Friday, August 15, 2014

Process: Making shrink plastic magnets

 One of the things that I try to do when I sell stuff at my convention tables and online store is have a wide variety of items at different price points, so anyone who wants a piece of my artwork can walk away with something. Shoot, even if you're broke you can still walk away with a killer postcard with my website on it- for future reference when you're *not* broke.  ::nudge:: ;) I also make it a point to put my art on not only prints and pieces of frame-able art, but also on products which become part of the customer's life that they can take with them on their day. 

A magnetic front door is a great place to take inventory on finished packs as I make them.
 A staple of my merchandise selection for the past few years has been my magnet sets. I usually package them in 2 character sets for $10 each and they are cut, cooked and assembled by me in my 'free time'. I've been messing around with shrink plastic since I was a kid playing with Shrinky-Dinks in the 80s. My mom, a retired seamstress- even helped me as a small child sell my first Shrinky-Dink jewelry (under the eponymous banner of 'Paige's Cute Things') when she would go to sewing shows. I distinctly remember my mom handing me over my earnings afterward and getting a jolt of greedy excitement. It was just a few bucks but that satisfying feeling of receiving money for something I enjoyed doing was something I would chase for the better part of my life.

 I rediscovered the awesomeness of shrink plastic a few years ago after I started selling my work at conventions. Looking for new ways to present myself, I came across printable blank sheets of shrink plastic paper and went to town creating jewelry such as necklaces and brooches. One of my first pieces of jewelry, my roller derby girl necklace, landed me my first interview and product review on a roller derby blog. I even sent a giant shipment to the gift lounge of the Oscars back in 2009 to be touched by and given away to real, live *famous people*. It was pretty neat. Aside from jewelry, I also sold them as magnets- but it being the early days of conventions I didn't know what I was doing. Instead of packaging the magnets as sets I would have them all loose on a giant magnet board I clumsily propped up on my table, which would get knocked into and pushed off the table as customers would grab the magnets they wanted. It was a bit of a mess. Especially in-between shows when I had to put them away stacked in tupperware containers where unprotected they could chip and break. But still they sold well, even better than the shrink jewelry- I think because they are something EVERYONE can use and appreciate. Shoot I even know people with kids who like to play with them on the fridge while sitting on their kitchen floor.

 I've had some concern from well-meaning but misguided people in my life who don't understand why I would want to tell my 'secrets' of how I make my products. Honestly, there's a few reasons for this. Making these magnets and other shrink plastic accessories is one of my more labor-intensive processes of creating merch. If anyone else is crazy and determined enough to get themselves elbow-deep into doing all the things I have to do to make these then by all means- go for it. I just ask that you are as generous with your processes as I have been with mine and perhaps we can all learn from each other. Also I am not threatened by other people having similar merch as me- since I believe people are buying my magnets and merch because it's features my artwork, not simply because it is a magnet or a bracelet, etc. I mean really, if you're that hard up for magnets just to have magnets- there are plenty of places you can get some for way cheaper. I also wanted to share my processes so that people can see exactly how much work goes into making them- this is one of my products which is almost 100% assembled by me, all I buy are the blank sheets, magnets and packaging materials. Some products like my stickers (Stickermule), prints (Overnight Prints) and artbooks (lulu) I pay to be produced by an outside company who then sends me the product that I sell. Though if I *did* have a print shop of my own I'd be a very happy girl, haha. Really though it's just nice to be appreciated for the hard work I do making the products I sell and hopefully this will educate people on my processes, whether they are simply curious as to how I make all this stuff or want to try their hand at making their own shrink plastic creations.

My process:

Step 1: print
Step 2: cut

Step 3: cook
Bonus video:

Step 4: spray

Step 5: glue

Step 6: attach
Step 7: wrap

Step 8: admire
If you want to get some of my magnets for your own, check out my convention schedule to see if I'm coming to your town! If I'm not, or you're a hermit like me- be sure to check out my etsy store!

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