Jewelry Designer Makes Magic On Etsy

The Moon Lab’s Laser Cut Creations Combine Science + Pop With A Side Of Quirk

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What happens when spirituality, science and pop culture combine forces in the universe? A little magic is made.

The Moon Lab is a unique Etsy shop with a style and flair all its own. “When starting with jewelry design, my challenge (and also my desire) was trying to create pieces that I personally had always wanted; things that don’t exist; things you can’t find anywhere,” founder Aeryn explains.

And she has succeeded at creating a collection of stainless steel pieces that have become her signature style. What’s interesting: Stainless steel wasn’t her first material of choice.

“When considering what type of material to use, I first thought about using colored acrylics,” she says. “I did some searching online, and that’s when I came across Ponoko and saw the laser cut acrylics, wood and also stainless steel. There are a lot of people selling acrylic necklaces, but I hadn’t seen the type of things I had in mind done in stainless steel.”

Aeryn thought it seemed like a great idea, so she chose stainless steel for her designs. “My first run of stainless steel pieces from Ponoko came out so wonderfully that I kept submitting designs and ordering more,” she says. “The look and thickness of the stainless steel is absolutely perfect for my products. They came out beautifully and very unique.”

An Eclectic, Artistic Mix

A graphic artist living in Burbank, California, Aeryn says her Etsy shop has an eclectic mix of themes unified by consistent design aesthetic. The inventory rotates because the things she loves varies so much, but right now the collection features a little bit of spirituality, science, old school gaming, movies and anime.

You can see her spiritual side in the Flower Of Life (left) and the Hamsa (right) necklaces.

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The Flower Of Life is a geometrical shape composed of multiple evenly-spaced, overlapping circles arranged in a flower like pattern with six fold symmetry like a hexagon. According to Token Rock, the perfect form, proportion and harmony of the FOL has been known to philosophers, architects and artist around the world.

In New Age thought, the Flower Of Life has provided what is considered to be deep spiritual meaning and forms of enlightenment to those who have studied it as sacred geometry. “The patterns recurring in nature depict space and time,” Aeryn explains. “It’s a template from which all life flows.”

The Hamsa—a symbol of an eye embedded in the palm of an open hand—has been variously interpreted by scholars as a Jewish, Christian or Islamic amulet, according to My Jewish Learning, and its magical form continues to be shrouded in mystery.

While scholars debate nearly every aspect of the Hamsa’s emergence, it is recognized today as a kabbalistic amulet and as an important symbol in Jewish art. “The Hamsa is known to protect against the evil eye,” Aeryn explains. “A powerful amulet indeed!”

Inspired By Science

Science is another theme Aeryn explores, and there’s no shortage of inspiration. She recently added three new pieces to the collection to pay tribute to the works of Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla and Carl Sagan.

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What attracted Aeryn to these scientific greats? “Einstein is one of the greatest minds of our time. Tesla, the inventor of free energy, is a man ahead of his time. And Sagan will take you on a trip through the cosmos,” she says. “I was tired of seeing names like ‘Jessica’ on these necklaces, so I switched it up with something a hell of a lot cooler!”

She has also tapped into some scientific symbols that serious mathematicians, chemists and fans of The Big Bang Theory will fall in love with.

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Pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, seems a simple enough concept. But as Live Science explains, it turns out to be an “irrational number,” meaning its exact value is inherently unknowable.

“Computer scientists have calculated billions of digits of pi, starting with 3.14159265358979323…, but because no recognizable pattern emerges in the succession of its digits, we could continue calculating the next digit, and the next, and the next, for millennia, and we’d still have no idea which digit might emerge next. The digits of pi continue their senseless procession all the way to infinity.”

Wearing 3.14 around your neck sounds like the ultimate expression of number love. For even more fun, Aeryn says to make sure you wear the necklace on March 14th while eating pie. Or wear it backwards because, coincidentally, it spells PIE!

If that doesn’t make you smile, then perhaps you need more serotonin—the molecule associated with making you feel good—in your life. If you’re feeling a little down, this necklace (middle) that details the molecular structure of serotonin will certainly cheer you up.

Alchemy, the precursor to today’s chemistry, is a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy that aims to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life. Perhaps wearing this necklace (right) will begin the process of transforming something common into something special.

