Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Packaging Plan

I've been working on packaging ideas, and if no one says "Hey stupid, you're doing it wrong", then, this is what I plan to go with:

Cardstock top, plastic bag, staple and one EpicGrip. Simple, but functional.
Give feedback in comments if you have any better ideas. :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sharing the Awesome

The EpicGrip stamp has been milled, and the prototypes are being tumbled as I write this. Hopefully I should have some pretty pictures for you by the 27th...

Now the rest of this update is going to be a little weird...  At this stage in the project, I don't have that much else interesting EpicGrip specific stuff to share.  I've been very busy, just not with anything all that fun, for example, I've been working on packaging, nailing down mailing options, figuring out shopping cart options for the website, reading a lot of Kickstarter related blogs and figuring out how to get all your addresses on to envelopes with minimal fuss.

I know, YAWN... right?

So, for this post, I'd like to break the rules, and just use the platform to share another one of the awesome connections I've met along the way.

In the course of the EpicGrip campaign, I've had the honor of meeting Gary Carpenter and his band the Samurai Gypsies. Gary would be a phenomenal guitarist on his own, but when you add a violin player (Dan) who can match his ferocity, a really active and tasteful bass player (Tindae), and two excellent percussionists, this takes the awesome to a whole new level.

I just got back from seeing them play a two hour set at Angelica's Bistro in Redwood City. The restaurant has these big glass windows, and all through the set I saw passers-by just stopping in their tracks and listening through the window.  The Samurai Gypsies just launched the Kickstarter for their next album, and from their live show I can tell you that it's going to blow their first album out of the water.  I'm not asking you to support them. I'm just informing you of their existence because I think they are absolutely worth sharing. Check out their music links halfway down the page. I have faith that once you hear a couple of tracks, the next step will be obvious.

Now understand, I'm a metal-head at heart. At work I'll put on some Maiden, Metallica, Opeth, Trivium or Rob Zombie and rock out while I'm working, but I just sat through this two hour set of Gypsy Jazz with a dumb-ass grin on my face.

Gary's lead riffs are clearly Spanish guitar, but they are crispy, lightning fast melodic, and never dull. There are clear overtones of rock, jazz, blues, and some middle eastern stuff too. The band is tight, there were moments where the violin/guitar leads sounded like they were being played on a 12 string guitar, and the extremely tasteful funk bass added a compelling extra dimension to the music.

 Interspersed with their awesome original stuff, the Samurai Gypsies did covers from Santana, and Al De Meola, that had everyone in the audience entranced, and then applauding enthusiastically.  There is magic here, and I just really want to share them with you.

If you live in the SF Bay Area, get on their mailing list and see them live... Maybe I'll see you at the next show. :)


Everything I know about anodizing Titanium I've learned on the internet.

I think it all started in 2009 with a video Don McLeish posted on YouTube about how to anodize a flashlight clip.  I saw the magic color change, and knew I had to be able to do this myself.

After a bit of research, I got a power supply from Harbor Freight, and some alligator clips. I got an AC-DC voltage rectifier, and made a dipping solution of water and sulfuric acid that I pinched from a dead car battery in my garage. I poured the solution into a small pickle jar and added a spool of galvanized wire as a cathode.

This setup has worked up until now, BUT there is a HUGE difference between anodizing 5 of something and anodizing 5000 of something. I knew I needed to upgrade my anodization station, and thanks to a bit of luck,  and a whole lot of good will, I got an encouraging message from Brad from Iowa. Brad is the guy on Kickstarter who ran the wildly successful bottle grenade, and WTF campaigns, and is currently running an (already past it's funding goal) TiKey campaign. If you're a Titani-o-phile like me, you will NEED his stuff.

I asked him about how he anodizes his parts, and in the exchange of emails that followed, Brad was kind enough to outline in detail the equivalent of a small book on the finer points of his years of experience.

So, the EpicGrip anodization station, version #2 involves a few new steps, like a pre-bath of Multi-Etch, and a more targeted ~2pH  anodizing bath. with intermittent dips into distilled water. Etched picks that won't be anodized immediately will be stored in Acetone so the bare Titanium stay fresh until the colorization process. This should yield much brighter, and more predictable colors.


Greetings Pickstarters,

Welcome to update No.2. It's been a couple weeks, and...my have you grown.   I remember hitting the 'go' button on the campaign  and hoping that by the end if I advertised like crazy, I might clear the $5000 funding goal. Boy did I underestimate your enthusiasm. 
Thank you all. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


So I started a kickstarter for the EpicGrip titanium guitar pick.  I thought I'd prepared for everything, but the one thing I didn't expect is what happened... Unqualified success. I spent a year thinking about how to get the picks made. I spent months preparing for the kickstarter, I spent weeks on the text and videos, and then the campaign went live.

And within 2 days I hit my funding goal of $5000.00.

Within four days I had blown past both stretch goals, and I began to think, perhaps I was aiming a hair too low...

I reviewed all my costs, and then began to panic. There are so many dimensions to this, and I've never done a project at this scale before... What was I not accounting for? How can this kill me?

I'm an artist. On the whole, I think about ideas, not logistics.  Luckily for everyone involved, I have smart business and accounting people in my life to double-check and keep me in line.  Having jumped into the deep end of the KS pool, I wouldn't recommend doing a Kickstarter unless you have some very organized people to fall back on. Things can rocket beyond expectations very quickly.

Clearly, these are good problems to have. But there are many dimensions to starting a business, and it's scary to put something in motion that suddenly results in people all over the world counting on you. I am having fun, I am learning tons, and I have faith that I will get everything out to everyone in a relatively timely manner, I just need to remember to breath.