tiny logos on beard scissors

Tiny logos on beard scissors

Posted Posted in Artwork, Corporate, Stainless steel, Thermark

One of my most unusual enquiries came from Beard Juice. Wayne wanted to sell some beard accessories alongside his new range of beard oils, and chose surgical stainless steel beard trimming scissors. He wanted to brand them with his logo, but knew that this would be a challenge on two levels. Could I engrave on metal? And could I engrave his logo small enough to fit on the largest area available – the hinge area of the scissors?

Engraving tiny logos

Wayne sent me a copy of the Beard Juice logo in black and white. I worked out that to engrave the logo in the right place, it could be 19mm wide maximum. I was concerned that the detail in the logo wouldn’t come out clearly enough as the text lines were very fine, and the feathering around the edges might be completely lost at that scale. It was clear that the copyright logo at the top right would be too small to be seen clearly, so Wayne said I could remove it.

Beard Juice logo

Prototypes

Wayne send me some scissors to perform some sample engravings on. We needed to check whether the stainless steel of the scissors would be compatible with the Thermark metal marking paste. It was also important to see whether or not the logo would engrave at a high enough quality.

Thermark is a mixture of glass particles and black pigment. It looks like a grey paste and it is spread onto the surface to be engraved. After it has dried, it can be raster or vector engraved. We chose raster engraving in this case. The laser melts the glass and traps the pigment onto the surface of the metal as a layer of black enamel. Residual paste is then washed off.

Beard Juice logo zoom

It’s a great technique offering good contrast against stainless steel. But it hasn’t worked with every stainless steel sample I’ve engraved using this method. It did in this case, and the logo came up beautifully despite all my concerns. There’s no substitute for preparing samples. Then customers can be confident that they have a good product at the right price before they commit to investing in new product lines.

I sent the prototypes back to Wayne who was delighted and promptly ordered more for engraving.

branded golf bag tags

Branded golf bag tags

Posted Posted in Corporate, Other, Wood

Shona from Holiday Essentials got in touch. Her customer, Scottish Golf Tours, wanted a welcome gift box for their American visitors. They wanted to include bespoke golf bag tags or keyrings that their customers would love so much that they’d keep using them after they returned home. Shona asked if I could help her create something special.

Designing the tags

I knew that 3mm laser ply would be perfect for making the tags as the laminated layers of wood give strength to detailed shapes and the material is well priced. We needed to find a chunky design that would be robust enough to last for years on a well used golf bag.

Shona found a fun design online in black and white and in vector format – ideal for laser cutting! Its license also allowed us to use it for commercial purposes. The details of the clubs and golf bag strap were chunky and there was space on the bag to engrave Scottish Golf Tours’ logo. Just perfect for what we needed!

 

artwork for golf bag tag
artwork for golf bag tags

Prototypes for approval

Shona came to the workshop and we made some prototypes together.

We made two samples: a keyring 75mm long and a golf bag tag 100mm long. Each sample was laser cut from 3mm laser ply and featured vector engraved golf bag detail with a raster engraved logo. As we thought the golf ball part of the logo was too small to engrave clearly, we just engraved the flag and the text. The small green box to the top left corner of the logo is a white square that covers the golf ball. This means that the laser doesn’t see it to engrave it.

Shona proudly took our samples to show Scottish Golf Tours who loved them both. It made sense to select one option. They realised that golf bag tags would be on display on golf courses more than keyrings. They wanted them to be objects of desire that their customers’ friends, family and fellow golfers would envy. Perhaps they would dream of their own visit to the Home of Golf! Scottish Golf Tours decided to proceed with the golf bag tags and placed an order with Holiday Essentials.

First production run

As the golf season was starting, there was no time to loose! The first order was for 200 tags. I made them as soon as I could and Shona compiled the gift boxes in time for Scottish Golf Tours’ first foreign visitors arriving.

Shona found beautiful leather straps which she looped through the golf bag strap to finish them.

Branding slate coasters

Branding slate coasters

Posted Posted in Corporate, Slate

Fife Chamber of Commerce wanted to create gifts that they could give to speakers at their events. Jacqui wanted something that would be good value, but classy. A gift that would be useful, and that you’d want to have on your desk and that colleagues would envy. She asked me if I could help, and I suggested slate coasters laser engraved with their logo. Slate is chunky and beautiful, and engraved really well.

