Standard Spoon at Amazon.com + Production Update

Via Update #27 on Kickstarter:

Hi Backers & Friends,

We hope you all have been enjoying your spoons, stirring up many great cocktails this summer and fall!  After we fulfilled orders to backers earlier this year, our work didn't end. We had received just enough spoons from the factory to fulfill Kickstarter pledges and pre-orders, with a very small amount of inventory remaining to offer for sale. 

New Inventory:

Just this past month we received the second half of our original shipment, which has given us the go-ahead to get more word out about the spoons, now that we have a good amount of inventory to sell!  We've also added a few companion products to the website.  We have some of the last copies in stock of Dave Stolte's Home Bar Basics cocktail manual (won't be available again until summer!). 

We also have those great square ice cube trays by Tovolo, which we personally use to make good stirring and serving ice, and highly recommend. And lastly we've added some locally-made solid wood maple muddlers as a special side add-on for the upcoming holidays.

1" Ice Cube Trays ($15), 2" King Cube Tray ($10), Solid Wood Maple Muddler ($15)

1" Ice Cube Trays ($15), 2" King Cube Tray ($10), Solid Wood Maple Muddler ($15)

Give Spoons for the Holidays:

BUY AT STANDARDSPOON.COM: Use Coupon Code GIVETHANKS for 15% off the purchase of either of our cocktail spoons (effective November 27-30, 2015)

BUY AT AMAZON.COM: We're now listed on Amazon, and both spoons qualify for Free 2-Day shipping for Amazon Prime members, and Free Standard Shipping for everyone else. 

Legit Cocktail Spoons make Awesome Holiday Gifts!

Legit Cocktail Spoons make Awesome Holiday Gifts!

Story Time: Production Update 

Interested in what we've been up to for the last 5 months? Settle in (seriously, go make yourself a tonic) and read on:

One of the reasons it took so long for us to receive this last shipment is that we needed to have many conversations with the factory, and revise our Quality Assurance documents over the summer.  A high proportion of that first batch of spoons didn't make it past our own quality inspections - you backers got the best of the best, which is why we didn't have many left over to sell.  Let's just say that since we've got pretty high standards, we've got a pretty good-sized box of unsellable spoons collecting dust. 

We weren't able to move forward with manufacturing long term with that level of waste, so we went back to the factory with our feedback, extensively documenting and refining our Quality Assurance plan, and requesting revisions for the next shipment of spoons.  After receiving a small sample shipment of about 60 spoons in June, we reviewed and revised again.  With the last batch we received in October, we're confident we've arrived at as close to our original vision as we can get; the spoons are beautiful, consistent, and extremely strong. 

Wingman Cocktail Spoon being boxed up

Wingman Cocktail Spoon being boxed up

We recently received a message from one of our backers, Jon, who was curious about the construction of the spoons.  Manufacturing methods have always been something we've been straightforward about, and while we spent most of our summer working on revisions (and considering some alternatives), it wasn't until a few weeks ago that we've been able to finally arrive at our long term plan for manufacturing the spoons.

So if you're curious about getting into the nitty gritty with us, here's the (lengthy) response I sent to Jon about investment casting (our original plan) v. other alternatives, and the twists and turns, pros and cons, and cost-benefit decisions that are made behind the scenes in product development.

Hi Jon,

Thanks for your message this week, it's always great to hear from our backers! I'm especially appreciative of you taking the time to write, as you bring up a subject (manufacturing method) that we've been working on tirelessly behind the scenes, but realized we haven't addressed definitively online or in communication to backers. I hope you're settled in with a nice cocktail, because your curiosity is about to get the story you asked for :)  

A long time ago.... well, at least earlier this year, when we received the final production samples from the factory (before you backers got your spoons), they looked AMAZING, and for all we knew, they were made using the manufacturing method we requested - investment casting as one single piece. We placed the order. The factory experienced delays, much of it related to the metal warping during polishing, and then having to straighten them, and then polish again, in a seemingly endless cycle of revision and re-work. 

