How to Make a Pearly Box Fit for a Queen (or King!)comments (10) March 4th, 2009
When I think buttons, among the first things that come to mind are Pearlies. Pearlies, Erika? Yep. Pearlies. Their button-covered suits are still a common sight in London's tourist areas. I met a few in Covent Garden when I went over a few years back where they were continuing the Pearly tradition of collecting for various charities.
This button-covered box honors their history and style and is easy to make, too!
What you'll need:
- A box (or if you've got the time and the buttons, a table or chest or, maybe, a chair!)
- Pearly white buttons (buttons with flat backs work best)
- Black paint
- Paint for the inside of the box (I used a pearly white)
- Pencil and measuring tools
- E-6000 glue
- High-gloss spray varnish (optional)
First, find something to decorate.
Once you find the item you want to decorate, you need to prep it. If it's painted, strip or rough up the surface so that it will take the black paint. If your box or piece of furniture has any sort of hardware on it, remove it. Make sure to keep the hardware and the screws in a safe place so that you don't lose them when it comes time to put them back on your finished box.
Set your box aside to dry and move on to your buttons.
I'm not gonna lie: This project takes a lot of buttons. My 7-1/2 x 4 x 4-1/2-inch box took about 327 buttons for the exterior, but if you use an open pattern and/or bigger buttons you can get away with fewer butttons.
The Pearlies use a lot of common patterns in their designs. Here's a short list from the Pearly Society and their meanings:
- Horseshoe = Luck
- Doves = Peace
- Heart = Charity
- Anchor = Hope
- Cross = Faith
- Wheel = Circle of life
- Symbols of playing cards = Life is a gamble
- Flower pots = Costermongers
- Donkey carts = Costermongers
Repeat until your whole box is covered, then allow the glue to cure overnight.
After the glue on your box has cured, you can add a bit of extra polish to it with a spray varnish. I used two coats of varnish on my box, allowing it to dry completely between each coat.
Before putting my box back together, I decided the inside needed a bit of Pearly flash, too, so I added some more buttons to the inside of the lid.
If you decide to add buttons to the interior as well, remember to let that glue cure completely before you reassemble your box. Once the glue's cured and the varnish is dry, reattach the hinges and other hardware to your box and you're ready to go!
Translation: Hi, my friend! That's a lovely box you have there, simply lovely!