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Neil Blythin

The Art of Packaging

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I'm wondering what some of you fine folks do when it comes to packaging up your work?

 

My wife is on her way to a bridal shower today. The gift is a few things she asked me to forge for the couple.  All fine and dandy until it comes time to gift wrap ... at which point I realized, that we blacksmiths tend to make stuff that is often over-sized, odd shaped, heavy and/or pointy.  Not things that lend themselves to gift wrapping (or for that matter, being packaged for shipping).

 

I ended up using some double-thick, heavy duty cardboard from a box a small appliance had come in. Cut it up and fold it into a custom sized box. The forged pieces were sandwiched between sheets of thick polystyrene foam to keep them from rattling around; and the whole lot then gift wrapped.  But all of that nonsense took me well over an hour!

 

You're all a bunch of bright, creative people. What sort of things have you done in the past for packaging things and keep it looking professional?

 

Cheers,

Neil

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You want fast, cheap, or quality packaging? You got to choose.

 

For small items that will fit into a box, wrap the product in thin plastic such as the 1 or 2 mil drop cloth or dry cleaning bags. (Ask Frosty about those as he may remember them.) This is only to keep the product dust free and clean when opened. You can use any type wrapping paper that has class. Avoid the newspaper, brown paper, etc as it screams cheap.

 

I support the item from the bottom first. Use the plastic bags from the grocery, wal-mart etc and fill them with what ever is handy such as newspaper, styrofoam peanuts, sheet styrofoam cut or broken into pieces etc, then tie the bag closed. When opening the box just remove an entire bag and throw the bag away. This keeps the event and the customer clean. 

 

For those odd shapes, wrap the product as above. Invert the box and support the product at the level you want it to be. Insert a layer of sheet of thin plastic and fill the area around the product with spray insulating foam that you can get from wal-mart or the hardwear store. Fold the plastic over and close the bottom. Flip the box over and insert another sheet of thin plastic over the product and fill the rest of the box with foam. Fold over the plastic and close the lid.  When the customer gets the box, they open the lid, remove one large piece of foam (in plastic) and there is the product attractively wrapped and clean.

 

The concept for me is to keep the packaging to a minimum, easy to remove  and discard, and the product in an attractive presentation to the customer.

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I second Glenn on the foam, works well. If you want to step it up, just ad something like tissue paper etc. between the plastic and the product. Plastic trash bags work well for containing the foam.

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With a smaller blade I stuff into a PVC pipe with some styrofoam, with one end cap duct taped in place for postal/customs inspection. 

 

For swords I build a crate from 1x3 pine boards, and 1.5 inch screws,  I have a cheap source for 1 inch thick styrofoam sheet, so I stack that to fill the box, then I cut out space for the item, and line with felt I got for about $10 for an entire roll on close out. Unlike peanuts, the sheets will not let the item shift.

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Bubble wrap and a gift bag. Cheap, fast, and resuable for the recipient.

Plus the bubbles are fun to pop.

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While I don't know about Glenns dry cleaner's bag crack I have packaged in foam. If it's available I like the water activated styrofoam. Put the piece in a plastic or paper bag. followig the instructions especially regarding volume (yeah, I KNOW instructions!!! eeeewww!) have the piece ready, mist the styrofoam and water, pour it in the box. When it starts to rise lay the piece on top and let the foam raise around it. When it's about stopped lay a piece of newspaper over it, the comics are bright and traditional present wrap. Next step is to mix enough foam to fill the rest of the box. If it raises above the top, just strike it off with a steel yardstick. (Striking off means use the yardstick like a blade, slide it on the box top and it'll cut the still not hard foam easily. Striking is the same as making a cup of flower exact or leveling a flask when casting.)

 

Spray foam works dandy but is sticky as all gittout. Foam peanuts work well, if necessary put the piece between a couple pieces of cardboard to keep it from shifting in the peanuts. Dry poppedcorn, airpopper, is good for a double treat, present AND a tasty snack. IF you have enough left from snacking yourself, to fill the package of course.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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In days of a bygone era, folks would take their dress clothes to the dry cleaners to have then dry cleaned, or chemically cleaned with dry cleaning fluid. Shirts would come back clean, starched, and folded. Suit coats etc would come back on hangers covered with a very thin plastic bag.  Being very thin it would make a good barrier between the foam and the product.

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Hi Neil, 

 

I make 'custom made' cardboard boxes!! I also use packing paper to pad stuff out, rather than bubble wrap as the packing paper is biodegradable. Then always the piece itself has ribbon and a tag on it, so although the shipping packing isn't that attractive, at least there's a nice touch. If I'm sending firesets etc, each piece is individually wrapped, then again wrapped/boxed.  People are spending good money so I use new materials to pack, not recycled (although recycling is good, it can make you look cheap), so rolls of cardboard and new cardboard boxes that are 'customized' 

 

When people buy work directly from me at markets etc, smaller items go in 'boutique' bags, glossy heavyweight paper bags with rope handles, they are also reuseable as gift bags. They are not costly when bought in bulk. I try to avoid plastic whenever i can and use natural materials as it goes with the ethos of my business.

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In days of a bygone ear, folks would take their dress clothes to the dry cleaners to have then dry cleaned, or chemically cleaned with dry cleaning fluid. Shirts would come back clean, starched, and folded. Suit coats etc would come back on hangers covered with a very thin plastic bag.  Being very thin it would make a good barrier between the foam and the product.

 

Days of bygone EAR? Is that a Holyfield vs. Tyson reference? I've been a wash and wear guy before it was a label.

 

Good straight line though Glenn, thanks.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

 

spelling corrected (grin)

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I'll second Gerald's good suggestion of a white bow, done it many a time myself.  Add a biz card to the bow somehow.  Besides being easy it also lets everyone else at the wedding check out your work!

 

As for shipping screwing together a box of plywood that just fits inside a cardboard box then stuffing with packing material works well.  

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When I sell, I use a business card as the tag so if they buy something they know who made it and how to get in contact with me to buy *more*

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Timely post for me, I'm trying to figure out today how to wrap a meat fork/meat turner set for a luncheon next week.   Thanks for all the tips, I'd like a nice box but I'm thinking gift bag for simplicity.  

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Do not make a big deal out of this: just add a bow to each item.

 how is that packaging ???

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I used to build boxes for shipping odd items when I worked in a wood shop; we'd buy large sheets of cardboard and create the box on the fly creasing and bending as needed.  Old wood glue thinned down with water was our flap sealer---weighted to hold closed while it dried.

 

I still look for refrigerator or other large boxes for donor cardboard when I need to send something a bit odd---say a spinning wheel...

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How not to. I ordered on ebay a sledge hammer, and what I got from the post office was a long cardboard box, empty, with a hole in one end. I contacted the seller and fortunately, he made good on it.

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