Sourcing slate

The Just Slate Company is just down the road from the Fife Chamber of Commerce office in Kirkcaldy.  They import Spanish slate and make their products on site in Fife. Their products are chunky with a riven finish, with foam backing and a food safe resin finish, making them black and shiny.

Fife Chamber liked the idea of having something made and engraved locally. We agreed that as the Chamber are VAT registered that they would source the 110mm square coasters themselves and have them delivered directly to my workshop. This helped to keep the price down and I charged for artwork set up and unit engraving only.

Logo artwork

Jacqui sent several versions of the Chamber logo in colour, all in red, black and white, including a png, a giff and an eps. Eps files are vector files that are easy to rescale without loss of image quality. And in this case, changing the logo from colour to black and white was easy as the logo is relatively simple, so I could do it myself.

I rescaled the logo to 70 x 50mm. This looked good centred on the 110 x 110mm slate coasters, and sent Jacqui a proof.

Engraving slate

Once Jacqui had given me approval for the artwork, I carried on with engraving. When slate is engraved, the mark is silvery grey against the black background and it looks very smart.

It’s easy to overpower slate when engraving it. Only a small amount of power is needed. Overpowering makes the engraving appears yellowish and the engraved surface looks a bit pitted, detracting from the look of the product. Most of the slate I engrave comes from The Just Slate Company, and my usual machine settings worked well.

Fife Chamber of Commerce were so pleased with their coasters that they came back for more the following year.

 

how to engrave a bench

How to engrave a bench

Posted Posted in Furniture, How to, Wood

Have you ever wondered how to laser engrave a bench? Garry Macfarlane from Freckle Furniture did. He received two commissions for benches with engraved pieces simultaneously! He asked us if we could help.

The bench in the picture was commissioned as a retirement gift. Colleagues wanted the logo of the fisheries organisation where they all worked together on the back top beam of the bench. For the front seat rail under the seat, they chose a Gaelic inscription – ‘Mur a bheil e agad, na cuir air tìr e’. Garry and I still don’t know what it means, so let me know if you do!

Designing the bench

There was no way that we could put the complete bench into the laser machine. It was far too large! When Garry was designing the bench, we discussed what dimensions of wood would fit into the machine when we were ready to engrave. Garry built the bench himself from oak. Before he assembled it, he brought the pieces to be engraved to my workshop.

Setting up the artwork

Garry supplied the blue and white SFO logo from the customer and he wanted it resized to 132mm. I usually ask for black and white artwork, but there was enough contrast between the blue and white shapes for the laser to detect which areas were to be to engraved.

I set up the Gaelic inscription. Text is easy to create once the customer has chosen the font and the size for engraving. Garry wanted a reasonably plain but classic font with something a little different, so we chose the Nyala font.

Size constraints and getting around them

The back top beam measured 1480 x 124 x 38mm and the front seat rail 1480 x 76 x 38mm. The maximum width we can fit into the machine is 1330mm, but as our machine has letterbox slits at the front and back, we can set up pieces with sections protruding through the front and back of the machine. That’s what we did with the bench pieces.

Engraving the bench

As all the wood sections would be lined up vertically in the machine, I set up the text and logo for engraving vertically too. Garry wanted the text and logo to be located centrally on each piece of wood. We identified the horizontal and vertical centres and made a small pencil mark that could be rubbed or engraved off.

When I positioned the wood in the machine, I set up the laser so that it was lined up over the pencil marks. Text length was kept within 800mm, the height of the machine bed, so that it could be engraved at one go. The text was easy to align as it was engraved on a rectangular section of wood.

But Garry had designed the back top rail into a curve with a point in the middle. This made things more interesting! We made a similar pencil mark to identify where he wanted the centre of the logo to be. Then I set up the wood in the machine in a similar way.

We did a nice heavy engrave for a good 3D effect. Having Garry there to give feedback during production meant that I could check each detail with him as we went along. He was delighted with the results, and returned to his workshop to finish and assemble the two benches.

 

 

Cambo Estate's wooden keyrings

Cambo Estate’s wooden keyrings

Posted Posted in Artwork, Corporate, Wood

Cambo Estate decided to have new keyrings made for their guest accommodation. They wanted to use chunky fobs of wood from the estate and engrave them with their logo on one side and accommodation details on the other side. We knew that the logo would be a challenge as it’s highly detailed. How would it look when scaled right down?

