Creating with light beams

Update to a post I made back in October 2015! So yeah. My husband and I decided to invest in the new Glowforge laser, as part of the highly discounted crowdfunding campaign. We knew it wasn’t ready to ship, but decided that it was worth waiting for (a) because of the features, and (b) because decent lasers were mostly waaaay out of our budget, and (c) we were in the process of moving to France and didn’t know when we’d have a place for it anyway. Then as the months rolled by, the company discovered that they weren’t as far along with the development as they thought either. Cue lots of projected finish dates that were missed, I think at least three major ones. Finally though, last fall they started shipping production machines, first to US backers, then to international backers.

We got ours (in France) a month ago, well over two years after we purchased. Can I just say, that it is great to *finally* have the machine, and to have it work so amazingly well (as was promised all along)? Behold!

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-19,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YInitial setup…it liiiiives!

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-19,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YIt is WAY BIGGER in person that you think from pictures. Even though I knew the specs I was a little shocked. Notice too our window venting setup. Our windows are a meter and a half tall, and open inward. The simple venting setup that most of the US users are able to do was not possible here, which is part of why we haven’t used the machine as much as we wanted to since getting it – it took us a while to figure out a solution.


First test! I took a rubber stamp I had carved, made an impression on a piece of paper, stuck it in the laser bed, took a scan with the camera in the laser’s lid, and then etched it in some of the wood called ‘Proofgradeâ„¢’ that the Glowforge company developed. Seriously, it’s amazing. It is pre-finished, has a mask laser so the soot and overburn from the heat of the laser don’t mar the surface (you peel it off after) and has a barcode that the machine recognizes so you don’t even have to input any settings, if you don’t want to. SO SIMPLE. They don’t have a distribution center of Proofgrade in Europe yet, but they’re working on it. I can’t wait! But really…other than needing a computer connected to wifi to hit ‘print’…I didn’t need any kind of design software to do this test. Pretty wild.

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-19,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YDid an experiment with cork to see how it worked. I colored it with sharpies afterward. Ikea placemats ftw! Which I just noticed they aren’t selling anymore. Blast.

I made a memory game of letter characters from scripts around the world. The cards turned out so well! Because I could, I picked characters that made specific sounds, to spell out the names of everyone in my family. The name of each script is on the bottom left, and the sound the letter makes is on the bottom right.

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-19,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-YBut one of the coolest things about this machine is that you can make more than just pretty things, you can make FUNCTIONAL things. Like this ‘stopgap’ for the dumb hole between the table and my son’s high chair. He’s still working on picking up foods, and squishy/slimy ones are particularly difficult…and nearly always ended up on the floor from going through this hole. I’m not patient enough of an engineer to get everything perfect the first time, but several iterations with cardboard later, I found a solution that works and better yet is easy to clean! And so far my son hasn’t figured out how to take it off, ha.

SO: my recommendation? If you have enough funds for it, GET IT. If you’re a hobbyist, an artist, a tinkerer, retired, have a small creative business, this is a great tool. If you’re an inventor it’s great too. If you want to make thousands of one thing to sell, you’d probably be better off elsewhere. One thing I do have to also promote is the Glowforge community on the forum. I was a pretty involved member for the first two years (basically until my son was born, after which I had no energy and/or brain cells left for anything else) and it is a great place to learn and ask questions and have silly conversations. I know for certain that it’s the only reason quite a few people were able to stick out the long wait!

USE MY REFERRAL CODE
: for a Pro to get $500 off, for a Plus to get $250 off, and for a Basic (which is what I have) to get $100 off. Machines are delivering now within 10 days!*

*One note for international buyers… if you’re in Europe, Switzerland, or the UK, it might take a bit longer than the continental US but you’ll get your machines fairly quickly. Those initial backers in Canada, Australia and Singapore are still waiting for the certifications to be approved, and are looking at estimated times of getting their machines in November, a full three years after they purchased. They aren’t happy. But here’s hoping the certs will come through sooner rather than later…

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Letter Fab-ulous

Had some fun at the Tulsa Fab Lab this last week, making items to use for a fundraiser. I’m heading back to grad school to work on an MA Typeface Design at the University of Reading in the UK. Eeek, it’s expensive!

