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  • The Hottest New Promotional Product

    While it sometimes takes a bit for products to become available in the promotional products industry, spinners took an accelerated path. A short few months after being highlighted in the Forbes article that follows, we are now taking orders for this year’s hottest new office toy.

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    If you find your fingers are generally a raw, bloody mess due to your boredom-induced nail-biting, or you’re driving your cubicle neighbors insane from your desk-drumming and pen-clicking, fidget toys might be the cure for your nervous or bored energy. Stress balls and desk toys have been around forever, but a recent trend in fidget toys adds a collectible, high quality — and often expensive — flair to finding a place to dump your excess energy.

    Thanks to its surprisingly successful Kickstarter campaign, you might’ve heard of Antsy Lab’s Fidget Cube, which raised $6.4 million after setting a relatively meager $15,000 funding goal. Composed of buttons, dials, and switches — all of which don’t actually do anything other than give you something to prod — the Fidget Cube is a cheap option for the budget fidgeter. If you want something prettier, a different type of fidget motion, or something that scratches your collector’s itch, fidget spinners are the way to go; specifically, MD Engineering’s Torqbar and EME Tools’ Rotablade Stubby.

    Much in the way the Fidget Cube’s buttons and dials don’t “do” anything other than get pressed and turned, fidget spinners spin. That’s it. They feel nice in your hand like worry stones do, and they easily spin with a flick of the finger. The spinners tend to come in a variety of metal bodies, like brass, copper, stainless steel, and titanium, and are constructed to spin for a while if you want to zone out and stare — the heavier the metal, the longer the spin. Generally, you’ll be flicking them back and forth more than you’ll be trying to reach their maximum spin time.
     

    The Good – When introducing testers or random passersby to a spinner, the conversation always went the same way. We’d tell them what it was and they’d have some sort of aggressively incredulous response, but then we’d put it in their hand and in a matter of seconds they’d say how much they like it and wouldn’t want to give it back — every single time, without fail.

    It may not sound like it, but these fidget toys — the Cube included — could very well improve your day-to-day by giving you an innocuous outlet for your nervous or bored energy, and our testers unanimously found this to be true. Some of us played with the spinners instead of bit our nails and cuticles — I went from short nails and raw skin to being able to squeeze a lemon into a glass of water with no problem. Some found we were more present in our daily lives — fidgeting with the spinner on the subway and paying attention to our surroundings rather than burying our faces in our phones. A few of us noticed we got up from our desks less, dumping energy into fidgeting with the spinner rather than taking mindless trips to the pantry. Our engagement level with the spinners varied from tester to tester, but we all preferred having them around, and found ourselves reaching for it when we were doing things that didn’t require both hands, from editing an article to simply waiting for the elevator.

    We also found that the spinners are a good conversation piece. People tend to wonder what in the world you’re playing with, and when someone actually recognizes them, it’s like an instant bonding moment. Funnily enough, after having a frustrating couple days at the Apple Store trying to get my phone battery repaired in a reasonable time, an Apple technician noticed my spinner, struck up a conversation, and smoothly helped me along the process. Some of us also found that the spinners scratched our collector’s and hobbyist itch. I kind of want to catch ’em all and display them on a shelf, whereas others looked into how to build their own.

    Ultimately, though, there isn’t enough research regarding whether or not these spinners can actually help people from a mental health standpoint. Basically, you’d have to try it for yourself. If you’re interested, you can find a whole market of cheap 3D-printed plastic, wooden, and metal spinners on Etsy to see if the basic concept is something that works for you without draining your wallet.
     