Fantastic Pieces For Entertainment Fans

The worlds of gaming and anime are full of characters that are ideal for being turned into jewelry pieces for fans, and Aeryn has tapped into this appeal to add a whimsical element to her collection.

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For the retro game lover, the Lakitu Cloud (left) pays tribute to Super Mario Brothers. “This is the special item you always saved for World 8!” Areyn says. “Gotta get past those pesky air ships, and this little cloud made it possible.”

For Final Fantasy fans, the Cait Sith (middle)—everyone’s favorite moogle-riding, crown wearing cat—is a must-have accessory.

Kodama—spirits in Japanese folklore that inhabit trees—are “the cutest characters from Princess Mononoke,” according to Aeryn. They are signs that a forest is healthy, so wear it in good health.

A Childhood Dream Comes To Life

Aeryn has created a lot of original designs as well as ones inspired by movies or TV shows she loves. But her favorite piece is something she has wanted ever since she was a little girl: A necklace inspired by the film The Secret of NIMH.

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“It’s this amazing red medallion with an inscription on the back,” she says. “I had to hunt around for the perfect cabochon to use for the red stone, and when I finally finished the piece it really felt like an accomplishment to me.”

Magic In The Making

Aeryn says she wanted to create unique items with a touch of magic, so she started her Etsy shop to share that magic with everyone. “I feel a connection to the moon and stars, basically just the heavens at night, and I wanted the shop name to reflect that,” she explains. “I’ve been an artist ever since I can remember. I’ve always loved the ability to just create something I want to own whether it’s a shirt, a plush toy, a drawing or a necklace. To be able to craft and create things brings me joy, and I’m grateful for this gift I was given.”

What can we expect from The Moon Lab in the future? “My shop will always be an eclectic mix, because the things I love vary so much,” Aeryn says. “But right now, a little bit of science, a little bit of quirk, a little bit of pop culture, and a little bit of magic is what you’ll find at The Moon Lab!”

 

Laser Cut Toys For The Big Boys

Serious Fun With Drones And Robots

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What is it about building robots that is so much fun? If you ask a kid, you will likely get a meaningful answer… however when it comes to grown men the wide-eyed fascination of youth has developed into a serious pursuit of quirky techno-novelty. In recent years, drones have joined the venerable robot as one of the top projects for big boys to tinker away at.

Through laser cutting, the design process for both drones and robots is streamlined and fully functional prototypes are just a mouse click away.       (more…)

Make Halloween Spooktacular; Order By These Deadlines

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Skulls and spiders and witches, too
Ghosts, goblins and things that go boo
Your favorite time of year is near
Because Halloween is almost here!

 

What’s Halloween without fun costumes and scary decorations? Whether you like black cats, bats, pumpkins or zombies, there’s something ghoulish to add a little fright to this special night.

3D Laser Cut Skulls make festive decorations and are a fun activity for family and friends. Get the how-to instructions at Instructables.

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For more Halloween inspiration, check out these mini laser cut skull and cross bones from Etsy seller TimberGreenWoods, who says the charms are great for beads, crafting, confetti or whatever else your imagination can dream up.

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And these laser cut witches from Etsy seller ecoandfun will have you chanting “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”

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Don’t forget to check out the Ponoko Showroom for even more ideas.

Want this Halloween to be frightfully special? Then you better get your designs ready to start making! Your spooktacular creations take time to make, so jot down these important dates. If you miss ’em, it will be all trick and no treat!

Laser Cutting Order Deadlines

Standard Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Thursday, October 13, 2016
Upgraded Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Metal Machining (PCM) Order Deadline

Standard Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Friday, September 30, 2016

3D Printing Order Deadline

Standard Making & Shipping Speeds: Last Orders by Friday, September 30, 2016

What’s the difference between standard and upgraded services for laser cutting? With standard making and shipping speeds, there are no extra fees for production or shipping if you order by the October 13 deadline.

But what if you miss the deadline because your black cat ate your sketches? Not to worry, you can upgrade to faster making speed and expedited shipping so you don’t miss out on the fun. This means you can wait to order…but only if you’re not frightened by a little price increase!

