ABW Research "Labs"

When ABW started up, all sorts of fabric/textile/yarn workers seemed to agree that special embellishments were, for the most part, not expected to go through the wash and dry cycle. And, for the most part, neither were the wearables they made expected to do so either.

However, after handling the buttons I made for a while, I got curious. So, I decided to sew some of my buttons onto shirts I wear all the time. For two reasons: I liked them, and they were good for advertising!

The result is that I, Clair, have officially appointed myself head of and sole worker in the ABW Research "Lab". While I think, as I said above, folks expect fine art buttons to have cautions applied to them, I have been doing a little investigating. So, take this report as fact, which it is. But also take it with a grain of salt, as most fabric workers I've spoken to, expect to treat special buttons differently.

Lab Report #1 - December, 2011: Washing Survival Tests

Caveat: The following report pertains only to buttons I have made, which are not thick ones, and to buttons that don't use alcohol inks in the surface treament.

I have sewn my buttons onto various shirts of mine that I wear often. Because they are worn frequently, they are also washed frequently.

Full Disclosure

I have never in my life sorted a load of laundry; when my laundry basket is full (enough for one load) its contents get washed and dried all at once and all together. And, all my clothes are cotton.

Results So Far

I started this process in late October 2009. Several shirts have been laundered for more than two years since then. This is a photograph of three of the shirts today after about 6-8 wash/dries each. I can see no ill effects at all.
Laundered Polymer clay buttons

Close up of laundered button.The red shirt is heavy flannel, the other two are heavy duty Levi cotton shirts. Here's a close-up of one of the buttons above. It was the second button that went on a shirt, but it's a favorite shirt, so I would guess this one's been through the wash/dry cycle about 12 times.

Button Materials

The surface material used on these buttons is Pearl Ex on the left two big buttons and the very small one; I used a bit of alcohol ink and acrylic on the weakly decorated gray button. (The alcohol ink amount was so small that I don't consider it a proper test of the ink.) The gray button was an experiment with the ink and acrylic, both applied extremely lightly. The clay I use 99% of the time is FIMO Classic or Fimo Soft. Each of the large buttons is about 1/8" thick. The small button on the red shirt cuff is very, very thin. It would not handle any stress at all, for instance, as the waistband button on a pair of slacks. But, it's all right where it is. Consequently, none of the ABW buttons for sale are this thin.