    The Bad – There’s one big potential negative we experienced with the spinners. Out of the handful of units we received for testing, the bearings on around 30% felt gritty within a few days to a week of frequent use. Even though each spinner has a tightened finger pad protecting the bearings, particulate still manages to find its way in. If this happens, the spinner becomes very grindy — you can feel the grind through the finger pads as it spins, anyone in the immediate vicinity can hear it, and the spinner loses a large portion of its maximum spin time. Unscrewing the pads to access the bearing is easy enough, but blasting it with a generous amount of canned air doesn’t seem to do the trick. Soaking the bearings in or spraying them with rubbing alcohol, carburetor cleaner, or acetone, then drying and blasting them with canned air helped a little, but they were still louder and more grindy compared to when they came straight out of the box.

    It’s hard to say what caused some of the spinners to get grindy so quickly — even after cleaning — and identical spinners to remain perfect. We had multiple units made of the same metals, used by the same people in roughly the same manner, frequency, and spin speed. One titanium Torqbar got very gritty, and cleaning according to the MD Engineering’s own instructions only helped a little. The other identical titanium Torqbar never had a problem and remains smooth and quiet. The titanium Rotablade got gritty in just a few hours, and like the Torqbar, cleaning only helped a little, whereas the brass Rotablade didn’t have a problem despite very similar usage, and is easily the smoothest and quietest fidget spinner we tested. It makes sense that the spinners would get a little louder after extended use, but from our testing, the ones that didn’t fall victim to grit sound and feel as great as they did out of the box.

    This also needs to be made pretty clear: a nice fidget spinner will be expensive. The four Torqbar bodies — brass, copper, stainless steel, and titanium — range from $139 to $199. The Rotablade bodies, specifically the Stubby model (which comes in the same metal varieties as the Torqbar), range from around $117 to $135, though the Stubby has accessories that can raise the price, like a desktop display stand. Compared to the cheaper spinners on the market, made of 3D-printed plastic or wood, these higher quality spinners are definitely a step — a whole flight of stairs, really — above the rest. Considering the aforementioned precipice of grit-disaster atop which some of the bars seem to precariously balance — even ignoring the fact that “all” they do is spin — the price points are too high. Shelling out $199 for a Titanium spinner alone is a tall order, but to have it get gritty, and thus loud and grindy, after only a week of extended use would be extremely disappointing, especially considering how smooth and quiet the spinners are out of the box.

    Counterintuitively, the spinners’ potential to get gritty, their high price tag, and how easy it is to notice when they’re spinning even slightly below par, can create a kind of anxiety in the type of user that needs things to run perfectly. This is exactly the opposite of what the spinners are designed to do. Your nervous or bored energy can turn into something of a paranoid energy, hyper aware of how the spinners sound and feel at all times. Again, the grit only happened to a minority of the spinners we received, and within that minority, an even smaller number of testers became a bit paranoid about the quality of the spinning. One tester actually preferred the gritty feel and sound, as he cares more about tactility.
     

    The Verdict – Everyone that has used either a Torqbar, Rotablade Stubby, or both, loves the spinners. Which brand and construction material people preferred seemed to simply be a case of personal preference. The various metals have different hefts, and the Rotablade and Torqbar have different shapes, finger pads, and accessories. The Rotablade also doubles as — and bills itself as — a cigar stand, if you’re into that. Most of us can’t get past the price tag of these high-end spinners, but we all want one, and we’ve all noticed positive effects from using them, however large or small.

     

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  • Welcome to the Family!

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    We are happy to introduce Juliet Hawkins (left) and Alexa Stefankiewicz (right) as the newest members of our team. As with the vast majority of our staff, both Juliet and Alexa came to us via referral. In fact, the referrals were the result of a recent blog and email blast soliciting our fan base for help in filling a couple of positions. Juliet has joined the customer service team and Alexa is currently in training and will be working in a sales support position as well. Welcome Ladies!

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  • Here We Grow Again

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    In today’s ever changing marketplace Custom Logos’ strategy for growth remains unchanged. We are committed to adding products, services, personnel and additional resources in order to enhance the value we offer our clients. As such we are happy to announce our new office in Sacramento. The office is staffed by two veteran Brand Enhancement Specialists who are available to help you with your needs. To reach them please email info@customlogos.com or simply give us a buzz at 858.277.1886. We look forward to serving you.

