My Pin Making Adventure/Disaster.

If you are an artist trying to sell your art, you have probably tried to make some DIY shrinky dink pins! If you haven’t yet, please learn from my mistakes and do a trial batch you are willing to scrap later.

I have seen so many artists online making their own pins but rarely do I see a tutorial showing the road bumps or disasters I’ve gone through to make them. I’ve been trying (and failing) to make my own handmade pins for awhile now. The issue was that my ink would always bleed on my pins after applying a coating to waterproof the pin.

Today I think I finally got a good result enough to make a finish product!

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After so many failed batches, and I mean WHOLE BATCHES, of pins getting ruined from a bad potential waterproof coating, I was about to quit the DIY route altogether and just find a manufacturer. Expensive, right?

So here are the failures…. pretty bad, right?

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R.I.P. My chubby Bunny pin batch. You were cute once upon a time…..

Pretty bad right? The colors got really saturated after heating the shrink plastic even though I followed online instructions to make it lighter before printing. I went with it, since again I was still experimenting, and used 3D magic by itself on my pins. The effect of this coat was to give my pins a resin like shiny glaze.

Lesson:

The 3D magic within a few hours did give my pins a shiny, clear glaze top coat! However, the ink bleed horribly with this coating! Not a single charm came out with out some greenish ink bleeds under the coating.

Ruling: Fail!

After I was in near tears that I wasted yet another batch due to this issue, my sister suggested I do a trial batch and do some research online for coating materials. I don’t know why I didn’t do this process before…. probably because the tutorials I saw online showed other not having such issues 🤔

Here is my trial batch I just finished recently:

The original pin is the one on the bottom without labeling.

Materials:

OPI clear nail polish, ICE clear nail polish, Mod Podge 3D magic, Krylon triple crystal clear glaze spray

Left to right Row 1:

– pin with a single coat 3D magic by Mod Podge. Again it resulted in ink bleed and discoloration

-krylon triple crystal clear glaze, 1 coat spray. It left a bumpy clear texture on the surface of the pin but left the color intact though blurry. Hopefully Incan return that spray can….

-1 coat ICE clear nail polish and 1 coat 3D magic after. The color darkened and browned slightly with minor color bleed.

-2 coats OPI clear nail polish and 1 coat 3D magic after. After the initial OPI coats I noticed I liked how the pin was becoming more vibrant in color and the polish was given a smooth and minor glistening coat! However the pin also became slightly darker, so I tried 3D magic to see if it would bleed or effect the color. As a result, this was the best 3D magic coat I’ve seen, but it still became darker than the original pin…

Row 2:

– 1 ICE clear coat nail polish. I actually like this coat a lot as it kept the colors true to the original but gave my pin a minor blur, which annoyed me.

-1 ICE coat and 1 OPI nail polish clear coat, in that order. I decided to try this thinking it would be the best of both the effects I liked from the previous trials. I was right! This resulted in a near perfect color match to the original uncoated pin without color bleed! There was a smooth and minor glistening texture on the pin from that OPI coat which I now love too. This pin is a winner in my opinion!! 😍  

I turned this last one into a full fledged pin and showed it off at work. My coworkers were proud I finally had one right, but were surprised about how much I ruined to get here, haha.

Note: that one batch up top isn’t the only batch I’ve ruined if I haven’t already mentioned it. In my initial batches, I used regular mod podge and there was a horrible green ink bleed there along with weird texturing on the surface.

Tips for the road:

– Do a trial batch with one sheet you are willing to waste! Fill as many simple and big designs on there as possible. Remember these designs will SHRINK about 50% and also become darker. So keep them big and at around 50-70% opacity

-use a cookie sheet and keep the designs face up, the back to my experience will sometimes stick to the sheet and ruin the face of your designs when lifting it off. 😢

-set the heat according to the instructions, I do 450 on bake for 3-5 minutes. Don’t freak out when it starts curling up like I did! Leave them in there until they naturally flatten themselves out. I took them out to early once and ruined them that way….

-I like to leave them in for another minute or two after they look fully flatten and shrunk to give any not fully flatten ones more time to flatten out. You can also get a flat and clean metal spatula to use to flatten them right out of the mini oven. Be careful as it will be hot and they harden quickly so work quickly.

-like me, try as many materials as you want for a clear waterproof coating. Mine may not be the best for you, so trial and error is the best way to go.

Good Luck! 😊