Custom for the Holidays

Attention!

Little Eye offers everything bottle cap as a custom item (you want your pet in a necklace?  your mom’s cat in a set of 6 magnets?  your engagement announcement as pins?) year round, but especially for the holidays.  Send an email to littleeyedesigns at gmail dot com if you’re interested in placing an order (wholesale pricing applies for bulk orders!)

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Just Listed

Chicken Barrette, $6 from littleeyedesigns on Etsy

‘Ello!  If you haven’t peeked in to my Etsy shop lately (click there), you’ll be blown away at all the new items.  I’ve been hemming and hawing about new listings and I realized that when you sell tiny, little specialty objects it really is a numbers game:  the more I pack in there, the more chance there will be someone who connects with the artwork featured in the bottle cap!  Many new listings still to come, but I especially like that chicken barrette.

I’m also offering FREE SHIPPING on any order over $10, all you need to do is enter “ISPENT10” (all caps, no spaces) at checkout and the shipping charge will be removed.  That’s neat!

http://littleeyedesigns.etsy.com

Music to My Ears… and My Hair.

OK, I’m going to try my hand at being a nice lady to my Etsy shop again.  I fell in to a lull this summer when sales were slumping and the beach was getting warmer and warmer.  But now that the Picnic busy-ness is over, I’m on top of my wholesale order (yet again) and the only real ‘extra’ project I have going on is knitting socks it seems like a pretty good time to start taking pictures again.

Non-sequitur:  I am in need of someone with size 7 feet who would like to trade modeling socks for… a pair of hand knit socks.  I’d need your toes for modeling by mid-September and then I’d have a pair of socks (in your choice of color and calf-length!) ready for you by the beginning of October.

Ok, but now to make sense of this post title:  I experimented with making post earrings with bottle caps before Picnic — this is not something I would wear (I like little posts, big hoops, or super dangly ones) but I’ve noticed a lot of people walking around with the chunky, ‘clip-on’ style earrings so thought I’d give it a go.  It did pretty well!  I sold three pairs at Picnic which was half of my experiment stock.  Here are two listings that will be music to your ears (and hair):

A Pirate Looks Under Starboard - Click on the Image to see listing.

Bass Clef Hair Clip - Click on image for listing.

Packaging “How-To” for Little Businesses

the face of Little Eye. Awww.

I thank my lucky stars every day that Little Eye is still little.  However, what was once a tiny idea unfolding in my notebooks, attic studio and collections is now a little business, experiencing somewhat of an adolescence.  If you can remember (I blocked out most of my teens, too!) this is a time of life fraught with difficulties:  finding your identity, fitting in with others, learning to play by the rules.  After two years of being ‘open for business’ (but not actually, since L.E. only started actually making money this year!) it’s become clear to me something that was missing for a long time:  branding.

There are lots of pieces to branding, but tonight I wanted to write a quick piece about packaging, how to do it, and why it’s so important.

1.  What did you need to start packaging your items?

Hey Audrey, glad you asked!  In order to design packaging you either need a graphic designer and a good chunk of change or, the following:  a logo, a ‘color scheme,’ a font (just one, two TOPS), and a theme.  You’ll also need a working knowledge of some kind of design program – because I’m a photographer, I use Adobe Photoshop but I should totally learn InDesign because that would be way better.  It might also be nice to have a printer with some black ink – color ink, optional, in my most humble of opinions.

Little Eye's general logo

2.  Where did you start?

This fake interview is really silly.  But I’ll answer my question, anyways.  I started off by designing a logo based off the bottle cap shape.  I love the colors red, baby blue and white together so this is my ‘color scheme’ when it’s applicable.  But I hate buying color ink because it’s so expensive and it never looks right, so the color logo (above) is really only used online.  The font in the logo is one that I decided long ago (after flipping through all 500 on my computer) was ‘just right’ for the mood and the mission at Little Eye.  Some rudimentary line drawing and a layer of text and the ‘logo’ was complete.  It should be noted at this point that I’m not 100% happy with it (I would like to change the text around a bit) but if you are futzing with things until you’re 100% happy you might as well start off the whole branding process by turning in an application to the nearest temp agency because you’re not going to get anywhere!  Trust me, I futzed for two years.

