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Allen Bukoff: I came up with the idea of wearing laminated images with safety pins as a "new wave" alternative to traditional metal buttons in 1981, in Kent, Ohio.  Shown here are a few of the thousands of laminated pins and badges I have made over the years.

Here's the origin story: My friend and former roommate, Chris Butler, had a newly created band that he had relocated to New York City. I wanted to help support the band and originally thought maybe I could get a bunch of metal buttons made that would display an image or logo of the band -- something they could give to audiences. Small, half-inch, metal buttons had become the popular fashion in some of the new wave music scenes around the world, so that's what I started thinking about. I discovered that getting them made was going to be too expensive for me to pursue. 

Then I had this idea: why couldn't I do this cheaply myself by Xeroxing the images on paper, cutting out these images/graphics and then laminating them in clear plastic sheets?! One of the local hardware stores had a laminating machine for retail use and I figured I could get several dozen small squares of paper laminated in one sheet (a 11.5 x 9-inch laminating pouch was something like $1.50 or $2.00). It also occurred to me that these little pieces of plastic could be worn on clothes with small inexpensive safety pins! The safety pin had already become an icon and fashion accessory in the punk music scene, so I figured this was perfect. A new wave twist on punk.

Chris Butler came up with the idea of a perfect visual image for The Waitresses, a food-order receipt from a restaurant. I went to Jerry's Diner in downtown Kent, Ohio (where Chris had first conceived of the idea for his "Waitresses" band) and I got one of the female counter waitstaff to fill out a classic diner order (cheddar cheese burger with ketchup, mustard, and onions, french fries, soup, and coffee). I then took the receipt, rubber stamped THE WAITRESSES across it, took that to Kinko's Copies, and printed a bunch of smaller images of it on green paper. Laminated a bunch of these little "guest check" images, cut them up, added safety pins and sent them off to Chris in New York. He told me they were a hit with their audiences. I was off and running with this new form of wearable art!
I am one of two people to whom The Waitresses' first album, Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful, is dedicated. Some of the stuff I did for The Waitresses is now in the memorabilia collection of The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! 

Click here to see how easy it is
to make your own pins.

I quickly got more elaborate and started combining these pins with other materials in small envelopes and packets. Some examples of these small handouts -- including some metal buttons:


I hung out in Kent, Ohio in the 70s and early 80s (while doing graduate school in experimental Psychology at Kent State University) and made little promotional novelties for bands as my contribution to the "new wave & punk" side of the local music and art scene. I also did a stint as a bartender at one of the main music venues, JBs Down. Here's my own little description of this music/art scene from 1980: Kent/Akron New Wave Rock Roll. In 1984 I moved to Detroit, kept working with some of the Kent/Akron bands and their offshoots, and also hooked up with a couple of Detroit bands. These little projects and handouts have been a major part of my creative body of work.
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