9 Steps to Designing Your Own Enamel Pins

October 16, 2023

Have you ever wondered how to design enamel pins? They are, after all, one of the fashionable and trendiest accessories available today. Lapel pins have become popular in today's fashion, and they are quite versatile.

However, you may be limited by the options of lapel pins in the market. There are two major types of enamel pins, those that have been commercialized, and those used for causes. The ones made for causes can only be worn to certain events. On the other hand, the commercialized ones are so generic; you're almost sure you'll run into someone else with a similar design.

How then can you stand out with an enamel pin? The good news is there are enamel manufacturers that can help you bring your dreams to reality. Have you ever thought of a unique idea for an enamel pin? If yes, you can now bring the idea to life with the help of lapel pin manufacturers.

But, just how can you transform the design you have in your head to an actual wearable lapel pin? Well, let's delve into the enamel making process that will have you creating your unique designs in no time. And remember, if you take it just one step at a time, you'll be able to create your very own lapel pins.

Table of Contents

How to Design Your Own Enamel Pins

Some of the steps listed below may not be applicable to everybody. If there's a rule that doesn't apply to you, you can just gloss over to the next step. In the end, you'll have all the skills and technical knowhow to bring your enamel dreams to reality.

1. Creating the concept

As with anything else, the very first step in getting anything accomplished is having a worthwhile idea. If you look throughout history, you'll notice an array of successful mega-projects that were only effective due to a strong and coherent planning phase.

Similarly, the starting point of your enamel pin making venture begins in the conceptualization stage. This is where you come up with the lapel pin's concept. To start you off, or if you're having a hard time getting the right concept for your lapel pin, you can write down a few topics.

If you want to keep the enamel pins for yourself, then the topics listed down should relate to your interests and the things that excite you. If you're producing the enamel pins for resale or mass distribution, the topics should revolve around some of the trending and more relatable topics.

A few ideas of the topics you can start on before finding the right enamel pin concept include;

  • ‍Popular places or the places you like to visit
  • You hobbies, passions and fandoms
  • Collections of books, toys, and other items you may be in possession of
  • A list of the topic ideal bucket list ideas
  • A breakdown of all of life's major milestones
  • Wordplay and puns

When writing your list, you can have as many random ideas as possible. This will especially help you get more creative and view things from a different angle. As mentioned above, lapel pins have become more open to when and where you can wear them.

This means that you have the liberty to come up with any stylish concept that you think you'd look good in or would sell well. If you already have a niche, try and narrow in on the design as much as possible. For example, in the case of fandoms, you may like comic books. When you narrow in on this, you'll likely end up with a handful of characters you would like to create lapel pins. This is just an idea of how you can work from the major topic to the specific concept.

2. Sketching the concept

Once you already have your concept down, the next step is putting it down on paper. This is where you have to know if you're a truly talented artist or need a professional's services.

There have been a few cases of unhappy people with the final result of the enamel pins they got. However, these people are actually to blame for poor artworks sent to the manufacturer in these cases. If you are doubtful of recreating the very concept you want, you can ask for help from an artist or graphics designer. If you power through it on your own, you may end up with substandard enamel pin designs that won't look good, and no one will be interested in buying or wearing them.

When sketching the concept, there are a few factors to keep in mind. These factors will help you keep true the design you have envisioned. They include;

  • Incorporate the color in your design - As you are sketching the enamel pin concept, remember to include the colors you would like. This will help you get a true feel of the lapel pin and give you a preliminary view of the finished product.
  • Don't include unnecessary details - As with most other things, there's a beauty in simplicity. This is not to bash creativity or complexity, but simply to endorse an easier and more effective way of getting a stellar design on your lapel pin.

When you have too much detail, it could end up ruining the enamel design. You have to remember the lapel pin is a fairly small accessory, and when you include too much detail to it, it could end up looking smudge.

Additionally, keep in mind that the more detail you have, the more work the manufacturing firm will have to put in. As a result, you'll be charged more just to a few extra detail lines.

  • Avoid gaps and complex outer shapes - Similarly, you should keep away from using unnecessary gaps and compound outer shapes. These will also make it harder to reproduce the enamel pins you are looking for, and when you do find the manufacturer, they will charge you more because of increased effort and input.
  • Factor the pin's size - The ultimate dream in creating enamel pins is seeing them being worn. To ensure this happens, you have to keep away from some of the things that sabotage their success. The enamel's size is a good indication of this.

