp ones. It isn’t fair, but it is true. When your first layer has set, pour a second layer. Continue this process of pouring layers and allowing them to set until your resin is at the level you desire.

Once you have all of your resin poured, allow the table top to cure for 72 hours. When you’re done waiting – which is the most difficult part of this project – you will have a beautiful and level table top encasing a colorful array of buttons. A one of a kind side table is all yours! Now put it to good use.

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