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Derby Museums Volunteer Badges

Updated: Sep 29, 2018

In September 2016 I was asked to join a project led by Jenn Layton, another Volunteer at Derby Museums. Jenn had identified an opportunity to design a more cost effective and durable volunteer badge that could replace the existing versions that often became worn after extended use and were expensive to replace. She had devised a more economical solution to have designs cut by resident-maker Graeme Smith using the on-site museum workshops at The Silk Mill.

After researching some ideas through asking museum staff for suggestions of objects that could represent the trust, Jenn gathered them into a list for me to use a basis to inform the designs. The badges needed to be distinctive enough to be readable from a reasonable distance of around three metres, so they could not be overly complicated in style. I scouted around to find these objects in the collections and took my own reference photos of different angles that I could choose from later on. I like to have more than one image of a single object for something like this as it gives me more options to play around with that I might not usually consider at first.

As I began working on the images, I found that geometric shapes such as the Gears and the Silk Mill tower could be more directly adapted from my reference photos using only a few adjustments, whereas more natural forms such as the Pangolin, Hippo and the King of Rome needed to be reinterpreted by sketching, scanning and digitally tracing them in order to keep in fitting with the simplified style I was aiming for. Line thickness was kept equal across all the designs, giving them an easily noticeable clean appearance that could easily be converted into the laser cut versions.

These gears from a model loom from the Silk Mill didn’t require adjusting as much as the Pangolin.

One of the badges was adapted from a section depicting Saturn as taken from Joseph Wrights “A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery”

With the designs complete, they were then passed to Graeme to convert into templates to see how effective they look be when laser cut out of plywood. We ran a few test runs some of the designs needed to be adjusted for size or strength in some places, but after some tinkering we ended up assembling a visually pleasing collection of laser crafted hanging badges ready to be worn. On the reverse side of each badge the derby museums logo and social media links were engraved.

The final 14 designs alongside the sites they represent.

A completed selection of laser cut wooden badges.

The finished project was then presented to staff in December 2016 and the badges were distributed across the sites for use by museum volunteers.


Jenn Layton has also written about this project in her own blog post here.


In February 2018 the project was revived as Volunteer coordinator Gemma Hopkins asked me to adjust the original designs to be used as lighter laminated badges that could be used while the Silk Mill undergoes redevelopment. The redesign features the original graphics but now inside a circular border. Space at the top of the badges has been left to punch a hole through so that they can be easily attached to Volunteer lanyards.


Project Lead

Volunteer Coordinator

Laser Manufacturing



Derby Museums


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