 One thing we've learned about working with Chinese manufacturers is that they are not very forthcoming with the challenges they might encounter during the manufacturing process. We've learned that their tendency is to try to solve the problem on their end, without involving the client (us) unless they feel it’s absolutely necessary, in the best way they know how. Sometimes, as we've discovered, that means the factory makes changes with the end-goal in mind, and may take liberties in balancing priorities. 

We found out about some of these changes when we received our order of spoons, and saw that some of them clearly exhibited signs that the spoons were not cast from a single mold, but were rather assembled, welded, and polished smooth. While this did essentially produce a seamless design when done correctly, it didn't follow the method that we had wanted, and the one that we had communicated to backers (namely, that it be cast as one piece using the investment casting method). 

 We were stuck in a hard place, because we’ve been perfectionists about these spoons since the beginning. Not to mention that these spoons were paid for, and we didn’t have the luxury of throwing them out and starting over. The factory provided us with a partial order (less than half) -- barely enough spoons to fulfill orders to Kickstarter Backers. We were already 9 months behind delivery schedule, and the second half of the order would take another 2-4 months to finish. The spoons were SO close to what we wanted. We were in no position to reject an order that met 95% of our requirements—they were the right size and shape, and they were beautifully polished. We also did strength tests on them, and DANG, they were strong. We were confident that even though we suspected the factory was fusing them together, rather than casting them as one piece from the beginning, they still met our original intention of being incredibly strong, and damn near unbreakable. 

 There were some that were too wavy from extensive polishing, and there were a few that had too much warpage around the neck where the handle meets the bowl of the spoon. We marked these as rejected, and picked the best of the order to send to backers. Fulfilling a Kickstarter is insane. I know our communication to backers suffered, and since we sent the spoons out, we haven’t posted much in the way of updates. We also wanted to try to solve the wavy and warping issues with the next round of spoons, so most of our communication during this time was directed intensely toward the factory. 

 We revised our Quality Assurance documents to reflect the manufacturing issues we were seeing in the rejected spoons. The factory said they would revise the mold to make sure the handles were straighter, and the transition point from spoon bowl to handle was smoother. They didn’t clarify whether this meant they would try to make that elusive single-cast spoon, but at this point, we were willing to concede that it might not be ideal, as cast parts need a great deal of polishing, and polishing on an item of such a small diameter produces a great deal of warpage, which was our new major issue, nearly impossible to correct. 

 We worked on this with the factory back and forth all summer, until the second half of the order went through Quality Assurance in September. Before the spoons left China, our QA team inspected every single spoon, and the attention to quality was obvious when we received the shipment in early October. The spoons are straighter than ever before, and even though we’ve clarified that they are not cast as one piece using the investment casting method, they are incredible, and as close to perfect as we could ask them to be. 

 So now here we are. It was about 5 months ago that we sent that first batch out to backers, and it was only in the last two weeks, when we received the second half of our shipment, that we’ve been able to evaluate the quality of the spoons and the progress we’ve made in perfecting them to the highest standard we know how to achieve. 

 With this recent new information, we have made sure to update the language on our website to ensure we aren’t misleading anyone as to the manufacturing method. The Aero spoon is still a seamless design, and really still a single piece of stainless steel. Rather than being cast from a mold as one piece, the manufacturer fuses several pieces together to make a single piece. It has seamless transitions, and is so strong we can bend it into a U shape with a vise and it doesn’t break. The Wingman is designed the same way, with the obvious multiple-piece design of the spinning handle.

We do still occasionally receive some spoons from the factory that show evidence of assembly – manufacturing defects like a bit of warping– and we try our best to cull these from our inventory so they don’t get passed on to customers. 

Since Kickstarter projects are frozen in time, we aren’t able to modify language on the project page that was written back when the project was live. But with this email, (which I’m going to turn into a Kickstarter update), we’re delivering the transparency of information we promised from the beginning. We are proud to share with backers the work we’ve been doing behind the scenes to continuously improve the tools we’re making.

