I made a number of samples for my button workshop. I knew a plain polymer clay button would survive being washed and dried, but I wasn’t sure about more delicate techniques.
The top row is a similar button that hasn’t been washed. The bottom row is after one wash and dry cycle with an ordinary load of laundry.
The first button was antiqued with white artist-grade acrylic paint. Any paint on the surface or edges was buffed away, leaving only the areas where it was recessed. Not bad really. I’m thinking sending a strand of beads through the wash repeatedly would probably give you a nice muted sheen–but I’m too impatient, so I’ll probably still just buff the clay on my jeans for that sort of effect.
I did also do another button completely painted with a shimmery pink craft acrylic. The paint was partially removed and collected a ton of lint from the t-shirt material it was sewn on. The lint seemed to be embedded in the paint at the end of the cycle. Not a success.
The second buttons were black clay with Perfect Pearls mica powder, followed by one coat of Flecto Varathane to protect it. I was amazed at how well that held up. Some of the mica on the edges did get buffed away and I think repeated washings would eventually wear through the Flecto. It would be fine for handwashing though. And it would be worth trying a few more coats of Flecto or some Kato liquid clay to see if that would hold up to repeated washings. I do love the shimmer of mica powders.
The last button had inclusions of dried flower petals mixed into white clay. I gave it a coat of TLS before I baked it, and I didn’t notice any change at all after washing. I was expecting the surface bits of flower to flake off but they stayed on.