We made (most of) our STDs the week before our engagement party so we could distribute them at our party and avoid paying a ton of postage. Here's how they turned out:
Ellie will be putting up a post about the supplies and how we got them; here I'm going to write about the actual creation, since I wound up doing most of it.
Since I tend to be a little nuts about things matching sometimes, I wanted to create a setup that would let us make all the coasters identical (to a reasonable degree of tolerance). In the manufacturing world, you use something called a jig to do this, so that's what I built.
Jig: n. 1. A tool for holding parts of an assembly during the manufacturing process. 2. Any device so arranged that it will expedite a hand or a machine operation.
Combining these two definitions, we're holding parts of an assembly in order to expedite the manufacturing operation. The basic approach is to hold the coasters in a known position, and then line the stamp up at the correct position to get a consistent product. First I laid down flat pieces of wood (made of paint stirrers, free from your local hardware store - they're just the right height to stand over the coasters) in an L to position the coasters and glued them in place.
The stamping blocks I made out of some taller wood, making sure I cut the pieces wide enough that they could overlap the coasters if needed. I positioned them tentatively and held them in place, stamped a coaster, and adjusted the position of the blocks until the stamp was properly aligned; then I marked the position with a pencil, dabbed a thin layer of wood glue on the blocks, and put them back in place and allowed the glue to set.
I made two jigs. The first was used for the pink flower stamps, which we stamped twice 180deg from one another. The second was used to stamp the letters over the top after the background was dry. We hadn't stuck the green tree stamp to its handle yet, so we were able to adjust the positioning of the stamp on the handle in order to use the lettering jig for the tree as well.
With the jigs made, production was easy. Slide a coaster in, ink up the stamp, hold the coaster against the lower blocks, align the stamp with the upper blocks, and press. For the flowers, rotate the coaster and repeat this step before proceeding.
Once all the coasters have background, repeat the process for the letters. 50 coasters in 30 minutes (plus another 50 for the jig-making). This wasn't our full complement of STDs - just enough to supply everybody at the party - but we made a significant dent, and sometime in the next two months we'll take 15 mins or so to knock out the rest. It was nice to get into a DIY project that wasn't stressful and which turned out so well!
P.S. an extra advantage of the jig is that if you do a poor job of inking the stamp, you can re-ink and match the alignment somewhat easily. Not that I made any errors where that was necessary...