laser-boxesIn addition to the jewelry studio, I’ve been having a great time at TinkerMill in Longmont learning how to use new tools like the laser cutter. I’ve never had the tools available to me to work with wood before, so I’m having fun learning more about a different medium as well as the rather steep learning curve of designing in the CAD programs (Inkscape and also Adobe Illustrator) and communicating with the laser cutter software. But with perseverance, I’m getting there. Once again I’m making use of copyright free images from the Dover Pictorial Archive series as well as my own drawings and photos. 

Starting small with little canvases like keychains and boxes lets me learn more about the machine and the settings, which allow the user to get all sorts of depth and color by varying the speed and power, among other things. You can cut to various depths and also engrave. Below you can see four versions of the same design. The first one has one cut line and a shallower cut line for the outlines. The next one has the outline cut a bit too high. In the third, I used an engrave setting–then I learned how to put the outline cut setting on top of the engraved part, and voila! Like math class, there’s a lot to the numbers themselves, and the Order of Operations is also crucial!

I am making up designs  for boxes that will also feature polymer clay and metal inserts, and for miniatures, even doll house furniture–here you can see a tiny jewelry box, about 2 inches, that was a successful attempt but still needs hinges and a lining. I want to make boxes to house the polymer clay dolls I’ve been making, and each successful project shows me more about how to get the designs I want to fit together and to look great. Each frustration leads to learning the way that works–if you ask enough questions and keep trying. The smoke alarm is a wee bit scary, but I haven’t set it off lately…I’m getting better. 

I’m going to be doing lots of sanding and staining in the upcoming weeks, coloring metal and now wood too. I’ve used it to design new racks and display fixtures for my jewelry as well, and I like them a lot–I’ll be sure to show them off here when they are finished, but there’s more sanding and a coat or two of Rustoleum Varathane still to come. laser-keychains