5 Things to Do With Comic-Con Buttons

Bust out your buttons and get creative! All images by Lisa Kay Tate
Bust out your buttons and get creative!
All images by Lisa Kay Tate

Call them buttons, badges, or pins, these little round freebies accumulate like Tribbles in junk drawers, jewelry box tops, or random trinket holders around the house. These little promotional goodies seem to be everywhere at comic-cons (and comic book store special events), book and record premieres, concerts, amusement parks, political and athletic events, weddings, quinceañeras and Bat Mitzvahs…at least it seems like it.

At any rate, we’ve amassed quite a pile over the years, especially when our kids just can’t resist picking up free stuff.  Since it is sometimes hard to part with these little tin memories, here are five simple ways to help reel in the chaos:

Make your kitchen or workspace more fun by turning buttons into magnets or  a quick pencil holder.
Make your kitchen or workspace more fun by turning buttons into magnets or a quick pencil holder.

• Easy Magnets. This is the quickest way to make buttons a little more useful. Remove the pin back, glue on a small magnet, and dot your fridge or file cabinet with fun memories. We also do this with other trinkets like Mardi Gras doubloons, amusement park tokens, smashed pennies, or small flat stones.

• Cork Board Art. Since many people like to throw these buttons onto their bulletin boards, why not get a little more creative? Get a square or circle of cork board from a craft or home store, and arrange the buttons into different shapes. This makes for really cool game room art, and invites people to take a closer look.

Turning buttons into fashion jewelry is just a matter of poking holes in the right place. They can also be pinned onto a ribbon for a choker-style necklace.
Turning buttons into fashion jewelry is just a matter of poking holes in the right place. They can also be pinned onto a ribbon for a choker-style necklace.

• Fashion Jewelry. Yes, technically these buttons are accessories in themselves, but there is only so much room on the purse or lanyard to keep them. Plus, pinning too many on your shirt might make people ask you if you work at TGI Fridays. A few adjustments could turn these into some fun novelty jewelry.

The metal in some of the cheaper buttons is thin enough to poke holes in by placing the button face up (with pin removed) on a folded rag over a concrete surface, and tapping a nail through it lightly. Now, these are ready to be used as earrings, attached to French hooks, or threaded onto chord as a necklace or bracelet.

A button could also be pinned on a thick ribbon for a choker. Make sure to secure the pin with small pliers so it doesn’t end up poking you in the neck. You can also use a glue gun to cover and “cushion” the back of the pin.

tic-tac-toe
Buttons and a piece of felt create a travel tic-tac-toe set.

• Pencil Holder. Many of us are guilty of tossing these extra buttons into a desktop tumbler or pencil holder, but it’s more fun to display them on the outside for everyone to see. This also makes use of another often-used promotional item: the koozie (the big puffy ones, not the floppy flat ones).  Pin the buttons around the edge of the container until they completely cover it, to keep memories nearby on the a work or study space. Remember to make sure, when pinning buttons, they don’t go all the way through. You don’t want bunch of pointy ends sticking out on the inside of the container.

button board
Arranging buttons is artistic patterns take the bulletin board one step further.

• Geeky Tic-Tac-Toe:  Make a game square by cutting a 6″ x 6″ square piece of felt or thick cloth, and draw the classic Tic-Tac-Toe “hashtag” on it in cloth paint or marker. Find 5 or 6 similarly colored buttons for each side, and remove the pin backs. Find clever ways to pick sides (heroes vs. villains, Star Wars vs. Star Trek, movies vs. music, etc.). These can be kept in a small pull string pouch or plastic storage container for a travel game. The board should fold up nicely as well. Feeling industrious? This idea works just as well as a checkers game if you have enough buttons to fill each side.

If those buttons are going co-exist nicely in our home, they are going to do it with style and purpose, otherwise there’s always the sixth and least popular option…throw them away.

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Lisa Kay Tate is a veteran feature writer with 20 years experience in newspaper, magazine and freelance writing. In addition to serving as Associate Editor for her local arts and entertainment guide, El Paso Scene, she has been a regular contributor to the site ihogeek.com and maintains her own blogsite at lisathegeekmom.wordpress.com. She and her husband, writer/photographer Rick, live on the edge of "New Texico" where they keep busy raising their two geeklings and sharing space with their dog, Sirius Black, and cat, Loki.