Help me with the logistics of my paper craft.
July 29, 2008 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Craft filter: I would like to begin selling a mixed media paper craft (a print embellished with embroidery thread). I'm happy with the crafty part...but now about the logistics: sourcing paper, paper size, ink quality, packaging.

Sourcing paper: Where can I find archival quality paper (relatively heavy, but no more than 90 lb) at an affordable price? If I manage to start selling, I won't be able to afford to buy it at the local Michaels.

Paper size: Right now, I am working with my own personal printer. It can handle paper up to 8 1/2 by 10. The actual image I am producing is approx. 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 (but I can alter this slightly without distorting the print). Ideally, the print would not take up the entire area of paper, but would have margins at the 4 sides. If folks who buy my craft might like to frame it, what size paper should I use and with what size margins? Should the margins all be equal?

Ink: My printer is an Epson CX8400. It seems that most people selling prints advertise that they use "archival inks." What does this really mean, is it really important, will my printer take them, and can I buy them at an average office supplies store?

Packaging: I know where to find plastic sleeves and thick envelopes, but is there something else I should know about packaging and shipping?

Whew. That's a lot of questions. Answer as few or many as you're are willing and able.
posted by sarahalisonmiller to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
i don't know, but i just checked out your website hoping to see a prototype. (i'm a bit of a paper/pen freak.) that bucatini looks amazing.


good luck w/your project. and post pics when you get some!
posted by msconduct at 4:20 PM on July 29, 2008

As always, my first suggestion is Etsy. There you can get supplies at close to wholesale prices, if you look- there are people making a living (or at least some cash) on Etsy, but you still get pretty great prices. Wholesale without having to make a big investment and buy in bulk before you get started selling.

Archival quality paper on etsy.

People buy prints of all shapes and sizes, with all sorts of margins. I regularly buy ACEOs on Etsy, which are usually covered all the way to the outside edge of the paper, and of course you can buy ACEO blanks on Etsy. I think it is getting more and more popular to make prints like that, but if you wanted blank space on the edges you could try to make it part of the artwork, by centering things in an interesting way (e.g. nonequal margins) and making use of the space. If you wanted to be utilitarian, I would think the larger the margins the easier it will be to frame, but you should be safe with 1" equal margins.

Archival ink means that it will resist fading for longer. Remember those color photographs from the early 80's? Then you know why they are selling archival ink.

Depending on where you end up selling your items, plastic sleeves and thick envelopes may be more than enough . . . but I think you get more repeat business through making things more like a "gift", e.g. wrapping in tissue paper with nice ribbons and maybe even a tiny gift enclosure card. The costs will fade in light of the repeat business. Particularly on Etsy. :)
posted by arnicae at 4:37 PM on July 29, 2008

You want archival quality paper to go through your printer? Look to Epson to see what they've got, and to see which machines are compatible with their archival inks. Epson papers + Epson inks + Epson printers = best homemade print quality with longest print life, in my own opinion. I've never had a print returned, and I'm using an 8 year old machine to make mine, and mine prints up to 13x19 sheets. As always, YMMV.

I'd look to the forums to find recommendations on specific printer models, just run a search. I researched there recently for a friend, and found a lot of good information (which I have forgotten and am too lazy to look up again - I'm sorry. It's been a long hot day.) You have the comfort of knowing that people there are going to be using the machines for a similar purpose as you, with similar expectations of (sellable) print quality.

For paper size, I'd stick to standard sizes that people can put in off-the-shelf mats and frames. 5x7, 8x10 are my best sellers, and are affordable to ship. I'd give an inch all the way around, so the mat can overlap without the print rippling. Let's just assume that these will to be matted, because you don't want your embroidery threads smashed up against the glass, right?

Pack your print in something rigid (cardboard) that overlaps the edges by like an inch, so the corners of your art don't get bashed. Put it in the plastic sleeve first (with your business card) and tape the sleeve shut, then tape the plastic sleeve to the center of the cardboard. (You don't want your nice acid-free, archival print touching the cardboard directly, because cardboard is full of acid.) Then wrap the whole business neatly in blank newsprint or tissue or something, and slide it into your envelope or box. I personally prefer boxes (Priority boxes are free!) but I'm kind of anal-retentive like that.

Oh, and sign your prints!
posted by Lou Stuells at 5:31 PM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite] again. Thanks a bunch for the suggestions so far. I'm familiar with etsy (I would eventually like to market my craft there), and I looked for 8x10 or 8.5x11 ACEO blanks and there don't seem to be any. I'm only finding smaller (card-sized) sizes. Am I just not seeing something?

And, I'm linking to some photos to illustrate the sort of thing I'm working on.

These are 1927 ledgers from a retirement home in Pittsburgh which I've embellished with threaded figures depending on the content of the ledger page.
posted by sarahalisonmiller at 5:45 PM on July 29, 2008

It's me again (again)...I don't think my flickr link was working properly. Here's another go at the project I'm working on:
posted by sarahalisonmiller at 7:28 PM on July 29, 2008

That chicken is bad *ass*!
posted by ersatzkat at 7:43 PM on July 29, 2008

Just for clarification, arnicae's mention of ACEOs refers to small cards created by artists for trading (originally at least, now they are often sold as well). These are traditionally small, so you won't find large ACEO blanks. You just need to look for archival quality paper as arnicae suggested. Hope that helps!
posted by mehum at 10:01 AM on July 30, 2008

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