Enamel pins have exploded in popularity in recent years as a fun and affordable way to express your interests and show off your personal style. This guide will explore everything you need to know about enamel pin sets – what makes them special, the different types and themes available, tips for curating your own collection, and how to incorporate them into your wardrobe and accessories. Whether you’re new to enamel pins or a seasoned collector, read on for an in-depth look at these miniature masterpieces!
What Are Enamel Pins and Why Are They So Popular?
Enamel pins are decorative pins made from metal that have been coated in colored glass powder then kiln-fired to fuse the glass “enamel” coating to the base metal. The result is a smooth, durable pin face that brings designs and characters to life in vivid color.
Enamel pins first became popular in the late 1890s as souvenirs and political memorabilia. Their popularity dipped in the early 20th century but resurged in the 1950s and 60s with Disney pins, military insignia, and Olympic pins taking center stage.
Today, enamel pins are beloved by fans, collectors, and anyone who wants to showcase their interests on their clothing and accessories. Here are some of the key reasons enamel pins have become so popular lately:
- Allows self-expression of interests, fandoms, beliefs: Pins let you proudly display the TV shows, books, games, characters, quotes, and causes you love.
- Affordable way to experiment with style: For $10-$15 each, you can amass a collection that transforms hats, bags, and jackets into eye-catching statements.
- Build connections and community: Bond with others who share your passions by starting conversations about your pins.
- Fun to collect and trade: The thrill of the hunt when finding new pins or swapping with other collectors sparks joy for many.
- Versatile: Pins spice up denim jackets, backpacks, lanyards, beanies, and more. The styling options are endless!
- Wide range: There are pins for just about any interest, from cute animals, to food, to sassy phrases.
In addition to classic pin styles, there are now pins with moveable parts like sliders and spinners, 3D pins, glow-in-the-dark pins, and pins that light up. The types of enamel pins available allow for boundless creativity.
The manufacturing process involves molding a metal base, printing the design, coating with enamel powder, and firing in a furnace to set the enamel. This results in durable, vibrant pins. Let’s explore some of the most popular themes and sets available today.
The Top 5 Most Popular Enamel Pin Themes and Sets
There are thousands of enamel pin sets out there, but a few themes consistently rise to the top in popularity and collectability:
Pop Culture Pins
Pop culture themes like movies, TV shows, video games, books, and comics inspire some of the most sought-after pins. Collect your favorite characters and iconic logos from:
- Marvel – Avengers, Spiderman, Loki
- Disney – Mickey, Princesses, Pixar characters
- Harry Potter – Deathly Hallows, House crests, Fantastic Beasts
- Star Wars – Darth Vader, The Mandalorian, Baby Yoda
- Anime – Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, My Hero Academia
- Cartoons – Spongebob, Adventure Time, Steven Universe
- Gaming – Mario, Legend of Zelda, Pokémon, Animal Crossing
Pop culture pins let you proclaim your fandom while looking stylish.
Pins make it easy to showcase love for your favorite fandoms through officially licensed sets. Hot ones include:
- Disney Fab Five – Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto
- Friends – Monica’s doorframe, Central Perk logo, “You’re my lobster”
- Spongebob – Pineapple house, Krusty Krab, Bikini Bottom gang
- Star Wars Droids – R2D2, BB8, C-3PO, IG-11
- Marvel Heroines – Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Captain Marvel, Shuri
With endless characters and symbols to choose from, fandom pins are always in demand.
Food and Beverage Pins
For foodies, pins shaped like tasty treats are a delightful accent for chef hats, aprons, and more. Cute collections include:
- Fruits – Pineapples, cherries, oranges, bananas, apples
- Desserts – Cupcakes, donuts, ice cream cones, slices of pie
- Beverages – Coffee cups, frappuccinos, milkshakes, tea pots
- Savory foods – Tacos, sushi rolls, hamburgers, pizza slices
Food pins are a tasty way to show off cooking skills and favorite flavors.
Animal lovers unite over these adorable pins of critters real and imagined:
- Cats – Siamese, calico, tabby, exotic breeds
- Dogs – Golden retrievers, French bulldogs, huskies, pugs
- Dinosaurs and Dragons – T-Rex, triceratops, stegosaurus, European dragon
- Unicorns – Pastel tones, glittery manes, rainbow colors
- Bugs – Ladybugs, beetles, butterflies, bumblebees
Collect all your favorite furry and scaly creatures on pins for endless cuteness.