Also, delivery dates are dependent on shipping locations. To make sure your order is in your hot little hands in time for Halloween, check the Estimated Delivery Date provided when placing an order. If it’s after October 28, then adjust the making speed or shipping speed (or both) until your preferred delivery date appears.

Don’t have a horrific Halloween. Start making today. Or else you’ll be haunted until next year!

 

The 12 Immutable Laws Of Event Marketing Swag: Law 7

Think Custom, Not Commodity. With An Idea For Adobe.

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When swag recipients receive one of your promotional gifts, is it obvious that it came from you? What if the logo or branding were removed? Would it still be clear the promotional products were yours…or could the item be from anyone—including your competitors?

Generic promo products are just that. Generic. They don’t stand out in a crowd. They don’t completely tie into your brand story or marketing strategy. And there’s no differentiation with what you’re giving and what your competitors are giving…unless you create custom swag that is unique to you.

Custom Promotional Products Beat Commodity Items Every Time

In a world of crowded marketing messages, you need a vehicle that can deliver your story better than the competition. And common promotional products aren’t going to get the attention your brand desires.

Here’s an example to put the concept into perspective. In the article The Commodity Sale Is Dead (And This Is Why), Matt Heinz says:

“Produce is a commodity, right? Apples, bananas, salad fixings. But you know as well as I that some markets get a reputation for better produce than others. Freshness, selection, custom order possibilities, etc. Price is a factor, sure. But it’s one of many. If you play the commodity game, it’s just a race to the bottom purely on price. If you fail to differentiate, then you really are just like everyone else.”

While Heinz is speaking more about the products and services a company provides, the concept is also applicable to the swag you give. In fact, produce and promotional products just might have more in common with each other than you might think.

Have you ever received food gifts from Harry & David during the holidays? Their Royal Riviera Pears are legendary. First, the packaging is beautifully designed. You immediately know it’s from H&D and can’t wait to open it. Second, the product quality is excellent. The pears are soooooooo good!

At the core, the gift is simply produce. Just pears. You could go down to the corner market and get some. But you don’t. Instead, you want to give an experience. The luxury pears that are priced at a premium deliver this experience.

Translate this to promotional products. Choosing giveaways from the standard selection in a catalog or on a website is like going down to the corner market of branded commodities. If you want to create a meaningful and memorable experience for your target audience, designing custom promotional gifts is the only way to achieve that goal.

To prove this point, we gave ourselves a challenge to design actual product ideas for event giveaways for some of the world’s best tech brands as examples. The goal is to create truly custom promotional products that fit the example brand like a glove by baking in the DNA of the brand + audience + event.

Additionally, the products designed must achieve a measureable marketing goal, be different from every other promotional product at the event (read: be different than the competition), be different from every other promotional product the brand has used at events before, and it must be packable in carry on luggage—because what good is it if recipients can’t take it home with them!

Keep in mind there is no endorsement of any products by the brands represented. We’re simply trying to tell a story of what IS possible by using brands and events that you know and understand. So check this out:

Event Marketing Swag Idea: Adobe Iconic Toolset

The Brand: Adobe
The Event: Adobe MAX – The Creativity Conference
The Audience: Graphic designers
The Marketing Goal: Build brand awareness via repeat product exposure and use after the event

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It takes something special to impress attendees at Adobe MAX – The Creativity Conference—an awe-inspiring mashup of 9,000+ of the world’s top creatives and best-in-the-business experts who come together to learn, share, create, connect and play. But designer Jen Pepper was up for the task.

To create brand awareness via repeat product use after the event, Pepper designed an artist’s tool set based on the iconic Adobe tools found in its software. The set includes an artist’s quality magnifying glass, pencil, paint brush, ruler and fountain pen—any or all of which could have an engraved logo.

“Designers who use these products have the idea of the pixel tools in their brains, so bringing them into the real world is a fun talking piece for their desk and studio when they return from MAX,” Pepper says. “They are Adobe through and through.”

By thinking custom and not commodity, Pepper created a product that incorporates good design and brand DNA, is strategic and has a purpose all while targeting a specific audience and being different from the competition. She incorporated the first six Immutable Laws Of Event Marketing Swag. And this is why the idea works.

