Allie Makes: Acrylic Charms!

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Acrylic charms have been one of my top-selling products ever since they made their debut in 2015. While other products along the way have been retired in favour of the new, my cute pet charms aren’t going anywhere soon – folks just love them!

But what are they? How are they made?

Well, these little “charms” are 3mm white acrylic pieces measuring approx. 1.5″ in diameter. They feature artwork drawn by me of various cute pets, consisting mostly of dog breeds with a smattering of cat breeds, reptiles, birds and other small pets.
The word “charm” is used as a catch-all term as they can be used in many different ways: as a phone accessory, zipper pull, dog tag, bag accessory, keychain and more!

You can see my current selection of acrylic charms in my Etsy shop.

But enough with the sales pitch. You want to know how these are made!


Product Design

It starts in my art programs, where I sketch and doodle various animals in the established style I’ve curated for the charms. Every charm is hand-drawn with care.

The choices of new breeds & animals is based on a combination of suggestions that I hear at craft shows, from Etsy shoppers, and from fans on social media. I try to take note of the most popular suggestions for new charms, and keep all of my designs in a single digital file where I can easily grab them for re-orders.

From there, I prepare templates. I make my charms through a lovely company in the UK called Zap! Creatives. They help creatives and artists to manufacture a wide variety of neat products. They have designated templates for charms, which I use with Adobe Photoshop to get the size and design just right. For example, you can see the red circle which indicates to them where to place the loop for the charm strap!

From there, I place my order and send Zap my templates, and play the waiting game.


Product Arrival & Prep

2-3 weeks after placing my order, I get a happy package in the mail. Hooray!

Everything arrives in a bubble mailer, tightly and securely packaged.

The charms themselves are also tightly wrapped and kept safe in bubble wrap.

An order sheet is always included with a checklist of what I’ve received.
Many folks ask me about doing custom acrylic charms, but this shows is why the answer is usually “no”.

Zap, like many manufacturing companies, have minimums for acrylic charms. To get 5 designs produced, I have to order 50 charms – 10 of each design. I cannot just order 10 charms of one design, either – I always have to order at least 50 charms to receive 5 x 10 designs. Make sense?

This order consisted of two batches of 50, since I had some new designs to order as well as some re-orders of popular designs. You’ll notice that they checked off 12 of each design – Zap always prints some extra to account for potential flawed pieces, but they will always send you the extras if they all turn out! It’s nice.

I unpack all the charms and double-check the counts to make sure I have at least ten of each design. Zap does a great job at this – their checklists have yet to be incorrect!

Next is what’s probably my least favourite bit of the process. Zap manufactures their charms with a backing paper, to keep the blank rear side shiny and scratch-free. I’m thankful for this added measure, but it does mean peeling paper off of 100+ charms by hand. 🙂

Once all the backing papers are removed, I prepare for strapping the charms. I use black charm straps with a split ring and lobster clip attached, and each strap is attached manually using a combination of split-ring pliers and jewellery pliers. It’s a bit tedious, but now that I’ve put together so many I have it down to an art! 


Packaging

Packaging the charms consists of punching a small hole into a lot of 2×3 kraft recycled cardstock sheets, feeding the strap through, and securing it with a small piece of tape on the back. The charms are then packaged in a small plastic hang bag.

It’s an easy, inexpensive and attractive way of displaying the charms as well as keeping them safe from scratches and debris.

And that’s it! The acrylic charms are then ready to be sold on Etsy and displayed at my local craft fairs for folks to enjoy as they please. 🙂 I hope you enjoyed this mini-tutorial on how my charms are made!

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