3.  Ok, so then what?

I realized that customers were having a hard time picking up/focusing in on my products because it was usually presented in a bin full of bottle cap pins or magnets, which is really fun to root around in for some people but a complete nightmare for others.  I wanted to be able to curate small collections for people, came up with the idea of selling a set of 3 for $5 ($1 off the normal price for 3!) and wanted a nifty way to package it and have some control over what people were seeing.  Enter:  the set of 3 design:

I am proud of this like I think I'll be proud of my firstborn one day

Here’s where we can get down to the composition of the packaging and the elements I definitely wanted (and maybe you’d want?) on a product that people will be taking home and/or giving as a gift.  (A sidenote here:  I’m getting déja vu because I remember reading so many times about how ‘great presentation’ made all the difference when I used to read the Etsy blog.  And I was like ‘Ha ha, whatever, my stuff is so awesome it’ll sell itself,’ …sorry, Etsy, you were right… This time!!)

4.  Awesome!  How’d you put that bad boy together??

First things first.  I sized a new document in Adobe to be slightly smaller than a cellophane bag that I pre-ordered (oodles of!) that would fit the purpose.  Cellophane bags are WICKED important, because it makes customers feel like they can pick things up and look at them instead of admire them from about 3 feet away.  That’s no good for the bottle caps OR my bank account…

The header at the top is a revamped version of the logo – because I have my business information below I can use the ‘bottle cap’ corona to frame the product.  That way when someone picks it up and says “Hey, cool, bottle caps with pictures in them!” they’ll also be able to read that they are pins, as well.  You don’t know it yet, but you can’t actually tell they’re pins from the packaging.  Because I am sneaky… you’ll see.

Underneath the corona you’ll see three shaded lines – these are my guidelines for cutting slices in the paper once the packaging is printed so that the pin backs will fit snugly through the paper.  They don’t show up in the final product.

Beneath I felt like I wanted to have a little more information than my business name and web address (you should always have these on your packaging!!)  Because I’ve been pushing custom orders lately I included a little note about how to get in touch if someone is interested.  I get a lot of inquiries about custom work at craft shows, but never have cards to hand out.  This solves both of those problems!

I surrounded the whole thing in a black border, which is part of my ‘look’ that I hope signals people to recognize my products wherever they are shopping.

5.  Tell me more.

Demanding!  Ok, the last bit I’ll jump ahead to – I ran in to the issue of the pin backs showing through and created a companion piece to go on the back of the packaging for a finished look.  It is kind of fluffy, doesn’t have a lot of ‘selling’ info, but I think it is a nice finish for a customer who appreciates details.

Now, here are some nice pictures to show you:

Printed and Cut Fronts and Backs for Set of 3 Pin Packaging

Fastened Pins

Here’s a picture of how the pins poke through the back of the front card.  I make a barbell-shaped slit with an exacto knife for each slit and push the pins through, then fasten them with scotch tape to make sure that the pins don’t get unsettled when I lug them around to shops/craft fairs.  But it’s kinda yucky looking, so I finished the back off like this:

Message on Back, Complete in Cellophane Bag

Each set of 3 has a slightly different color combination of the paper used for the front piece and the paper used for the insert on the back.  This insert is wide enough to cover the pins but narrow enough so you get a nice contrast of colors on the back!  Little Eye is kind of a playful line, so I love that I can print on whatever color paper I have available and then put them together and see what kind of chromatic magic happens.

