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By the Pricking of My Thumbs: DIY Enamel Pin Box Tutorial

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Enamel pins. Who can get enough of them? They’re shiny and fun and they’re the perfect way to slip a bit of darkness into a corporate office. Displaying them, however, can be a bit of a puzzle. It turns out that with some creativity and cork board you can fashion your own DIY fancy pin box.

Tonight we’re going to put together a jewelry box for enamel pins. There are many routes you can go in terms of customization, but we’ll be sure to cover the basic necessities. Come with us. We have such sights to show you.

(Eight seconds of creaking coffin noises)

Time Required

Oh, cripes, this is going to take anywhere from two to ten Hellraiser movies depending on how elaborate you get with your box décor. Maybe you’re a minimalist or maybe you’re more of a full-on Ukrainian egg person. It’s up to you.

Materials

  • An unfinished wooden box in the shape of your choosing (rectangle, hexagon, big coffin, tiny coffin, cube…) but that is 1/2″ or more deep in both base and lid
  • A package of cork board squares that are ¼” thick
  • Half a yard of the fabric of your choosing. (NOTE: My experiments indicate that velvet is the best bet.)
  • Ribbon

For the décor portion, you’re going to want paint, glitter, Mod Podge, old calendar pages from 2010, fancy paper…whatever speaks to you.

Tools

  • Glue (preferably fast-acting Gorilla, but hot glue can also work)
  • Fabric scissors
  • A Sharpie
  • A ruler
  • Push pins
  • A box cutter
  • A standard office stapler (NOT one of the super deluxe big guys)

Phase One: The Corkening

First you need to decide on your layout. The catch with enamel pins is that they have those pesky little rubber or metal backs, and we can’t very well go losing those. So your layout must include not only surfaces for the pins, but also a little corral in which you’re going to hold your backs. Ergo you need to decide where you want that corral to go. The easiest route is off to the side, like so:

Now that we’ve got that settled, it’s time to measure. We need to know how big each cork panel is going to be and, if you’ve gone with a funkier shaped box, what shape. Measure the floor of your box, the inside of the lid, and the height of the walls.

Your lid is going to be one vast, flat surface. Your floor is going to be a little more complicated because of that corral.

Cut your pieces, using the boxcutter, as follows:

Two (2) pieces that are the size of the inside of the lid;

Two (2) pieces of cork that are the size of the main floor up to the wall of the corral; and

One (1) piece of cork that is the size of the floor of the corral. Allow for a gap that is at least ¼” between these two sections to accommodate the corral wall.

Lid and floor pieces, with gap marked for cutting.

For the wall of the corral you want one (1) piece of cork that is the distance between the two box walls and the height of the walls.

Why are we doing two layers of cork for the lid and the main floor? Because that’s where your pins will live, and pin posts are typically longer than ¼” and we need our cork to be thicker than our pin posts. Why are we doing only one layer of cork on the floor of the corral? To make our corral a bit roomier.

Cover the following pieces in fabric:

  • One lid piece
  • One floor piece
  • The corral floor piece
  • The corral wall

You can lay each piece on your fabric and cut around with your fabric scissors, but be sure to leave extra room around the edges:

Remember, you can cut the fabric down but you can’t add to it. Better to cut a piece that’s too big than too small!

Once you have your fabric cut, fold the edges of your fabric over the edges of your cork pieces and pin them down with the push pins.

Pinned.

When all is pinned, gently staple the edges like so:

Go slow and with light pressure to avoid puncturing the other side. Trim any excess fabric.

For the corral wall I actually found that gluing the edges of the fabric down worked best, since your staples would be in danger of showing. Cover the corral wall like this:

Make sure your fabric is flat and tight against the cork. Glue the edges.

Test to make sure your corral wall still fits in that little gap after being covered with fabric, since, depending on your fabric, your wall now may be a bit thicker. If it’s too thick to fit in the gap, you may have to undo a few staples and shave your other floor pieces down a tiny bit.

Set your fabric covered pieces aside for now so as to avoid getting any decorating materials on them.

If you are using a hot glue gun, it is important that you glue your non-covered pieces down inside your box before you decorate. I had an incredibly close call where the heat from the glue almost bubbled what I’d Mod-Podged onto the lid. It was a harrowing several minutes. Don’t risk it.

If you are NOT using hot glue, I’d glue the non-fabric-covered pieces in now anyway just to get them out of the way. It’s one less thing for the cat to knock on the floor.

Phase Two: Décor

Decorate the exterior of your box however you want! I got a little too enthusiastic and ended up doing a few different styles, as pictured.

Featuring embellished pages from a 2010 calendar!

Go with whatever speaks to you, and then let it dry.

A rare cat-free moment.

Phase Three: The Ribbon

In order to keep your lid from falling all the way back you’re going to want to install a ribbon.

Your ribbon should be long enough to allow the lid and base to sit at a right angle. Your attachment point should ideally be as close to the bottom of the base and top of the lid as possible, so it will be hidden. Allow a bit of excess on either end of the ribbon for safety. Here’s a diagram to help you figure out your length:

Glue the ribbon inside your box, like so.

Once your ribbon is cut, you want to seal it down. I went with quick-drying Gorilla Glue. The scent is strong, but so is the hold. Let that dry in a cat-free area.

Phase Four: Final Installation

Now that everything is dry it’s time to move on to the fabric covered pieces. First you want to do a dry run and pop everything into place to make 110% sure everything fits before glue enters the equation. Once you’re positive you are good to go, glue down the fabric pieces, like so:

(Eight more seconds of creaking coffin noises)

Once all is dry, load in your pins. BOOM! Pin box.

All images via E.K. Leimkuhler

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About The Author

E. caught the first ten seconds of a Dracula movie on TV while in first grade and immediately became obsessed. She's a huge fan of Gothic lit, outrageous horror movies, strange cats, and DIY projects involving black glitter. She has a degree in Medieval Studies and a background in costume. Her home improvement muse is Sarah Winchester.

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