I just couldn’t make myself get standard-issue name tags for a meet-up group I run. The group is great, with new people attending often--but it was tough trying to remember people's names. We tried going without name tags, but then nobody learned anyone's name.The subject of name tags came up during the first few meetups. And because the group formed to support those of us who make things,it became a personal challenge to come up with a creative solution.
The result: the chalkboard-paint name tag. After some experimentation, the winners are the buttons with pin-backs. Painted wooden name tags are the runners-up.
Pros and Cons:
The pins stay in place, but can unlatch and stab you when you are hauling them around, and the pins may snap after multiple uses. The wooden tags can be attached to cording and worn lanyard style-- these can get turned over while being worn, and the cording can tangle when you haul them with you, but on the other hand, nobody gets stuck by the occasional hostile pin.
Step 1: Supplies
• Buttons with pin backs are my favorite. You can also use wooden shapes that you later attach to pin backs, or to cording to wear around neck.
• Spray paint (I tried non-spray types of chalkboard-paint, but none of the resulting tags ever wiped off cleanly enough so that I could re-use the tag)
- primer to improve the surface tooth so the tag can accept paint more easily. IMPORTANT: For metal buttons, get a primer that blocks rust. I tried just chalkboard-paint (no primer) on the first batch of pins and they rusted right through the paint, right away, and were unusable until I sanded, rust-proofed with primer and repainted them.
- chalkboard paint.
• Scrap cardboard or fabric to protect surface when spray painting.
• If you are using wooden shapes, have on hand
- cording, ribbon or string for necklace/lanyards or pin-backs you can attach to the back of the painted shapes.
• Chalkboard markers--regular chalk doesn’t work nearly as well as the chalk markers.
Where to get supplies:
You can get the supplies from hobby stores. If you can't find chalk pens locally, try online--I found some on Amazon. As for buttons with pins-- the metal kind are the most durable. I also found some plastic ones that work well enough, once they were primed.
Step 2: Prime the Tags
Spray with primer.
Step 3: Chalkboard Painting
Repeat. I find it requires at least four coats of paint for the surfaces to clean up after they are written on, without leaving a chalk shadow.
Test using your chalk marker--let the chalk-ink dry, wait twenty minutes, then wipe off. If the name doesn't come off completely, add a few more coats of chalk paint, then test again.
If you've prepared the wooden pieces, glue on some cording or a pin back.
Then they are ready to be used!
The toughest part: at the end of the event, remember to collect the tags so you can re-use them!