Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On Paper, Printing, and Process

So, I can admit it for us, we have spent the first few years of our cooperative existence without setting foot in the realm of branding. Perhaps we are too humble for our own good. Just this last week we realized the naivety of our ways - and our first foray into the realm of branding turns out, surprisingly, to be a hybrid mission statement of its own.

New bags! In a slew of bright fun colors and reusable to boot. As a coop, we are committed to reducing and re-using wherever we can. And the opportunity arose - as we started running out of our paper bags - to shift our customers' bag usage. I know many San Franciscans are hyper aware of their own impact on the environment, and I see plenty of folks carrying around their re-usable totes. So it is not far-fetched to snuff out the paper and start offering an eco-consious version of a bag. Not far-fetched at all to get our logo printed on there and promote this amazing store we have!

[That's where the branding comes in. And more of our mission statement comes into play when yrs trly prints up said bags locally with our logo.]

As our resident screenprinter, I printed up these new bags the other day at my print shop. I know a lot of people I talk to think the process of screenprinting sounds really exciting, so I thought I'd share a little bit about how it happens.

Basically, I create and print out a digital image onto transparent paper. Now, how to get that image onto a screen so that fabric can be printed? A "silkscreen" is fabric that is stretched across a metal frame, then coated with a photo-sensitive emulsion. When placed together with the transparent film in a lightbox, the emulsion on the screen softens where there is anything printed on the transparency. Then the screen gets rinsed until the emulsion is gone where it became soft inside the lightbox, and then the screen is dried, and then the screen is set up in a hinge so that it can be lifted up and down.

Above you can see the screen lifted up in the carousel after the printing of the bag, which is set up on a pallet for printing.

Almost done! Then the bag gets taken off the pallet and cured by going through the dryer, which is a giant machine with heat coils inside its lid and a conveyer belt below, and it scurries the bags along under the coils and out the other end.

At long last, we have our branded bags! Come buy something to put in one of them and tote our logo. We'll love you for it, and so will the planet.

By Helene of Culture Consumer

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