Since the 2016 February Thing-A-Day has included shank buttons and discussions regarding same, of course I couldn't resist making some buttons today! They are baking as I write. I have made lots of shank buttons in days past, I used to sell them at quilt shows, but it's been years. So when we were talking about how to attach the shanks on Day 7 or 8, I had forgotten, until I tried making them again today, some of the tricks and hints. I'm sharing them now.
I made half-dome buttons today, by shaping them in a half-circle mold. I have metal shanks, and as I worked, I realized how I'd attached them in the past -
I take a small piece of clay that matches the color of the back of the button, and I thin it out to almost paper thin.
I take the paper thin bit of clay and drop it over the top of the shank on my table, then use X-Acto to cut a circle just barely bigger than the flat surface of the shank. Then I push the clay down so the little shank part comes through it.
I stick my needle tool through the shank hole (where the thread will go when it's sewn) to hold it, then I put a teensy little drop of super glue on the flat bottom of the shank - just so that it will stick to the raw clay on the back of the button while I fiddle with it, and not move. (baking pretty much ruins the sticking power of super glue).
Now I take a smoothing tool, and drag that clay out over the bottom of the button until it melds in with the clay on the bottom of the button. Since it's hard to make this look super neat, after I've made sure all the seams and creases are smooth, I then texture the bottom of the button with a wire tool or whatever you have. At this point, the flat part of the shank is completely covered with clay, so that it can never come out!
The bottom of my buttons don't look really perfect, but once they are sewn on, nobody can see that part.
I hope this helps!