How to Make a Gridded Button Portrait

comments (7) March 6th, 2009     

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leethal Lee Meredith, contributor
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Use assorted vintage buttons for a truly one-of-a-kind work of art!
Like Chuck Close paintings, the image shows up better as you step farther away from it.
You can use any colors, as long as they are divided into light and dark shades.
Use assorted vintage buttons for a truly one-of-a-kind work of art!

Use assorted vintage buttons for a truly one-of-a-kind work of art!

Photo: Lee Meredith
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Back when I was a studio art minor in college, I was really into Chuck Close, and I did a couple of self-portraits inspired by his style with markers and paint. When I started thinking about possible button projects to celebrate Susan's new button book, I thought of these portraits and how buttons could look amazing in a work like that! And they do! I imagine a masterpiece using this idea on a large scale—like a whole wall! Maybe someday I'll get started on that...

You'll need:

  • Lots of assorted flat buttons, in four shades, around the same size (more details below)
  • Photo-editing computer program
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Hot-glue gun
  • A surface like a cabinet door or part of a wall, or a canvas or piece of wood, etc.

First, I'll go over a couple of concepts of this project, then I'll do a step-by-step how-to. You are going to divide a photo up into small squares with a grid, and each square will become one of four shades—white (or almost white), light gray, dark gray, and black (or almost black). You will divide up your buttons into four groups accordingly (you can use any color buttons, but you'll need to divide them into these groups, so it's best to use white(ish) and black(ish) buttons, and then divide the colors into light shades and dark shades). You can use more than four shades, but it isn't necessary and will make the process more complex.


I started out with shades of blue, divided into light and dark.

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posted in: , buttons, art, glue, wall, picture, portrait, mosaic

Comments (7)

paperrain writes: I'm doing this! I'm going to also buy stock in buttons. I've got about a dozen projects for them now!
Posted: 5:08 pm on March 21st
oldjack writes: What a great idea for a portrait. Can not wait to try this.
Thanks Lee.
Posted: 12:17 pm on March 14th
gabriellek writes: This is absolutely FANTASTIC! Thank you for sharing! We can't wait to make a few and put our mosaics on canvas'

Love it!
Posted: 12:04 am on March 10th
sALTYGAL writes: Awesome idea and great instructions!
Posted: 1:57 pm on March 7th
eyesaflame writes: Ok, this is really cool . . .are you sure you've been sick? Or have you just been letting your body be taken over by some kind of alien snot-monster craft genius? 'Cause this is BRILLIANT!!
Posted: 3:59 pm on March 6th
Sister_Diane writes: Wow, Lee - this is so amazing. And your instructions are so clear, I totally feel like I could make one. Thanks so much!
Posted: 10:00 am on March 6th
Jen_W writes: This is splendid and so original! I love Chuck Close too, and this is such a great twist.
Posted: 12:21 am on March 6th
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