Success! Alas-How to Make Laminated Pins

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I promised I’d share my own brooch recipe that can take the place of the Shrinky Dink process, or you can make both kinds to sell, keep and wear, or give as a gift. Let’s hear it for Entrepreneurship-give my an “E”, give me an “N”; okay too long to spell out-but you could shake an imaginary pom-pom in the air for me.

Awhile ago I noticed a darling illustrated brooch on ETSY. The brooch was a miniature illustration by the artist. She’d laminated her wee drawn character using a thick lamination sheet. I covet her work and plan to buy some to wear on my sweaters.


In the meantime, being an illustrator I too wanted to express myself in brooch form. PLEASE NOTE: You don’t have to be expert at drawing to create laminated brooches, you could be a Zentangle artist or a Collage artist and scan in your design to be printed out.

Because I so enjoyed this process-I’m offering all ye readers 50% off my laminated pin designs in my Etsy shop:SuzanneUrban. Simply type in this code: LAMINATESU for the coupon code when checking out. Offer lasts until 1.25.11.

TIME INVOLVED:Two hours. However it’s noon and I’m still in my PJ’s I started this tutorial at 7am. But writing a tutorial is more involved with photo shoots and such.

BUTTERFINGERS LEVEL: moderate, some knowledge of Photoshop or graphics-based program needed. If you elect to not color your art digitally and you can paint a design on watercolor paper (d’arches, Strathmore) and scan in.

Good quality tracing paper-I used Canson’s Foundation Tracing Paper
Permanent-(waterproof) ink pen-I used a Micron Archival Ink pen
Good Quality-thicker printing paper-I used Kodak’s Premium Photo Paper
Color Printer-one with archival inks would be best-i.e. non-fading inks
Scissors-small sharp ones are best
Computer, scanner, photoshop, GIMP or other graphic based program
Self-adhesive laminating paper or if you have a laminating machine use that-I use Scotch Self-Sealing Laminating Pouches
Burnishing tool
Fine grade Sandpaper
Optional Small Hole Punch

Save your images as high res: anywhere from 150dpi to 300 dpi for print output.

Don’t have a nice color printer will you could join CafePress or Zazzle and print up a sheet. There are other print on demand services online-you just need to search. Do ask vendor if they use archival inks i.e. non-fading inks if you wish your work to last.

PHOTOSHOP TOOLS USED: Blur tool, Erase tool, Paint Bucket

If you aren’t computer savvy hand color your work and scan in then duplicate several images to a sheet. Or just do this if it’s your aesthetic preference.

Also brooches aren’t super big, from my research they are anywhere from 1.5”x2” to 2”x2.5” in size. The bearer of your design wears a brooch to enhance her outfit-not overwhelm. It can be an attention-grabber-but not so large it flaps around in the wind.

Tracing paper scans in with slight grey tone, be sure to adjust levels, but also when scanning, back your traced image with white paper. TIP: Leave a white sheet of paper on your scanner all the time to save a little time.

PRODUCTION ARTIST TIP: If you outlined your drawing with black ink, then noticed the white line edge of the paper shows when you hold the image next to your clothing; take a black magic marker and glide along the edge of your image to blacken, this way sides of the image are black edged like the front outline of drawing.

If outlining your image with a black line or any color line, keep line THICK-I wish I kept my thicker, as it makes cutting around the design easier


• Sketch out a design on paper, be aware that the wigglier your outline, the harder it will be to cut out.

• Once you have your finished sketch, ink in using a permanent waterproof pen, for cleaner lines use quality transparent vellum paper like:

• I made my angel pin outline thicker to make cutting easier.

• You can hand paint your image if you traced onto watercolor paper OR you can paint digitally-which is what I did this time around. Or mix it up, I painted my little caffeine fairy with actual COFFEE!! but to beef up the color-the coffee I brewed was a little too watery, I scanned her in, colored her light tan then printed out on watercolor paper and proceeded to handpaint with French Vanilla coffee!

• Scan in finished image and create an 8”x10” document in Photoshop or other graphics program and duplicate so you have several on a page-OR create several designs and put several on a page so you aren’t wasting paper, time, labor by printing out one design. In the graphics world this is known as “two-up, or ten up” or how many duplicate images you have on one page to print out.

• Print out finished page of designs, cut out each small brooch design and sign and date on the back-after all you’re a professional!

• Peel back the laminate paper and carefully place all images-not too close!-back facing on sticky side of laminate. Fold over second laminate page and burnish out air bubbles-burnish good and cut out your design leaving an approx.1/8” border of laminate around design-this prevents the laminate from sliding off or pulling apart.

• Using fine sandpaper slightly roughen spot on back where you will glue the pinback , sand pinback a little too and apply a strong glue to back of pin and let dry. Some pinbacks do come with self-adhesives which quickens the labor-process

• You can cut cardstock into small squares, punch two holes in it using a smaller hole punch- and slip your pinback onto the card and pop into a small plastic cel sleeve (i.e. bags), to protect your pin and present it nicely to customers.

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My little angel pin won’t be in my ETSY shop until next weekend-but I do have some charming designs already up in the shop-a bunny, a teddybear, halloween devil, caffeine fairy and a santa.Hope you like them!

Email me and let me know if this tutorial charged you enough to create your own pins!


About suzanneurban

ABOUT MOI: I was born in San Francisco, California to highly intelligent parents, and my sister is pretty darn smart too. It's unclear if I inherited the smart genes. I graduated with a B.A. in Art from Marymount College Over a couple of decades, I illustrated and designed for newspapers, greeting card companies, in corporate graphic departments and publishing empires. I reside with my antique dealer husband and two house rabbits in a the third oldest home in Connecticut–(honest!-no ghosts-bummer). My husband will be joining ETSY with his own shop called: "VintageUrban" soon. ARTIST STATEMENT: I seek to amuse. When I come up with something more profound I'll put it in here. KUDOS: Over the years my work in various forms has been published in: NYTimes, DollWorld, Contemporary Doll Collector, Doll Castle News, SCBWI magazine, Color! magazine, Jane Green's Down to Earth Blog, Doll World, Scholastics, Westport Magazine, Mail Me Art, and more. In 2007 I was invited to do something for the State Capitol's Holiday Tree by Governor Rell. I chose to needle felt a bear ornament rather than hang from the tree myself. I named him "Nutmeg" as Connecticut is the "Nutmeg" state. ASSOCIATIONS: I'm the founder of or Original Doll Artisans of Connecticut-we're on Facebook. I'm also a member of SCBWI-Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Licensing- my designs are finding favor with licensing clients my work will soon be seen on needlepoint canvases and gourmet ice cream labels. That's about it. Amusingly yours, Suzanne Search Engine Submission - AddMe
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4 Responses to Success! Alas-How to Make Laminated Pins

  1. Bravo!!! Very cool! What fun. 🙂

  2. Holly says:

    Suzanne, this little pin is so cute! I love the dimensional feather you added. Shrinky dink is so fun to play with! I’ve made magnets and pins and even little charms to hang on cards!

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