If you have ideal size, get a similar lapel pin size and see just how well it holds up in a different trend and wears. This will help you come up with an effective size that everyone will feel comfortable walking around with.

3. Converting your concept

So, now you already have a working concept, and you've taken the extra step of having a sketch of the artwork. However, you can't just hand in the artwork on a piece of paper to the enamel manufacturers. In most cases, most manufacturers request a digital PDF format of the lapel pin concept. From this, they can easily feed the design into the lapel pin manufacturing process.

If you opted to get a graphic designer or professional artist in the previous step, all you have to do is ask them for a PDF format of the artwork. After you have the right format, you simply just have to send it to the manufacturer.

If you opted to create the artwork manually, you have to now convert it into a digital format that's acceptable with the manufacturer. To accomplish this, you can;

  • ‍Scan the artwork and ensure every part of the concept is easily visible, and the details are as they appear on the artwork.
  • Once you have a clear digital design, you can then fine-tune it with design software such as illustrator or CorelDraw. There are multiple design software available today. While these two are some of the most recommended, you can find an alternative that works well for you and provides quality sketches.
  • Save the artwork in a friendly format that you can edit and make changes if something changes. Additionally, have it in a format that's acceptable to the manufacturer of choice.

4. Choosing the right material

Enamel pins may look the same, but there are fundamental differences that can have a greater impact on the final piece. With this in mind, you need to choose the right material for your lapel pins. Each manufacturer has a preference when it comes to enamel pin manufacture. If you do not decide, they'll probably recommend one of their most preferred.

So, what material should you go for? Well, the question is a little more complex. There are several things that should influence your choice. The choices when it comes to the right enamel pin, are several. Here's some more info to help you better decide on the best material for you.

  • Hard enamel - A hard enamel pin simply means the pin will comprise a smooth surface stretching from the metal outlines to the colored enamel. The hard enamel is the most preferred as it has a great design and the most professional feel.

Hard enamels are flat and smooth as a result of layering and a hard surface.

  • Soft enamel - A soft enamel, unlike their hard counterpart, leaves metal outlines over the enamel and is used to fill the colored segments of the design. Soft enamels are also a top preferred choice as they are relatively cheaper.

Most of the old pins or those with a vintage appeal use the soft enamel.

  • 3D and sandblasted - These designs don't lay enamels into the design. However, they do manage to maintain high levels of detail and end up with a clean and sophisticated design. In some cases, the material is used for 3D designs as it has high attention to detail.
  • Printed - There are instances when the actual design is too detailed to have any of the other materials and have a sophisticated and appealing look. In such instances, you can turn to print, a perfect solution for images too complex to be made into pins.

The printed design simply seals the image inside the enamel, which still maintains the great design detail.

Some manufacturers offer additional services at an extra cost. Some of these additional services include

  • Screen printing - This is usually done for the hard enamel whose surface is smooth
  • Numbering - This is a particular service that is reserved for the enamels that will be produced in limited supply. This could be from a number of factors, and some of these enamel pins end up costing a lot as they are in limited supply.
  • Back stamp - This is a great way to stamp your logo on your work. The logo goes on the back of the enamel pin and makes it easy if anyone wants to find you in the future. Additionally, if you stick to the same manufacturer, you can save cost as the mold will be on file for future designs.

5. Choosing the right manufacturer

This is a step where most enamel pin creators get frustrated a lot. The frustration can be pinned to a number of problems experienced in sourcing for a worthy manufacturer. Most artists follow this process up to this point then give up. The frustrations are either they can't get a suitable manufacturer, or the process is unending and full of hoops to jump through.

While their numbers are increasing, there's a shortlist of competent manufacturers who'll get your order right. So, you have to consider if there are any locally available manufacturers and what their manufacturing process entails. If there are no regional firms available, you may start looking for overseas solutions.

When looking for the right company, some of the considerations to make include;

  • Time - How long will it take to have the lapel pins made from when you submit the concept design
  • Quality - What quality of work are they going to produce, and how similar to the concept is going to be
  • Quantity - If you have a large order, will the manufacturer be able to handle the order and in good time? The same goes for when you have a customized small order, does the firm have the capacity to process even the small orders.

