Monthly Archives: April 2011

Laser cutter designs

Laser-engraved hardwood sign

This is a sign I made for craft fairs—it’s a nice heavy block of reclaimed hardwood, thick enough to stand up on its own, and it proved very eye-catching indeed. Commercial laser-cutting is very expensive (I’ve been quoted £1 a minute) but London Hackspace own their own laser-cutter, and £3 an hour covers maintenance, electricity, and replacement laser tubes. I shaped the wooden block by hand, squaring it off with a chisel and smoothing it with a knife & sandpaper. The text is all digital; the font is True Golden from Scriptorium Fontworks, based on William Morris’s Golden Type, while the E is done in Roughwork, reverse engineered from True Golden capitals to show construction lines. Since I’m a big William Morris fan, these are perfect for my purposes… and if only True Golden had proper double-quotes, it would be wonderful overall, but the left double quote is backwards. (This doesn’t match Kelmscott Press originals; I went to check specially. It’s entirely inexplicable.) I did all the designs in Inkscape (free open source vector graphics programme, much recommended) and from there they load straight into the computer which controls the laser cutter.

Laser-cut jewellery blanks 1

I’ve been making jewellery blanks with a scalpel so far, but that means I can’t do curves or complex shapes with small cutouts reliably. The laser cutter, on the other hand, can cut anything it likes quickly and precisely. These shapes are done in MDF, which lacks the romance of paper but was sitting right there in the offcut bin. Since the offcut bin also had a nice chunk of 10mm perspex in, I decided to try re-running a couple of the text designs on that for comparison. As you can see, they all turned out perfectly readable, though with the perspex of course it depends on the light and the viewing angle. I’m looking forward to experimenting with painting all these blanks—part of the reason for this experiment was to see if I could engrave text that would still be legible once painted. Given the shallowness of the engraving (sort of necessary on this scale, if I wasn’t to set the whole thing on fire) I’m a little dubious, but we can see.

Laser-cut text 1

Etsy jewellery

Malachite & silver relief pendant
I’ve added some new jewellery to my Etsy shop. This set are double-layered artist’s mountboard, cross-grained for strength & stiffness, and reinforced with a total of five or six layers of paint & varnish. I’ll put them up for strength against most metal jewellery, and I inadvertently managed to prove that they’re waterproof by leaving one in the pocket of my jeans before laundry day.

Because I’m nice, and because it’s quite thoroughly springtime (as opposed to the freak mini-summer we had last week) the code SUNSHINE will get you free shipping for a week or two.

Malachite & silver pendant

Out of this wood do not desire to go

Midsummer Night's Dream collage

This is my latest collage piece, made from a play script of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There’s something dreadfully transgressive about ripping up books, but that adds to the artistry of it! (NB: No actual books were harmed in the production of this artwork. The play script had led a long and happy life, having been used in several productions, before dying naturally and being saved from the recycling bin. Which slightly undermines the transgressivity involved, but we have to start transgressing somewhere.)

This is a very personal response to the play, almost the ultimate expression of the auteur principle possible without a proper theatre. I can choose to foreground some issues, place characters in their proper place, and generally take absurd liberties with the text—in other words, just what any director would do given complete freedom. At the same time, the form imposes some interesting constraints. I didn’t allow myself to add anything to it, and everything placed on the canvas (the backing material is a standard 40x40cm gallery canvas) had to be cut from flat paper. And because rules are there to be broken, the detailing on the rose is drawn by hand in ink.

WIP 2: Midsummer Night's Dream collage This is one of the first work-in-progress pictures I took, showing the final placement of text scraps without a frame. The sides of the canvas (30mm deep) I painted flat black, to evoke theatre flats, and the varnish on the face is deliberately matte—this play has had enough gloss put on it in the past without my adding any more!

This is the first Shakespeare collage I’ve done, so I’m not sure which features of this one are going to be general and which are play-specific. Dream is an intensely theatrical play, and not only because of the play-within-a-play performed by the mechanicals. Admittedly, there’s a certain amount of that always present in theatre, because actors sicken, pine, and get grumpy if they don’t get the opportunity to play someone who can’t act every so often. Writing about it, I’m already thinking of three different versions I could do, but I’d rather work on another play first.