---

So, Backers --- that's our current update with the intent to continue to keep you informed about this project, even after the Kickstarter fulfillment and campaign conclusion. Please continue to stay in touch; we love hearing from you!  

Cheers,

Rachel Eva & Shawn Michael

Progress Update & BackerKit Charges on May 8th

via Update #24 on Kickstarter

Hi Backers,

Just a quick update to let you know that our manufacturing coordinator reported that the spoons have been finished! They are proceeding to the last stage of post-production Quality Assurance. We are waiting on a few specifics from the manufacturing coordinator regarding shipping dates. It's been a while since the last update, so we figured you'd like to know at least the general sense of progress, even if we can't give as much detail as we'd like. When we do have it, we'll let you know.

We've still got our fingers crossed that we'll be able to ship the first spoons out to backers by the end of May.  Here's a recent shot of one of the production samples.

BackerKit Surveys & Card Charges

You may not remember, because it seems like SO LONG ago, but last year you filled out your survey using BackerKit, not the Kickstarter survey form (you may not have realized this). If you never completed your survey (slackers!), please do so now.  Also, if your mailing address changed, please log in and update your information. You can access your survey by finding the invitation in your email from so long ago, or by clicking here: BACKERKIT SURVEY

IMPORTANT THING TO READ THAT MIGHT SAVE YOU GRIEF LATER ON:

If you added anything to your Kickstarter pledge AFTER the campaign ended via Backerkit (an extra spoon, for example), you entered payment information.  We have NOT charged your cards yet for any add-ons, but we will do that on MAY 8th. Please check to make sure your add-ons are what you want, and make sure your payment information is up to date by next Friday.

There has been at least one instance where a backer who pledged for 2 sets via Kickstarter (for $120, already collected) accidentally added-on another set in Backerkit ($60, not-yet-collected), thinking they were defining their Kickstarter reward level. Please remember that based on your pledge level, Backerkit automatically assigns the right rewards for you (They call them Pledge Level Items).  But if you added EXTRA funds in Kickstarter, you will need to define what those funds are for in BackerKit at the Add-Ons page (They call these Add-Ons). 

It's been a while, so please sign in and double-check what your BackerKit account is saying about your order. If there is a balance with a "Total Owed" number, that is what your card on file will be charged on May 8th. 

And just one more time to be clear, please be aware that any Add-Ons in your cart are items IN ADDITION to whatever comes automatically with the base Kickstarter Reward level you chose during the campaign (Pledge Level Items).

If you've got it, CHEERS to you! If you want to get into the nitty gritty of Backerkit, we'll walk you through an example or two:

EXAMPLE 1: I added extra funds during the Kickstarter campaign for additional items:

For example, if you selected the reward level THE SET ($60) in Kickstarter, but you increased your total pledge amount to $85, because you wanted an additional CLASSIC spoon ($25 each), BackerKit will automatically select the set for you. However, Backerkit does not know what that extra $25 is for.  Go to the Add-Ons section of your BackerKit survey to define what the extra funds are for. The Set will be listed under "PLEDGE ITEMS," and the "BALANCE" section will show "Credit Remaining: $25"

Tell BackerKit what the extra $25 is for by adding the CLASSIC Spoon to your cart. Once you do, notice the "CREDIT REMAINING" amount drops to zero.

If you add additional items to your cart, BackerKit will automatically calculate what kind of credit you still have (if any), or whether you now owe funds. In this example, if you decided you also wanted a second SPIN spoon, and if you added that to your cart as well, your BALANCE Section would show "Total Owed: $35," and you will be asked for payment information, and your card will be charged on May 8th.  You would then receive two Classic spoons and two Spin spoons (The SET + Extra Classic, paid for with $85 in Kickstarter funds, + Extra Spin, added and paid for with $35 in BackerKit).