Custom Design: Creating Memorable & Meaningful Swag

So what do you think? What would happen if promotional products weren’t ordered straight out of a catalog and instead were crafted following the Immutable Laws of Event Marketing Swag? How would incorporating good design and brand DNA, being strategic, having a purpose, targeting a specific audience and being different from the competition change your approach to designing promotional products for events?

Let’s get the conversation started. We’d love your feedback and constructive criticism in the comments. Also let us know what promotional products you’ve received that have really made you say “WOW!” Got ideas on what event swag you’ve never seen but would love to receive? Let us know that, too.

German designer Dieter Rams said: “Good design is making something intelligible and memorable. Great design is making something memorable and meaningful.”

We’re not gonna lie: Designing truly custom promotional products that are memorable and meaningful is hard work. It takes thought. Planning. Strategy. Maybe that’s why so many opt for simply ordering branded merchandise out of a catalog. It’s just easier.

But great brands didn’t become great brands by taking the easy way out. No way. They fought their way to the top. And paid attention to all the little details (like promotional swag) in the process.

And you can too. By removing the limits of what promo products are offered in catalogs and forgetting the commodity mindset, you can tap your inner creativity to design promotional gifts that deliver a remarkable experience. One your customers will stand in line for and share with their friends on social media. Isn’t that what you want from your promotions?

 

This is the seventh in a series of 12 Immutable Laws Of Event Marketing Swag. For links to each law as they are published, check out the article that started it all: “How To Reinvent Your Event Swag Strategy: 12 Immutable Laws Of Event Marketing Swag.”

 

New Material: Brushed Silver On Black Acrylic

Just Released In The NZ Materials Catalog

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Silver and black is classy. Elegant and understated. Nice contrast without being as stark as black and white. And this brushed silver on black acrylic will give the New Zealand market a new alternative to metal at an affordable price.

It’s 1.6mm thick black acrylic with a thin layer of brushed silver on top. Having the second color means the hassle of hand painting to achieve contrast has been eliminated. And since this two-color acrylic engraves nicely to reveal the black underneath, it’s ideal for making jewelry, signage and front panels on electronics.

 

Acrylic – Two Color – Brushed Silver on Black

Learn more about Brushed Silver On Black Acrylic and get a Brushed Silver On Black Acrylic Sample.

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With the addition of this new two-color acrylic, we now have 22 acrylic colors (some with multiple thicknesses) currently available in our NZ catalog. And if you like the concept of dual color combos, you may also want to check out Matte Black On White Acrylic.

 

Are you ready to have some fun with this new material? We are. So let’s get making. Share what you’d like to create with this new material by leaving a comment below!

 

New Materials: 3 Matte Acrylics – Turquoise, Yellow & Pink

Just Released In The USA Materials Catalog

From nail polish to furniture (and even some cars!), matte finishes are so on-trend. And now you can incorporate a matte finish in your designs with the introduction of three matte acrylics for the USA market: Turquoise, Yellow and Pink.

What’s super cool about these new acrylics is that they are translucent with a matte finish on both sides. So not only is the finish and texture new but so are the exciting new colors!

With a 3mm thickness, these acrylics are perfect for jewelry, enclosures, signage, business cards, luggage tags, name badges or anything that needs a soft, matte finish color.

 

Acrylic – Turquoise (Matte)

Learn more about Turquoise Matte Acrylic and get a Turquoise Sample.

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Acrylic – Yellow (Matte)

Learn more about Yellow Matte Acrylic and get a Yellow Sample.

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Acrylic – Pink (Matte)

Learn more about Pink Matte Acrylic and get a Pink Sample.

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With the addition of these three new matte finishes, we now have 42 acrylic colors (some with multiple thicknesses) currently available in our USA catalog. While the majority of our acrylic sheets are smooth, we recently introduced a couple that are matte on one side and shiny on the other. But the turquoise, yellow and pink matte acrylics are the first to be matte on BOTH sides.

 

So what do you think? Are you as stoked about these new materials as we are? Let us know what great ideas you have for using these acrylics by leaving a comment below!

 

Material Feature: Laser Cut Cardboard

Five Reasons Why The Cheapest Material Is Often The Best

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Have you ever stopped to wonder where we would be without cardboard? For designers and makers using the Ponoko Personal Factory, cardboard is a miracle material that is not only one of the most versatile in terms of its physical properties; it is also one of the most cost-effective ways to turn ideas into laser cut reality.

