Sculpting Custom Lapel Pins for a Professional Sculptor

Posted by Patrick Moyer | Tuesday April 23rd, 2019 | Topic: Customers

Working With A Fellow Artist on Commemorative Pins 

Here at Signature Pins, we work with all kinds of different customers, but it’s not everyday that a fellow metal worker comes to us looking for the perfect design. While we focus on the die-striking and minting process to make custom pins and challenge coins, Paula Slater uses her hands to craft larger than life bronze sculptures. Her latest work is a bronze statue of General Ulysses S. Grant for West Point Academy in New York. The official unveiling ceremony is on April 25, 2019, and we are honored to be a small part of the event by supplying the custom pins commemorating the reveal.

After seeing the finished pins for the first time, Ms. Slater reached out to us saying, “I was so delighted when I opened the box and found the gorgeous custom lapel pins. They are so elegant and rich looking.” Just as Ms. Slater takes special care to make sure every sculpture is perfect down to the smallest detail, we too work carefully to ensure each product we design is crafted with careful attention to detail.

Bringing a Vision of General Grant to Life


In an interview with the school, Ms. Slater said, “Bronze is called the ‘King of Metals’ and will last for centuries. I look forward to creating an exceptional bronze monument of General Ulysses S. Grant of which we can all be extremely proud.”

Ms. Slater has been designing and sculpting bronze busts and monuments for the last thirty years. It takes patience, a careful hand and a trained eye to recreate a lifelike bronze sculpture. It’s not enough to look at pictures or paintings of a subject to get the perfect vision for a sculpture. Ms. Slater strives to capture the smallest details that are unique to an individual’s mannerisms, posture and stature. “I do a tremendous amount of research,” she said. “I have read extensively about General Grant, his courage, his humility. One of the perks of specializing in bronze portraits is the opportunity to learn about the lives of many amazing people.”

The road to finishing the Ulysses S. Grant monument started back in 2017, and the final results of the endeavor are truly something special to behold. The unveiling of Ms. Slater’s sculpture is a special moment for her and her team and everyone at West Point Academy. To commemorate the occasion, Ms. Slater wanted a special gift to offer everyone in attendance. Our Signature Pins team was honored to help create the perfect custom lapel pin for the job

Creating the Perfect Lapel Pin


When it comes to creating the perfect design for a set of custom lapel pins, all we need are a few ideas to get started. Our team works with anything from a sketch on the back of a napkin to fully rendered designs sent in by a company’s art department. Ms. Slater said that she was looking for something a little thicker than a traditional soft enamel pin and found a few examples of cloisonne pins that she liked on our website that we could use as a reference point for her preferred style. 

Choosing between cloisonne pins and soft enamel pins is all a matter of personal preference for texture and aesthetic. Soft enamel pins are perfect for creating layered designs with a textured surface, but cloisonne pins, also called hard enamel pins have a smooth and polished surface.

“They feel and look like a piece of jewelry,” said Ms. Slater, after holding one of the custom pins for the first time. “The photograph I emailed you of my bronze sculpture of Grant to use for the center circle came out very clear and the gold plated areas are brilliant.”

There were a few options for including an image of Grant at the center of the custom pin, but it was decided that offset printing was the best way to go. Our production team uses a very precise die-striking process that creates highly detailed 2D and 3D designs, but recreating lifelike facial features through these methods is very difficult for a pin as small as this one. Offset printing is the process of transferring an image onto the pin surface. It results in picture-perfect designs, and is the best option for capturing the likeness of a person’s face, or in this case, a sculpted person’s face.

Ms. Slater said that she plans on sharing these pins with the men and women attending the dedication ceremony at West Point Academy. “I know the recipients of these pins will treasure them and have a wonderful reminder of the unveiling and dedication event on April 25th at West Point Academy in New York. I can hardly wait to give them out."


Getting Every Detail Just Right

While working on this project with our Signature Pins team, Ms. Slater told us about how every detail of her sculptures needs to be perfect. “I worked closely with the West Point Museum curators to create a historically accurate portrait of Grant in uniform as a four-star general.” The final sculpture is 1.25 times larger than life and stands atop a 4.5’ tall granite plinth. As people look up at the bronze statue, every detail will be exactly as it should be.

As a team of artists, we can appreciate the amount of patience and dedication that goes into creating something as incredible as Ms. Slater’s full body portrait of General Grant. We take the same amount of pride in all of our work and hope to achieve a level of detail and quality unrivaled by any custom lapel pin company in the world. If you are looking for a team to help you handcraft the perfect custom pin design, you have come to the right place. Just send us a few of your ideas, and we will take it from there. 

Patrick Moyer Blog Author

Patrick Moyer

Patrick Moyer studied communications, professional and persuasive writing and marketing at the University of Central Florida. He is a full-time copywriter for Signature Promotional Group and spends all of his free time working on his next novel. Books, movies and late night brainstorming sessions around the kitchen table are his favorite pastimes, and his love of stories has him searching for the message hidden behind every custom design that comes through the office. If you think your Signature order deserves to be featured in a blog, give us a call or contact us explaining why at https://signaturecoins.com/contact