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  • We Are Everywhere

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    North, South, East, or West, you can find our stuff anywhere and everywhere, including at the top of the world. The water bottle pictured above found its way to Masada, an ancient fortification in the southern district of Israel, situated on top of an isolated rock plateau. Masada is located on the eastern edge of the Judean desert and overlooks the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. Around 72 CE, at the end of the first Jewish-Roman war troops of the Roman Empire sieged Masada, resulting in the mass suicide of the roughly 960 people that were hiding there. To this day Masada is one of Israel’s most popular tourist attractions.

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  • Raincoat Gangsters

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    After several years of drought California is getting pummeled by rain but the guys in our warehouse have stayed dry. Once the rains began Operations Manager Tim Berroth (center in yellow) ordered up the colorful rain jackets pictured above. Helps to be in the business and within a day the staff proudly wore their new coats emblazoned with our logo. The Port Authority jackets are not only colorful but waterproof as well and can be embroidered or screenprinted with the logo of your choice. Wanna stay dry in style? Simply drop us a note at info@customlogos.com for more info.

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  • How to Screenprint at Home

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    Here at Custom Logos, we perform large-scale commercial screenprinting with professional machines at our San Diego headquarters. This is a great solution for companies wanting to print promotional products in bulk, but if you’re interested in smaller screenprinting projects, you can do it from home! Here’s how to screenprint from home.

    Gather Your Supplies

    Screenprinting uses a unique process of coating a screen with photo emulsion, then creating an image using a bright light. To get started, you’ll need:

    • Screen and frame, which you can purchase at your local arts store
    • Photo emulsion and sensitizer
    • Squeegee
    • Pitch black room, such as a closet
    • Design printed on a transparency
    • 250-watt light bulb
    • T-shirt (or another piece of fabric you’ll transfer your print to)
    • Small piece of cardboard to fit between the shirt fabric layers
    • Silk screen fabric ink

    Create Your Image

    You probably already have an idea of the type of image you want to print, but you’ll have to get it prepared on a transparency. You can bring your design to almost any office supply store and get a transparency printed there. You should print your design in solid black since its job is to block the light. (We’ll discuss how that works in a moment.) Consider starting with something simple, so it’s easier to practice with.

    Prepare the Emulsion and Screen

    Next, prepare the emulsion. Do this by mixing the emulsion and sensitizer according to the bottle instructions. Then, spread a small amount onto the screen, and spread it evenly using the squeegee. Work quickly since the emulsion is photosensitive. Place the emulsion-covered screen in a dark room for approximately two hours until it dries.

    Prepare Your Design on the Screen

    Once the emulsion dries, lay your transparency design backward on the back of the screen. Lay a piece of glass over the design to push it flat. Then, set a bright light above the screen, and allow it to sit for 30 to 45 minutes. Since the emulsion is photosensitive, the light will harden the areas that aren’t covered by the design. The part that’s covered won’t harden, so it will allow your ink through the screen. After letting the emulsion set, remove your design. You can scrub the screen lightly with water to remove the non-hardened emulsion from your design area.

    Print Onto Your T-shirt

    Now it’s time to print your design! Start by placing the piece of cardboard inside the t-shirt where you want the design to be. That way, the ink won’t bleed through to the back. Situate the screen on top of your t-shirt with the design centered where you want it to print. Place a line of ink above the design, and then spread it down with the squeegee in one swift motion. It helps to have someone hold the frame for you so it doesn’t accidentally move while you’re applying the ink. Throw your t-shirt in the dryer for a few minutes to heat set it. Otherwise, cover the print with a piece of paper and iron it for approximately one minute.

