Button bowls: Balloons vs. bowl methods

A mere three weeks before I wrote this post, I’d never heard of a button bowl. Now I’m in button heaven! Of course heaven would be a lot less costly if I had my own stash of buttons and didn’t have to buy them. But I’ve never ever saved a button. I can’t even find the extra buttons that come with clothes I’ve bought. No matter though. Wal-Mart and Michael’s have enough of a selection to keep me busy.

Balloon or bowls?


Using the balloon method.

Before making these bowls with my grandchildren, I researched a couple of different methods to glue on the buttons. With each method you need: clear-drying glue and buttons (duh!). After that though, your materials differ depending on how you want to form your bowl. With the aluminum foil method you need a bowl and aluminum foil; with the balloon method, you only need the balloon and a pin to pop it when the glue is fully dry.

Now when it came time to choose which method my granddaughters and I would use to make our bowls, I chose the aluminum foil method because I thought the process would be a lot less stressful for them.


Balloon method – with a layer of glitter over the buttons.

Here’s how each method works:

  • Balloon – Any size balloon you want, blown up with just enough air to make it round, and then knotted. Then, with the knotted end pointing south, set the balloon in a bowl or jar if you have it. I actually scotch-taped my knot to the bottom of the bowl to steady the balloon more.
  • Aluminum Foil – Tear off a piece of foil larger than your bowl and with the bowl sitting face up, line the inside, making sure to press the foil flush against the sides of the bowl.

Now it’s time to glue on the buttons, and this is where things can get a bit messy (pun intended). With the balloon method, the buttons are glued from the top down (remember, the knot end is the bottom); with the foil, buttons are glued from the bottom of the inside of the bowl up. Using the foil, my granddaughters enjoyed the


process of gluing and placing buttons. They didn’t have to worry about buttons sliding out of place since they were working from the bottom up.


Now when I experimented with the balloon method, I discovered a few things:

  • I saw recommendations to brush on one layer of glue over the area of the balloon where the buttons will be; let it dry and then glue on buttons with the second layer of glue. That is supposed to keep the buttons from sliding during placement. I didn’t do that first layer. I just brushed a large enough area of glue for it to dry just a bit as I placed buttons. The buttons stayed in place.
  • I used smaller buttons as I started down the sides of the balloon. Larger buttons slide more.
  • I noticed that I had some minor slipping of buttons while the balloon was drying. This was because I left the glue to dry with the knot still pointing south. On my next balloon I corrected that – flipping the balloon to dry button-end down. No more button slips.
  • With both methods, adequate drying time is important. I let my bowls dry for a week with the foil method because the glue is not exposed to as much air in the bowl. The balloon method required no more than a 48-hour period to dry completely.

The balloon method was my favorite. One of my granddaughters used excess glue


My six-year-old granddaughter Lyric holding her finished foil-lined bowl.

while using the foil and bowl method. I noticed that the glue settled at the bottom of the bowl making it look too thick and gluey. With the balloon method this wouldn’t happen because any excess glue would run down the balloon, and not settle around the buttons.

With either method, the button bowl is a fun, kid-friendly project.

Happy gluing! 🙂


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