How to Make Enamel Pins: A Step By Step Beginner’s Guide

February 06, 2021 6 min read

How to make enamel pins step by step guide

How to make enamel pins :

A Step-by-Step Beginner's Guide

 

In this quick but in-depth 4-step guide I will tell you exactly how to get started making your very first enamel pins, easily. Doesn't matter if you have no artistic ability or a small budget this guide will show you how to make it work. I've also included links to resources I use myself as an established pin maker.

Whether you’re starting a new enamel pin business, making your own merch, or you just want to make some pins for your friends, this is the article you’ve been waiting for. You don’t need to be an artist or designer to make bad ass enamel pins--you just need this step-by-step guide. 

How to Design and Make Enamel Pins

Step 1: Sketch It Out

how to make enamel pins sketch

The first thing you need to do when making enamel pins is to draw out your design. Sketch it out in black and white, and don’t worry about making life-sized just yet. You can start with a big sketch and then downsize when you’ve got all the details ironed out.

 

Here’s our tips for first time pin designers:

  • Go for clean lines and simple designs. Once you get a hang of the designing process, you can make things more complex.
  • Stick to color palettes with 6-8 colors. Anything more can get muddy and some factories charge for more colors.
  • Make sure none of your lines are overlapping.
  • Stick to solid colors because factories can’t do shading on enamel pins.

Step 2: Get The File Ready

 

Once your design is ready, it’s time to turn it into the right kind of file. You can either sketch out the design on paper and scan it or create the image on a tablet or computer.

 

Once your design is uploaded, clean it up using an editing program like Procreate, Photoshop, or Illustrator. Convert the file to a vector and make sure all your lines and colors are clean. Make sure to use Pantone colors, since most factories require this.

 

Once you pick the factory you want to work with, check which file type they want your design in. Most factories prefer PDFs or Adobe Illustrator files, but make sure to ask before you send the file over.

 

Pro Tip #1You don’t need to know how to draw or deal with complicated file stuff. Most factories offer design services now. You can sketch out your pin design idea, take a clear picture of it on your smartphone, submit it to your chosen manufacturer and get a proof to check.

 Cons: You would need to have a factory you trust. All factories are in China so the time difference would make this a long process. Communication/ Language barrier gaps could make this a very tedious and draining process.

 how to make enamel pins at home using fiverr

Pro Tip #2:  This is what I recommend for beginners especially.

  1. Go to Fiverr.com and find an artist with a style you like.
  2. Check their prices and make sure if you work with them you get FULL COMMERCIAL RIGHTS to what they create for you. You can find artists as cheap as $5 with great work but to expect to pay around $30.
  3. Work with them to create your perfect design.
  4. Make sure to let them know to keep it super simple. Don’t use any shading or artwork with color transitions because those won’t be possible on enamel pins. (Shading would be possible on hard enamel pins if you use spot printing but we’ll save that for another time)
  5. Have them deliver the final file as a PNG or Vector file
  6. Submit this to your manufacturer

Step 3: The Final Details

how to make enamel pins detailed sketch for factory

Now that the design is done and ready to go, you still have a few decisions to make.

 

Choose Your Material: Hard Enamel or Soft Enamel Pins

When it comes to enamel pins, there are two main materials they can be made of:

  • Hard enamel→ Hard enamel pins have thin metal lines between the colors of the pin and are polished to a smooth finish. Hard enamel is a high-quality material that will last and last.
  • Soft enamel → Soft enamel pins are thinner than hard enamel pins and tend to cost slightly less. They have a textured surface and you can opt for an additional epoxy coating on top. These are best for pins with smaller details or more complicated designs.

The Number of posts matter

The pin post is the needle on the back of your pin that you use to secure it to clothing or fabric. In terms of functionally this detail is very important. The factory you work with should automatically add the correct number of posts depending on the size of your pin design. As a general rule of thumb if its larger than an inch it should automatically be double posted. If your enamel pin design is larger than 2.5” and has a square design think of having 3-4 posts

  • Single posted → a single post to secure your pin. These are best for small 1” pins.
  • Double posted → these have two needles and allow for stability when attaching your pin to clothing.

Just think if you have a single posted 2” pin it will “hang” off fabric and if the design is meant to face a particular way it could spin in place. No pin collector would like that.

 

Then you can pick what kind pin backs you want This option will come down to price, preference, and loss prevention. The standard free options are rubber backs and butterfly clasps.

 how to make enamel pins choosing your pin backing

Free Options

  • Butterfly clip → This is the most common kind, where you pinch two little wings on the clasp to take it on and off of the posts. They are the best free option because they keep your pins more secure.
  • Rubber cap→ You can also use a simple rubber cap on your pin backs, but these fall off easily. However, you can order them in a bunch of colors and even some cute butterfly or heart shapes. As a pin maker these are the easiest to take off to add your pins to backing cards during the packing stage

 

Options that cost

It’s important to remember that these options are only a few cents in price but when you multiply that by the number of pins you order they could get pretty costly. Magnets and Safety pins aren’t popular choices for pin collecting buyers and would make your pins “un-useable” by collectors that add their collections to pin boards because those options do not come with posts.

 

  • Magnets → If you don’t want to deal with needles and damaging fabric, magnets are the best choice but they offer no real security and would cause more pin loss than rubber pin backs
  • Safety pins→ This is a secure option that will make it virtually impossible for the pin to fall off and get lost. However, safety pins tend to get bent or damaged easily.

 

  • Locking pin backs or Spring Clutch -These are the holy grail of the pinning world. They take a little work to remove from pin posts but you won’t find a more secure option. It’s common for pin makers to order their designs with butterfly clasps or rubber backings then offer locking pin backs as an upsell option. It will keep your upfront costs lower and offer a chance to make more profit in the long run.

Step 4: Contact The Factory

Once all your final details are ironed out, it’s time to contact the factory and place your order. Before you pick who to work with, send them a low-res file of your artwork (so they don’t steal it!) and ask about the material, size, quantity, and pin-backs you want.

 

All factories that produce enamel pins are in China. They are not U.S. based. If you do find a “U.S manufacturer” you are working with a middleman. It will cost you more to work with a middleman but can ease the stress of vetting and communicating directly with manufacterers.

 To find a factory you can search:

where to go to get enamel pins made alibaba

  • Alibaba.com
  • Google for “Enamel Pin Manufacturer”
  • Search on Instagram for “Enamel Pin Manufacturer (Yes they hang out there)
  • Join Pin Maker Facebook groups and ask others. If you join just search the group posts for pin factories
  • Or make a post of your own. Trust me they will answer you in Facebook groups too. They also join these groups looking to find buyers

 

They should email back soon with a cost estimate and a design mock-up. Once you approve it, you generally pay half of the cost up front and the other half after you get an image of the final product and you approve it. Then they’ll ship it out and give you a tracking number. The actual production often takes 4-6 weeks depending on the number of enamel pins you order.

And that’s it, folks! Making your own enamel pins may seem like a lot of work (and it is!) but it’s so rewarding to make your own wearable art. Good luck!

Now that you know how to make enamel pins you know what goes into creating Badmouthed Bruja pins. Get more inspiration by taking a look at our best themed witch enamel pins.


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