Making Bottle Cap Pins

December 25, 2007 at 3:53 pm (80 Proof, art, neat things)

I’ve been distracted from blogging today by a fun project. To make it up to any other not-Christmas-celebrating people bored with the everything being closed today, I’m going to blog about my project. That way you all can do it too, probably better than I have.

So there are a bunch of way to make pins (and pendants, and earrings) out of old metal bottle caps. This is the chronicle of how I happened to make mine today, which you could read as a DIY guide, if you wanted.

belikin

For this project, you will need bottle caps, pin backings (or safety pins), clear casting resin (and catalyst), super glue, and some images you like. I recommend images of your favorite dead people, whoever they may be; black and white faces look ghostly and wonderful sunk into polymer, and I for one prefer specters to slogans. But to each her own.

First, cut your images to the size of the interior space of your caps. Push them inside. You don’t need to glue them or anything, as long as they’re wedged in there.

Next comes the fun part: toxic chemicals. Do this part outside, far away from animals and children. Wear plastic gloves.

The resin you buy will come with instructions. Basically though, you pour out the amount you’ll need — just a small spoonful per cap — into a jar you won’t be using for any other purpose again, mix in the correct amount of catalyst, and then put a dollop in each bottle top. Then you’ll want to leave them somewhere to harden, like your garage or basement. Mine took about twenty-four hours. Don’t be afraid to poke them gently with a stick to see if they’re done yet; if they’re still wet, your poke-mark will disappear. I wouldn’t recommend touching them, though.

Once they’ve hardened, it’s time to attach the pin backings or safety pins. I used pin backings; safety pins would definitely work, but might take a little more fiddling.

If they harden on an incline, you’ll get an interesting wave effect, which I rather like:

pin

Anyway. You just superglue the pin element to the back of the caps and let it dry, and you’re all set. Before we get to the fun pictures of the finished pins, I want to talk briefly about the green factor of this project. Like everything, there are good parts and bad. Some pros and cons:

+ it’s handmade/DIY
+ uses recycled caps
+ uses family/CC/public domain images (mine did, anyway; I recommend doing the same), making a personalized, anti-commercial product

– uses toxic chemicals: resin and glue (anyone have an idea for getting around this?)
– uses some new products, i.e. resin and, in my case, pin backings

So a truly ideal project would figure a way to get around buying anything, like by using old safety pins instead of new backings, and attaching them in some imaginative way that doesn’t use glue. I can’t think of an eco-friendlier way to do the resin, besides maybe getting old or rejected resin from a business somehow, instead of buying it new.

Anyway. The following two pins are ones I made for myself, of my grandfather and great-grandparents respectively, in pre-War Poland.

saba

asher-rina

And here’s one I made for Emily of Emma Goldman (shh, she doesn’t know about it yet):

goldman

I also made two more, one of Beethoven for our piano friend the Brendenator, and one of a hot air balloon. Lastly, a picture of the balloon pin in action.

pin-bag

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11 Comments

  1. alteredmind said,

    I HAVEN’T READ YOUR WHOLE BLOG BUT i SURE LIKE THIS IDEA. Keep them coming and I will keep checking.l

  2. Daisy said,

    I’m glad you like it, alteredmind. Feel free to come back with your story if you decide to the project.

    I’ve actually been thinking that I’d like to start posting guides like this, so there will probably be more in future.

  3. moonbeammcqueen said,

    Love this project! Even I can do this one!

  4. Daisy said,

    Send me a picture if you do it, moonbeam. They seem to always turn out lovely and a little bit different. : )

  5. Emily said,

    Emma Goldman! Aw, thanks.

    As for getting around the use of glue and other toxic materials…when I imagined doing this, before looking at the pictures you posted, I thought that the safety pins and things (according to that DIY book that we were looking at the other day at my house, “things” would include those little aluminum can tabs) would go on the other side of the bottle cap, and maybe you could press those ridges on the bottle cap down around the safety pin and aluminum tab to hold it all in place. With pliers or something. And I’m sure we could find a glue substitute to use for adhering the pictures themselves.

    Does that make sense? Let’s try it later.

  6. Daisy said,

    It does make sense, though the pool of resin only works if you have a hollow to hold it, so it has to be on the inside. But that’s a good idea, we’ll just have to think about how we want to do the image on the flat side.

  7. Life With Buck said,

    This is the greatest info. If you only knew how much I’ve spent on buying these pins, or how many times I’ve tried to do it myself with not-so-great results. Thank you for posting this, I will definitely be doing it. I may go get the resin today

  8. Daisy said,

    Aw, LWB, I’m so glad. Send us some jpegs when you’re finished.

  9. Wendy said,

    Okay, I tried to figure out a way to send you some jpegs and couldn’t do it. I couldn’t find your email on here. So I said screw it and posted them on my own site. Thanks for these directions. I had a blast making my pin. http://awriterinthedesert.wordpress.com/2007/12/29/thank-you-madness/

  10. The Library of Congress’ Flickr Stream « Our Descent Into Madness said,

    […] of them. That makes this an ideal place to search for images to use in your projects, like to make your own pins, or to decoupage your belongings, or in surrealist collages of history, or for the cover of your […]

  11. Making A Hand-Sewn Journal « Our Descent Into Madness said,

    […] July 24, 2008 at 6:17 pm (80 Proof, D.I.Y., art, neat!) This is Our Descent’s second DIY guide, and I hope there will be many more to follow. Our first one, quite a few months back now: Making Bottle Cap Pins. […]

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