Here are some sets that I’ve put together in the last couple of days.  I’m really loving picking and choosing the pins for people who may not have the time to sort through bins of pins.  Hoping to have packaging for magnets, and ‘six packs’ (get it?  bottle caps? huh? huh?) ready for the holiday season along with some hand knit accessories and maybe some screen printed kid’s clothes, as well.  Busy busy busy.  Enjoy:

Summer Months Set

Lyrics and Clefs

Photography Love!

 If you are without Photoshop knowledge, a printer, time, ink, or any of the above it’s probably definitely worth your while to make a list of your products that need packaging and sit down with a graphic designer.  They can make something really snazzy for you that you can potentially order on your own once the designs are completed.  It’s a lot of work and I have yet to see how these do ‘on the field’ but I just know they make my product look ten times better than it already is.

Consequently!  If you are looking to conceptualize packaging, need someone to bounce ideas off of, or would like someone to take the reins and do it for you – there’s nothing I know how to do that can’t be bought or sold.  So if you just read all this and are like “Yeah, like I’m going to do that!” (like I used to say!) but really would “like to do that” then let me know – maybe we can work something out!  I’ve been working on packaging and labels for my pins, barrettes, earrings, vintage and more this week – it’s actually a lot of fun, in a totally dorky sort of way.

OK – midnight and I’ve got about two more hours of work ahead of me… Audrey, out!

Three-packs!

cello bags 4 eva

Don’t worry, the novelty isn’t lost on me.  I plan on having bottle cap pin ‘6 packs’ ready to go (and for only $10) by the Christmas season!  For now, though, marvel at my ‘PhotoBooth’ technique and my ‘pretend to know how to do graphic design on a shoestring’ technique.  3 packs will debut at Picnic Music + Arts Festival in Lincoln Park, Portland, ME on Saturday, August 27th!

Also, while I was writing this there was a kitchen fire in the apartment building next door to mine, in the apartment that is on the same level as our main floor.  I hope it’s not bad and that the little kiddos that usually wave ‘hi!’ to me out the back stairwell while I’m cooking dinner don’t have to stay somewhere else for the night.  Just looks like smoke damage at this point, but the neighborhood was just FULL of firetrucks!  For any and all really important info, check the national Fire Safety Website.  Better to be prepared than caught off guard…

Your Custom Little Eye Magnets

A couple of months ago I was delighted to receive custom orders from Malaika of Hand Me Down Designs and Laura Duplissis LeBrun of Sweeter Salt for two very different wedding-related orders.  Malaika needed gifts for bridal showers (magnet sets with the couples’ images and two bottle cap charm necklaces of the same) and Laura wanted some unique, DIY-type gifts for all her wedding guests.  Tonight, I want to illustrate the custom option that Little Eye has to offer for wedding favors, birthday presents, stocking stuffers, Easter hide-ables, baby showers, etc. etc. – the sky is the limit!  I love working with people and their designs, making them fit in bottle caps, and working together to color coordinate the caps for maximum customization.  It’s all about you, guys!

Laura wanted little wedding favors that were affordable and memorable – the first thing you should know about custom work from Little Eye Designs is that bulk ordering (100 pieces or more) is priced wholesale.  If I can get a whole bunch of work done at once I’m happy to pass the savings on to you!  So, Laura’s graphic design-savvy fiancé (now husband!) designed the perfect graphic to describe them, illustrated it in their wedding colors and passed it on to me:

Ross and Laura Sailing, Waving

Yes!   Ross sized the image in to a circle for me, but most of the time I am working with raw images and I will do a few crops and submit to my customer’s approval.  Some images are better at being ‘circled’ than others – I usually recommend that people send 2-3 images of the thing they might want in their custom caps, that way if one picture is not as good as the others for the crop then there will still be plenty of options.

After receiving the image, Laura and I decided that sunshine-y yellow backs for the bottle caps would be the perfect color to complement the image on the front as well as their wedding colors.  Coordination is everything, no?  Now, Audrey — get to work!