EXAMPLE 2: I want to add-on items in addition to what I pledged for during Kickstarter

If you pledged for the SPIN spoon during Kickstarter, and paid $35 last year for that, but now you also want a CLASSIC spoon, you can Add-On that spoon through BackerKit. Just go to the Add-Ons section of the survey, and put the Classic spoon in your cart.  Your BALANCE Section will show "Total Owed: $35" and you'll be asked for payment information, and your card will be charged on May 8th.

If you've got any questions, of course send us a message!  Thanks, as always, for being such great sports.

Cheers,

Rachel Eva & Shawn Michael

Production Samples are Here!

Via Updates 20 & 21 on Kickstarter:

Happy New Year!

We are very happy indeed, as we received some beautiful production samples on Monday!  

Last month we posted that the factory was running into some issues with the way the end cap attached to the body of the Spin spoon.  They figured that out; problem solved.

Then we got the challenging news that polishing the spoons would cost just as much as manufacturing them (OUCH!). We discussed some options with our guy in China, and he was able to find us a secondary factory that could do the polishing for a much more reasonable cost. They will be cast at a factory that specializes in manufacturing, and polished at a factory that specializes in finishing. Problem Solved.

The production samples were shipped to us just after Christmas, and even though it took them a while to clear China (which is incredibly busy during the holidays), we got a knock on the door Monday morning from FedEx!

THEY ARE INCREDIBLE!

image.jpg

These are some great shots to show off the seamless, aerodynamic contours of the spoon bowls, both the back (above) and the front (below).  

image.jpg

The spoon bowl holds exactly 1/8 of an ounce (with the meniscus of the liquid).

image.jpg

And here are some great shots of the logo on the end of each spoon:

image.jpg
image.jpg

What happens next?

We had only a few minor pieces of feedback for the factory, such as the orientation of the logo on the end cap of the Spin (designer details).  This can easily be modified during the final production run, and (drum roll please) we are going to give the go-ahead for final production this week!

We are waiting to hear the final per-unit cost for each spoon, which will determine how large of a first production run we can make. It will also help us determine what the final retail cost of the spoons will be. 

Once the factory begins production, it takes about six weeks for them to be made, sent to the secondary factory, and polished. And, unfortunately and unavoidably, Chinese New Year falls right in the middle of our production schedule. The Chinese know how to celebrate, and they close down all industry for about three weeks in February.  So a six week timeline turns into a nine week timeline, and they'll likely be finished sometime mid to late March.

We'll have them shipped to us in San Diego via FedEx, which will be more expensive than overseas freight shipping, but will save us weeks of waiting on transit.  So it looks like our April will be spent packaging and shipping the final spoons to you.

Thanks, as always, for hanging in there with us and being our partners on this journey. 

Cheers,

Rachel Eva and Shawn Michael

Standard Spoon Benefactors - THANK YOU!

It's about time to give a great nod of thanks and recognition to our four Kickstarter Benefactors!

These grand folks really believe in what we're doing, and have supported us not only with resources, but with mountains of love and encouragement. As thanks for their generous contributions to our campaign, they received one of our handmade prototypes earlier this year.

John & Florence Dougherty

Seth Marquez

Abe Shaw of eatingtools.com

Bob & Cindy Taylor

Standard Spoon Spin Benefactor Prototype

Here are some photos of Shawn Michael wrapping them up earlier this year for delivery. Thanks John, Florence, Seth, Abe, Bob and Cindy for your love and support!


Surveys, Shirts and Samples are on their way!

via Update #13 on Kickstarter

SURVEYS

Hey Backers!  About 80% of you have completed your surveys through BackerKit - thank you! The rest of you are receiving reminder emails; please help us complete our address book so we can send you rewards when the time comes.

Speaking of sending things to you... 

SHIRTS

Check out the new Standard Spoon shirts!  If you didn't pledge for one, you can still select a t-shirt as an Add-On through BackerKit. Your card won't be charged for any Add-On's until we lock down the surveys prior to shipping (June/July - we'll let you know when we get closer).

standard spoon t shirt

For those of you that pledged for the shirts via Kickstarter and paid for them during the initial campaign, we're sending them out to you this week as Batch 1.

