In her post on crafting turkey cards, you may remember Jessica mentioning that our school had acquired a laser cutter. Never one to turn down access to lasers, I have been working on a few projects that involve annihilating different materials with amplified light.
The laser cutter works as an ultra-precise cutting machine (accurate to 1/1000 of an inch). You put your material (paper, wood, cardboard, etc.) into the machine and use a vector image file to tell the laser where and how to cut. Then a rig moves the laser all around burning a hole through the material in the places you have indicated. The laser can also etch the surface of thicker materials.
You may have seen an an instagram of my face in January:
It may be hard to see in the photo, but that face is actually a clock. The third graders were learning about reading time from an analog clock, and the 3rd grade teachers decided that it would be awesome if they all designed their own laser cut clock. I knew how to use the laser cutter, so I made this example to inspire them!
The instagram is actually a good example of what the laser cutter can do. That clock face (HA!) is made of 1/4 thick alderwood. The darker areas of the face are examples of the etching feature and the perimeter of the clock shows how detailed it can be.
After getting that first project under my belt, my brain began racing with TONS of ideas for things to make. I perused Pinterest and other sites for ideas for some things I could make. For example, I love this idea for greeting cards and this doily-like paper invitation. I have a number of different projects in the works, but the one I want to share is a card I made for Jessica.
As you know (hopefully!), today is Valentine’s Day. With Jessica’s birthday only a few days around the corner and some big trips on the horizon, we are keeping things simple this year. Jessica made me this piece of V-Day art two years ago, so I decided to get crafty this year.
My inspiration was this card I found on Pinterest:
I loved how the diagonal cut added depth to the card, and with access to a laser cutter, I knew I could make the intricate and detailed cuts. The next step was to create a template for the card in my vector-editing program: Adobe Illustrator. Here is my template:
When the laser cutter receives this template it burns along the black lines. Since I was going to trifold the card, this meant I had to figure out where to place the text so when I folded it, everything lined up. This wasn’t too complicated, but I did do a lot of staring off into space (with a stupid look on my face) while trying to fold the paper in my mind.
With the template created, the next step was to head to Michaels to pick up some two-sided paper. Unfortunately Michaels had recently gotten rid of their double-sided paper collection, but I was able to find some in a Martha Stewart Valentine’s Day themed paper pack.
After work the next day, I spent about 2 hours making different drafts of the card at different sizes on different papers until I had one I liked. I did start one minor fire, but if you want to make on omelet, you’ve got to set something on fire with a laser (or whatever that saying is). Here is the final result:
I am really happy with the way it came out. I had the laser power set too high on some earlier drafts and the paper charred on the edge too much, but once I lowered the power from 10% to 5%, it made really clean cuts.
One thing I forgot (and seem to always forget) is that I need to use stencil-style fonts. If you look at the O’s, E’s, A’s, and other letters with a cutout in the middle, there is nothing filled in. When the laser cutter cuts the outline of these letters, the whole letter (including the inner cutout) falls out. I will be sure to fix that in future projects.
Check back soon for more laser cutting crafting.