23: Personalized Collar Stays

Not being very experienced in modern men’s dress clothing, imagine my confusion when I found two flat metal strips with a point on one end at the bottom of my washing machine. They belonged to my friend Brenn, who came over to do a load quick and forgot to take them out.  After learning that they are to keep collar points stiff and better shirts have pockets sewn in especially for them, I found that Ryan did have some shirts with stays in the collar – just regular plastic though.  Brenn upgraded his collar stay game from plastic to stainless steel thanks to advice from a mutual friend, Woody, and this post is inspired by them.

Full set we made up.  THre is a metal Jen <3 Ryan missing because of a funny misalignment with the laser.

Full set we made up. Yes, there is one missing, and it’s a funny story for tomorrow.

Collar stays are a descendant to stiff removable collars favored by the Victorians.  (See, those I’m familiar with!) Stiffened collars were removable, and allowed men to go longer between laundering the whole shirt; just replace the collar.  The stiffening in the collar also caught dirt and sweat better, and kept it from penetrating the fabric for easier washing.  When the ability to wear a shirt just once then launder it (ie – washing technology made the process cheaper and easier), collars were incorporated on the shirts.  You wouldn’t want to stiffen a whole shirt to make a nice neat collar – in comes the collar stays.  (If you want a little more in depth information, check out Stewart Hershey’s blog post!)

Ryan’s thin plastic ones didn’t last long, cracking or getting lost.  So I decided to laser cut him one.   It is personalized with the same message as inside his wedding ring – jen <3 ryan (because I do!).

Same sentiment as in his wedding ring!

Same sentiment as in his wedding ring!

In researching the ideal size to make a stay, I was reminded that better ones were made in stainless steel.  Plain metals can’t be marked with my CO2 laser, but this gave us a chance to try out a special marking spray.  There are a couple different brands, but we used TherMark, and I’m kind of in love.  It sprays a powder over the metal that the heat of the laser turns black and fuses to the metal.

All Sprayed and ready to go!  The white spots are from rain drops, and surprisingly, this didn't effect the finished etch.

All sprayed and ready to go! The white spots are from rain drops, and surprisingly, this didn’t effect the finished etch.

When Thermark dries, it becomes a powder.

When Thermark dries, it becomes a powder.

The powder washes away under a weak stream of water - easy clean up!

The powder washes away under a weak stream of water – easy clean up!

The powder washes off easily, and we couldn’t scratch the markings off with a fingernail.  Maybe it’s the hidden romantic in me, but I think the “Mr. & Mrs.” or something more personalized would be an amazing wedding gift.

...This in no way implies that Metro and Woody are Mr. and Mrs.

If you look really close, you see that the etch is half-toned.  That is all my fault.  I designed my files in CMYK, not RGB and the black didn’t get transferred over as full black.  A better explanation on why is matters is in Week 09: Yoga Bones

Woody in the collar pocket.

Woody in the collar pocket.

2 thoughts on “23: Personalized Collar Stays

  1. Rebecca says:

    That Thermark looks AMAZING! How neat! These would be a great wedding gift! Also, that’s adorable that you have that etched in Ryan’s wedding band.

    • Ryan says:

      I was surprised at how well it worked. I have been confounded by not being able to mark metal in the past (I was trying to personalize a USB thumb drive, of all things) and fully expect a rematch when I get around to picking up some of my own Thermark.


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