Biz Miss

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DIY Do: Tree Ring Wedding Wheel Invitation Templates March 15, 2010

Filed under: diy — bizmiss @ 12:21 am
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Wow, it must be wedding-planning season, because I’m starting to get a ton of e-mails again about our tree ring invitations.  Neither A. nor I really have the time (or inclination, if I’m going to be honest) to create so many similar sets of invites for clients so I spent most of today preparing these invites as downloadable templates for Photoshop and Illustrator.  They’re ready to go straight to the printer once you’ve entered in your own text, but they’re also fully editable so you can customize them as much or as little as you want.

The templates are up in the Burning House Etsy shop already, and I’ll be adding them to the regular Burning House shop in the next few days.  If you or someone you know has been coveting a set of these for their wedding, now you can create a unique set using your own text, fonts, colors and/or printers.  You could even DIY the whole thing from start to finish if you like.  Enjoy!

 

Worth Its Weight: Ponoko October 22, 2008

Apparently I’ve been pretty out of the loop lately, because I hadn’t heard of Ponoko until this week.  An article in ReadyMade piqued my interest, but it wasn’t written very clearly so I read through the Ponoko web site in order to understand how it all works.

Ponoko is similar to Etsy in a lot of ways.  Members have their own little Ponoko shops, where they can list items for sale, buy things from other members, request custom items, and contact each other.  Where Ponoko differs from Etsy is that you can only sell things that are made (at least in part) in Ponoko’s laser-cutting shop.  This is how they make their money.  They don’t charge listing fees or take a percentage of your sales, but they do charge you for the materials and laser time it takes to make your item (or item components).

Most of what gets sold on Ponoko right now is jewelry.  This is because the easiest and least expensive thing to make with their laser is a small, two-dimensional cut-out.  People mostly design silhouettes or etchings that get cut and/or carved into thin sheets of wood or plastic, and then turn them into pendants, earrings, jigsaw puzzles, coasters, and other flat design-y objects.  3-D objects like tables and lamps sometimes appear in people’s shops, too.  These are mostly put together using layering (to acheive a topographical map sort of effect) or a slot-and-tab configuration.  Unfortunately, this causes a lot of people’s products to look very similar to one another.  Additionally, some people also sell or give away products plans in their shops, so that customers can build items themselves, or have the Ponoko factory folks build it for them.

Because of the limits of just one process (laser-cutting) and a few, flat materials (basically wood and acrylic), Ponoko has a ways to go before it can become the small-manufacturer-to-the-masses it would like to be.  I would love, for example, to see them expand to vacuum-formed plastic or fabric-based manufacturing.  If there were a place in the U.S. where I could get on-demand plush toy manufacturing, it would solve a LOT of the problems inherent with my current business.  Luckily for me, however, another product line I’m working on can be made perfectly with Ponoko’s lasers and plywood.  I’ve already researched a lot of industrial cutting facilities for this project, but having one right here in San Francisco that can make them on demand is infinitely preferrable to having to buy and then store some huge inventory again.  I had all but written off this new line for that very reason, but I’m excited to think the possibility exists to move forward with it again.

Ponoko’s ultimate vision is to have dozens of little factories all over the world, so that no matter where you live, whatever you buy can be made nearby.  Making things only to order cuts down on waste, and having lots of scattered factories cuts down on the costs and emissions associated with global transport.  This is an example of one of those forward-thinking green businesses profiled in books like Cradle-to-Cradle, in which it is more profitable to be eco-friendly, not less.  They still have a lot of growing to do, but I really think Ponoko is onto something big.  If I were a venture capitalist, or if they offered stock, I would definitely be investing in these guys.

 

Make it Your Damn Self…if You Can Make it Fast April 2, 2008

One of the advantages of being a creative Biz Miss is that you don’t need to turn to corporate America for many of your office supplies. You can make them yourself. Not only do you save money (and the time spent shopping for these things), you can feel proud that you are exercising your creative muscles and putting your unique stamp onto the things you use every day.

diy plannerI first learned the joy of making your own stuff when I couldn’t find the kind of daily planner I wanted after months of shopping. I needed something that was about A5 (half letter) size, showed an entire week per spread, and had the hours of the day written in. A little section for notes would also be good, but I wasn’t going to be that picky. When nothing turned up, I decided to print my own. I bought a little binder and a few hundred pages of blank A5 paper from Kinokuniya and drew up exactly what I wanted in Adobe Illustrator. It only cost me $6 (far less than if I had bought one) and years later I’m still using it because it’s organized exactly the way my brain wants it to be.

car logThis week I made three things: a car log (with sleeve to stick to the dashboard), a spending diary, and a new wallet to keep my business cards and petty cash separate from my personal stuff. The car log and spending diary took only 5-10 minutes each to make, and they were made entirely from items in my recycling bin. The wallet, on the other hand, while also made entirely from leftover materials, took an inordinate amount of time to make–I’d say 8-10 hours. It’s a fairly complex wallet and I’ve never made a wallet before, so I’m proud to have a finished product that looks and functions exactly the way I want it to, but I probably would have been better off buying something like this for a measly $13.

diary coverspending diarywallet openwallet frontwallet back

I’ve already got my next two projects lined up: a cash apron for craft and design fairs to replace my huge and inconvenient lock box, and a large canvas tote for carrying around sales samples (complete with Sweet Meats iron-on logo) so I can finally toss the ratty plastic H&M shopping bag I’ve been using.

For more DIY inspiration, check out some of the posts at “girl on the rocks.” In this one, she reuses (and improves!) security envelopes from the bills she pays online, and in this one she makes her own fiber content stamps for labeling her yarn. I now turn all of my unused bill envelopes inside out, too. Put a little message or image in the clear window and voila!–a perfect gift envelope that’s personal, funky and doesn’t cost a dime.

If you’ve got a nifty office/studio supply project you’d like to show off, link to it in the comments!