Here are five reasons why we think laser cut cardboard is really, really cool.

1. Material Choice: The Cardboard Range

The versatility of cardboard owes much to its actual construction, and to make the most of these physical properties it helps to choose the right cardboard for the job. The range on offer from Ponoko varies from 6.7mm double-layer corrugated cardboard for serious structural applications through to single layer natural cardboard that is just 0.5mm thick. So whether your project involves stacked layers, slotted construction, curves, bends or folds… chances are there is something in the Ponoko Materials Library that will be just what you are looking for.

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2. Disposable or Distinguished: Cheap Enough For Prototypes, Slick Enough For Art Objects

Laser cut cardboard can be used as a low-cost prototype option before moving to more expensive materials, or as many designers choose to do, the distinctive visual qualities of cardboard can be openly embraced as features of the final product.

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3. Design Flexibility: 2D or 3D

Designing for laser cut cardboard can be as easy as sketching out a shape or pattern to be cut as a simple 2d object. Or if you prefer, complex 3D forms can be created using slotted construction, tabs and folds, and even stacking layers to create the form through progressive topographical variation.

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4. Low Price: Material Cost and Laser Cutting Time

We keep going on about it, and for good reason. Cardboard is cheap, in the best possible way. As a raw material, it has a low cost price thanks to the huge amounts that are used in the packaging industry across the globe. Cardboard is lightweight, which makes it faster and more economical to ship. When it comes to laser cutting, the unique internal structure of corrugated cardboard means it is fast to cut – and that makes cardboard one of the lowest priced of all the materials in terms of laser cutting time.

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5. Brownie Points: Recycled and Recyclable

A lot of people feel good when they use cardboard products. Not only is there a high proportion of recycled content in the cardboard itself, there are systems in place in most urban centers for cardboard recycling that make it one of the easiest materials to reuse, once your own needs for the cardboard product have concluded. So whether it’s the warm fuzzy feeling you get personally or if you’re setting an example for others with a bold ‘eco’ statement, cardboard gives your design a certain credibility that is instantly recognised across the globe.

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Cardboard deserves its reputation amongst the most popular materials for laser cutting, being well suited to both laser cutting and laser etching. Thanks to the versatility of cardboard in terms of price, appearance and structural properties, we continue to see designers find new and exciting ways to explore their creativity.

What will you make using cardboard for your next laser cut project? Let us know in the comments below!

Image credits (in order of appearance) 
3D Skull, Cardboard Safari; Cardboard, Ponoko Materials; Lady in Fur laser etched cardboard art; Airplane Costume, Aidan Chopra; Thumbs Up, UMBC Prototyping and Design; Laser Cut Rocket, Ponoko; Laser Cut Bin, Ponoko Line Optimisation Guide.

Capture The Kids’ Market With These Toys For Girls

When Laser Cutting Gets Cute

laser cut 4girls heart shaped box justaddsharks

For a market that is all about playtime, the toy industry is a serious business indeed. In the US, spending on dolls alone tops $2.6 billion each year, and sales are on the increase. Through the Ponoko Personal Factory we’ve got one of the most accessible ways to make unique fashion items and toys at our fingertips, and this means you too can laser cut yourself a slice of the toy industry pie.

In this article we are taking a look at how designers and makers are using laser cutting to tap into the ‘toys for girls’ market. First up is a heart-shaped box from Just Add Sharks (pictured above). Ideal for storing keepsakes and sweet whimsies, it is the feature of an Instructables post that shows how you don’t need a multi-million dollar factory to produce desirable products that are just right for this discerning market segment.

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Customization is one of the reasons entrepreneurs and designers turn to laser cutting. As we can see with Isabella’s name plaque by Woodums (above), the laser cut and etched ply brings added depth and vibrance to an already playful font.

laser-cut-4girls-collage1-crown-and-fairy

Knock on Isabella’s door, and chances are high there will be a fantastical land filled with princesses and fairies inside. Etsy seller FoxyFunk knows that every princess needs her crown (above, left). Wearing an actual tiara may not be the fashion-forward statement some young girls are looking to make, but the mirror acrylic crown brooch will sit right with almost any outfit. Fairies are certainly not forgotten and this necklace from CataCakeCreations (above, right) also taps into the huge costume jewellery market.

