Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Beginnings, and Recent Projects

I am really excited to be getting my shop going! I've been experimenting with making laminated bookmarks for almost five months now, and finally feel like I have the basic technique down. My favorite part of the process is seeing my ideas materialize in front of me. Usually, I have a vision in my mind, and sometimes the result is as good or better as what I visualized, but sometimes it goes into "what was I thinking?" territory. Even the bad ideas are learning expriences though, so even if I throw out a bookmark or two, nothing is wasted.

I spent several months doing product development, trying different designs, asking for feedback from friends and family, to get an idea of what I wanted to make. I wanted to have some standard designs, because that would make my supply ordering adn maintenance easier- I'd know what I need, and how much. During the development phase, I learned a lot about what supplies I needed, where to get them, price comparisons and the like, and all of this helped to drive the standard designs I came up with. At first, I was going on pretty much what I liked and wanted to create. The pictures in my head were plentiful, and I wanted to see them all materialize! When I finally got down to business, that is, calculating the prices of materials and unit costs, some designs did not make the cut, because they were simply too expensive to produce. One of my goals has been for my bookmarks to be an affordable luxury, so to keep my prices reasonable, I have to have limits on my material costs.

Once I started my shop, I realized that I didn't necessarily have to limit myself to those standard designs, though. While those might be the backbone of my shop, there is still room for custom products that might not appeal to everyone, but provide options for people who are looking for something specific. I love the idea of custom work, because it's an opportunity for me to do something different and creative, so everyone wins!

Here are a couple of recent custom projects I completed. I was my own customer in this case, and I must say, I enjoyed it! My project was a custom bookmark for my son to give his school band director for an end-of-year teacher gift. My son is graduating from 8th grade this year and moving on to high school, and has been with his middle school band for three years now, so we wanted to do something special for the director. Here is what I did for him.

I chose a trumpet, because that is the main instrument that Mr. D. plays, though he teaches a wide range of instruments to his band students.

I also made a bookmark for my son with his instrument, a saxophone:

For both of these, I used scrapbook embellishments that I found at Michael's. They presented a bit of a challenge because they are dimensional, and when you are making something that you intend to laminate, you have to be careful about how thick your material is. As it is, I use three layers of card stock for each bookmark, so any embellishments that are used can't be too much thicker, or the result will be bubbles around the embellisments when laminated. These embellishments were really neat- unlike a flat sticker, these looked much more representative of the instruments because of the layers of material for different parts of the instruments. That makes for a thicker embellishment though, and added to that, each one was affixed with a foam sticker on the back, with which to attach it. My first go at each of these bookmarks was to use the embellishments as-is, and I was not happy with the results. The foam sticker made it too thick, so the laminate was bubbled around each instrument, and it just didn't look as polished as I like. My solution was to scrape off the foam sticker and use a liquid glue to affix the embellishments to the bookmark, and that worked pretty well. I added some flat musical note stickers for visual interest, and I think they add some fun as well.

I'm excited to have recently been contacted about doing my first real custom order, and am anxious to do a great job for my customer. She has chosen one of my standard designs- actually, one that my 9 year old daughter designed- and wants several of them to use as bridal shower favors! We can't wait to get started, and hope that she will be happy with what we make for her!

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