I made nearly 500 coasters (would have been more, but the laser had a temporary malfunction) out of clear acrylic and white acrylic.
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They look pretty cool when stacked! There isn’t any paint on these, unlike the HitchHiker’s Guide, because if the etched image is wide enough, it stands out just fine. Though I might still add paint to a few to change the color.
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Then while lasering another project onto wood, there was extra space so I shrank the coaster design down to an earring size. Waste not, want not! Can’t wait to wear them! I have eight pairs. I’m thinking about having a giveaway on this blog with a pair as the prize…
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I wish I had had time to design my own ampersand, but I really like this one from Charlemagne Standard. Laser-cut out of mirrored acrylic.
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Also on the mirrored acrylic, a lettered design of one of my favorite words by the amazingly talented PetitSerif. Positive and negative etches.
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This was my first time to seriously use the 3D printer. These below are cookie ‘stamps’. You press them into an unbaked sugar cookie to create the design. Printed with PLA filament on a Makerbot printer.
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The laser cutter and the 3D printer both can take a while to run a project. So in the meantime…I experimented with the vinyl cutter. It was my first experience ever ‘weeding’, or removing the background of one sticker before applying it to a base sticker. Super tricky and tedious, if your design is really detailed! But a really neat effect if you get it right.
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So many stickers! There is much weeding in my future…
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a fontified version of The Princess Bride

I’ve been playing with lasers again! These designs were created as prizes for my office. We’re a bunch of nerdy geeks who create fonts for publishing minority languages. Last year we started taking bits from the ‘team movie’ of The Princess Bride and twisting them to our own silliness. There were actually a few more converted quotes, but these were the ones I chose to design. I etched them on wood as well as several different types of acrylic, but I feel that these turned out the best. Pardon the bits of dust clinging to them! I rubbed silver paint into the etching, exactly like I did for the Obscure Word book.

F.O.U.S.s…Fonts Of Unusual Size!FOUS(R.O.U.S.s…Rodents Of Unusual Size)

The Glyphs of Insanityglyphs of insanity(The Cliffs of Insanity)

Twoo Typetwoo typeTwoo Wuv

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quote book

This was a birthday gift for a huge fan of the radio show/book/movie Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. There is one quote per each of the eight pages, arranged so that when the book is closed the words form a ‘word cloud’. The pages are laser-cut and etched acrylic plastic and are sewn with waxed linen thread using the same method as in my previously posted book. I wanted to create a gradient of sorts using paint in the etched letters, fading from white to black. It mostly worked the way I wanted it to.

Let me just say, photographing this thing was a nightmare. First, smudges! Ack! And then the waxed thread left marks all over the surfaces. Plus having to dodge the reflection made taking pictures super fun. Not. Anyway, I really like the possibilities of laser-etched acrylic…but if I ever do clear again, I will be using non-waxed thread for sure, and waiting to peel the backing off until the very last minute! (Scratches seemed to come out of nowhere.)

HG2G-acrylic quote book1

HG2G-acrylic quote book2

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HG2G-acrylic quote book4

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obscure word book: volume 1, light edition

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For a while now I’ve been wanting to create a project using obscure or old-fashioned English words. I just wasn’t sure how I would do it. Enter the fabrication lab and the laser cutter! I decided to create a ‘book’ of laser cut and etched acrylic plastic sheets, sewn together with one of Keith A Smith’s techniques. Though the bind looks ok, I think I might have to redo it with a modified version. There just aren’t enough pages for the design to look right.

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First I sketched the designs on paper, then digitized them in Illustrator. The darker the color, the deeper the laser will etch the plastic. It was similar to the thought process behind intaglio printmaking – the darkest colors will be the lightest, and the lightest colors the darkest. It took a a couple of tries to find the right setting for the laser, but I was fairly happy with the second run.

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I tried a couple of different colors of acrylic paint, but settled on white and a shimmery gold. I smeared the paint into the etched lines and gradients, then wiped (or scrubbed, if it had dried) off the excess paint.

obscure-light-5“lucubrate” – to work diligently by artificial light

obscure-light-6“ignivomous” – vomiting fire

obscure-light-7“fulgent” – shining brilliantly, radiant, gleaming

obscure-light-8“ascian” – a person or thing without shadow

obscure-light-9“clinquant” – glittering, showy, dressed in tinsel

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Finished size: 6 in x 4 in (15.24 cm x 10.16 cm). I’m planning several more ‘volumes’ of obscure terms. If you’re curious about where I found these words, check out this book: Mrs Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words.