Sassy and Humorous Pins
Pins with cheeky sayings and funny illustrations make any outfit more playful. Pick from pins like:
- Sarcastic book/quote phrases – “I like big books and I cannot lie,” “So many books, so little time”
- Puns – images of cat-related wordplay, baking puns like “Pie Hard”
- Pop culture references – “That’s what she said,” “Save Bandit!”
- Emojis – the crying-laughing face, heart eyes face, kissy face
- Feminist phrases – “Girls just wanna have fundamental rights”
Humor pins let you broadcast your witty side far and wide.
With endless options out there, part of the fun is curating which themes speak to you and designing ensembles around your pins. Now let’s go over tips for starting and displaying your collection.
Tips for Starting and Curating Your Enamel Pin Collection
Once you’ve caught the enamel pin bug, it’s tempting to buy every cute design you see. But building a collection you love takes a bit of strategy. Here are tips for making choices you won’t regret:
- Choose themes that reflect your interests and personality. Opt for pins showcasing your favorite hobbies, passions, and style.
- Look for high quality pins. Inspect that the colors are vibrant, lines are sharp, and any movable parts slide smoothly.
- Start small. Buy just a few of your ultimate favorite pins to begin, then add to your collection gradually over time.
- Display pins prominently on jackets, bags, lanyards, hats, and more to get the most use out of them.
- Mix and match themes. Combine pug pins with doughnuts pins on a denim jacket for an unexpected combo.
- Swap pins with friends or buy, sell, trade online to expand your collection and acquire rare finds.
- Store pins safely in a case when not in use to prevent damage and keep clasps secure.
- Keep an inventory with details about each pin’s theme, where you got it, and how rare it is. Tracking helps you appreciate how your collection grows.
By carefully choosing pins that call to you and displaying them proudly, you’ll have a collection as unique as your personal flair. Next up: styling tips to make your pins pop.
Incorporating Enamel Pins into Your Wardrobe
Enamel pins aren’t just collectibles—they’re wearable miniature art. Get creative about incorporating them into your outfits. Here are some ideas:
Denim Vests and Jackets
- Scatter an array of pins across your lapels and front panels.
- Create a motif like a starburst or checkerboard pattern with coordinating pins.
- Cluster 3-5 pins on one lapel to make a statement.
- Sew a pocket or fabric patch on the back to display pins and lift your look.
Backpacks and Tote Bags
- Line the straps with a parade of themed pins like fruits or sea creatures.
- Adorn flap pockets with souvenir pins from places you’ve traveled.
- Affix pin brooches with dangling accents to grab attention.
- Arrange pins on a keychain or bag charm to accent your style.
Baseball Caps and Beanies
- Stud the front panel with an assortment of favorite character pins.
- Cluster colorful pins above the brim for a fun focal point.
- Attach slider pins with movable parts along the side for interest.
- Adorn a beanie with pins in one cohesive color scheme.
- Class up a suit or blazer with subtle lapel pins, like art deco designs or nature motifs.
- Add sparkle to a denim jacket with crystal, enamel, or glittering metallic lapel pins.
- Look for lapel pins with clever hidden messages or mechanisms like spinning parts.
Pin Display Boards
- Arrange pins on a magnetic memo board to admire even when not wearing them.
- Install a framed cork board or fabric pin display to show off your treasures.
- Organize pins neatly on boards by color, theme, or other creative categories.
- Swap out displays seasonally to showcase wintry, summery, or holiday-themed pins.
When it comes to styling pins:
- Stick to the “rule of three.” Groupings of three complementary pins are pleasing to the eye.
- Aim for visual balance. Distribute different sized pins evenly rather than clustering large pins together.
- Use pins to highlight or accent an outfit’s main colors without clashing.
- Take inspiration from fashion bloggers and Instagram influencers who have distinctive pin display styles.
- Consider DIY-ing displays like pin banners, custom denim jackets, or shadow boxes to show off your collection.
With a little creativity, your pins can level up basic pieces into an eye-catching ensemble. Next we’ll go over keeping your pins looking pristine.
Caring for Your Enamel Pin Collection
As with any collection, proper care and maintenance is key to keeping your pins looking their best over years of use. Here are tips for protecting your pins:
- Store pins in a case away from dust and moisture when not in use. Options include jewelry boxes, tackle boxes, or specialty pin storage books.
- Invest in cork boards, magnetic strips, framed displays, and standing pin holders to easily view and access your collection.
- Only use soft padding like felt or foam in displays to avoid scratching. Hard surfaces can damage soft enamel pins.
- Wipe gently with a microfiber cloth to remove dust and surface debris as needed.