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Perfect for use as pendants, jewellery or even suspended in a mobile, laser cut silhouettes are a fantastic way to engage with these eager consumers. The Alice in Wonderland themed cutouts from EasyCutPrintPD (above, left) are offered as a digital file that can be incorporated into a broader laser cut design or simply sent straight to Ponoko for production in your favorite material. Other silhouettes and figures can be purchased already cut, as with this set of playful characters from Joann (above, right).

Drawing inspiration from Disney classics introduces familiar characters that can be laser cut in the dazzling array of acrylic material options. The Mermaid Pendant from imyourpresent on Etsy (below, left) uses opaque, mirror, pearl and laser etched acrylic to define the form. The precision of laser cutting means that combining materials can be achieved with very neat results. Add a little surface finishing to the process, and you’ve got a recipe for success as YouMakeMeDesign know. Check out their cute 2D Roly Poly Dolls (below, right).

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We can’t really talk about toys for girls (and boys too, really) without taking a look at doll houses. A universal favorite, the dolls house captures imaginations and opens the door to immersive worlds of pretend play.  Laser cutting allows for doll houses of every imaginable shape and size; we have collected a few here to show just how diverse they can be.

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Starting elegantly simple, the flat-pack design from Katherine Belsey can very quickly become populated with all you need for a home sweet home. Out of the box (above, left) the house is a classic laser cut raw canvas, and with a little paint and doll house furniture (above, right) it really comes to life.

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Doll house furniture can also take form through laser cutting. Karen Benson Miniatures (above) have refined this to a fine art, with a range that covers period pieces, modern designs and others that are just plain fun. As with the doll houses themselves, the combination of laser cutting and laser etching will allow for a high level of detail and customization in the form, the surface features and the construction methods used for miniature furniture pieces.

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Parents with an eye for particular design eras will often encourage their kids to follow the same aesthetic sensibility. The retro-modern curves of 3StarStudioArts’ laser cut doll house (above) are continued through to the included furniture, and the whole set becomes a vibrant and stylish pad once bright colors are applied.

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In an excellent example of how laser cutting can accurately replicate almost any design style, the period houses from Laser Dollhouses feature an attention to detail (above) that makes for a serious showpiece. This dedication to architectural authenticity is also a feature of the clear acrylic house from Made By Hidden (below, left) that is not actually a toy, but would certainly be loads of fun to play with. In contrast to the geometric rigidity of architectural miniatures, Cartonus’ Fairy Doll House (below, right) invites imaginative play with its smooth curves and large openings.

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Doll houses are usually set at a scale to allow for other toys to fit inside, which integrates well with existing collections of toys and figures. Through laser cutting, it can also be a lot of fun to go much, much smaller… the colorful buildings from Moe Miniatures (below, left) have a charm all of their own, and whole dioramas can emerge when you include miniature critters like Megan Baehr’s cute little laser cut lion (below, right).

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Make-believe and pretend play is an important part of a child’s daily activities, and whether it’s through miniatures, doll houses or character jewellery; laser cutting gives designers and makers direct access to this lucrative market. By utilising the strengths of laser cutting such as ease of customization, accuracy and diverse material range small companies and independent sellers on Etsy are able to mix it up with the big guys. The added benefits of low cost and rapid design to manufacture process that laser cutting is famous for enables clever makers to move and flow with design trends, further integrating them into the commercial arena.

Are you a toy designer making products for girls? What cool laser cut toy ideas for girls have you seen? Let us know in the comments below!

The 12 Immutable Laws Of Event Marketing Swag: Law 6

Be Different From Competitors. With An Idea For Facebook.

law-6-be-different

Build verses buy? Whether with software, homes or event swag, there are always concessions when you buy off the shelf. The price may be right, but you sacrifice in other areas—features, colors, theme, availability or overall experience, to name a few.

With a custom build, you can design specifically to your needs, style and image. And in the case of event swag, you can design a product that completely aligns with your brand DNA—making you different from your competition.

And that’s key.

