(measuring about 10 x 5 inches):
In a former life, this used to be one of those light (balsa wood-ish) trays from the dollar store. It cost 50 cents ($2.00 for a nesting set of 4). The buttons are a mix of cheapos and yummy vintage ones that were a gift from my Mum. They're all happy together, just glued onto a piece of black cardstock.
1) Sand the wood a little with some sandpaper & wipe the dust off.
2) Paint the tray with white acrylic paint (or whatever paint you like).
3) Adhere a piece of black cardstock for contrast (cut to fit the bottom of the tray). Of course, you could use any colour...or none at all.
4) Arrange your buttons first to be sure you have enough of them & they're how you like them.
5) Glue em down! The easiest way to keep the arrangement seemed to be to pick each button up one by one & glue the buttons into the tray bottom (using clear lacquer glue).
Little note: having some teeny tiny buttons makes it easiest to fill the tray nicely right to the edges.
If you wanted to, you could add a piece of glass to the tray to make it fit for use at a tea party (or for cocktails). To make it level, I would just be sure to have several buttons of the same height (the highest buttons of your collection) in each of the corners so that the glass sits evenly atop them, and then you could affix the glass by gluing on wooden trim, or however you like.
And wouldn't it be nifty to make one of these with
a zillion snaps instead of buttons??? sigghhhhhh!
P.s. Got a thing for buttons?