How we make our hand stamped packaging

Our original lino cut template we used to print the labels for our original loose leaf guayusa

It's coming up to a year since we started out on our project to get some great quality guayusa over to the UK. 

We wanted to explain a bit more about the thought and process behind the packaging design in the hope you find it interesting. We had a lot of fun during this creative procedure - and after lots of trial and error, are really proud of the final result.

What inspired the 'three circles' design?

The production of the packaging first involved thinking about the general look and feel. 

From the start we wanted to produce something with a very hand made feel. We especially wanted to create our own stamps for the designs, so initially sought some inspiration from Ecuadorian petroglyphs. We did this in order to try to tie back the product to it's roots.

While searching google images for 'Ecuadorian rock art' or 'Ecuadoran petroglyphs', we fell in love with the simplicity of the circular or spiral designs like those pictured below:

petroglyphs from Yumbos Archeological Site, Tulipe-Ecuador

The photo above was taken by Fernando L. Benalcazar

The image above is a photo (taken by Fernando L. Benalcazar) of some petroglyphs from Yumbos´ Archeological Site, Tulipe-Ecuador. These spirals and circular designs are thought to date from 800 - 1660 AD.

These sorts of shapes can be found in other kinds of ancient rock art - here's some from Britain. These are from Achnabreck in the Scottish highlands - they are thought to be up to 5000 years old! It's striking how similar they look to those from Ecuador and fascinating how something 'in us' seeks to put these patterns down in rock, wherever we are.

Achnabreck rock carvings in the Scottish highlands

The above photo was sourced from the website

So - in short, we just loved the timelessness of these kinds of designs, and the fact they crop up all over the world and seem to tie together cultures from very distant points time, and disparate geographical locations. It's fascinating, really :)

The similarity in these rock carvings also made us think of how the holly we know in Europe (Ilex Aquifolium) is a relative of the Amazonian guayusa holly (Ilex Guayusa) - the holly, just like the circle designs, found their own way of popping up in different places too!

Creating our own carved circles

Clearly, these amazing petroglyphs were carved - so we wanted to do the same. Deciding that carving on rocks might be impractical, we went to our local art store, and bought some linoleum block printing materials and got carving!

Lino cutting the circles

The picture above shows the prototype hand-carved circles and the little cutter tool we used to do it. This was not easy (but was easier) than the word 'guayusa', which we also stamp on the front of the packs, in black. By this point we'd already decided on the 'tin-tie' paper bag packaging - so had to work out the exact measurements of these circles.

Once we were happy with the circles, we had to hand write the word 'guayusa' onto a regular piece of paper. This then needed to be transferred in reverse to the linoneum in order to be carved 'back to front', so that it printed in the correct direction. You can see the final result of the prototypes in the photo below.

 The final set of stamp prototypes

After we were happy with the lino-cut prototypes, we then found we weren't getting the printing quality high enough.

We decided to have our own stamps profressionally re-cut in, so that the resulting non-toxic ink prints would be to a standard we could feel proud of.

In the photo below, you can see the custom professional stamps we use to print on our environmentally friendly paper.

The finished stamps 

The finished product

And here you can see an example of how the custom stamps above reproduce the ink on the packing for the guayusa. Each pack is hand stamped four times!

  1. The coloured circle designs
  2. The black 'guayusa' text
  3. Each side of the card tags

You can also keep the tags and use them as a bookmark. We do :)

The final printed packs of guayusa