Wednesday, October 21, 2009

DIY STDs: Supplies

I had the idea for our Save the Dates months ago. (BTW, Funky Beehive just closed and I'm so sad!) Mark and I talked about doing postcards, magnets, etc., but we were both stuck on the coasters. It was just so us. Which is funny and ironic, because I'd never even owned coasters until I got to college, and it took 2 years of training by roommate and bridesmaid S. to get me to the point where I ask "do you have a coaster?" when I'm at somebody's house. Since Mark collects beer mats, and we own at least 4 full sets of coasters in addition to the beer mats, coasters were suitable.
They are also recyclable. Please, somebody, tell me how to recycle one of the 5 save-the-date magnets on my fridge. They are the soft magnetic material, so they don't hold anything up, and 4 of these weddings have passed. Yet I'm keeping them because I don't think they can be recycled. I didn't go on a quest for recycled chipboard coasters, because well, it didn't occur to me. It was just one of those things where I plugged away finding the supplies and then ordered them and then thought, "hey, I wonder if these are made with recycled paper" pretty far in retrospect. But, since they are paper, my hope is that our guests will recycle them or continue to use them after the wedding. The backs are blank so they can even flip them over and put their own design on them if they really want.

So once we decided to go ahead with the coasters, we had to order supplies. The most important issue? What order to order in. Because we were ordering everything online, I didn't want to order a bunch of stamps and then find out that we had gotten stamps that were the wrong size and the ink was the wrong color, etc. and that nothing would fit on our coasters.

We decided the best place to start was our custom stamp. I designed our stamp in Inkscape using fonts from (Allura Script and Organic Elements) and put the image out on Etsy Alchemy. I went to the gym, and by the time I came home, we had gotten at least 3-4 bids on our request. I picked the cheapest one that had good equipment (laser engraving) and positive reviews, and accepted the bid from MidTownTees. Cindy was great to work with and sent our stamp out right away - we got it about a week later. The cost was $12 plus about $3 in shipping, so $15. Totally worth it:
Once we got the stamp, we trekked up to my sister's house (a whole 9 blocks) to check out her Stampin' Up catalog. (The quality of Stampin' Up stamps is much better than most stamps I've bought at craft stores.) We realized the first two sets we were thinking about were not the right size to go with our custom stamp, so we finally found this one. The best part? Since it had two large background stamps, we could send out our sets of coasters as a pair with different backgrounds. I was really hoping if we had to order a big expensive set, it would at least be a useful greeting set or a thank-you set that we can use a lot. It's a sympathy card set, which I certainly hope I don't have to use a lot, but I suspect will end up coming in handy. We ordered through a friend of a friend who is a demonstrator, so the set was about $26 plus shipping (but since I was ordering other items anyway, I've decided to not count the shipping.)

I ordered the coasters off of EBay after a quick check at the guest list told us how many sets we would need. We bought 2 sets of 85 for $11.50. We got combined shipping, so the total for shipping was about $6.50, bringing the total up to about $18. They were pretty nice coasters for 14 cents apiece.
Then there was a problem. We knew we wanted to use dye ink because it dries super-fast. We were not going to emboss 150 coasters. Just not gonna happen. But most dye inks are waterbased, meaning if condensation leaked onto the coaster (the thing coasters are meant to protect your table from), the ink would run and it wouldn't be pretty. Stampin up inks were waterbased, so we started looking for others. I found the perfect shade of green for the tree from Memories, and found a navy from StazOn, but there was nothing for the second background. I bought a purple but it was too dark. We finally found that the right ink was Distress ink - it was the perfect lightness. (We also decided to use the flower stamp twice, instead of just once in the background, because of the design.)
If you are doing coasters of your own, I highly recommend combining the Distress Ink and the StazOn. (Don't be fooled by the packaging on the Distress Ink - it's just a regular inkpad which come in faded-looking colors, perfect for backgrounds. Ideally we would have used distress ink for both coasters, but we were done spending money at this time.) I used 50% or 40% off coupons at Michaels for the ink and we would up spending about $16 on 4 different ink pads (we only used 3.)
We also needed to put the STDs together in a way. I broke my finger three weeks ago (more on that later) and so tying bows was absolutely out of the question, and there was no way we could get them tight enough to actually hold these together anyway. I thought about a bellyband, but it would have covered our names. So finally I remembered that during a scrapbooking phase, I had bought some vellum, which I trimmed and fastened with glue dots. And voila:
The total adds up to about $75 (not counting the vellum or glue dots, since I already owned them). Yes, our Save The Dates would have been massively cheaper if we had just done an email save-the-date. But we wanted to do more than an email, and we decided it was worth the money to do something we really wanted to do, and not just what other people were doing.

This is a perfect example of how DIY can be cheaper, not cheap. Most coasters I found online were either not what we wanted, or were like, $1 or more apiece, and I really wanted to send two. (Mark was only really okay with sending two once we came up with two different designs. Before that he didn't see the point.) We also have been able to re-purpose some of the stamps already.
I love this tree. Expect to see it a lot. I'm thinking programs, menus...what else can I (er. we) use it for?
What DIY projects have you done? Was the supposedly simple task of gathering the supplies as complicated for you as it was for us?


  1. I love them! They look really professional! Nicely done!

  2. Hi! :)

    I'm a bride-to-be who happened to stumble upon your blog while searching for cool save-the-date ideas. And I'm absolutely IN LOVE with your coasters!!! Thanks for the inspirational and detailed post -- my fiance and I have decided to take up your advice and go with distress ink for these DIY coasters.

    Just one question though: I read online that distress ink is actually water-based, designed to react with water. Have you had any problem with the ink smearing from the condensation outside of cold glasses put on these coasters?

    Thanks a bunch!!