A guest post by Susie Francis writing on behalf of RODD Industrial Design
Over the past year we’ve seen a new trend of invites to social events like weddings and birthday parties being made from beautifully engraved, smooth cut outs of wood. For this article, we look at the processes involved in the design and manufacture of the ‘woodcards’, taking in some examples, and giving tips on how you can design these fantastically imaginative items to suit your purpose or event.
The first time I had a woodcard delivered through my letter box, it was to invite me to a friend’s wedding, and the first thing I thought was, ‘crikey, they must have spent a fortune on just the invitations’.
The quality of design and the craftsmanship is fantastic and gives the impression of an expensive product. Considering your typical wedding has over a hundred guests, I was thinking they’d must spent several hundred pounds. I was right, prices range from £3 to £7 per invitation depending on the design work required, so they’re most definitely a luxury.
How are they made?
The cards are made using a combination of laser-cutting and scoring the design onto a thin slice of wood or veneer using a laser printer. Laser printers have dropped in price massively over the past decade, which has allowed savvy entrepreneurs to produce the products themselves rather than outsourcing.
A great thing about this process is that it gives the impression of a handmade product, rather than a batch-produced item.
Cut-to-size pieces of the chosen wood are loaded onto a jig in the laser printer, and the printing itself is remarkably quick, anything between 1-5 minutes for a design of less than 1 foot squared.
The main wood used for cards and invitations is birch ply. Being a softwood, it’s lightweight and easy to machine. However, many other woods are used, including ash, oak, maple and poplar.
It hasn’t taken long for a wider range of products to become available from business cards to birthday cards. Recently producers have started treating the wood to ensure it lasts longer.
Who does the Designing?
A lot of the stock designs offered by retailers are great; they simply place your names and details in to their existing templates. There are a lot of options for having a bespoke design made, and often for a reasonable price. Many of the online retailers have an in-house designer for any of their design requirements.
The friend I mentioned earlier happened to be marrying a freelance graphic design expert, so he was well covered there, but I’d say that you really can’t go wrong sticking with a stock template.
Considering the price of production, and the importance of the occasions they’re used for, it’s fair to say it’s better to outsource the designing, unless you’re an accomplished graphic designer of course.
Some of the Best
If you’ve recently used a wooden style product, whether it was for a business car or a wedding invite, we’d love to hear how you chose a design and how they were received by people.
Susie Francis writes articles for RODD Industrial Design, a Design and Innovation Agency working with international clients delivering strategic design solutions. Based in Hampshire, UK, with clients including Motorola, Panasonic and Transport for London, RODD are focused on delivering the highest quality creative work and commercially effective design.