Sunday, December 13, 2015

Crafting a small portfolio to hold a set of cards, by the nerdy artist method

In order to live up to its name, my Useful Calendar has to be both informative and have a pleasing form. That means I spend about as much time researching and fact-checking it as I do on designing and creating it. And being the nerdy artist that I am, I enjoy both of these functions equally.

The 2016 Useful Calendar : a lot of info in a small format

This year I gave myself the design challenge to create a new holder for the calendar cards, because I changed the dimensions from trading card size (2.5" x 3.5" — 64 mm x 89 mm), to 1/8 US letter size (2.75" x 4.25" — 70 mm x 108 mm). This allows a wee bit more room for information and design, and also reduces the fussy trimming and waste, since the strips I cut away were too small to use for any other purpose.

This change required a new pocket to hold them. I used to make the pockets from assorted scrapbooking paper reinforced with packing tape. It made for a durable and reusable pocket, if a little funky looking: you could see the tape overlaps and serrated edges. But I wasn't interested in just making a larger version of the same thing. 

I decided to make something of a portfolio-style holder. I am not a professional package designer and I have no idea how they would go about designing this. So I drew instead upon my experience as a tailor and occasional dressmaker many years ago. 

When designing a dress, I would begin by draping the fabric on the client (I made a wedding dress modeled after a photo in a magazine this way once). If I wanted to make multiples of the design (I did not, in that case), I would then measure everything and transfer that information to a pattern.

"Draping" the cards with scratch paper to make a packet for them

So I began by "draping" my stack of calendar cards with a piece of scrap paper. I creased all the edges and then measured everything. I used those measurements to create a pattern in the Adobe software called InDesign.

A screenshot of my InDesign file of the card holders.  The light blue lines are guides based on the measurements of the folded scratch paper.

From there it's printing, scoring, cutting, creasing and folding; using an Exacto blade to cut a (curved) slit for tucking in the flap, and a corner rounding punch to, well, round the corners. 

The paper packets in various stages of production.

Since I decided to use a light gray 67 lb cover stock (a bit lighter weight than the cards, which are printed on 80 lb cover stock), I designed a cover to print on white labels. The label size that worked best for this was made for name badges, and, much to my delight, I managed to find a version from Avery that's entirely recycled and chlorine free. 

You can see more views of the cards (also printed on recycled cover stock, btw), and even buy them with their nifty paper packet, from my Etsy shop here.

You may have noticed a few bees in the photos above. The theme of the 2016 Useful Calendar is 12 wild bees. More information about that is provided on this page: About the Bees.  (Which you can also find in the upper right corner of any page on my blog.)