Making Custom Enamel Pins

Custom enamel pins are created by color-filling by hand. This guide to walk you through the steps in how to make enamel lapel pins with your logo.

custom logo pins

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What is the difference between hard and soft enamel pins?

The difference between hard and soft enamel is the amount of color that is filled into the base metal of the pin. Soft enamel pins have raised metal ridges, creating separations between colors and design. Hard enamel pins are completely filled with color, and no lines of the design are raised or recessed, creating a hard, glass-like finish.

Soft vs hard enamel lapel pins

Is one better than another? The PC answer is no, and it's really about personal preference. Hard enamel has a glass-like appearance similar to cloisonne and is filled all the way to the surface of a pin, allowing this style to have a smooth feel. Soft enamel is less expensive and can be manufactured a bit quicker to make because of the way these two styles are created. When in dought, request samples. The difference between these two types is in the color fill. The color filled only 75% of the way up the metal walls.

soft enamel vs hard enamel lapel pins

How to make enamel pins?

How are enamel pins made?

They are made by creating a sketch of your idea followed by having a graphic designer create a rendering of your design. The next step is to decide which enamel style to use. The difference in these styles is pretty simple, soft enamel is recessed below the metal compared to hard being the same level as the surrounding metal.

How much do enamel pins cost?

Pricing is based on the size of your design and the style you choose to use. Pricing starts around $325.00 for 100 one inch pins. Options like deluxe clutches and gemstones will raise the cost of a project. Mold charges are a one-time charge and are normally held at the factory for three years. 

Consider the size and shape

Think about the use, and about which size will best achieve that function. Be creative with the shape of your design as customizing a shape is part of what makes these items unique.

How do you design enamel lapel pins

Illustrations can start as a simple sketch followed by a formal design process. Designing a pin usually starts with a graphic artist that makes a design so it's ready for a die maker to transfer a logo to a metal pin blank.  Most graphic artists will vectorize a graphic so it is in the correct format.

The Creative Process

Create a sketch or concept of your custom logo and decide how much input in the creative process you will need. Consider the material or style aesthetic for your particular design. Think about which colors or textures best represent your brand or logo.

Lastly, get your lapel pins made!

Contact the pin manufacturing company, like Monterey Company, and begin working with a trained artist from logo finalization to production.

soft enamel pin with cutouts

Soft enamel pins

Soft enamel is one of the most in-demand styles for custom made pins. They have lots of great uses, and they are stunning to look at. Logo colors can be matched and colors are recessed giving them an embossed feel. They are made by stamping a design or logo into a base metal sheet, creating recessed areas separated by raised metal die lines. The color is poured into the recessed areas, coating the bottom and edges up to the die-lines, assuming the shape of the design. The enamel is then cured, hardening into vibrant, glossy colors. The finished product is textured, as the raised areas remain the highest points on the creation, creating subtle ridges that separate the color detailing of the pin.

hard enamel pin

Hard enamel pins

Hard enamel is a great alternative to our cloisonné pins. This style of pin-making gives you all the colors in the rainbow to choose and are the most durable style we offer. They offer eye-catching and bright colors. They are made through stamping a design into the base metal, creating raised and recessed areas in which color is added. The color is added in multiple layers, filling the design until the color reaches the same plane as the metal die-lines. The color-filling is cured and polished, creating a smooth, glossy pin. Create a 3D-effect by using shading in your design, use the extensive color selections available to create shaded effects within your design. This style keeps the colors separate, without having a ridge distract the eye. This creates an opportunity to achieve a three dimension-like effect without the use of a mold or the casting process.

custom enamel pins

How to design enamel pins?

Making a pin design starts with your logo or illustration. Selecting the pin style starts with choosing between styles.  and cloisonne. These two styles are on the same level as the metal making them smooth to the touch. The Monterey Company is an expert in manufacturing and has all the answers from production methods to adding lapel pin backs.

These enamel pins have a classic look and feel, with the color coating recessed areas in your pressed metal. Because it is one of the most cost-effective pin types while maintaining the integrity of a high-quality product, consider designing your custom pin specifically for this style. Because the color will be filled between metal die-lines, give those lines purpose by making them focal points within your design. Use lettering, linework, or solid forms to set the words and shapes above a solid background. Integrate the multiple colors of your brand through creating intentional spacing for your differing shades. Avoid business and excess detail, letting your design shine through the colors and accents.

