Use the (Magnetic) Force: Upcycling Button Pins


Remember those “I Am Loved” pins that were all the rage back in…the late 90s? (Is my age showing?) Or how about the craft accomplishment pins from the recently deceased Whimseybox?

Ever thought about doing something with them?

Well, yes, surely. PIN THEM! No, not like on Pinterest, but in the real physical world, through soft, possibly perforated materials like your favorite trivia night t-shirt or the canvas bags you keep forgetting to bring on your shopping trips.

If you’re not into that, there are other options. This is just one of them, and while I don’t know if I can claim it to be the easiest DIY in the world, it’s definitely up there.

Here’s what you need:

button pin magnets

  • Small button pins — ones that have open access to the “pin” part
  • Magnets – these are 3/4″ in diameter and came in a box of 100 for relatively cheap on Amazon
  • E6000 or your favorite industrial adhesive
  • Pliers

(1+2) Use the pliers to remove the pins. In most cases, you just have to push some part that is flush with the rim towards the center.
(3) Apply your favorite adhesives. A nice dollop would be good for concave surfaces, such as for this button.
(4) Stick the magnet in the back. BUT BEFORE YOU DO, if you’re picky about orientation (e.g., you want your future magnets to be stackable or stick back-to-back), then check before you start sticking things down. Also, the magnet might put up a fight and try to stick to other parts of the button as you bring it close. SHOW IT WHO’S BOSS!

If you have oriented the magnets correctly, you can get a series of them stacked, as shown in the upper right-hand corner.

In my experience, I have found that it is actually possible to pull apart objects stuck together with E6000 (and personally I think it has a strange texture when dried — more on this possibly in the future), so if you mess up, it may not be all lost. Unless you used a really strong magnet, like the Grade 5 ones I have (2800 G or 0.28 T).

The remaining question is, what to do about all these pins?


Maybe stick them to actual buttons to cut down on sewing?

Maybe later.

Now, go stick these magnets everywhere.


Save the paper!


I am really bad at throwing things away. This came in handy in the lab, when we realize 3 years down the line that the useless images or data we got from when we didn’t know what we were doing actually have worth.

This trait is not so handy when you are living in an apartment, but I know that one day everything can be repurposed!

I can’t count how many times I’ve felt time pressure and received odd looks when opening gifts. To this, I adapt an affirmation most recently uttered by Miley Cyrus: it’s my present and I can do what I want.

I have also had to part with many beautiful issues of Vogue in the past.  Now I have a very elegant solution/excuse to get around that, too.

    I am unstoppable.


This is an assortment of some of the magic that can happen when you hoard paper. A good assortment of washi tape helps as well. Here are some close-ups.

(Also, check out the nice chessboard: a product of My Beloved’s woodworking skills.)

The last project was perhaps the most involved, as it required extra alignment and coverage considerations.

For example, flap coverage and curved edges:


And since I was doing this while the box was flattened, I forgot to account for the extra coverage needed to accommodate folds. In some cases, when the paper was pulled too much, this awful thing happened:


While the tear is not overly visible, it breaks my heart to know it’s there.

To avoid more heartache this time around, I’m doing things the right way. The supplies I need are the following:


  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Manual paper cutting blade (I’m sure there is a more technical name for this…)
  • Cutting mat
  • Modge Podge (MP)
  • Sponge brush
  • Paper or papers of interest – in this case, the pink thing sitting up there
  • Washi tape – for all the mistakes that are bound to be made
  • A sacrifice


Here we go:

1. Planning the attack. I had just a proper amount of scrap wrapping paper at hand to cover the entire box. I usually leave alone the flaps and faces that face or often get tucked inside (marked ‘[Blank]’) and just wreak havoc everywhere else. (Note that this side is the interior of the box, and any havoc or non-havoc assignments apply to the exterior.)


2. Going slow. I split the job into a top and bottom half instead of covering the entire thing in one go, even though I could have, given the shape of the paper. I cut the paper in two, conveniently along one of its original folds (you know, from back when it was actual wrapping paper), and lined up its straight edges with those of the box so I would have one less edge to trim to shape.


3. The missing detail. This was what I failed to do the first time: go one panel at a time. This time, I covered just a single panel with MP to stick the paper to…


Before I bent part of the box up to pre-fold the next piece (i.e., before applying more MP, just to make sure it would fall in place once I was ready).


4. Close shave. Once I was done adhering on the top half, I laid the box flat again to start trimming the excess paper. See how on one side the paper and edge are aligned? That was so that I wouldn’t have to trim that side, but I’m going to have to anyway because the paper overshot and it bugs me.



5. Finishing touches. I repeated this on the other half and now have a new box! Well, almost. This is where washi tape comes in.


My principle: Anywhere the paper can peel off or gets tucked in and out frequently during use, APPLY WASHI TAPE. When in doubt, APPLY WASHI TAPE. In fact, don’t think, just APPLY WASHI TAPE.

(Well, I did exercise some moderation and applied tape only to straight edges.)


Just a few more strips for decoration purposes (and because there was a scratch on the front), and ta da!


Given its humble beginnings and relatively simple makeover, I’d say it looks pretty sweet. Too bad I’m not keeping it. I’m going to give it to my BFFFFF, and maybe she’ll put her own collection of washi tape in it. Although, knowing her, she doesn’t need a box; she needs a trunk.