Monday, December 28, 2015

Too Many Choices!

I have been testing the water and have decided that I just need to jump in with both feet.  I did the wood shop and rapid prototyping certifications so I could start making, and have managed to get mired in the swamp of possibilities!  This or that or maybe this other thing...  alas, I have little to show for my musings other than some sketches and a little bit of hope.

I did make some ornaments similar to my IaM fellow, Ellen, which was super fun!  I played around with different materials, using balsa wood, basswood, and acrylic.  I did learn that Lexan is not ok to laser.  It gives off toxic fumes.  The other thing to pay attention to is adhesives.  Anything with chlorine will give off toxic gas.

One of the things I am going to explore is the properties of different materials when cut and etched with different settings.  I have been talking with my forestry and building trades colleagues about the properties of different woods.  It is a fascinating science all on its own! They are going to keep slices from trees they cut down so I can etch them with a silhouette of that species and the name and maybe a leaf.  It could be a cool display.  

Friday, December 18, 2015

First "solo" project (with help)

I made my first item: laser cut ornaments out of 1/4" wood. I spent roughly 4 hours at Generator Wed night using Adobe Illustrator to create the ornaments. Even though I only used simple shapes & text, I had to learn how to:

  • navigate in the program (e.g. zooming in & out, moving items on & off the workspace)
  • make symmetrical shapes (circles & squares)
  • change text into a path, so it becomes an object
  • subtract and add shapes from one another
  • create a .001 hairline for vector cutting
I confess I did a little air fistpump at one point when I figured out how to merge text into the ornament shape so it became just positive & negative spaces for cutting.

Yesterday evening I arranged with a kind member to use a small window of his scheduled 5 hour laser cutter time (thank you!) to print my ornaments. Luckily, Annika was at the desk and helped me with the questions (& jitters) I had to start printing...and she shared her ideal 1/4" wood settings (4-94-20)! I was so pleased it all worked out yesterday...big smile!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Laser Cut Lanterns!

I signed up for the Laser Cut Lanterns workshop with Pete Talbot at Generator, just to help get me started. The workshop was this past Sunday, and Pete was *so generous* with his time. What an awesome guy! It was a very good workshop, with a nice balance of structure and flexibility. Pete had a star template ready for us to customize cut out openings for the light to shine through. It was my first time using Adobe Illustrator. I still need to spray paint, score, fold & assemble my light. Learning to use the laser cutter is really learning to use Adobe Illustrator or another piece of software to create EPS files. My boyfriend used InkScape, and there were lots of problems with his file. Hoping InkScape will still be a viable option for this....

Monday, December 7, 2015

SLOW start

December is here and the clock is ticking! I am acutely aware how short 2 months are.

I went to a Generator orientation last week. Fortunately, I met with Caty, my fellow-Igniter, the day before, so I knew this orientation was NOT going to prepare me to use any equipment at Generator. I've been to the space and a few events there before, so I knew where everything was located. I think I could have given that tour.

I am signed up for the protoyping certification this week. Also, the laser cut lantern class I'd signed up for weeks ago that was postponed is going to happen this Sunday. My hope is, after this week, I will be able to use the laser cutter.

I wonder if, in the future, people with this wonderful opportunity could complete the orientation and any needed certifications  before the 2 months' membership started. That way, one would really have the full 2 months to make. 

Here's what I'm thinking about making:

  • laser cut ornaments
  • laser cut lamps and a re-do of a 3d printed light I made
  • laser cut altered books (tunnel books) and laser-cut altered books with light
Here's what I'm worrying about:
  • I won't be here over the Christmas break, so I lose all that nonschool time to make stuff
  • How long it will take me to be proficient enough in the software I'll need
  • When I will find time to be at Generator, given that I'm usually away on weekends
...essentially, all variations on the same theme: how to get 2 months' of making done with life, work, and the needed certifications and learning to even get started.

As a favorite principal of mine used to say, "Ready, fire, aim!"