Applying A Maker’s Mark
I have recently done some research into branding, as I’m sure most crafts people and manufactures all have done at some point, generally early on in their practice. While branding is a general term given to a huge component for the development of business identity, not limited to the logo affixed to a product. My specific focus was on the process of applying my mark onto product, specifically timber surfaces.
While it would be nice for an object to speak for its maker based on style alone the likely hood of it being recognised as mine in an ocean of other products is highly unlikely.
I need a mark that distinguishes a piece, as being part of a bigger entity, categorizing it into a collection is the ultimate goal. If it is not recognisable as mine from initial external viewing, then within the product a label could be found that links me and it.
Until consumers have knowledge specific to the good and or bad quality of a company and their product the brand alone is simply text and image, if designed and applied well the logo can express itself, telling us or letting us imagine how good or bad the product is, even if we have not yet experienced it.
It is my ultimate hope to build a reputation, identifiable through my logo in which consumers will recognise my business and the services or products that I offer as being well regarded.
I wanted my brand to reflect individuality, creativity, versatility and high quality, which are the same qualities that I attempt to apply to my products, as subsequence to their pairing I hope to transform the text and image that make up my logo into a recognisable entity in which a positive association is made.
Second to this I assume that an object obtains credibility with a trademark as the consumer recognises that the designer/maker/company is proud to associate themselves with that product.
The way that you apply a trademark to a product should reflect a part of what you are and do, it becomes in itself a visual clue or link to the type of service you provide, if “Your logo is like a small ad for your company”, then maybe the ‘makers mark’ is an contributant of an artifact.
Already having a logo, designed by graphic designer; Sarah Evans from ‘The Freelance Project’ I am now looking for a suitable means of applying it to my product easily and in a fashion that projects well for my business.
Within woodworking there are an abundance of options when it comes to marking timber, plywood and other similar substrates in the branding of furniture pieces, the modern ‘makers mark’ ranges from traditional punches to the computer age CNC laser etching.
8 Ways to Brand or Mark in Timber:
1. Steel punch – seemingly hard to find specialized tool manufacturers who cut these to custom shapes and designs. A punch would essentially work in the same method as letter and number punches in that you create an indentation by pressing them into the timber with a sharp forceful hit of a hammer. Once made, steel punch would last a lifetime and could be handed down from generation to generation. The design must have a small are, as a large surface area would be difficult to evenly apply a force to achieve a consistent impression. Similar effects to debossing without the size and consistency.
2. Rubber stamp – ink made of dye or pigment is applied to an image or pattern that has been carved, molded, laser engraved or vulcanized, onto a sheet of rubber. The rubber is often mounted onto a more stable object such as a wood, brick or an acrylic block. In the case of timber indelible ink should be used to ensure that the logo wouldn’t be erased or washed away. Quick easy and affordable option, with an office appeal. Rubber stamp manufacturers are pretty common and offer reasonable prices to have a stamp made.
3. Branding Iron – The traditional branding irons can be heated up using a blowtorch or stove and are then used to burn an image into wood, leather, and other materials. The electric brands utilise a soldering iron to generate heat. An expensive option, that provides a rustic, traditional feel that evokes images of cowboys and livestock branding. With modern cnc milling the branding iron can take on a complexity of text and shape with high precision, limited only to the very fine details.
4. Stencil – spray paint and a stencil are an extremely affordable option; all though it may prove to be a messy one, also may require a designated spray area with adequate ventilation. Linked so tightly with graffiti, it offers an underground appeal, although its credibility is lacking in that it seems unrefined and too rough edged in its visual and emotion. On the right piece and in the right setting the stenciled logo, would be incredibly successful, however for consistency overall it might fall short.
5. Debossing – much like you’ve seen in paper, you can similarly deboss into timber. The impression of an image into timber obviously requires a lot more effort than that of paper and subsequently uses hydraulic pressure. It is hard to find companies that will do this and on top of the expense of the job, you will need to purchase the manufacture of a tool grade die. It does provide impressive results, however is limited in capabilities and is a very expensive option.
6. Laser Printing – printing onto the surface of timber much like you would a piece of paper, obviously requires an industrial size printer which means outsourcing the printing to printing companies. However provides and exceptional quality results, which are limited only to the imagination. Printing is limited to flat surfaces and will require pre-thought, either in full sheets of manufactured board or flat components of furniture before assembly.
7. Laser Engraving / Etching – Laser engraving machines are very effective for the marking and engraving of both timber and wood. The laser beam actually engraves into wood or timber while discolouring the material leaving a sharp and clean finish similar to that of a branding iron. Also similar to a branding iron the engraving is permanent and will not wear off.
This marking process looks very authentic and can be used on 100′s of different wooden materials and products. Laser engraving is a great way to give a personalised and high quality look and feel to any wooden or timber product.
8. Ink transfers – Lastly the transfer of ink from paper onto timber using a solvent. A simple method that provides good results, however unpredictable and inconsistent. The beauty of this process is that you have an ability to easily modify your brand regularly with little or no cost. The basic principle of this process is that ink printed onto a white piece of paper using either a laser jet or photocopier is easily disturbed using a medium like ‘mod podge’ or eucalyptus oil. This technique is used often in woodblock printing.
I have since been experimenting with ink transfers for its simplicity and versatility. While its unpredictable characteristics can prove trialing, I find myself more often than not impressed with the results. I hope to continue using this process in the marking of my work, each time offering a slight variation, which will reflect on the piece or a current world or personal commentary. The one constant will be the logo and date of completion.