“So many business owners try to figure out how they can be better than the competition—better product, better service, better features and, the real killer, better price. Heck, some even strive to be ‘best’ in class,” says John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing, in the article Stop Trying To Be Better Than The Competition. “What they should be doing is figuring out how they can simply be different than the competition.”

Jantsch says to forget spending your precious R&D time on product features. Instead, he says, “Spend it on creating branded intellectual property, a distinct way of marketing, or on developing people and culture inside your organization that enables you to be seen as different.”

Designing Event Swag To Be Different From The Competition

If you’ve put so much time, energy and money into creating differentiation for your products, customer experience, event presence and overall brand, shouldn’t you do the same with the promotional products that represent you?

Here’s a not-so-secret secret: If you’re ordering promotional products from a catalog or online store, those products can be used by anyone—including your competition.

Going with an off-the-shelf solution may be quick, since promotional products selection to support event presence is oftentimes put off until right before the conference, tradeshow or summit. Choosing a catalog item can also be economical since you’re only decorating the product with your logo and not building it from scratch.

But will this separate your brand from competitors?

No. Here’s why:

When you create event swag from the ground up, you can design something cool and meaningful that aligns with your brand DNA and truly speaks to your audience. Additionally, you can tie the items into your overall marketing strategy and the brand story you want to tell.

With that in mind, what would happen if swag was built into the beginning of the event planning process?

To find out, we took on a challenge to design actual product ideas for event giveaways for some of the world’s best tech brands as examples. The goal is to create truly custom promotional products that fit the example brand like a glove by baking in the DNA of the brand + audience + event.

Additionally, the products designed must achieve a measureable marketing goal, be different from every other promotional product at the event (read: be different than the competition), be different from every other promotional product the brand has used at events before, and it must be packable in carry on luggage—because what good is it if recipients can’t take it home with them!

Keep in mind there is no endorsement of any products by the brands represented. We’re simply trying to tell a story of what IS possible by using brands and events that you know and understand. So check this out:

Event Marketing Swag Idea: Facebook Hex Value Color Cards

The Brand: Facebook
The Event: Web Summit – creaTIFF
The Audience: UX Designers
The Marketing Goal: Create brand awareness via repeat product use after the event.

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What began as a singular conference, Web Summit is now home to 20+ independent conferences—each with its own stage, schedule, exhibition area, workshops, networking evening events and more.

The creaTIFF conference track unites graphic designers and artists responsible for the design of the world’s top institutions as well as globally recognized packaging, illustrations and products.

If Facebook were participating at creaTIFF and wanted to create swag to appeal to this audience, designer Philip Yip had a great idea: A deck of UX design cards.

Similar in size to a deck of playing cards, each pack contains hex color value cards, persona images, navigation icons, etc. and would include subtle Facebook branding. Yip says the cards’ appeal lies in the tactile way of finding design colors while providing a human and collaborative way of experimenting with different combinations.

“A designer would use the cards any time they’re developing a new interface, or they could simply shuffle for a random color idea,” he explains. “The tactile nature of real cards can enhance creativity by engaging other senses and forcing different types of thought. Subtle branding, high utility and fun of attacking a problem (color selection) from a different context would make a designer continue to use this product.”

By focusing on being different from the competition, Yip found a way to design a product that’s unlike any other. And this is why the idea works.

Being Different Is Good

Duct Tape Marketing’s Jantsch says that instead of trying to be better or exactly like your competitors, build a strategy around a simple way that your company is different from the pack.

“Better than the competition is the enemy of different than the competition, and different is where the money is!” he says. “Creating your own special way to treat customers, creating an experience that’s unique or creating a totally new and frictionless way for people to get a result is how you stand out from the pack. It’s how you create a difference that can’t be easily copied, and it’s how innovation comes to small business.”

So what do you think? When designing swag for event marketers, have you ever talked about specifically designing products that are different from the competition? Would implementing this approach improve the promotional products designed for events?

Let’s get the conversation started. We’d love your feedback and constructive criticism in the comments. Also let us know what promotional products you’ve received that have really made you say “WOW!” Got ideas on what event swag you’ve never seen but would love to receive? Let us know that, too.

