Protect the enamel in an enamel pin?
June 30, 2022 9:25 AM   Subscribe

I have an enamel pin that I have not been kind to -- it's lived on the outside of my much-used backpack. Understandably, several of the enamel bits have fallen out. If I were to buy a replacement pin, is there something I can do -- a coating, perhaps? -- to keep the enamel from falling out again? Or should I just give up on the idea of an enamel pin that stands up to heavy use?
posted by humbug to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What I'd probably do would be a dyed/colored glass powder epoxy fill, assuming you can match the colors.
posted by aecorwin at 10:04 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]

You want an epoxy dome. I don't know that this is something you can DIY, though.
posted by soelo at 10:39 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]

Pouring an epoxy dome is something you can do yourself, but it takes some effort to get the viscosity right so that you have an even coating without the epoxy running off the pin. In other words, don't do this on your first try.

Clear nail varnish is probably just as good, or a dab of clear polyurethane coating.
posted by Stoneshop at 11:01 AM on June 30 [4 favorites]

You could use an enamel clear coat paint over it, it would add a little bit of protection.
posted by drezdn at 11:13 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]

Some variants of superglue (I like Starbond) dry almost optically-clear and can be very very highly polished. I have a permanent "lens" on one of my rulers due to this.

Also, UV-cured optical glues have become surprisingly inexpensive.

I’d test both of these on a similar sacrificial part.
posted by aramaic at 1:40 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]

Epoxy domes do tend to yellow over time, if that makes a difference, or at least the ones I've seen on old pins in charity shops do.
posted by mippy at 3:54 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]

Epoxy domes do tend to yellow over time

Depends on the quality of the components, and with cheap mass-produced stuff it could well be polyester, which is a fair bit cheaper but less resistant to yellowing.
posted by Stoneshop at 9:44 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]

Expanding a little on the viscosity: when you mix the epoxy resin and its activator it's too thin to pour over some flat(-ish) item like a pin and have it form a dome as it will be about as viscous as olive oil, suitable for pouring into a mold. Once activated it will start to solidify, and you then pour it around the point where it's gotten a bit thicker, syrupy. You can then help spread it using a matchstick or similar, as during a short time the surface tension will still make bumps and dimples smooth out. As said, a few experiments will help you get a feel for the right moment to pour and how much you can still correct afterwards.

Needless to say, the pin has to be kept horizontal and fixed until the epoxy has fully cured.

Polyester resin is cheaper, but rather iffy to work with in small quantities. Epoxy uses equal parts resin and activator or something close like 2:1, the ratio for polyester is 10 to 1 which makes it tough to get right if you're mixing just a thimble-full.
posted by Stoneshop at 9:04 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]

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