oak awards for The&Partnership

Oak awards for The&Partnership

Posted Posted in Corporate, Wood

Guy Vickerstaff is the Creative Director at The&Partnership. He was planning a first birthday party for the agency in Edinburgh and wanted to hand out some creative awards.

His idea was to commission wooden coasters engraved with the details of each award. And they needed to be ready within two weeks. Could I help?

Oak glorious oak

I sent Guy some photos of oak coasters and signs I’d made previously.

Oak is a lovely material for things like this. Max McCance, a local furniture maker, rips up batons of oak for me into 6 – 7mm thick planks. They’re perfect for making coasters, small signs and badges from. Guy loved the idea.

Setting up the artwork

Guy designed the artwork for the awards himself. Then he sent the artwork in pdf format for seventeen coasters 105mm in diameter.

He created the lines of the pencil as single lines that were made to appear at a certain thickness. This produced the right effect when I viewed the files in CorelDraw. But when I exported them to my laser software, it could only see the hairline outlines that you can see below. This would have meant that the lines of the pencil would be much thinner than expected.

I have an easy solution to this problem. It was to save all the artwork inside the circle as a bmp. This meant that all the lines would be engraved at the right thickness. I kept the circle as a vector so I could use it to cut the coasters.

vector hairlines for engraving
vector hairlines for engraving

Making the oak awards

Once I’d made the first coaster, I sent Guy a photo and he was delighted. The oak gave a nice deep engrave and the detail came up really beautifully with two coats of antique oil that protects the wood and brings out the grain.

I think these awards were a great idea. So many awards are things that have no inherent use, but these coasters will be used every day and remind the lucky winners how wonderful they are every time they use them.

three oak award coasters

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

 

Other blogs you might find helpful about coasters include Mug mats for The Learning Cauldron, Personalised coaster wedding favoursPersonalised bespoke wedding gifts and Branded coasters for Welsh Oak Frame.

Making badges for Cambo Estate

Cambo Estate wedding team badges

Posted Posted in Corporate, Wood

Cambo Estate were preparing to host their first wedding fair, Wedfest, in May this year. Emma got in touch and asked if I could make some badges for their events team.  They had thought about having lanyards, but really wanted something classy and gorgeous in oak.

Designing the badges

Emma said that they were looking for the names of the team members, but they’d love it if I could get the Cambo Estate logo on too.

I had a copy of the logo on file. It’s highly detailed and therefore tricky to replicate on a small scale. After a few experiments with the artwork, I had a plan. I suggested to Emma that the logo could go on the left and the first names on the right of the badges.

If the badges were 65 x 33mm high, I could make the logo the same size as they are on the Cambo keyrings I’d engraved a couple of years earlier. Although they were small, they came out clearly. All the names would be clear and easy to read at 10mm high.

Emma was delighted with the idea and told me what font she wanted for the names so they’d match the logo.

Cambo Estate wedding team badges

Optimising the machine settings

Reproducing such fine detail means balancing the speed and power used for the engravings very carefully. You can see that the finest detail is in the crest and ‘Country House & Estate’. I used a slow engraving speed to make the details as sharp as possible and give them depth for increased definition.

Once I had optimised the settings to my satisfaction, I cut and engraved a prototype badge from a piece of 5mm oak. I sent a photo to Emma and she loved it. You can see the prototype photo at the top of the blog.

After rounding the corners, she gave the go ahead to make them. A couple of coats of antique oil were applied to protect them and bring out the grain of the wood. Struan glued on the pins the badges were ready. They got lots of compliments at Wedfest! They’re like little pieces of wearable furniture.

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

 

Other blogs about brooches that you might find useful include Shetland Wool Week plywood brooches.

Mug mats for The Learning Cauldron

Mug mats for The Learning Cauldron

Posted Posted in Corporate, Wood

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.

mug mat proof

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.

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

 

Other blogs you might find helpful about coasters include Oak Awards for The&Partnership, Personalised coaster wedding favours, Personalised bespoke wedding gifts and Branded coasters for Welsh Oak Frame.

engraving stainless steel hip flasks

Branding stainless steel hip flasks

Posted Posted in Corporate, Stainless steel

Tom and Karen opened their new Scotch whisky gift shop, The Wee Couper of Fife, six weeks ago.  Initially, they asked me to laser cut gift box foam inserts for them. Then they had another idea. They’d ordered stainless steel hip flasks for inclusion in some of the sets, but their supplier sent the wrong size for the gift boxes!

Rather than returning the 200 flasks, Tom and Karen wondered if I could engrave them with their logo so they could sell them separately.

Engraving stainless steel

My laser can mark some metals directly, but stainless steel isn’t one of them unfortunately. However, there is a wonderful product called Thermark that changes this. It’s a grey paste made up of fine glass particles and black pigment. After it’s been painted on and left to dry, I can engrave as usual.

