Handmade Pins VS Enamel Pins

If you're a pin fanatic, the first thing you'll notice about my product is that I don't make the same metal and enamel pins you see everywhere else. Each pin from Ectogasm is hand drawn by me. You might wonder why I go to all the trouble. And how are enamel pins and handmade ones different? 

I'm going to give a breakdown of what separates the two. And I'm going to be as unbiased as possible. Promise. (Disclaimer: I know the featured image is pretty biased. But the UCLA hat was the only free-for-commercial-use image I could find! Thanks Obama.) 

Enamel Pins

These are made by taking a digital file and using machines and complicated stuff I don't know how to explain and converting it into an embossed metal plate. The spaces between the metal are then filled by different colored enamel. 

1. They're real shiny and sleek

Enamel pins are a jolly little piece of graphic design you can put on your lapel. After the artist comes up with an idea, they design it on a computer. Usually a program like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop.

2. Easy to reproduce

When you see a picture of an enamel pin, that's exactly what you're getting. Every pin is exactly the same and, for cost reasons, they are often printed in batches of 200 or 300.

3. Long lasting and resilient

They're made of metal. You can't really break them unless you're trying to or living a truly hardcore life.

Handmade Pins

I make mine from plastic shrink film (aka shrinky dinks). How cute is that? I sand the paper, then draw on them with colored pencil and marker. After baking the finished art in an oven, I glue an iron pinback on. Some pins are resin coated and some are matte. 

1. Each is a unique art piece

I draw and color every single one of my pins. There is no printer or computer involved. Just my hands. I will never claim traditional art is more "creative" than digital art. I'm a huge fan and maker of both. But there is a certain specialness that comes from having an item the artist handled themselves and made especially for you. Every pin is a one of a kind, unique art piece. And, if I'm famous one day, imagine how much you can get for that sucker on ebay! 

2. Customizable

Unlike with enamel pins, I can do one-offs. All my word baring pins can come with custom text. Don't like a color? I can change it for you. It'll cost nothing more to make simple changes like that.

3. I can experiment with weird things at no risk

I'm not going to invest in $300 worth of enamel pins if I don't know they'll sell. And, if I made enamel pins, that would certainly stop me from making weird shit like this. (which turned out to be a best seller, oddly enough). With my way, I can pop out one wacky pin and see how they do. This lets me have some pretty wild pins the likes of which you'll not find elsewhere. 

4. Come in resin and matte coat

Say you like shiny things, but want it handmade. All my pins come in a resin or matte coat. Matte is not shiny and a you definitely don't want it to come in contact with rubbing alcohol. The resin coat is glossy and protects the art. Just depends on your style. And there's no extra cost for either.

So, that's the breakdown of enamel versus handmade. But you might still have a couple questions. 

What's the cost difference? 

The cost of enamel pins varies widely based on who's selling them and how many they printed. If you print more, they cost less to make (not that the maker will sell them for less. But they can). Also, the size of the pin effects the cost to print. I've seen some big pins go up to $15. And also some not so big ones. Again, the artist sets the price, and some of us over price, some under. Usually the cheapest, as far as I've researched, is $7-8.

My handmade pins are all $12. They don't cost more to make than enamel pins, but they do take time. Especially if I'm making them resin coated. Then, each takes individual artistic effort. So you're paying for cost of materials, my skill, and my time.

And, if you think I don't deserve all $12 of your dollars, you can check out our charity pins. Some or all of the proceeds are donated, depending on the pin. 

If you're broke, stick to buttons. 

Why do I prefer handmade pins, as the artist?

As you can imagine, it does take a lot of time for me to make and package each pin. But I love it. I get to make something special for each of my customers. I get to experience a connection that often gets lost in commerce. And, in my experience, the people who order from me have a lot of gratitude for the things they buy and are wonderfully kind. This is coming from someone who worked in retail. Believe me, the indie pin buyer is a different breed.

So, now you know the difference. And, if you're still on the fence, remember that whether or not you buy handmade pins or enamel pins you're supporting an artist. And that's a great thing. 

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Written by Raeha Keller

Late sleeper, tea connoisseur, and artist of Ectogasm.