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Convention Pins
Why and How

I've met a lot of people who don't "get" convention pins. On the other hand, I've been to a lot of conventions where people got instantly hooked on pins and swore they'd make some for the next event. Convention pins are a lot of fun to make, trade and collect.

They can be really simple, as most are, or they can be very elaborate. The majority are simply a piece of stamped cardstock in between two layers of cold laminate. The more elaborate pins are made from Sculpey, shrink plastic and other 3-D products. I've seen shaker pins with little bird seed inside them. I've been give a tiny box with an unmounted stamp inside. The box was mounted on a pin back. What a great idea! One of my favorite pins was a kimono folded from paper and then mounted on a pin back. It seems that the only rules are; don't make it look cheesy (who wants to trade the pins they worked hard on for a sloppy, thrown-together pin?), use good materials and try to come up with something unique! Make people want to trade pins with you!

The "How do I laminate" question
A very popular tool for laminating pins in bulk is called a Xyron 850. It is a heatless laminating system that allows you to laminate masses of convention pins quickly. If you'd like more information (and to see some video demos) click here. If you are just making a few pins you can buy a product called cold laminating sheets. Most office supply stores sell them, but they are expensive.

The pin back question
Ninety nine percent of the pins I've received have been on pin backs. Only rarely does someone give me a pin without a back on it.

The adhesive question
I've tried every substance known to man (OK, maybe a slight exaggeration) to attach my pin backs to the pins. The problem is that most glues and tapes simply won't hold the metal pin back to the slick, plastic laminate. After trying: Epoxy, E6000, Miracle Tape, Wonder Tape, Super Tape, strapping tape, Aleene's Craft Glue and other things I can't even remember, I've finally found the perfect adhesive, Goop. The only downside about Goop is that you have to wait overnight for it to dry, which for us late night stampers who do their pins the night before a convention, is a pain. Goop does a great job on every type of pin I've tried so far, including the shrink plastic.

The "how many should I make" question
This depends on how big the convention is. At the big San Jose convention I've made 100 pins at a time and traded them all long before leaving the show. On the other hand, if  you're attending a small or new show, 25 pins will probably be more than enough.

The trading card question
Apparently there's been a recent trend of making trading cards instead of pins for trading at conventions. This may be true but I've never been offered a trading card yet. I kind of wish someone would offer one to me so I could see what one looks like!

The "how do people know I want to trade" question
This one's easy. I think pin traders exude a certain "are you trading" air. Actually, most pin traders either wear their pins proudly on a vest, sash, shirt, jacket or suitcase (OK, they don't wear their suitcases) or they carry them conspicuously in a plastic bag.

If you haven't already checked them out, here are some sample pins I've received or made.

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