Innovation in button making is something we take seriously at Busy Beaver. Ideas are always bubbling out of the ranks of creatives who work behind the scenes at the Beaver Dam, but we find that some of the most interesting new button concepts come straight from you, our button customers and fans. We recently got to try one of these new ideas thanks for Chicago letterpress printer, Amber Favorite of a. favorite design. Amber, who’s been creating cards and other printed goodies since 2005, contacted us with the idea to create buttons using leftover test prints from cardboard waste balers she had lying around in her studio. Never ones to shy away from a potentially cool button project, we jumped at the chance to give her idea a shot!
The buttons were to be made from “make-ready” sheets that are used to test out prints before doing the final run. As Amber described, “From all the fine tuning & adjustments in the craftsmanship of letterpress printing, there is potential for substantial make-ready ‘waste.’ While fine-tuning I like to reuse the paper, which provides piles & piles of make-ready sheets adorned with gorgeous layers of pattern & ink. They’re simply too pretty to recycle back into paper and I wanted to create something more useful with them, thus the buttons!”
We knew that the letterpress paper might be tricky to make into buttons because our machines are finely tuned to press materials of a very particular thickness. Too thick or too thin and things come out a little wonky (making a mub, or “Messed-Up Button,” in Beaver speak). Amber brought a few make-ready sheets into the Beaver Dam and we tried them out on some of our hand-crank machines. As she described, “Some definitely worked better than others and we worked together to try to find a way to make the process easier. We decided to try it without the mylar covering and they turned out beautifully. The matte cover stock & letterpress impressions showed beautifully without the mylar addition.”
We think you’ll agree that the resulting buttons turned out pretty amazing. At 1 inch, the larger prints are reduced down to abstract snippets of color and shape, text and illustration. Without the normal mylar covering you get a feel for the thick paper and letterpress imprint. And since no two make-ready prints are the same, every button is completely unique.
Amber said that she plans to use the buttons as a special treat to include in some of her customer’s orders and has sent out a few already. The buttons will have their official debut at Show of Hands, a new craft fair that Amber will be vending at this weekend (along with a bunch of other Busy Beaver pals including Nerfect and Dan Grzeca). “My hope is to eventually sell [the buttons] to our customers & use them as promotional pieces. I’m loving our new buttons! Each one truly is one of a kind.”
Got your own crazy/awesome button idea you’d like to make happen? Get in touch and we’ll do our best to make it a reality!