Karen from The Learning Cauldron tutors children in English and German, and every year, she gives her tutees a wee gift. This year, she decided on mug mats. She wanted oak ones with a message and her web address engraved on each one.
Designing a prototype
Karen decided she wanted ‘English is #lit’ on her coasters as a play on English lit and ‘lit’ being a current expression and hashtag to express amazingness. She asked if I could design something using different fonts, and curve her web address around the bottom right corner for an interesting look.
I designed the prototype to be 110mm square. It’s a generous size and fits even large mugs well. Then I selected a mixture of fonts for Karen to give some initial feedback on. She loved ‘English’, but we went through a few iterations for the other words until she was happy.
It was particularly challenging to find a font suitable for the website address. We chose one where the letters were well spaced. Each letter needed to stand out clearly and not crash into its neighbours, especially where the text curves around the corner.
To get the text to curve, I created a rounded square withing the coaster shape. I used the ‘fit text to path’ function in my software to make the text follow the line. Then I made a final prototype of a scrap piece of oak to make sure that all the detail would engrave well.
Making the mug mats
Max McCance is a local furniture maker, and he rips up batons of oak for me to make into coasters. Thankfully, he turned my order around with his usual efficiency. When Karen approved the final proof, I could start production immediately. She needed the mug mats for the start of her new tutoring term that was starting that week!
Karen loved the coasters. Whilst each one had the same design, they were all different as each mug mat had different wood grain. She decided to let each tutee pick the mug mat they liked best.