Scallywag Studios Coin DesignHow I moved from business cards to coins without breaking the bank.
Business cards are always fun to design, and something almost magical can happen when you network into someone worthwhile and you exchange cards. But I find it almost disturbing that I have a pile of other people’s business cards sitting on the desk in front of me gathering dust. If I’m honest with myself, I know deep down that I’ve only managed to glance at a handful of these cards more than once since I received them, and sadly, the same fate has undoubtedly been met by my own skillfully branded cards. Time for a new idea.
My latest obsession, Scallywag Studios, demands a more fitting and, well, tactile approach. So I decided to go create a keepsake that would double as a business card… a coin! Scallywags love coins. This isn’t a new Idea mind you; there are dozens of places that will make custom coins for you. But I’m more interested in the ancient coins of antiquity… something I could make for myself, that didn’t have to be perfect, and certainly wouldn’t cost me a small fortune to create. After all, if my brand was going to gather dust on someone else’s desk, it might as well look the part. Who knows, maybe my coins will travel, as they tend to do. And perhaps you too will dig one up someday.
I began with designing the two “sides” of the coin. This was a feat in itself which I will have to elaborate on a separate post. Needless to say I went through several iterations. My goal is to create a coin that features all of the same contact information typically found on a business card, in addition to the Scallywag Studios logo. I also feel it would be fitting to have some sort of persona on one side of the coin (as is tradition), but instead of featuring myself I opted to use Marcus ~ our Chief Scallywag.
* Please note, the phone number shown on the coin is no longer mine because we moved out of state. The email still works though.
This is a mock-up I created in Photoshop in order to visualize and keep track of what areas of the design would be part of the raised surface of the coin.
At home I was able to experiment with a variety of other materials and putties. Super Sculpey worked alright, but was a little too sticky, even though I had coated the engraving with oil to minimize the stickiness factor. Plumber’s Putty, forget about it. It’s way too soft, and will NEVER dry out. Well, not never, just not as soon as I would like… in years. I don’t even know why I tried it really, it was more for curiosity.
Eventually I settled on what seemed to be a great solution. Epoxy putty! But it’s tricky…
First, you have to break off a piece of two-part compound. Then you kneed it together and it reacts, and you can feel heat come off of it from the chemicals bonding. Then you need to act FAST before it sets up.
The putty took kindly to the engraving and resisted sticking. Even with a good firm squeeze between the two engravings, there are still irregularities, BUT that’s the point, I don’t want them to be perfect in this case. In fact, as long as the information is somewhat legible, the rest can be rough as grit.
The epoxy putty proved it’s worth, and is quite hard and convincingly heavy. But like all labors of love, I do plan to test a few other materials in order ensure I have the best recipe possible.
Lastly, I painted the coin gold. The putty seems to have accepts gold spray paint, which I found gave me the best luster.
After successfully creating a handful of coins I needed a way to mass produce them in a way that wouldn’t be too time-consuming or expensive. So I decided to make a couple of molds and cast copies using resin.
I began by producing a more uniform coin that would still be rough around the corners to resemble one that had aged, but would be legible to people without much effort on their part.
Next I used clay and a silicon mold compound to produce the mold that I would use for mass production. This was the first time I’d ever attempted such a thing. I ended up botching it several times before getting it right (for the most part).
I eventually ended up with two working molds and they are definitely not pretty from the outside, but they got the job done! I did experiment with adding metallic powders to the resin, but they didn’t produce the luster needed to see the writing on the coin, so I ended up painting them anyway.
I did learn that adding a small amount of acrylic paint to the resin would sufficiently give me a colored coin. I even produced a handful of glow-in-the-dark coins using this method.