Author Mehmet Murat Ildan said, “Be different so that people can see you clearly amongst the crowds.” We believe this applies to event swag too. Because when event attendees leave the venue with their swag bags overflowing, you want your branded merchandise to be the one piece they see, keep, use and absolutely can’t be without.

 

This is the sixth in a series of 12 Immutable Laws Of Event Marketing Swag. For links to each law as they are published, check out the article that started it all: “How To Reinvent Your Event Swag Strategy: 12 Immutable Laws Of Event Marketing Swag.”

 

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #46

Be There From 9 To 5 With Customized Laser Cut Office Desktop Items

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A personalized workspace makes for happy workers, and laser cutting is a fantastic way to provide clients with customized products that they will want to keep and use as a part of their daily grind. While different working environments have their own specific needs, there are a few products that will be familiar whether your office is at the top of a skyscraper or down in the basement.

Laser Cut Desktop Calendars

Keeping track of dates, schedules and all those important calendar entries is something best left to your digital devices; however the utility of having a physical calendar within eyeshot still runs true no matter how fancy the latest App download promises to be. Laser Cut Desktop Calendars become not only an interesting focal point for the office space, they also provide key information about the past and the future that keeps the productivity flowing.

Pictured above, the elegantly simple perpetual calendar made available on Laser Cut Plans by Renan Rozante lends itself well to custom laser etched details. This design would work just as nicely laser cut from acrylic, with the wide number of options available in the Ponoko Materials Library.

We can see a good use of both acrylic and post-processed laser etched details with the colorful calendar (below, left) from Be That Design. In order to make sure the laser etched text really pops, they filled the etched areas with paint to create a crisp, high-contrast visual. Taking a different approach to numerical display, the wooden flip calendar by Qaaim Goodwin (below, right) is simple but effective with numbers cut from the ply rather than etched on the surface.

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Silhouettes are a hallmark of laser cut products, and calendars can also make good use of this visually arresting visual technique. A treat for Star Wars fans, PurnaProject’s desktop calendar (below, left) will have workers daydreaming of a galaxy far, far away. Another interesting approach is demonstrated in the Urban Calendars (below, right) from Robert Feyereisen. Referencing iconic 20th Century skyscrapers, an entire year is laser etched onto basswood veneer, with each date in its own little pop-out window.

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Laser Cut Table Clocks

Keeping time is an important part of any work day, and it is handy to have a dedicated clock to let you know at a glance how your day is tracking. Laser cutting has long provided designers and makers with interesting possibilities for custom timepieces, whether through material usage or the addition of laser etched details to enhance the clock mechanism.

Pictured below is a retro-styled desk clock by RolphLaserCreations, that makes neat use of traditional laser cut assembly methods while still holding true to a mid-century design aesthetic. Alongside on the right is a castle-themed desk organiser clock from OlaDiClock that has the same tabbed construction, this time incorporating the material junctions as a graphic feature of the castle design.

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The ubiquitous nature of dials and numbers means that it can be quite refreshing to visualise clocks in a different way from time to time. The Word Clock (below, left) is perhaps one of the most notable examples of this, and the clever concept has undergone a steady refinement by Doug Jackson. Laser cut precision gives the illuminated text a commanding presence on the display, with a refined finish that an engineer would be proud of. Another unconventional clock from All15Designs (below, right) uses laser cut steel to display the numbers along a separate plane to the face of the rotary mechanism in the centre.

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Laser Cut Picture Frames

The smiling faces of families and loved ones adorn many workers’ desks, and it can add a lot of personality to do more with the choice of frame than the standard shiny rectangle. Laser cutting allows designers to explore their playful creativity with the form of the frame, as can be seen with the nostalgic tv frame design (below, left) from Phings and the specially designed Ultrasound Frame (below, right) from Gravi Art.

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Frames aren’t only for pictures; displaying certificates, invitations and awards is also a big part of the office environment. The custom invitations from The Redd Press Shop (below) show how laser etched details are further enhanced by layering materials to add contrast and impact to the laser cut timber and card.

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The workplace is an area where calendars, clocks and framed objects can create interest and personal connections. By designing these products for laser cutting and incorporating laser etched personalization, your brand can become a part of the daily grind in a positive, functional way.

Have you seen other clever laser cut office desktop products? Let us know in the comments below, and for more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.