October 31, 2018
Making new Christmas products - oh man there is very little in this world that makes me happier! I've mentioned this before, I know, but my head is very very similar to an eighties style pinball machine, with my concentration span represented by the little ball and all the targets are the ideas that I have. I spin from one illuminating whizzy sound maker to another. All. The. Time.
Which can be sort of exhausting!
As you can imagine, because of this spinny, whizzy brain thing, it can take a long time for one idea to make it to fruition in the real world.
The idea happened on day one
Occasionally, they whizz through the process. This is what it was like with our Velvet Literature Cushions (where you can have your favourite classic book text engraved on a velvet cushion!).
By day five it was live on our website
Now, that might have had something to do with the fact that we'd already publicly talked about the product that spurred me on to make it, or maybe because we'd already nailed the process it wasn't too tricky to just create a new design theme! Either way, it was less than a week from concept to live product - not quite a record, but close!
Our new Polar Bear Silhouette Christmas Tree Decorations though, well they have taken slightly longer. 52 times longer to be exact. You see I had the idea for this decoration a year ago. I could see the outline of it in my head, in conceptual terms. I knew we'd engrave some stars on to some frosted acrylic, and I knew we'd create a top layer that felt moon-like (if you haven't yet seen the moon obsession we have going on then please check these out here)
But, Christmas 2017 was already happening and we were a tad busy. And we only had one laser cutter, and, and, and.... oh shush you! Yes, I should've done it back then. I just have to believe that you make things when you make them because the time is right and your skills have reached a point where you can see how to do it, and make it beautiful. Yep. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Back to the product. As it turns out I needed a day where I was tied to the studio with no urgent orders to distract me. Well, that came about on Friday when I had to be in for the plumber (we don't normally work on Fridays).
With nothing but time and some peace in the studio, I set about making the design in my head a reality. As always it started with a sketch. Even just a rough pencil outline will do just to conceptualise where certain parts need to go, or what needs to join with what to make it work - especially when you're cutting things. The number of times we have drawn the map of the UK as a dodge triangle to just position things - my geography teacher, Miss Outhwaite, would've had a hissy fit.
Working on the top layer first I took our lovely polar bear from our existing Christmas tree decoration. I've tried other polar bear shapes, but there's just something about his mouth and nose that are perfect and why try to reinvent perfection?!
I knew the moon would feature in some way on this ornament, but originally I'd thought I would cut a small silver moon and stick it on to the background. However, as I started to draw the circular shape that the polar bear would stand on, it started to look increasingly like a crescent moon. We talk all day long about the Man in the Moon, we can have a polar bear in a moon too right? The crescent shape that became the moon in my mind. This led to the natural choice of material - something shiny because it's reflective - just like the moon itself. So I rummaged around our supplies shelves and found the beautiful mirror acrylic we'd ordered two years ago for a project that didn't work out.
This was a surprise to me as I'd assumed I would work the top layer in wood again. We love the various wood that we have sourced. From the lighter coloured herby scented cedar wood, to the darker, smooth walnut. They all look great and would have worked with the frosted acrylic base I wanted to use. But the moon said reflective, so that's what I needed to go with.
With the top layer designed, I started on the background. The frosted acrylics are lovely - very pastel, almost milky but with a hint of blue or green. And nothing says winter like "frosted" so it works for me on a visual and a cerebral level too (yep, I went geeky).
The design started with just a few stars, at this point I was thinking I might still put a moon on in a third material. And this stage is fun because you get to start making prototypes and seeing how it all comes together. Almost always the first prototype isn't perfect and changes are made, and that was, of course, the case here. Having cut the two layers and lined them up it was clear that a silver moon stuck on was not going to be necessary and would actually detract from the simple beauty of the polar bear silhouette. So that meant we needed more detail on the background engraving and added some more stars and the pine trees. Perfect.
For a final touch, we like to include some personalisation on our Christmas decorations. This makes them a great gift for a special person, or a way to celebrate the arrival of a new baby for their very first Christmas. The unique thing about mirror acrylic is that any design you want to put on, like a name, for example, you have to engrave on the back, so you have to reverse it. It's a bit like rubbing away the mirrored back so that you can just see light coming through it. And this is what makes the names on our polar bear Christmas tree baubles just pop out! Here it is, held up to the light, throwing the bear into silhouette, and showing the stars and the name so clearly!
Of course, as an internet-based business, we then have to take amazing photographs so that you can see what you are buying. And that's crazy hard when you're dealing with a Christmas decoration that is basically a mirror and you don't want to get your reflection in the picture. All the angles come into play!
And boom! Product done, live on the website with pictures that do it justice. By the time the team arrive back on Monday morning all that's left are the logistics. What will we post them in? What colour options are available? Can we do anything in other materials to expand the range? How shall we launch it to our friends and followers?
I can answer that last one - this is it - the product launch. A blog post, followed by a newsletter and a very irresistible offer. For the first two weeks, buy one get one free! Because as fun as it is to design new products for our Christmas range, the absolute best part is seeing them go out into the world and make people smile. Click here to go straight to the very special limited time offer, and thanks for reading.
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April 15, 2020
We thought for a long time about whether to have a break, how that would look, what kind of business we would come back to if we did and what our impact is on the other businesses we work with and our customers.