    Screenprinting Tips

    You can reuse the design on multiple t-shirts or other pieces of fabric, such as canvas bags, aprons, and even hats. You can even print on other materials. Screenprinting on paper can make for good posters or invitations. If you want to reuse the screen but create a new design, simply use a photo emulsion remover, and then repeat the steps above. Consider practicing with old t-shirts if you’re new to the process.

    With the right tools, you should have no problem screenprinting small-scale projects from home. What type of screenprinting project will you do first? And what should you do if you want to screenprint more than a few shirts?

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  • Your Guide to Machine Embroidery at Home

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    If you’re looking to add your logo or design to t-shirts, hats, or other fabrics, embroidery is a great technique to work with. At Custom Logos, we use professional machines to produce large-scale commercial embroidery products for companies ordering in bulk. However, if you’re interested in small-scale creative embroidery projects, you can do it from home. Here’s how.

    Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

    To embroider from home, you’ll need an embroidery machine. A cheap machine can run you about $300, but if you’re interested in getting into embroidery as a hobby, the investment can pay off. Check out your local craft stores or anywhere that sells sewing machines to compare prices. You’ll also need a computer to download your designs and transfer them to the embroidery machine.

    Along with your machine, you will need:

    • Stabilizer
    • Spray adhesive
    • Scissors
    • Bobbins
    • Bobbin thread
    • Embroidery needles
    • Embroidery thread
    • Pins
    • Hoop
    • Fabric to embroider on

    Unlike in sewing where you use the same thread in the bobbin as at the top of the machine, embroidery uses specific bobbin thread. You can get it pre-wound or wind it up yourself. For needles and thread, make sure you get embroidery-specific materials since they will differ from the needles and thread you use on a sewing machine.

    When choosing a fabric to embroider on, consider the type of fabric that will work best with your design. Dense embroidery works best with sturdy fabrics like towels or canvas bags while open designs are better for lightweight fabrics like t-shirts.

    Step 2: Prepare Your Fabric

    Now that you have your supplies together, it’s time to prepare your fabric. Start by making sure the fabric is wrinkle-free. If it’s not, iron it. You’ll also want to wash it if it’s dirty; just make sure it’s completely dry before embroidering.

    Next, cut a piece of stabilizer that’s slightly bigger than the hoop you’ll use for your design. Spray a generous amount of temporary adhesive on the stabilizer. It’s best to do this outdoors or in a controlled area, so you don’t get adhesive on your other craft materials. Quickly smooth the fabric you’ll embroider onto the top of the stabilizer. Then, hoop your stabilizer and fabric so that it stays taut but isn’t stretched. Be sure that the stabilizer is attached to the area you want to embroider and that the hoop centers over where you want the design. It helps to print the design and pin the paper in place to help visualize the final design.

    Step 3: Prepare Your Design and Machine

    Next, load your design onto your embroidery machine. The steps will differ depending on your machine, so be sure to check your manual to learn more. Your design (unless it’s original) should come with a thread list, but you can choose similar colors or use other thread colors if you’d like.

    Once you have your design loaded onto your machine, it’s time to thread the machine. Insert your bobbin, and thread your first color. Then attach the hoop to your machine. Consult your machine’s manual if you’re confused on how to thread your machine or attach the hoop.

    Then, start up the machine! Your machine will alert you when it’s time to change colors. Repeat the process of changing colors until the design is complete. Remove the hoop. If you’re using a cutaway stabilizer, all you have to do is cut the excess off once the design is complete, and then you’re done.

    Congratulations! You’re ready to start your first creative embroidery project. What will you embroider first? Do you have more than a couple of things you want to have embroidered? Contact us here.

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  • Stimulating the Economy One Job at a Time

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    Contact us here – info@customlogos.com

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Welcome to Custom Logos. Please feel free to come on in, have a seat, relax and stay for a while. In order to get the full experience you will have to look around a bit and push some buttons. What you will find is a unique organization with a long history of delivering high quality products and unparalleled service in a fashion like no other. Please let us know how we can help.