More about soft enamel

They are quite affordable because of the method they are created by die-striking your logo into the base metal. Made of fine detailing the process and give you an unlimited number of colors to choose from. This means you will get the exact logo color you are looking for. With so many styles, textures, and finishes, they are some of the most versatile and cost-effective to manufacture. They have a raised edges and recessed color giving this style a textured feel.

soft enamel pins
cloisonne pin

How to make pins using cloisonne

This process was originally used to make small items such as jewelry, weapons, and decorations. By the 14th century, China got ahold of this technique and started to make larger items such as decorative bowls and small statues.

Cloisonne pins begin with the same first steps as die-struck pins, in which a custom design is stamped creating raised and recessed areas within a design. 

What are cloisonne pins?

Cloisonne is a color-adding process classically used in jewelry making and artistic metalwork dating back as far as 2000 years ago. The process begins similar to other coloring techniques, with the design being die-struck into copper or metal sheets, creating cavities and ridges. Unique to this color filling is the pigmented sand that is filled into the recessed areas, selected from specific color charts.

Once the sand is added into the design, the pin is fired at 1700 degrees Fahrenheit, turning the sand into colored glass. Unlike hard custom enamel pin color, this pin type cannot be overfilled and sanded down, so the process of filling and heating must be repeated until the perfect fill is achieved. After the jewelry-like pin is filled to the appropriate height and density it is annealed, bringing the glass of the pin slowly down in temperature, to ensure it’s cured. The finished product is polished, engraved, or plated accordingly, and packaged and shipped to its final destination.

Trio - Cloisonne (1)

Although cloisonne and hard enamel coloring share many of the same steps, they are separate styles and processes. This style is created by filling color into the recessed areas of the pin with molten material. The excess filling can be sanded down to achieve a smooth, glassy surface. Cloisonne color has its unique parameters, produced from a pigmented sand exclusive to its process. It is fired and cured, and a gemlike quality is achieved.

Because of the complexity of producing this type of product, they are some of the most valuable to behold. They take longer to produce and involve more extensive skill sets, making them more expensive and more prestigious than other pin styles.

Custom shaped lapel pins are easily customized around your logo

Making custom shaped metal pins is as easy as creating your design and deciding if you would like a custom shape or a standard shape.  In this guide, you will learn the differences in styles and production options as well as the best ways to make custom enamel pins.

soft enamel vs cloisonne

Soft Enamel vs Cloisonne

What is the difference between cloisonne and Soft enamel? There are two major differences between these two styles. The first difference is in the baking of the colored paste to 1700 degrees and it becomes smooth like glass. They end up having a jewelry finish. Soft enamel is made where the enameling fills the recessed areas of your design part way, creating raised and lower levels. Production time is normally 15 days to 17 days.

We use the same age-old process to make our cloisonné pins. Manufactured by melting sand at a temperature of 1700 degrees to create a jewelry-like appearance. They feel like glass to the touch and is considered a hard enamel. This product is very collectible and has a very high perceived value. Find out more about the artistic technique of using this type of color filling by reaching out to us.

Use the availability of varied color fill levels to your advantage:  Color can be filled to reach the same plane as the metal ridges of the design. Add an interesting dimension by having parts of your design rest flat or raised slightly above, while leaving other sections recessed. This will create a unique visual effect, giving priority to the lifted, smooth sections on your pin.

Need More Information?

Speak to a dedicated account manager by requesting a quote.

Combining custom enamel pin styles

A unique way to enhance the value and aesthetic of your custom creation is to connect one of the color styles with a printed pin insert. In these designs, the outer edges of the pins are stamped and filled with patterns, inscriptions, colors, and dynamic textures, leaving the centers open for a smooth, glossy printed insert. Combining custom enameling and printed styles add unique dimension, achieving the classic elegance as well as the crisp, bold effect of the printed pin. Printed inserts can be made to feature an image or photo, a business logo or slogan, or the detail-oriented designs that only printing can achieve.

