Button Pumpkins

This was meant to be a post about how to produce beautiful, unique fall decorations with your children.  They would adorn our dining room table, and we would admire them all season.  That was my vision, inspired by this image I stumbled across.

Of course, things didn’t turn out that way.  I should have known better than to enter into a craft like this (with a GIANT styrofoam ball, COOL buttons, and PINS) with a 3-year old and a 5-year old with a rigid end product in mind.  But of course I make mistakes like this every day.  Multiple times a day.  Oh well.  It’s actually still a great project, and I’d totally recommend it!  There are some lessons I learned about how to set it up better, if you’d like to steer toward a more complete end-product.  But the greater lesson I learned is that it’s about the PROCESS, silly.

On to the project… materials:

Styrofoam ball – mistake #1: mine was WAY TOO BIG.  Ours was probably 8″ in diameter; unless you want this to be a multi-day activity (or your kids have the patience for a 60-90 minute project), I’d suggest one 3-4″ in diameter would be plenty big.  I realized once we got started that there was no way my kids were going to have patience to cover this thing.

Stick pins – I bought a box of pins at Michael’s – the kind with the big round ends. Not quilting pins, but slightly smaller.  Obviously, these are sharp, so use your own judgment as to whether your kids are ready for this.  My 3-year was fine; I wouldn’t trust my 20-month old.

Buttons – I got 2 bags of fabulous, random buttons at Michael’s.

If we had gotten to completion, I was planning on using green pipecleaner (doubled on itself) and sticking it into the ball with the pins to use for a stem.  We’ll try that next time.

We placed the ball on a ramekin to stabilize it, and put all the materials on cookie sheet so S could spread the buttons out if she wanted to (and to contain the buttons & pins in one place.)

To affix the button to the ball / pumpkin, you just stick a pin through the button hole.  Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

It’s pretty fun to do and to watch.  But you can see how it would take quite a lot of patience / time to cover the whole thing.  So I shouldn’t have been too surprised when S announced she was all done at about this point.  (“Really???  But don’t you think it will look so much cooler if you cover the whole thing?!?  Don’t you want to do it for a little while longer??”  Oh right, back off Mom and get your own craft.)

I assumed we were done at this point.  But then S and her brother H (he had done one too) announced that they needed the plastic wrap (huh?).  They proceeded to wrap those balls completely in saran wrap, secured with half a roll of scotch tape.  And then they decided they had to wrap them in wrapping paper to present to their dad when he got home from work.  They meticulously traced out a big square on the wrapping paper, cut it out and and used the rest of the scotch tape to wrap those puppies beautifully.

Appreciate the contrast between their vision and mine.

This was a great lesson for the All-Knowing-Mother-With-A-Master-Plan in me about honoring my kids’ vision — which is so often a work in progress, an exploration of materials and techniques, and an ongoing collaboration with siblings/friends.  Their approach is of course so much more rewarding and more fun!

But what should we do with all these cool buttons??

4 Replies to “Button Pumpkins”

  1. Haha! I really appreciate your honesty, Lara! I’m constantly surrendering my vision to my children’s. They know what they like, and who am I to tell them what to make? My husband might fall for this trick, but not my kids! 🙂 I just found out that I’m going to be gifted with about 10 pounds of buttons, so if you figure out what to do with yours I’ll be eager to hear about it! Although I might try making that cool Christmas tree (without my kids).

  2. Congrats on Kiwi Crate! What a fabulous idea! As for what to do with buttons . . .necklaces are always a hit at our house as is model magic sculptures – push the buttons into the model magic to create sensational bowls or abstract pieces. A button mosaic might be fun as well! Good luck!

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