- For stuck-on dirt, use a mild soap and water solution on a soft toothbrush. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
- Specialized jewelry cleaners, polishes, and anti-tarnish cloths help revive shine.
- Avoid submerging pins fully in water or bleach solutions, as this can damage the enamel.
- Don’t try to pry open the clutch back or tamper with the pin itself.
- Be careful wearing pins on delicate fabrics, which they can snag or pull.
- Stack pins carefully when storing to prevent scratches.
- If a clutch back loosens, use pliers to gently tighten it. Add a touch of clear glue for extra security.
- Carefully use pliers to bend back pins that get warped. File any rough edges smooth.
- Chipped enamel is permanent, but touch up paint can minimize flaws.
With proper care, your pins should bring you joy for many years before repairs are needed. Talk with your insurance agent about adding rare or sentimental pins to your policy.
Now that we’ve covered pin care, let’s explore the wonderful world of pin shopping!
Where to Buy Enamel Pins
The thrill of discovering new pins to add to your collection is half the fun. Here are great places to shop:
- Etsy: Wide selection of unique handmade and vintage pins from indie sellers.
- eBay: Treasure trove of discounted pins, especially rare/retired designs.
- PinMart, PinNation: Specialty online pin shops with themed bundles.
- Instagram: Follow hashtags like #pinshop to find small shops taking orders via DM.
- Artist websites: Buy directly from talented illustrators and enamellers.
Pin Subscription Boxes
- EnamelPinClub: Monthly themed pins matched to your fandoms and interests.
- PinCrush Box: Surprise grab bags of pins & goodies shipped to your door.
- PinSwag Box: New pin releases and exclusives only subscribers can get.
- Comic book, gaming, collectible stores: Stock licensed pins for various fandoms.
- Craft fairs, comic cons, and festivals: Browse independent artist booths for finds.
- Clothing boutiques: Often carry stylish pins to complement their brand.
- Pop culture collaborations: Pins for shows, movies, and games only available for a short time.
- Brand partnerships: Check brands like Coach, Vans, Hot Topic for co-branded pins.
- Contest/giveaway wins: Enter pin design contests from brands to win rare pins.
With so many options, half the fun is hunting down special additions for your collection. Now let’s tackle some frequently asked questions about pins.
Enamel Pin FAQs
How much do enamel pins cost?
Pins range wildly in price from $5 to $50+. Mass produced pins generally cost $10-15 while rare, limited edition, or large/complex pins run $20+. Highly collectible pins can command prices over $100.
How are enamel pins made?
The base metal is molded into the shape. The design is printed or etched on top. Powdered glass is added for color. Firing at 1400°F fuses the glass into a smooth enamel coating.
How do you put enamel pins on clothing?
Pins have a clutch backing that opens to allow the pin to slide through fabric. The clutch closes to securely fasten the pin in place.
Where is the best place to display enamel pins?
Pins look great on jackets, bags, hats, notebooks, lanyards, pin boards, etc. Anywhere you want a touch of flair!
How should you clean enamel pins?
Use a soft toothbrush with mild soap and water. Rinse thoroughly and gently dry with a microfiber cloth. Avoid soaking the pin faces.
How should you store an enamel pin collection?
Keep pins in a closed case or standing display away from dust and moisture. Cork boards and magnetic strips work too.
Can enamel pins go in water?
It’s best to avoid submerging enamel pins in water. The metal base can corrode and water can get under the enamel causing damage.
Do enamel pins damage clothing?
Pins can potentially snag delicate fabrics. Use cap clutches over pins to protect fabric. Avoid wearing pins on silks, satins, etc.
What are the best places to buy enamel pins?
Online shops like Etsy and PinMart have huge selections. Local comic book and collectible stores. Craft fairs and festivals.
Enamel pins offer a fun, affordable way for pinheads and collectors alike to show off the fandoms, interests, and beliefs they hold dear. As we’ve covered, enamel pins come in dazzling varieties perfect for personalizing your clothing, bags, and accessories.
From mighty superheroes to mighty tasty pizza slices, there are pins to represent just about anything you can imagine. Part of the magic lies in curating your own set of pins that symbolize you.
We hope this guide offered helpful tips on building and caring for an enamel pin collection you’ll treasure for years. What will your pins say about you? Browse the wonderful world of enamel pins to find your voice and stay styling, pin pals!
Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite enamel pin themes or must-have sets? Do you have any go-to styling tips for making pins pop? Share your wisdom with fellow collectors in the comments!