6. Deciding your packaging options

As formerly mentioned, some of the steps on how to design your own enamel pins may not be applicable to everyone. For example, if you are creating a few custom pieces, you don't necessarily need to stress about your packaging options.

If, on the other hand, you are planning on either selling or giving away the lapel pins, you might want to think about what packaging options you have available. The situation on packaging needs depends on the purpose of the enamel pins.

If you are producing the enamel pins with the intention of selling them, the packaging will be an integral piece of your enamel pin. Customers choose the product to buy based on a number of factors, one of the factors being the packaging.

If you go for professional and appealing packaging, you'll have the upper hand in the market. Additionally, having a packaged product makes it easier to take your product on board when a wholesaler approaches you.

You can check if the manufacturer is able to produce the enamel pin packaging, as this would drastically reduce your overall cost. If they don't provide the service, you can get another place where you can produce the packaging in bulk, as this will also lower the cost.

On the other hand, if you are producing the lapel pins for events or giveaways, you'll need a slightly different approach to your packaging needs. While you can still opt for a packaging deal, you ideally want to give as many of the enamel pins to the right people as quickly as possible. If you still want to have a package, however, you can still go ahead with it.

However, the best solution for enamels that you are planning to give away is a logo on the pin. You can have the logo or contact info on the back. This will also mean you have to enquire if the manufacturer offers the aforementioned back stamp services.

7. Checking for copyright

When creating designs, there's always a risk of being in infringement of copyright laws. If especially, you plan on commercially benefiting from the manufacture of enamel pins, you need to ensure you're not breaking any laws.

Essentially, this means that you have to ensure there's no other design that's similar to yours. If you've copied something already existing, you should also ensure you have express authorization from the copyright owner.

Copyright is a serious issue that, in some regions, can land you in legal trouble. So it is essential that you thoroughly check that everything is in order before you proceed. You wouldn't want to be in a case where you come up with a grand design, start selling the lapel pins, only for another party to emerge claiming ownership of the design.

In fact, if it's a possibility in your area, you should protect the copyrights and ownership of the concept and anything else that is unique about your enamel pin designs. This is the only way to safeguard yourself from troubles down the line.

8. Setting a budget

The budget is always the toughest bit of any project, and enamel production is no different. Here. You want to ensure you break down your budget to what is needed at each stage of the process. Next, you need to divide your budget into portions fitting each step in the process.

One of the factors outside your control is how much the enamel pin manufacturer will charge you. The problem sets in when you work with random figures, not knowing how much the manufacturer charges. If you're not certain just how much they charge, you can check the ebsite for prices or make an inquiry.

The budget you have should also guide you along the way as you make decisions on the enamel pin-making process. For example, from the budget, you can tell which material to go for. Having a budget will also give you an estimate of how long the process will take and the quality of work provided by the manufacturer.

In some cases, it may be better to do a lower number of the projected lapel pins while maximizing the quality of production and turnaround time.

Additionally, the other aspect to keep in mind is the shipping cost. If you get the pins made at a distant location, you may have to pay for shipping costs. Having an estimate of all the figures will help you when you're planning for the manufacturing process.

9. Waiting for the complete order

At this point, you've already made a fitting concept, and you've scanned it and edited it professionally. You've also sent it to the manufacturer, and the work has already begun. At this point, you now have to wait for the order.

If you have not worked with the manufacturer before, you can request for a few pieces. This will help show you the quality as well as show you the process of the manufacturing firm and their turnaround time. If you are not sure about the manufacturer, you can request a sample of the design, which will help you decide. However, this should be done at the stage where you're sourcing for manufacturing companies.

Once everything is all set, you just now have to sit, relax, and wait for your order to arrive. Once it does arrive, and you are happy with the design, it's now time to have the fruits of your labor distributed - whether you're giving them away or selling them.

Along the process, you can also get the opinion of others to see if the design is worthy and if it really is something someone would like to wear. Once you start going, there's no stopping you. And who knows, maybe your design will be the next hit in the fashion industry.

While it is a somewhat strenuous process, it is an awfully rewarding one. You'll have the design you've always wanted at the end of the day, and you'll slowly turn your dream into a reality. And remember, once you find the right manufacturer, stick with them as this creates a mutually beneficial relationship, and it'll likely be cost-effective too.

For all your enamel pin manufacturing needs, visit PinProsPlus for the latest designs, affordable prices, and the best service and quality when it comes to lapel pins.

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