For those of you who added a shirt through BackerKit, or who have not yet provided your shipping address, we'll send your shirt in Batch 2, (June/July), once we close down the surveys and receive payments.

SAMPLES

We spoke with our manufacturing coordinator last week, and he informed us the samples are being made. This means the factory has reviewed our designs, and is working on producing samples for our approval. Hip Hip Hooray!

When we originally set our timeline in February, we took into account the month-long celebration of Chinese New Year (when literally the entire country shuts down to celebrate).  However, we just learned there's another week-long celebration taking place this month which we did not anticipate; it delays our project another week.

We also dealt with some delays during the creation of the digital files; the process took much longer than anticipated.  The good news is, we built time into our estimates for delays such as these; we just didn't expect to use so much of that cushion by now. At this point, we are still trending toward getting everything in the mail by the end of August, but we'll be cutting it close and might not finish shipping until September.

We'll keep you informed of our progress!  For more frequent news, tidbits, and happenings, be sure to follow the blog, and connect with us on social media.

Cheers,

Rachel Eva and Shawn Michael

Behind the Scenes: Making Prototypes

via Update #11 on Kickstarter:

Prototypes for Benefactors are Finished!

During the time the Kickstarter project was funding, we discovered that the torch we owned at home didn't get quite hot enough to create the kind of bond we wanted for your prototypes.  The samples we'd made previously are great for testing, filming, and using, but we want to make sure the prototypes you get have the strongest soldered bond we can possibly make. 

When the funds from Kickstarter cleared after the project ended, Shawn Michael bought a new torch - time to deliver the heat!

Your handmade spoons are finished and will be shipping out as soon as we collect your information.  Look for an email this week with your backer surveys; we'll be asking for your current mailing address to scoot them over to you!

I (Rachel Eva) caught Shawn Michael last week at the end of his workday and was able to witness the final step in the soldering process.  We thought you might enjoy seeing it:

Shawn Michael solders a spoon together, showing us one step in the process of making a prototype. 

Here are some shots of the prototyping process:

standard spoon prototypes pieces.JPG
standard spoon prototypes assembly.JPG
standard spoon prototype cutting sparks
standard spoon prototype silver solder 1
standard spoon prototype silver solder 3

Silver soldering is an extremely precise process - where the handle connects to the spoon bowl, it has to mirror the contours exactly. Each surface must be completely clean and dry; one little fingerprint's worth of oil will ruin the bond. Silver soldering is far superior to welding for this project because it doesn't leave a big old ugly weld scar at the joint - this is the same process used for making jewelry and other finely finished metal crafts.

standard spoon silver soldering stages

Here's a great snapshot of the spoons in various stages of the soldering process - the bottom spoon is not attached, and the surfaces are prepared to be soldered together. Moving clockwise, the next spoon has just been soldered (as you saw in the video). The heat from the torch discolors the surface, and needs to be smoothed and buffed to look like the top spoon. The final stage is polishing the surface to a bright, shiny, Standard Spoon.

Look close enough and you can catch Shawn Michael, his iPhone, and workbench full of tools.

Cheers,

Rachel Eva and Shawn Michael 

Faces of Talent and Love

Via Update #9 on Kickstarter

Hey Backers & Fans!

We've been funded for a little over a week, and Shawn Michael and I have been enjoying a little post-Kickstarter malaise. We hustled every day of the project, but we also had help, and want to thank a couple of folks that helped us make it. 

A great Kickstarter project needs a great video. We're thankful to have talented friends who helped bring our story to life!

