1. Vector graphics.
All badges are vector graphics. This means they are created in a drawing program and defined by points, lines and curves. It makes the graphics non-resolution dependent. They can be printed from the size to fit in a bottle cap to fill a billboard and still look good! Learn the differences between vector and raster graphics.
2. Physical display.
Your badges can be displayed a variety of ways. As you read through the steps, think of the different ways you’ll be able to display each of the possibilities. Which will work for you? Do you want to wear your badges? Place them for display on a banner or blanket? Stitch your own badges? Share your ideas.
3. Web display.
All web badge graphics can be placed on your blog, online photo album, Facebook page or any other social media site. The standard graphics are available on Flickr for viewing. They can be resized, saved to various formats and sent out on request to fit your needs.
NOTE: Earned badges will have the URL watermark removed from the graphic.
Certificates are available for exploring the badge, completing it or for innovating (see EP Innovator badge program) as follows:
- Discover, tan (3-10 hours)
- Explore, bronze (11-25 hours)
- Connect, silver (26-39 hours)
- Complete, gold (40+ hours)
- Innovator, blue
These sheets can be given to your council (Girl Scouts) or placed in a folder to support your continued dedication to learning. See the AEP badge program “My Education and Experience” for more on how additional experience and education can help you.
5. Magnets or fridgies.
So, you have a vector graphic and a web button. What can you do with them? You can craft your own badges, including:
- Bottle caps —print the badge and punch with a 1” circular paper punch, decoupage or resin to seal the print
- Glass — attach a print of the badge to the back of a flat glass marble
- Decoupage — decoupage a print of the badge to a wooden circle, chipboard or similar material
- Paint — use the design as a pattern and paint the design on your own circle shape
All of these can go on your refrigerator, a specially made magnetic board, cabinets at your meeting place, etc.
Purchase and print iron-on sheets specific for your printer. Iron-ons can be placed on any fabric. The coolest t-shirt I saw looked like a sash was stenciled on the shirt and the badges placed on the sash (shirt.woot.com).
Fabric items you can attach iron-ons to include:
You can get templates for circular sticker paper from companies like Avery. Sizes are 1.5”, 1.625” and 2.5”. They come pre-cut on a standard sheet of paper at your office supply store. Stickers can be placed almost anywhere. Print your own and start tracking how much you’ve learned. You can also use this as a visual aid for your girls to review when they want to try something new.
You can print the badges on acetate, also known as transparencies. This will allow light to come through. You could string them together to make a banner, divider or anywhere you want the transparent effect. Make sure to seal the side with ink so it doesn’t scratch off.
You can get a low-cost button machine at Badge-a-Minit. Buttons are sized from 1.25” to 3” with 2.25” being the most popular. To cut the paper for inside, you can purchase a cutter at this company as well. Other companies also provide badge makers.
You can get cheap buttons at hobby stores that are completely plastic as well as variable circle cutters.
10. Jewelry pendants.
Jewelry pendants (charms) are everywhere. Like the bottle caps, just punch out the image, place into the shape and fill with resin or decoupage. These are smaller than a lot of the other options. The charms are metal, though, and get heavy quickly.
Also note that there are square shapes available so you can color coordinate a background paper with your attire if you’re looking to match a uniform and place the punched badge image on top of that.
11. Shrink plastic.
Purchase shrink plastic for your printer and print a size larger than you need. Then, shrink down the plastic for small charms or attach pin backs. They’ll be lighter than the jewelry pendants.
Note: Experiment with your shrink plastic. When you place a hole in the plastic before shrinking, it will fill in if it is too small. Keep punched holes to a size of 1/8” or larger.
Recycled #6 plastic can be shrunk down if you do not want to pay for shrink plastic sheets. In this case, print your badge out on paper. Tape it to the plastic. Outline and color it with markers or colored pencils to duplicate the design. Then, cut out, punch and shrink as usual.
12. Decoupaged paper.
Print your badge out. Decoupage your image to your base — wood, chipboard, glass, etc. Put a decoupage medium on both sides and edges to make sure it is sealed. Allow to dry thoroughly. Additional coats of decoupage will make your badge more durable. I have seen buttons made this way with a pin back stuck to the paper — a cardstock should be used to make sure the paper can hold up to use. You can also use embossing powder on the paper instead of decoupage.
13. Badge book.
Get a small photo album and place a print of your badge in it. You can also include the steps you completed, a picture of yourself doing an activity, a finished product, etc. You might even want to expand it into a scrapbook of your own adventures.
You can create your own needlework patterns and make your own badges to wear. This can be done with graph paper or needlework design software. You can make your own badges by purchasing blank badges, cutting out circles from fabric and serging the edges or stitching directly onto material.
Techniques you can use include:
- Hand embroidery
- Machine embroidery
- Plastic canvas
The badge graphics are created so that there are a limited number of colors. This should make the job of stenciling and machine embroidery easier. If you’re making only one “badge”, you can use a thick paper or tape to tape off the area you don’t want color. If you’re planning on creating multiple badges, you can print and cut out acetate. Putting spray adhesive on the back helps hold the stencil in place.
Print and punch out the size you want. You can laminate paper with hot or cold laminate. You can also use clear contact paper or packing tape. Make sure all of the edges are sealed to keep moisture from getting to the paper. Punch through the plastic to create “charms” that can be placed on pins like SWAPs. You can also string them together with jump rings by placing holes in your laminate (but not paper) on either side or in all four cardinal directions and using o-rings to hold them together.
17. Your favorite craft.
Combine any of the above to make your own unique badges or use your own special techniques. Some may include:
- Polymer clay circles with image transfer
- Print directly on fabric and serge edges
- Keychains similar to “Buttons” above
- Clear bubble stickers over image for jewelry
- Sew felt pieces together for a soft badge
- Print the size of a recycled CD and use for demonstrations
- Inside the pages of a wearable mini-book
- Create a “first place” ribbon with the badge in the center
- Place a circular acetate print inside a clear spherical Christmas ornament
- Add your own ideas on the blog page so we can all have fun!
18. The future of awards.
In the future, EP would like to offer digital badges via Mozilla’s Open Badge project. Unfortunately, the cost of having actual badges created is very expensive, so unless I can figure an alternative, we’ll stick with digital.
Sites to Explore