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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Have You Checked These Three Things?

Laser cutting is never as simple as hitting the print button. After spending hours creating a design and preparing it to cut, it can be frustrating when a cut doesn't work out as planned. Last week Jenny and I spent some time cutting boards for our 6th-grade students' passion projects. We started with what we thought would be our easiest project but were soon scratching our heads, unable to get it cut.

Lucky for us, Brian, our studio neighbor, was available and able to troubleshoot with us. There are many variables in laser cutting but Brian suggested checking these three things first:

1) Is the line size correct?
2) Has vector or raster been checked in the print setup screen?
3) If using color mapping, has the button which saves the information been hit?

This simple but effective list of questions fixed our issue and got us back on track. Thank you, Brian!

This board is cut!
Next step- A Bare Conductive Touch Board will be coded
and added to create an interactive experience.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

'Tis the Season...for Laser Cutting!

Inspired by the holidays I designed and created ornaments using Adobe Illustrator and the laser cutter.

This was the first project I created on my own!

Throughout the creation of these ornaments, I learned many things about the design process and the various ways in which it is possible to cut projects out with the laser. I received help from several people who each had a unique way of creating their files and preparing them to cut. Some prefer to use color mapping, a process which uses colors to tell the machine to cut or engrave using different settings in the same job. Others use the layer feature on Illustrator to engrave a layer on one job and then cut a layer on a second job. It was interesting to see how the techniques used varied by the individual.
Printing preferences menu showing the settings for a cut using coloring mapping.

While I was happy with my final products, each of the batches of ornaments I created was slightly different. I played around with the speed, power, and frequency settings on the print menu while working but I wasn't sure which factors were causing changes in my work.

This week Jenny, our colleague, Christine, and I played around with the speed setting by doing a few test cuts. We started out with a lower speed of 10. While the flames were minimal and the print came out clear, it looked a little charred (see the letter M below). We tried again with the letter C increasing the speed to 20. The result was similar. The final time we cranked up the speed to 60 and while the lettering wasn't as dark, it also didn't look burnt. Success!
Test cuts with different speeds. The S was engraved using the highest speed.
One thing is for sure, three hours on the laser printer flies by!


Connecting Educators with The Generator.


Yesterday, Carrie and I invited three local educators to join us at the Generator. We introduced them to the space and shared our current projects with them. We also connected them with other Generator members. 
Christine DePatie, 6th Grade Educator from Swanton Central School, discussing flute making and STEAM education with Brian Merrill.
Carrie and Christine problem solving an issue with the laser cutter. Check out Carrie's upcoming blogpost on Speed!


From Back to Front, Lisa Bresler (K-5 Art Educator, Shelburne Community School), Christine DePatie (6th Grade & STEM Educator, Swanton Central School), Carrie Speranza (Librarian at Swanton School), and Me (Jenny Jacobson, Art Educator K-6, Swanton School). Not in Photo, Evelyn Stenroos (6th Grade Educator, Colchester Middle School).

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Little Help from our Friends: Laser Cutting at the Generator

Last week, Carrie and I committed a few hours to using the laser cutter at the Generator. We both had taken the certification class and had some experience using one before, however we had never operated one alone!

After referencing our notes, I uploaded my design and we were ready to go! Right away, I had a couple of design flaws. I sought out the help of one of the only people at the Generator in the morning, Brian Merrill. He is a Generator member and creates incredible laser cut/hand cut flutes! Brian stopped everything and spent over an hour with us. Thanks to him, by the end we were using the laser cutter more confidently and "perfected" our cuts!

Laser Cutter at the Generator

Reusing the pieces we cut out! Art Stars!

Test Cut with Cardboard caught on fire.

We decided to test the second cut on board. No fire this time!

The Final Product! One of our sixth grade student's passion project on the "life cycle of a star". She used inkscape to create her design. I uploaded to illustrator and cut it out for her. Next step, she'll create a circuit and let her stars shine away!  

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Creating Vinyl Stickers with the Silhouette Cameo

During our prep period, Carrie and I decided to dive into the Silhouette Cameo. Just like the Touch Board, we instantly found some complications. Carrie created circle patterns to cut out for an upcoming project. At first only half of the circles on the vinyl sheet cut out. After some tinkering (and help from Google), we realized that we had to manually adjust the blade. Easy fix. After that, it consistently cut out the circles. Though the stickers are hard to remove!

Overall, we found the machine relatively easy to use and more importantly useful. We ordered cutting fabric for one of our sixth grade projects and excited to try out a new material.

Check out some of our photos from this tinkering session. We were joined by some thirds graders who were learning besides us! The best type of learning!





Saturday, December 2, 2017

Partnering with Generator

Fabulous news!  The Generator Educator in Residence program has adopted our  Fall 2017 IGNITE a MAKERS.  The support that Jenny and Carrie will receive from Generator as part of this partnership is going to help them develop and implement their goals of creating an interactive mural that can be used to display student work. 


Jenny, Carrie,  met with  Ignite a Mentor, Caty Wolfe and Generator director, Chris Thompson to set goals for the next few months. 


Both Carrie and Jen have completed the laser certification and are signed up for the CNC tools training in order to gain the skills and access needed to complete this project!


They have been experimenting with Lucie's  Silhouette Vinyl cutter  and have plans to use in some projects with their students inspired by artist Yayoi Kusama 



Here's a quick update from Carrie and Jen




Remember that you can also  follow these maker educators on Instagram

Jenny's art room Instagram

Carrie's Library Instagram






Thursday, November 16, 2017

Touch Board Take 1


One of the projects Jenny and I will be focusing on creating is an interactive mural board. This device will help some of our 6th grade students present their passion projects in an innovative and creative way.

Today we played around with a Bare Conductive Touch Board. This board will be the heart of the project allowing our students to record short segments about their projects which will be played at the touch of a button. The device is similar to a Makey Makey but is programmed using a mini SD card and works with conductive paint. 


We were easily able to get the board plugged into a computer but were unable to get the alligator clips to work when plugged into the electrode holes. After a lot of troubleshooting, we Googled the problem. The solution? Make sure the board is clean and the holes are clear from any previous conductive paint residue. One light wash with water and we were in business!






Stay tuned for more updates!