Friday, February 21, 2014

DIY Laser Cutting for Illustrators

I stumbled upon this local DIY laser cut business by pure chance and my brain immediately went into overdrive with the possibilities of this new medium. There was a 2hr intro to laser cutting course which I was a little apprehensive about but in all honestly it's just slightly more complicated than a photocopier, a few more buttons and fans to turn on. (Trying to fax something with the old work copier was far more difficult!!)
As many of you know, I find it difficult to focus on one thing for any length of time. Drawing for me is the consistent and whether its drawing on ceramics, illustrating a card, or sewing a design for me it's all essentially drawing. Like a kid in a candy store I put together about 20 different designs to put the laser cutter through its paces and see what the potential could be. There are a lot of materials that can be cut ranging from paper, leather, wood, glass to anodized metal but the machine also engraves.
I wasn't interested in putting a photo image on wood more exciting for me was the potential of hand drawn illustrations being converted into 3D objects. I was fortunate in day 1 that I had a lot of successes but also I learnt how long things take to engrave, sure its way quicker than doing it by hand but for an 18 x 24 sheet covered in designs, that could easily take well over an hour to cut and engrave.
I scaled back in terms of size for my second go and tested lots of different woods. Some it wouldn't cut through, if the wood is not totally flat that can be an issue, also if it's plywood there may be a thick lump of glue that it can't get past, these were new challenges but for the most part on day 2 more good things. For someone that does handmade I do like a good machine !!!
Here are a few examples of some products that I made.

The bear illustration you might recognize from one of my cards, he turned out really well if a little grumpy.
I did some artwork for my husband's band Special Blend, what started as a screenprint t-shirt design translated beautifully into a wood keychain. I didn't think it would capture all the details so cleanly.
 My new business card.
A new product line which I'm really excited about, working on the packaging right now.