August 27, 2014

How To Print on Paper Bags

I've been on a mission to develop a strong brand for PaperLark Studio. With the holidays quickly approaching, I have really been focusing on branding my packaging. I have a handful of craft shows coming up and have seriously depleted my supply of the smaller paper bags I use for my cards, tea towels and such. To support my branding efforts, I knew I wanted my logo on the new paper bags somehow, some way.

However, I was a little apprehensive about running them through my own printer. My last attempt at this had not gone so well. I tried to run white bags through my printer for a wedding customer...Yeah, bad idea. Why I thought running white bags through a printer full of ink residue was a good idea, I still can't explain. Not to mention, it tore the bag to shreds. Live and learn though, right? I ditched that idea and ended up just printing labels to put on the bags.

This time around, I learned some very valuable tips for successfully printing on paper bags using your own printer. First and foremost, don't use white bags. Ha! But, seriously, once you get a hang of it, it's a piece of cake.

What You'll Need
Paper Bags 
Washi Tape
Printer full of ink

Tip: Use a heavy-weight paper bag. I used gift sacks which are a thicker weight than your run-of-the-mill lunch sack. I found that my printer liked these better.

Step One. Secure your bag with small pieces of washi tape. You can see from the picture where I secured my bag. The goal here is to tape down any and all places where the bag might catch in the printer. Why washi tape? Because it's easy to remove from the paper bag and won't tear it. You can certainly use regular tape, but washi is my go-to favorite. 

Step Two. Get ready to print your image. I usually use Picasa to print my items. I find it's the most user-friendly printing/image editing software. (You can download Picasa for free here) Be sure to format your print setting to fit the size of your bag! That way it'll print front and center. Depending on your printer, feed your bag appropriately into the printing tray. 

Step Three. Print your bag! You may need to gently guide your bag into the printer to help it feed through smoothly. Don't expect your first bag to come out perfect. It's a process of trial and error so know you'll use one or two bags for experimenting. If your bag catches in the printer, pull it out and figure out where it got caught so you can tape that down on your next bag.  

Out of 24 bags, I trashed two before I figured out my groove, but I think the result was worth it. I now have 22 awesomely branded paper bags ready to go home with customers. 

Of course, you can print paper bags for just about anything - birthdays, weddings, gifts, etc.

Happy printing!

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