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Perfect Buttons Start With The Perfect Paper!

The starting point of the perfect button and the most asked question in button making is, "what is the best paper to use?"  Using the wrong paper is one of the most common causes of a button that fails to crimp but never fear, ABM is here to help you find the solutions that will have your buttons looking and crimping perfectly!

Dum Dum Wrapper ButtonMost button makers see an opportunity to make a great button everywhere they see paper - comic books, magazines, stationary, craft paper, scrapbook paper, wrapping paper and sometimes even an occasional candy wrapper or piece of foil!  The brilliantly creative minds of the button making Dum Dum Wrapper Pinback Buttoncommunity are quite adept at creating a button from just about anything they can cut a circle from and the results are fabulous!

The first item to consider when looking at paper is what size buttons are you making?  From there, the 2 main factors to be considered are brightness and thickness.  There is great debate over matte or glossy but remember, once you add the mylar on top of your button it will create plenty of shine in the finished product providing just the right enhancement to your design.

In matters of brightness, when printing designs on plain white paper, look for an option that has a brightness level of 100+.  This will provide a pure white background for your design and offer the crispest, brightest print.  Watch for terms such as "super white" and "ultra bright" for the best quality.  Essentially, the cleaner and brighter the white, the more vivid your print will be.  When using colored paper for your background, you can save on ink cost but be sure to account for the color change your ink will have when it prints on the colored paper.  The darker the paper, the darker your print will come out.  For maximum convenience at events on the go and to ensure you have the best button making paper available, you can always get handy Pre-Cut Paper Circles in bright white as well as 5 vibrant colors designed to enhance any design!  They are perfect for "design your own" events.

Paper Weight for Button Making

The most mind boggling aspect of choosing your paper is the thickness.  Because the materials used in different styles and brands of paper can vary slightly, the weight is not always the best measurement to use when making your selection.  Checking the caliper thickness is the most reliable.  For most standard machines, the prime range is a thickness of .005 - .006 and a weight of 24 lbs.   If you have a round photo machine, you can use .005 - .009 with a weight of 24 - 58 lbs.  If you have one of the coveted rectangle machines, you want be sure you use standard copier paper (.005, 24 lb) in the paper machine and photo paper (.009, 58 lb) in the photo machine.  With all other specialty shapes, the standard copier paper works great!  All machines, standard and photo (with the exception of the 2" x 3" photo) can accommodate as light as 20 lb paper but you may experience diminished print quality.

You will talk to many button makers who very successfully utilize all manner of media in their quest for the perfect button and we at ABM would never want to be one to stifle creativity but just a word of caution, not everything will work for everyone.  We will tell you that if you follow these guidelines, you should be pressing perfectly beautiful buttons in no time!

The Pinback Button Making Community

Would you like to know what all of the other creative geniuses in the button making universe are up to?  Join us in The Pinback Button Making Community to find out!  We have weekly winners for ABM Gift Cards, exclusive discounts, tons of great ideas and plenty of button-tastic friends!  Hope to see you there soon but until then....happy button making!

By Brighid Brown, Director of Blogging and All Things Cool at ABM 


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3 comments

Will 28lb paper work for the 1.25" buttons? What is the difference?

Cat on

GSM stands for “grams per square meter”. The higher the GSM number, the heavier the paper.

American Button Machines on

What does the GSM column represent in the above chart? Is it of major concern?

Autumn Pinkerton on


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