Custom Images - Printed and Cut

First, I made templates and printed out the design Laura and Ross wanted – then I cut them all out and stacked them up in little columns.  I am a bit specific about my process…

Prepared Caps and Fixed Images

The little Rosses and Lauras are then put in to prepared bottle caps (backs painted, half-filled with epoxy) and fixed with a crafters glue to prevent any color bleeding.  Then I did this about a 100 more times while I watched silly programs on television – most likely “The Cosmos” with Carl Sagan because I don’t have the right kind of attention span for “The Bachelorette.”

Ahh, finished!

You can see from the shiny-ness above that these are the finished caps.  The glued images were then covered in a layer of epoxy and let to dry and cure for maximum strength.  .5″ diameter ceramic magnets are then attached to the back using jeweler’s glue (pretty powerful stuff) which makes for a strong hold (3 take out menus?  One exceptionally heavy macaroni craft?), good functionality while not being too bulky.  You can also see the bright, yellow finish with white dappling which is my handy-dandy “Little Eye” technique.  Now put these babies up on a vintage ‘Frigidaire’ door at the entry of your wedding’s dining hall and you’ve got a really cool way to help your guests remember you, your wedding day and how much fun they had every time they open up their refrigerator door.

Here are some applications for custom Little Eye magnets.  (I make pins, necklaces, hair clips and rings, too!):

-Bridal Showers (photographs, wedding date, a ‘set of 12’ as a gift)

-Bridal Party Favors (flowers, images of the bride (and groom), sayings)

-Wedding Favors (illustrations, photographs, wedding date)

-Baby Shower Gifts and Favors (ultrasound images, illustrations)

-Stocking Stuffers (inexpensive gifts for everyone)

-Baby Announcement (set of 2 with photograph of baby and birth date/weight) in addition to greeting card announcements

-Birthday Presents (do your friends really like Twin Peaks?  How about a magnet set!?)

-Band Pins (your band’s logo or photo to sell at shows with other merch and music)

-Anything else you can dream up in your noggin!

Please don’t hesitate to ask if you’re interested in any of the above or more!

You can reach me at the ol’ gmail at:  littleeyedesigns

Metal Feathers Band Pin with Bumper Sticker Graphic - Click to See Their Page!

Little Eye’s Newest Employee

Ahh! It's happening again!!

Ahhh, nepotism.  I’ve taken a cue from our daring-do governor and hired ‘one of my own’ at a very lucrative per-piece rate where he can work from the comfort of his own home.  No, it may not be a public office and no, I’m not paying him over $40,000 for a previously-fictional entry level position – but the motivation is the same.  If I can save myself an hour of work and dole out some cash to Jason so he can go buy me flowers then I am all. for. it.  Without further ado!:

Jason, Bottle Cap Jockey

The month of July has basically been a series of bottle-cap fueled weeks trying desperately to keep up with orders that my client is getting.  Wahoo!  Thus, the need to hire our some labor and get a little R&R myself – what with me somewhat ridiculously holding down a ‘9 to 5’er, coming home after 8 hours of work, messing around with recyclables for four hours, it’s actually getting to be like working two job with no weekends.  So this is pretty freaking great with the added bonus that when I’M bottlecapping, HE’S bottlecapping, so we can have fun time together instead of me being hunched over Budweiser crowns in the corner while he frolicks through the fields and does whatever else I’m sure other, none-incredibly-busy people get to do with their evenings.

I’ve all but abandoned my Etsy shop, but I’ve managed to get my bottle cap hair clips in to the most adorable children’s boutique in South Portland, on Route 1.  It’s called Dahlia’s World, it’s across from Governor’s restaurant, and it’s AWESOME.  If you have wee ones or wee ones to buy things for or wee ones whose clothes are too small for them now this is basically the only stop you need to make.  Plus now they carry adorable hair clips – I’m about to go make a huge handful of strawberry ones for the little ladies – stay tuned!

My Employee, Jason (left), is pretty handsome. I plan on sexually harassing him at some point.