Engraving room names

Once the wooden blocks were ready, we could begin. They were 80 x 30mm, and felt smooth, chunky and light in the hand. Large enough to be hard to loose, but small enough to be easily carried!

Cambo wanted the text to be raster (fill in) engraved for maximum impact. They provided the artwork for all the accommodation names in black and white pdf files, which was perfect as it ensures good engraving quality. Text for each name was shown in rectangles representing the fob size so the engravings were located where the customer wanted them, offset to the right to leave room for holes to be drilled.

As the engravings were a good size, we engraved using our usual machine settings for wood. We had to secure the fobs in the machine to stop them from moving during production. Compressed air is blown at 1.5bar at the engraved surface to get best results, and this can blow small items out of place.

Engraving the Cambo Estate logo

Cambo’s logo is very detailed. It’s difficult to downscale logos like so that fine detail isn’t lost. In this case, the bird and the sheaf of wheat at the top of the logo and the helmet were the most vulnerable areas. It they engraved well at the size required, the logo would look fine.

Again, the customer supplied the logo as a black and white pdf.  We had to rescale the logo dramatically to fit the fobs. Using vector artwork means that this can be done with no reduction in artwork quality.

Struan and Frances were open minded about how they wanted the logo to appear on the keyrings. Would the logo look better engraved at the bottom of vertical keyrings or in the middle of horizontal keyrings (pictured)? From the start, I was sure that the latter option would be better as the logo could be made bigger, increasing the chances of success.

We did sample raster engraves of both options. My hunch was right. Horizontally engraved keyrings looked good and were just big enough to see all the detail. Including the text, the logo is 24 x 36mm, and the coat of arms alone is tiny at 13 x 15mm.

A lot of details were lost on the vertical sample.  Unfortunately, it was just too small to work well.

Cambo approved the horizontal option, and we engraved all the backs of the keyrings. We used a much slower speed to engrave the logos – a quarter of the speed used to engrave the accommodation names! This kept the logo as sharp as possible. We also engraved the coat of arms with more power than the text underneath to give more definition.

Finishing touches

Cambo drilled and countersunk holes in all the engraved fobs ready for the split ring keyring hoops.

How to make a Pepper's Ghost installation

Pepper’s Ghost installation

Posted Posted in Artists, Perspex

Angus was a 6th Form student at St Leonard’s School in St Andrews. He created this project as part of his studio work for the IB Visual Arts course.

Victorian illusion

The Pepper’s Ghost technique has been used by magicians and illusionists since Victorian times. More recently, music festivals have used it to create interesting visual effects. That’s how Angus first became aware of it.

Creating the right artwork

Angus wanted to create each part of the illusion by laser cutting three panels of black acrylic. He wanted the first sheet cut with face details, the second sheet cut with stars and the third with cloud details. He chose 3mm acrylic as it was robust enough for the job. It was important that light wouldn’t pass through the body of the material to spoil the effect of light travelling through the holes in it.

In order to laser cut the black acrylic, I needed vector files. Shapes for each star and each cloud outline must be surrounded by a single hairline vector line that the laser can follow. Angus and the school Art Department had no previous experience of laser cutting, and none of their artwork packages were able to generate vector artwork, so there was a learning curve to climb until I had the files I needed. Sometimes artwork creation can be the trickiest stage of a project.

Creating the illusion using acrylic

To create the Pepper’s Ghost illusion, Angus laid each of the laser cut black panels flat on a light box. You can just make out all three sitting one behind the other in the picture. The clouds are at the front, the stars behind that and the face is at the back.

Light shone from the light box through the laser cut holes in the black acrylic. This light was reflected in the clear acrylic sheets set above the black panels at 45 degrees, facing the viewer. You can see the front clear acrylic panel easily.

The transparent image appearing at 90 degrees to the black acrylic sheets. It incorporates the reflections from the layers of light reflected by the clear acrylic. All three reflected images superimpose to create the illusion of Angus’ face floating in the night sky. It’s an impressive effect and Angus’ ambitious installation was a huge success.

Each year, the Art Department has a show of pupil’s artwork for different year groups.