I’m constantly looking for new ways to use the resources that go unused in the industry I work in. And let me tell you, within the fashion and garment industry, there is PLENTY that goes unused. So the closer and closer I came to opening up the Reclaimed shop on Etsy, the more I worried over still not having my product packaging figured out.
I conducted several google searches for eco-friendly alternatives to traditional packing solutions and what I found left me in awe! My searches were very tangent filled (as they often are) and would often keep me glued to my laptop monitor late into the night as I poured over some pretty awesome ideas. What can I say? There was just so much to see! It seemed like one website always led to another and to another and to another… and you get the picture.
During those late, monitor-glued nights, I came across many blogs, posts, sites and resources that inspired and strengthened my resolution to stick to my “green” guns and find an eco-conscious alternative to packaging my goods. After narrowing my creative ideas to about a dozen, I began to try them out one by one. Many of them were great concepts, but that was all. They were not practical enough to see through. Other ideas were wonderful in my head, but when I tried them out, they looked like a 1st grade art project.
I’m happy to say that after a few failed attempts and disappointments, I did finally find something that I liked, could do and was practical enough to use. And while i know this might not be a plausible DIY project for many people, it was for me thanks to the resources available to me at my place of work. Mainly one; the laser system.
Yes, I decided to make use of my favorite big-girl toy; my Universal X-660 Laser System. I use the word “my” quite loosely since it actually is not mine, though I certainly do like to pretend like it is ;) I absolutely LOVE working with this machine. And even though it’s nearly 10 years old, it still runs wonderfully! Something that is to be attributed to the magnificent care my father has given it over the years. So, while it may certainly be an oldie, it most definitely is still a goodie :)
I began my project by designing my own hang tags, stickers and stamps. This included designing the shape, dimensions, size, fonts and making sure the stamps fit the stickers and the hang tags, and that these were in good proportion to the packaging i would be using them for.
I had never before laser cut rubber stamp, or even used the laser machine on any material resembling rubber, but as it turns out, there’s nothing you can’t do without a fine user manual :) Using CorelDRAW I designed the images I wanted on my stamps using only black and white. I then Inverted the colors and mirrored the image. By following the easy step-by-step instructions the manual provided, I was able to input the correct settings needed for the kind of rubber I was using. I loved how this took the guess-work out of everything. It was easy as pie! Which made me realize that I should probably make reference to the user manual more frequently instead of resorting to my usual trial and error
For the hang tags, I used old manila folders a nearby business had thrown away while moving locations. PERFECTLY good, extra-large manila folders (Why would you do that?). I’d been holding on to them since like… March knowing that one day they would be useful for something. And now that day had arrived!
For my stickers, I collected scraps of kraft paper from our next door neighbor. They provide cutting services to clothing manufacturers and process thousands of garments each day. To make the cutting process more manageable, they place a layer of kraft paper in between every couple of layers of fabric (like a sandwich). After the patterns are cut, there are many scraps of textile and kraft paper left over. sometimes the scraps are itty bitty, but sometimes they can be quite big. And, since they have no use for these scraps, they simply end up in one of their three massive trash containers outside their building.
When I finished laser cutting them , I separated them into piles and arranged a sort of assembly line for myself. I inked my stamps and bam bam bam bam. Done. Just like that. It was so easy and fast! I have to admit this project went better than I anticipated. I love the imperfect look each stamp has. I think it gives it a lot of character and a bit of a vintage look :) I really couldn’t have been more pleased with the end result. This is a project I would definitely do again.