Make Buttons for Fun and Profit

You don't need artistic talent to make buttons (and make money selling them), just a little money, a little research, and a lot of creativity.

| July/August 1981

As an often-hungry freelance cartoonist, I'm always on the lookout for ways to earn some extra income ... and with as little expenditure of effort as possible! Well, not long ago—when I was "volunteered" to help with my daughter's Camp Fire Girls bazaar—I stumbled onto an easy method of getting that spare-time scratch.

While at the fair, I ran into a friend who had recently obtained a "button" machine from a company called Badge-A-Minit. By combining my cartooning ability and his equipment, we made quite a hit with the patrons of the bazaar. And even after that day was over, requests continued to pour in for school buttons, campaign buttons, and buttons with "adult" themes.

Granted, my drawing ability helped our business expand rapidly, but—as you'll soon see—you don't need to be artistically inclined to make buttons.

Getting Started

My wife and I were aware—from "bazaar day" on—of the tremendous possibilities the little nonelectric device could hold for us. However, we decided to postpone the purchase of a button maker until we could afford to buy one of Badge-A-Minit's more expensive machines. Our friend, you see, owned a small hand-held unit that cost (at that time) $24. We thought that a more durable model would better meet our needs, so we held out for a sturdier bench type that went for $94.

The press is sold with enough badge parts to make 250 buttons, so as soon as I received the machine I began to practice. And, just as quickly, I started accumulating "goofs." It seemed no matter how hard I tried, at least eight of every ten buttons turned out wrong. Eventually I realized that the problem wasn't my technique. Rather, the plastic dies that had come with the machine were faulty.

Naturally, this discovery resulted in a flurry of letters to the Badge-A-Minit company. I'm happy to report, though, that within three weeks the firm sent me two new sets of dies, as well as 50 new badge parts to make up for those that had been ruined. (In fact, I've found the company to be more than fair in its dealings.)

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