printed lapel pin

Printed

This style can also be made with extra thickness for a higher perceived value. We make individual screens for each color that is printed. Why add color without a raised border? We have found that some companies have strict brand guidelines. For instance, matching their logo colors and having metal separating colors around their logo may not work for their design. Adding colors to a design can be done at any time of the production process.
printed pin

Printed Insert

Combining custom enamel and printing can really be a great way to add the high perceived value of a die struck pin and the details only available in printing. The center can either be spot or offset printed. Adding a thin layer of epoxy only to the printed areas makes the center of your design really stand out. Printed centers will not have metal lines between each color like this style does.
3d-copper-lapel-pin-640x480_c

Cast

This style is a great way to show off a logo that has lots of tiny cut-outs or if you are looking to order lapel pins in bulk as they are lighter to ship. Made from cast zinc, this style allows for amazing details and enhances the raised areas of your design. Creating 3D proof will show you what your design will look like prior to production. Antique finishes look the best as the raised areas are shiny and recessed area are darker creating a really nice contrast.
transparent pin design

Transparent Color

Transparent enamel pins are custom made with soft or in hard enamel. What makes transparent different? It allows for the background under the color to show through. This allows for making designs in the metal that can enhance an image. For example, you could show boulders in a stream that appears to be just under the surface of the water. Or in the case above, you can add dimension to the trees. Transparent coloring is one of the most popular styles because of the overall enhancement it offers a logo.

FAQ

Transparent color pins can be designed with a multitude of personalization options, from unique shapes to color fills to textured finishes, and more. One of the unique customization options, however, is using transparent color finishes in your design. This technique is achieved by adding the color in such a way that allows the base metal of the piece, and the textures comprising it, to shine through. This technique is perfect for designs in which subtle color accents can contribute to a visually striking pin.

Styles & Plating Options

antique copper lapel pin
Antique Copper
satin pin: 50 year award
Satin Gold
antique bronze custom lapel pins
Antique Bronze
shiny silver metal pin with stones
Shiny Silver
three ruby gemsone gold us pin
Gold
silver magnetic pin
Antique Silver

Top Ten Things To Know About Designing Custom Metal Pins

What are lapel pins used for? A lapel pin is a small, ornamental pin classically worn on outerwear and accessory items like jacket lapels and handbags. These pins are often artistically designed, made from custom enamel and through a variety of crafting processes. Lapel pins can be worn for simple aesthetic reasons, or as a means of demonstrating affiliation to a specific organization or cause.

1. Your Design

Designing a pin starts with your idea or sketch. Artwork will be created by your pin designer and a proof will be sent to you for your review and approval.

6. Plating

Plating also is known as the finish, it comes with a few options. Plating normally includes nickel free plating under your main plating finish. Gold & silver plating is the most frequently ordered finish.

2. Proof

A proof is created to ensure your ideas reflect your final design. Proofs are the way to make sure all the spelling, colors and sizes are accurate and approved by you.

7. Production

Standard production normally runs 10 to 14 days. Printed designs are the fastest style to make. Hard enamel and cloisonne are more involved to make and take longer to create.

3. Style

What style should you choose? Sometimes requesting samples is the way to decide on the pin style that compliments your image.

8. Deadlines

If your order needs to be rushed, we recommend asking your sales rep to send your order "Factory Direct", in order to meet your deadline. You also want to make sure your sales rep is aware of your deadline.

4. Quantity

Why is a quantity on this top ten list? When ordering a custom pin, the quantity will dictate the price per piece along with the size and style.

9. Shipping

Most bulk lapel pin orders are shipped FedEx Air.  Shipments needing to go to multiple locations is pretty standard. Please make sure you allow enough time to have your order shipped. 

5. Cost

Costs will vary depending on the style you choose and the quantity you order. Base metals such as iron will lower the cost of your order compared to copper.

10. Reorders

The best part of reorders is the mold has been previously made and your order will cost less than what you originally paid. Production will also be less as there is no need to create a new mold.

Additionally, because your design is saved for future runs, using a die makes changing your creation in the future easy. Keeping the same enamel pin background, make a design change like years of service, maintaining continuity with your previous design, while updating your image. If you are new to designing custom pins, consult a Monterey Company expert, collaborating to breathe life into your ideas. With years of experience, creative abundance, and fine-tuned process, your specialized artist will be able to put actions to your concepts, creating unique pieces of which you’ll be proud.