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All Things Ampersand

Project: Pin-ups

Back in the days when I got dressed up for my day-jobs as an art professor, graphic designer and copywriter I was known for my arty, eye-catching pins – kind of like Madeleine Albright, though she wore hers with Hermes scarves and I wore mine with quirky jackets from the Army/Navy surplus store!

I’m now happily semi-retired. I ‘commute’ down the stairs to my studio to work and my wardrobe is shorts and a T-shirt in the summertime, turtleneck, and jeans in winter. The pins went into retirement, tucked away in a drawer. 

I missed seeing those pins, each of which holds a special memory, many of them made by me from vintage buttons, photo transfers, beads and such; it was time to take them out of the drawer and put them on display!

I’ve used removable tape to hold the pins in place, so I can rotate the collection and wear them whenever I want. If you make your own version of this project you could, of course, adhere the items you’ve got on display in a more permanent manner. Tombow Xtreme Adhesive Tabs are an excellent choice for securing up to six ounces on a vertical surface. (I used the Tabs to hold the three domino frames in place.)


  1. Paint and stencil the sides of a cradled Ampersand Art Supply UNprimed Basswood Artist’s Panel in black and turquoise other colors of choice. Shown: 6” x 12” x 1.5”.
  1. Paint the edges and interior of the panel in red, and when dry, streak the flat area with bright purple or use two other colors of choice.
  1. Glue dominos together to make three frames: Four dominos for the smaller frames, eight for the larger one. Optional – As shown, streak with glitter glue to add a bit of sparkle.
  1. Adhere the frames to the front edges of the Panel as shown in the photo below for a horizontal display. Optional – Rectangular Panels can also be hung vertically.
  1. Add a large element like a fan as a visual anchor. (Other options: An orphan mitten to which more pins can be attached, a crumpled map, a series of cup hooks across the top from which to hang bracelets.)
  1. Adhere the pins or other memorabilia as shown or as preferred. (Tip: Use removable tape so the collection can be rotated, and the items taken off for wearing.)


  • Ampersand UNprimed Basswood Cradled Panel – 6” x 12” x 1.5” or size of choice
  • Acrylic paints in red, purple, black and turquoise
  • Paintbrushes
  • Thicket Background stencil (StencilGirl Products)
  • Dominos
  • Iridescent glitter glue
  • Tombox Xtreme Adhesive Tabs
  • Double-sided removable tape
  • Fan, pins or other collectibles


This is part of our on-going series of projects with artist Judi Kauffman. Judi is a nationally known designer, teacher, writer and product developer whose expertise includes collage, stenciling, paper crafting, stamp arts, embroidery, needlepoint, knitting, crochet, weaving and fabric piecing. She has written and produced three videos and is the author of five books. Judi developed and taught college-level studio art and graphic design courses for over 40 years, as well as art programs in public and private schools (elementary through high school levels). Judi earned a BFA in printmaking from Cornell University and an MFA in fibers from Antioch University. She credits her parents (both artists) and her grandfathers (a tailor and a blacksmith) for encouraging her to pursue art and for being among her favorite teachers.


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