Custom pins are lapel pins typically seen on the lapel of a jacket. It is commonly used as marks of achievement and a sign of affiliation with an organization. Pins from an organization are collected by both members and non-members. Businesses also make use of the pins to appoint membership or any accomplishments. It helps in increasing employee morale and engagement.
The design of a pin is first hand drawn either on a paper with a light-box or digitally. All the artwork and elements of the design is outlined. Afterwards it is inked, coloured, and put on a mechanical sheet. Majority of the manufacturing of the pins is done in China. There are five basic types of pins manufactured: soft enamel, screen printed 4-color process, photo etched, and cloisonné. During manufacturing, the outer form of a pin is fixed from a sheet of aluminum, brass, copper, or iron.
The back part of a pin not only functions to hold the pin in its place, but it can also make it unique through an assortment of attachments available. These include: stick pin, a thin needle with a collar that can slide up or down to secure the pin; magnetic clasp, a small magnet stuck to another magnet that is fastened to the back of the pin; jewelry clutch, a clutch that secures into place when covering the prong; butterfly clutch, a clutch that, when squeezed and pulled up, releases the pin; and screw and nut, which is one of the most secure attachments.
Custom pins can also have certain enhancements added on to add a little flair to them. These include a spinner pin, a spinning apparatus that lets a part of the pin spin; LED pin, tiny bulbs on the pin that can light up; dangler pin, an extension to the pin that hangs from a loop or chain; bobble pin, which is similar to a dangler pin except for its use of a spring instead of a chain; lenticular pin, which has two images that change depending on its angle; and pin on pin, where another pin is placed on top of another pin to give it a three dimensional look and feel.
Aside from organizations and businesses, custom pins have also been collected by people as a hobby. This led to an increase in the demand for the pins and designs with popular culture icons and cartoon characters. Social events centered on trading pins have even been created just for this. There are trading events and conventions that are held where collectors of custom pins can gather and talk about the pins that they have.
Lapel pins have even had cultural impacts. The Soviet Union was making use of pins and had great production for them. There were custom pins made for cultural and political gatherings as well as pins for the achievements of the Soviet Union. In the People’s Republic of China, their pins had portraits of Mao Zedong, and these were worn by Communist party members and even the youth. In Czechoslovakia during the 1960s and early 1970s, the Mao Zedong pins were worn by the youth as a way to rouse the normalisationist rightists of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia post-1968.
Pins have evolved and have had many uses over time, from cultural symbols to collector’s items. They can virtually be worn on any clothing besides a jacket lapel. Some people even like to load their caps with pins that they have collected over time, usually from places that they have visited. It has also become a good hobby for people of all ages, and a good way to socialize and interact with other fellow pin collectors.