Back in 1976 or 1977, when I was working at Grey Advertising in LA, I began designing whimsical little pins for myself, and to sell to my friends at work. My technique was to draw a little line art illustration on a small piece of cold press illustration board, paint the design with Dr. Martin dyes (concentrated watercolors in vibrant colors), cut it out with an X-acto knife, coat it with a clear coat to protect the surface, then glue on a pin back. When I first started making the pins, I didn't know any spray coating to use, so I actually brushed on Elmer's glue, knowing it dried clear with a glossy finish. Through the next couple of years, I made dozens of different styles of pins, mostly little animals, fun foods, and other mostly child-like designs. I had a few cartoony animals that I did regularly: pigs dressed in cowboys outfits, a bear in tweed, ducks on wheels. I developed a style of outlining the entire critter in a heavy outline, and then I painted the backs and edges of the pins black. I soon discovered Krylon Crystal Clear coating, and I loved how they looked with a nice glossy/matte finish.
|One of my original pins, (note my maiden name). The funny dark color at the top of the pig is from the Elmer's glue discoloring after many years.|
|Some of my early designs. Many of them have faded with age. These were created in 1978-79.|
|Original designs from 1980-1982 or so. The hearts were the first with a 3D piece.|
|First designs I created when we moved to RI. The little girl in the candy store was the first one with a moveable piece. Note the Mexican sombrero man pin with the matching earrings!|
Fast forward a couple of years. We moved to Rhode Island in 1986, and I was working for Hasbro. I began to wear these pins again. Pins were very popular in the mid-80s, and I decided to resurrect my little pin business. I made countless new designs, each one of these with a little 3D piece attached. My Hasbro friends bought them from me, and I loved to make some little design that was special to them. It didn't take long for me to start adding a little grommet, to make my extra add-on piece move. I had fun figuring out some little surprise element that could be hiding behind the moveable part. I began going to craft fairs, and selling my pins (and sometimes earrings), and eventually, Bruce and I decided to make a business out of it, and have the pins mass-produced. Since they were in essence paper, we didn't have to worry about molds or tooling costs. We just had printing to deal with. We found a local company to print and laminate the finished design, we had them mounted on black illustration board and die-cut, and we assembled them ourselves. We also had a lovely catalog printed up, and Bruce hit the gift show market. This all took place in 1988-89. Our little company was called "A Small Motion", and the pins were called 'Whimsimations'. (A combination of whimsical and animation!) Bruce took on the business with enthusiasm. He assembled, packaged, shipped. He went to trade shows, followed up with buyers and shops, and handled all of the paperwork and complicated legal and tax details. After my first 24 designs were complete, it didn't take long to realize I needed more seasonal designs, so 20 more designs were done for Christmas, Halloween, and Valentine's Day.
|The fish in the photo above this one, shows the first design. When I decided to add the movable part, these two fish were my first revisions. Note the evolution of the fish's eye!|
|The top designs are hand painted, each with a movable part. The lower dragon pin, is printed, and shown on our display tag.|
I wanted to document this little business, and share with you my collection of all of the hand made pins I have in my collection. These do not include all of the hand-made prototypes of the final 44 pin designs. I have these all wrapped in bubble wrap, safely stored away. These represent the evolution of my pins, and the fun I had drawing and designing each one.