This process leaves a matt black enamel mark on the metal surface and the remainder of the paste can be washed off. It’s weather proof and highly scratch resistant, and it sits slightly proud of the metal’s surface.

I knew it would be perfect for the hipflasks as it would give a high contrast engraving.  Tom and Karen liked the idea.

Branding artwork proof

Tom asked if I could make up a design using their logo with the text they wanted underneath. He sent me a copy of the logo in vector format so I could rescale it without loss of image quality. This is really important for achieving a high quality engraving.

Tom asked for the artwork  to be approximately 45 x 45mm so it would fit onto any hip flask size they had and we could use one size of artwork for them all. The flask in the picture at the top is one of the shortest flasks and you can see how the engraving fits.

Engraved hipflask set for The Wee Couper of Fife

Engraving sample hip flasks

Tom and Karen liked the proof and brought around a box with two sizes of large and small hip flasks. Both they engraved well. They were so pleased that they decided to have them all engraved, even the ones in the gift boxes! It’s a great way for the Coupers to add more branding to their products. Their customers will still use the hip flasks long after the miniatures have been consumed.

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

Cutting foam inserts for gift boxes

Cutting foam inserts for gift boxes

Posted Posted in Corporate, Other

Tom and Karen Couper have just opened their beautiful new shop, The Wee Couper of Fife,  in Anstruther where they sell boxed miniature sets.

Bespoke inserts for a range of products

Tom and Karen wanted to make up their own unique gift sets. They sourced boxes with foam inserts, but these inserts just came as a whole square. The Coupers needed to have shapes cut out of the inserts to match the 14 individual gift sets they planned to start with. Holes were required for bottles, hipflasks, golf balls and jams. And they needed to be snug so that the products would fit in the boxes securely.

The Wee Couper of Fife's Grant's, Hendricks and Grey Goose gift set
The Wee Couper of Fife’s Grant’s, Hendricks and Grey Goose gift set

Can you laser cut foam?

Tom and Karen came to the workshop to show me what they wanted to see if I could help.

Tom had mocked up a gift box to show me how he wanted them to look by cutting one foam square with a knife. It looked smart! But the question was, could I laser cut the foam for them? I’d asked Tom to check if the foam contained any PVC or teflon as they evolve acid gases during cutting, but his supplier confirmed that they didn’t and that they were suitable for laser cutting.

I had only cut closed cell foam prior to this. It cut well and the facing side looked good. But on the back, in areas where the machine slowed down to change direction, the foam melted a bit, creating pits. I tested the sample that the Coupers had brought and found settings that worked. Again, the facing side looked great, but areas on the back where angles had been cut, there were small melted pits. Tom and Karen didn’t mind as they wouldn’t be seen.

Creating artwork for the 14 foam insert styles

Now we knew I could help, the next stage was to create artwork. Fourteen files were needed, one for each set. I’m not a graphic designer, but I work with a few, and one of them is CatMac Design. Catriona created the artwork in vector format, sent it to me to check, and we were ready to go.

Grand opening!

Two weeks ago, Tom brought round the first box of foam to the workshop to cut.

On Friday 15th June, Tom and Karen proudly opened their new shop. Here’s a picture of Tom looking splendid in his uniform kilt with one of the box sets. I love the little half keg display units on the wall behind him, each containing a different gift set.

Wee Couper opening

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

Forsyth Dancing Shoes decoration

Forsyth Dancing Shoes decorations

Posted Posted in Corporate, Wood

Forsyth Dancing Shoes sells Highland dancing shoes and pumps.  As well as shoes, Nichola has other merchandise like tea towels,  greetings cards and notebooks decorated with  designs she commissioned. She thought that hanging decorations would be a good addition to their range.

Dancing shoes artwork

Nichola’s friend Louise McLaren is an artist based in Comrie. She makes paper cut designs and she creates the artwork for Forsyth Dancing Shoes’ merchandise. Louise adjusted the artwork she created for the greetings cards for the decorations and provided the design in a vector format for laser cutting because she knew that Nichola wanted shapes cut out rather than printed.

What material to choose?

Nichola emailed me the artwork and gave me a call to discuss ideas. She wanted something that would look good spray painted or as they are in a material that would be robust, light and cost effective.

I suggested 3mm ply and mdf, or 2mm mdf if Nichola wanted something even lighter. Plywood is a nice option as the wood grain is attractive, but mdf has a pleasing earthy appearance. Both options are good value and require similar cutting settings at the same thickness.

The artwork included lots of fine detail. Louise had done a good job of keeping the design details 2 to 3mm thick to keep them as robust as possible. Any of the materials I suggested would work well for this new product.

Nichola chose 3mm ply, and I sent her a photo of a prototype. She loved it!

Nichola sells her dancing shoes and other products online and at dancing competitions. Her new decorations will have their first outing at a competition in Inverness this weekend. Hopefully they will be a great addition to her range.

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.