Using vintage buttons for detailing on Steampunk modding

I love to use buttons in my works and my last blog post talked a bit about how to use them as decorative accents on a ray-gun. In this post, I wanted to show that they can be handy under a paint job too.

I made a pair of “mermaid Steampunk” guns. The bases were lower quality water guns. I liked their basic shapes but the detail level wasn't very high. Real shells were used for most of the surface detailing but I also wanted to keep a bit of a mechanical aspect to them as well. There were random bumps, without details, that I cut off. To fill the spots, a number of buttons in similar sizes were put over the cut-off openings before I painted the base finish for the whole gun. Doing it before the base painting meant that the original colour of the button didn't matter, just it's shape. Lots of vintage buttons have very dated or overly bright colours that would make them unsuitable if seen, but they still have great texture and shape. They also tend to be fairly easy and cheap to find so you get a lot of detail for very little cost and effort.


The increased quality of detail that the buttons provide is a small aspect of the whole look, but I think it really helps to make the whole piece look like it was made to higher standard than the base actually was. Also, more texture better shows off aging washes and painting over base colours.