Steve Cachero: Directing & Filming - the man with the Camera. Steve is an independent director, designer, and photographer (he also designed our rad t-shirts!). You'd be wise to hire him for any creative media needs you have. 

photo credit: Sarah Sheves

photo credit: Sarah Sheves

 

Drew Renaud: Sound & Editing - the story maker. He brings it all together and makes us sound good. Drew's also the one behind our first Kickstarter project video: Electricity in Art: Sculptural Lighting.

 photo credit: Shawn Michael

 photo credit: Shawn Michael

Leigh Lacap: Bartender Extraordinaire - he makes us look good. Leigh made drinks for us, on camera, at 7AM the Sunday we filmed. You can find him at Craft & Commerce for about another week - after that look for him behind the cocktail program at Consortium Holding's newest restaurant concept, Ironside Oyster.

photo credit: Shawn Michael

photo credit: Shawn Michael

Why are we posting about other people? Because more likely than not, if something great like Standard Spoon happens, there is a community of support behind the public faces. Also, a lot of you have been asking us who did our video, so we respond. :)

We'd also like to publicly thank:

  • Michael Ryan Norton (more on him later) - for project support and advising
  • Patrick Norton - for project support and promotion
  • Taylor Dwyer - his status as No. 1 fan was confirmed when he became our first backer!
  • John & Flo Dougherty, Abe Shaw, Seth Marquez, and Bob & Cindy Taylor
  • Kickstarter partners & collaborators: GrippitWorkhorse RyeSosu SaucesShochu HandbookAntithesis DeckRX BittersThe Drinking Deck
  • Kickstarter mentors: Michael NortonStudio NeatGIR
  • Prototyping Partners: Quinn Becker, Scotty Schroyer
  • Prototype Feedback: Bob Taylor, John Wheeler, Ryan Andrews, Leigh Russ, Brian Lee, Eric Johnson, Daniel Palacios, Has Mahmood, Brian Prugalidad, Dave Stolte, Erick Castro, Nate Stanton, Garth Flood, Erick Lockridge, Brett Winfield, and many more.
  • Our devoted families & friends
  • Our bartender, bar owner and industry friends in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco (especially Lisa Marie). There are too many of you to name, but we are deeply thankful for all of you.

WOMH Launches New Kickstarter: Standard Spoon for Craft Cocktails

 

 

UPDATE: Kickstarter Project is now LIVE!  

 

With the beginning of 2014, Work of My Hands is doing something new.  We've been experimenting with product design and development as a creative way to use our design sensibilities and project management experience. This month we're launching a new brand of high-quality bar spoons!

"Bar spoons?" you may ask with a quizzical brow.  Yes, bar spoons.  Our love of craft industries directs itself toward art, clothing, home design, culinary prowess, and a healthy appreciation of the craft cocktail.  It just so happens that this time, the light bulb clicked on over the cocktail industry, and we've run with it.

Standard Spoon - A new brand of high quality bar spoons

This new bar tool initiative is called Standard Spoon, and the flagship product is a brand new design, never before made or seen or sold.  It spins effortlessly in a glass full of ice, and is the easiest way to stir a cocktail.  We've got lots of information about the new project at the new website (and blog): www.standardspoon.com

For those not familiar with the use or purpose (or existence) of bar spoons, check out this little video for a quick demo, and a bit of humor courtesy of Shawn Michael:

Kickstarter Preview & Launch Party

Shawn Michael and I have been working diligently to bring this new idea to a place where it's ready to be seen, used, and sold.  The time has come!  We'll be launching the Standard Spoon on Kickstarter on January 22nd.  For those of you reading this post, there are two ways for you to get a sneak peek at the spoons before we launch:

1) Visit our KICKSTARTER Preview page 

For more about the spoons, pricing, our funding goal, our story, and our progress toward final manufacturing, check out our Kickstarter Preview Page!

2) Come to the Kickstarter Launch Party!

Wednesday, January 22nd at our San Diego home. We'll be demonstrating the spoon in person, and serving up libations at the new bar Shawn Michael built last week. Go to the EVENTS page on the  for details.

[Re-blogged from www.workofmyhands.com. But c'mon, let's be real.  We're the same thing.]