A lot goes on behind the scenes in the Cracker Workshop before we actually sit down to make your crackers. We look to settle on designs which are fun and contemporary and ones with a broad appeal which most families might enjoy. The original designs are printed in-house, making mock-ups of each one to photograph and upload to the website as product previews. This helps to ensure the designs work visually and also to aid in introducing the new designs early on, gauging customer interest in them before committing to numbers for a print run.
Meanwhile, the prepped art files go off to Ted, our commercial printer, and Rob, his brother, who does the die-cutting and scoring. Every size of cracker needs to be guided on Ted's equipment in order for all the parts of the wraps to be 'die'-cut out as required. To accomplish that, each individual cracker size requires a die be 'struck' by a specialist die-maker. It is a time-consuming process and expensive but each sized die can be used again and again for years.
While the art work is in the printer's hands, I take the time to create activity sheets if it is a new cracker or update existing ones. This is a year-round job. Whenever, I have a few free hours, I scour the internet, books, libraries and other sources for jokes and words / phrases which can then be used for charades, word search puzzles and other games. I often go back even to previous centuries looking for fun information to add to the crackers. Another item that requires some searching is for public domain image icons, that can be used for decorating the sheets. And then they must be colour-optimized and sized from large to much smaller - to fit into the tiny spaces such as the following elephant icons:
to this size!
Trivia is a whole other pursuit! I look for information related to the occasion the cracker is celebrating. For instance, Canada Day or 4th of July. Or, to do with a theme. I just finished creating Elephant Activity Sheets for the new "Elephant Sticks" game crackers - all filled with elephant related jokes, trivia and charades. For every design I make a minimum of 24 different activity sheets so that orders up to that number can be assured of a different one in every single cracker. For Christmas, I now make about 60 different activity sheets. Whew! Each one takes time and care, editing them so that they are visually easy on the eyes. It's a lot to pack into a small sheet and we want to make sure you can read it all!
Here is an Elephant Activity Sheet Joke:
Q: Why aren’t elephants allowed on beaches?
A: They can’t keep their trunks up
There's much more work to be done before we can start filling your cracker ... in the next episode, I will reveal a little more about the next steps in our process.
To be continued...