I'm always on the lookout for new crafty gadgets. They're like my favorite thing. I don't have to use or even need a gadget to justify it's purchase. So when I got the urge to make buttons, I knew that there was a button making gadget out there, and that it had to be mine.
What a disappointment to find that badge/button makers are apparently REALLY expensive. Like hundreds of dollars expensive. The cheapest I found was a badge-a-minit "starter" hand press. At roughly $40 it was a much better deal than $400 but still out of my impulse buy price point.
Now, about a week from my 35th birthday my mom texted me about birthday gifts. After a few rounds of the obligatory polite refusal and accompanying "no really what do you want" I remembered the button maker and decided to seize the opportunity and send her the link.
Shameful. I know.
Well, mom pulled through and about a week later I was in button making business!
This machine has a tiny learning curve. The hardest part is having to refer to the directions for every step. Even after doing the first six buttons, I STILL couldn't remember which ring went next. The first button I made was a mess. half of the plastic cover didn't get tucked in properly.
After a bit of reverse engineering, I figured out how the pieces were to fit together, and discovered the root of the problem. You can't just go all willy-nilly. You have to add a step or two that badge-a-minit doesn't properly explain.
The secret tip!
I'm not going to explain the whole process of using this tool, because it's confusing enough as it is. But here are a few tips.
Keep your image from becoming off center by adding a TINY amount of glue to the face of the button front. You don't want to go crazy, because it will show through to the other side. Just a small little dot, then smudge it around a bit with your finger. Your image should stick immediately and not slide. Smooth out the image and be sure that it's not still wet.
This step might not be necessary if you're pretty good at keeping it centered to begin with. But if you've had problems with the image not tucking into the pin-back properly, give this trick a try.
The biggest mistake you can make is not tucking in the edges! The Badge-a-minit instructions state that you should be sure that the pin-back is not tucked into the paper/plastic. But it is awfully hard to tell where the paper is once you've put the pin-back in place.
The best way to guarantee that the plastic will be out of the way and catch properly, and to double check your image placement, is to tuck in the exposed edges.
Be sure that you hold the red ring in place while pressing in the paper edges. You can also set it on your work space and use a tool to help turn down those edges. I used a combination of thumbs and the flat end of a wooden crochet hook. Make sure you press down both the paper and the plastic, as sometimes the plastic can be hard to see.
While the Badge-a-minit is a great, affordable tool for making nice buttons, I don't recommend it for people looking to start a badge making business. It takes a bit of time to work each one, and 95% of the steps are manual. But if you're wanting to make a few hundred, (not 1000) then I give it my stamp of approval.
It's perfect for what I needed. Making buttons for geocache swag!
More on Geocaching later, but it's worth looking up right now if you're curious!