Friday, January 19, 2018

Making of a Maker - The Art of Packaging (Part 1) - Third Friday Post - January 19th

Hey everyone! Hoping this finds you all well and enjoying the winter days wherever you are!

This week I wanted to begin a two part post of my third Friday, Making of a Maker blog. For these next two third Fridays (February 16th will be part 2 btw) I wanted to talk about the importance of how your art/creation/craft/product is received when you send it out into the world.

Let's just say it here and now. . . I LOVE packaging.

I have had a few dozen ideas in my life that were just for packaging of a product. Ideas that had no product to go in them mind you. Just a name/look/design that I thought would be cool  or interesting. Jewelry, figurines, music CD's etc. They just come to me as any other creative idea might.

When I got into making art for sale, I knew that I would put a fair amount of time into how that art looks when it is received.

I have three different shops on Etsy, My Fairy houses/figurines/oddities, my Ancient Egyptian statues and amulets and my digital art prints. Each has it's own thank you cards and notes that I use with the items when they are shipped. I designed the cards and print them myself but there are a dozen good printing services out there too that you can use. I print my own more so I can tinker and play with the design over time and not have to have a large run of cards printed at any one time.

Today I want to focus on the packaging for pieces from Shadow of the Sphinx.

So below is the packaging and accompanying cards for a small statue, a figure of Bes, who is a multipurpose protective deity that is found in one form or another in many ancient cultures from that region. He's a rather jovial fella to my eyes but others find him a bit scary and I do suppose that was the purpose in antiquity.

With the exception of my largest statues, all of the amulets and pieces from this shop get packaged in very much the same way.

With each order, I make the gift box for it by hand so that it fits the piece and it's warping, perfectly. With each statue being completely handmade, no two are ever quite alike.

I use a black, smooth-textured, almost velvety paper called Plike. I order it in 12x18 sheets which covers most all that I do.  TO date I have made roughly 1200 boxes now so while I know it seems a daunting task to figure out how to make them, and it was at first, I have it down to a science now.

The box for the Bes took me 3 minutes to measure, cut (on my favorite packing room tool, a Fiskars slide cutter), score and fold.

Then I punch holes in the top flap for a gold organza ribbon for statues or black and copper raffia for amulets, and I attach a handmade name tag on the front. That tag is a two step process. First, on brown paper, I print the name of the deity in a hieroglyph surrounded blank space. So in this case it reads, "Bes Altar Statue". Then I cut that out and glue it to a frosted gold card stock paper and cut the final tag from that so that the gold is a border and then I adhere it to the front of the black box with a few super strong glue dots.

With each piece I include the stamped card envelope and handwritten thank you card, a business card with the Etsy address, a card that features a bit of general information that I've collected about the deity purchased and a slip of paper that describes the process of making the piece and my policies for future returns if repairs are needed or just to reapply the shiny patina if desired as they do dull/age further over time. If it's an amulet, I also include an "amulet care" paper for that since they are made of clay and fragile to wear on a day to day basis.

Now these all I print in small quantities ahead of time and have cut out and ready. I have over 60 different deity description cards and the box tags for amulets AND statues for most of them. The sometimes-amusing thing is how often I am out of the card/tag for the very one I've just sold.

I think there is a little gremlin who eats them because I swear I print mulitples and then they just seem to disappear!

This, I am a little embarrassed to say, is the EASIER/Less involved of the two shops to package items for. lol :)

Next month, on the Third Friday, I will focus on the packaging for a fairy inspired piece from Bewilder and Pine and share a few of my thoughts about why I think that packaging has been so vital to the shop's, and my own, success.  Also, because I am asked this more often than almost anything about my packaging, I will share with you why I NEVER put images of the packaging IN with the photos of my listings.

As for Shadow of the Sphinx, I receive quite a bit of feedback in the reviews people leave and in private emails about how the packaging made the customer's day when they opened the box or how they were so happy to give it as a gift.

The theme is simple, the execution not so much. Smooth black paper boxes and gold flourishes with a whole lot of personal touch. People really respond to it and it's become the branding for the shop. The few retail shops I sell thru are thrilled to have the packaging to go with the items. I've been told that the packaging  has even "swayed" customers to purchase my work, which is usually a bit more expensive in those shops, over something that is mass produced.

Well, that is all for today!

Wishing you all a magical weekend and thank you, as always, for dropping by!


(Typing pet peeve of the day: Auto-correct/spelling keeps changing the name Bes, even when capitalized, to Bestsellers! REALLY? Not "best" or "Bess" or even besties?)


  1. Hello Nicolas, for all that we have talked about packaging, and even having received your beautiful packaging, I didn’t realize you made your own boxes! I wondered how you found the perfect size box, and even thought maybe you kept the box size in mind while creating! Haha. I just never put it together you made the boxes yourself!

    1. Andrea, for all the trial and error of learning to make the boxes at first, I realized early on it was an easier road than trying to make things the perfect size every time to fit a box!! I have a knack, even when trying to replicate something I've made and sold previously, to make it just a bit larger the next time around! :) The boxes, it turns out, are a simple math equation that I can adjust to get the perfect size whereas the clay often seems to dictate to me how it wants to turn out!

  2. Nicholas, your work is GORGEOUS!!! I think that packaging is important too. I remember buying an old board game for Alex in 2013 for Christmas, Mastermind. The lady who sent it to me packaged it so nicely and included some homemade greeting cards and envelopes. I always go back to her store to see what she has. I think it's a wonderful touch!

    1. Thank you Rain! I remember Mastermind! :) And I am always drawn to shops/people who go that extra bit to make the experience so wonderful and surprising. As a seller, I just like knowing that it has such a positive effect on folks who receive my work too. :)

  3. Nicolas you are amazing! Your soul truly goes into everything you create! I didn't realize you made your boxes too! Good for you! Packaging is so important! Big Crow Hugs!

    1. Thank you Stacy! I do try to put something unique into the world thru everything I create. . . and a bit of my own self goes into them all as well. ;) Big Crow Hugs!

  4. LOVE this Nicolas. You are a genius with your packaging and it does not surprise me in the least, as you are connected very much to your work. You respect it and want to give it a nice place to nestle into while it takes the journey to its new owner. I am exactly the same. ;) One day I will own one of your pieces and have the delight at unwrapping it. X

    1. Louise! I feel every step of the process should be somewhat creative and that it all ties together in the final packaging. Magick requires our intent and thorough attention to detail, yes? It becomes second nature in time but I enjoy revisiting it to remind myself how much it adds to the experience for the recipient and for myself as the maker. :) Thank you for your kind words and for all your inspiring work too!