Friday, 14 March 2014

The Crafter's Guide to Packaging Handmade Products: Book Review

The Crafter’s Guide to Packaging Handmade Products:

Tips and creative inspiration for crafters from crafters

By Viola E. Sutanto

Search Press  2014

Paperback  £12.99

ISBN 978 1 78221 013 9

Star rating: ****

I haven’t gotten round to setting up an Etsy shop (lots to think about!), but when I do, I’ll be grateful for this eco-conscious and inventive book, chock-full of packaging and presentation advice and suggestions for production craftsellers. The author, Viola E. Sutanto, is an award-winning graphic and product designer, so she knows her beans.

The book is divided into three sections: Materials and How to Use Them, Designing Your Packaging, and Resources. There are pep talks about the importance of brand communication – the idea being that your customers are buying into a lifestyle as much as a particular product. I really liked the author’s concept of “Storytelling through packaging”. 

Since my blog is The Papercraft Post, the section on paper packaging was of the greatest interest (no surprise there). There’s a section on Paper and Sustainability, which discusses eco-conscious alternatives such as using recycled paper, tree-free papers, and soy-based inks (I think that use of latter would have to be done professionally – but, still, good to know). The section on Uses of Paper is indeed about thinking outside the box – or at list thinking about unusually-shaped boxes. Lots of nice ideas here – translucent glassine bags, bags and boxes in imaginative shapes and sizes. And – the use of wraps or tags and/or labels for minimal packaging. 

A delightful feature of the book is that it contains several tutorials. I found one to be of particular interest: Making your Own Decals. Step-by-steps are given on how to use image transfer paper – and an inkjet printer - to create D-I-Y  decals. The project is a jar lid. Would like to try!

The book also contains a few designer spotlights. It’s always nice to read about success stories, especially where design is concerned.

The Resources Section at back of book is small – but it contains some very handy features, such as a paper weight conversion chart, and another chart matching products with suitable packaging materials. There’s a new-style Template section featuring a good variety of box shapes and labels.  Rather than providing photocopiable templates, you are provided with thumbnails of the designs. For the boxes, there are pics both of the finished box shape and the pattern template. You are then given a QR code so that you can download the templates, and resize them if necessary.  A nice idea, which will put an end to struggles with fitting a bound book into a scanner. 

This isn’t an exhaustive book, but it does provide lots of food for thought, and ideas aplenty when it comes to packaging your homemade products. 

The book itself is a quality paperback: sturdy cover, stitched binding. Classy and durable.

Note:  I was provided with a review copy of this title.