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.
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.