Branded coasters for Welsh Oak Frame

Branded coasters for Welsh Oak Frame

Posted Posted in Corporate, Wood

Welsh Oak Frame are award winning designers and builders of beautiful oak frame buildings across the UK. Becky, their Marketing Manager, contacted me in December to ask if I could make 120 oak coasters for a corporate event they had this month.  She wanted them to the same design as I had made for them previously with their logo centred on an oak heart at 100 x 100mm.

Tweaking the logo

Welsh Oak Frame’s logo oak frame part of the logo in white against a shaded background. When the original design was settled on, I suggested that we could either engrave this component as it was, or invert it so that the A frame shape itself was engraved along with the text. We decided that the latter option would look better on the coasters.

Sourcing oak

I had a month to make these coasters, and I knew that my biggest potential problem was sourcing the oak in time. Max McCance is a local furniture maker, and he rips up batons of oak for me to make lovely sanded strips at 6 – 7mm thick, perfect for creating coasters and other bespoke products. Thankfully, Max had the right oak in stock and made the batons for me before Christmas.

Welsh Oak Frame coaster

Making the coasters

I set up the artwork for production so that the outline of the heart was cut through, giving the coasters the tell tale dark edges.

Raster engraving the logo makes the engraving stand out much more than if their outlines alone were vector (outline) engraved. It gives the logo a pleasing 3D effect that feels satisfying in the hand as well as looking smart.

Finishing touches

After production, I sanded the coasters lightly if they needed it. Then I applied coats of oil to protect the oak and enhance the wood grain. You can see the difference it makes in the photo above. The coaster was treated, but the small heart wasn’t.

Each one looks different as the grain in each coaster is unique. That’s the real beauty of wood.

 

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Oak signs for Milly's Kitchen

Oak signs for Milly’s Kitchen

Posted Posted in Signage, Wood

Last summer, Jill Philips opened Milly’s Kitchen, a new cafe in Cupar. She asked me if I could engrave a couple of oak signs for her with the cafe’s logo.

Artwork layout

Jill sent me marketing files with Milly’s Kitchen logos. She had asked for the signs to be rectangular with the larger one at 880 x 600mm and the smaller one at 650 x 570mm to fit the mounting brackets she would be using.

Jill told me how large she wanted the logo to be on each one and I prepared proofs for her to approve, showing the text areas to be engraved and the surrounding area of the wood left unengraved. We agreed that raster (fill in) engraving of the text would work best and be clearest to read.

As Jill knows Frazer Reid from FAR Cabinet Makers, she commisssioned him to make both of the oak signs. They were designed to hang from brackets on the walls outside the cafe, so she wanted them to be engraved on both sides so they could be viewed from two directions.

Milly's Kitchen

Double sided oak signs

When the oak pieces were ready, Jill collected them from Frazer and brought them to my workshop. I engraved each one with the same artwork on each side, and the video below shows the larger sign in process.

You can see that the areas around the engravings have a brown haze round them. This happens because the resins in the wood burn and it happens with solid wood, plywood and mdf too. It’s easily sanded off before varnishing.

Once they were ready, Jill picked them up for varnishing and installation outside Milly’s Kitchen. She was delighted with them and they looked even better after a couple of coats of varnish.

 

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Templates for Valorose Tutus and Textiles

Templates for Valorose Tutus and Textiles

Posted Posted in Other, Polypropylene

Susanne Perry of Valorose Tutus and Textiles makes the most amazing tutus and supplies materials for others to make their own.

She contacted me because she wanted to create templates for cutting the edges of tutu netting into zig zag or scallop shapes. They were for her to use in her workshops aswell as selling to customers online.

Suzanne had experimented with acrylic, but had found it unsuitable because it’s inflexible and can shatter when dropped. She decided that she needed a material with some flexibility. It would need to bend with the netting during cutting and be tough enough to survive snipping damage.

Selecting the right material

Finding a robust and flexible material thin enough that could be laser cut was a puzzle.

Any thickness of acrylic would have the same problems, especially if 2mm thick or thinner.

Plywood and mdf’s brown laser cut edges could discolour fabric, and thin mdf could possibly be damaged by snipping.

0.8mm polypropylene would just be too thin and floppy for the purpose, and formica is brittle and could snap easily.

After further research, I came across a different polypropylene 2mm thick. It’s not very pretty, but it’s tough, flexible and marketed as being almost indestructable.  Perfect. Colour range was very restricted, but this wasn’t a problem. Suzanne was happy if it laser cut well and functioned as she wanted.

valorose template

Designing the templates

Suzanne wanted two template sizes and sent me pictures with dimensions for the details. Both templates were similar in size, but one had four and the other had five scallops and triangles on each side. She wanted the scallops to be semicircular rather than shallower curves and the zig zags had to keep their shape in the netting.

I made up artwork and Suzanne approved the proofs. Black 2mm polypropylene gave nice results. It comes with a protective film on one side to protect the surface from the heat of the laser, and when it’s been peeled off, the surface and the edges look great.

 

Have you got a project that you think we could help you with? Contact us or ask for a quote.

pink scalloped tutu

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Public voting is open until 22nd December. If you enjoy my blog and would like to vote for me, you can do so here. Thanks!

plastic surgery for Funbox funsters

Plastic surgery for Funbox funsters

Posted Posted in Other, Perspex

Acrylic is a versatile material that comes in many colours and thicknesses, so it was perfect for this ‘plastic surgery’ project.

Funbox is the show of Anya, Gary and Kevin, the stars of The Singing Kettle. It’s all about silly songs and family fun. Their show features Bonzo the dog and the funsters Flossie and Fluffy (pictured) who live in the Funbox. They tour around Scotland dressed up as mermaids and fish, pirates and princesses and kinds of things.

Wardrobe emergency!

Kevin contacted LaserFlair because they needed help with certain parts of Fluffy and Flossie’s costumes. They’d made Fluffy’s yale key eyes, Flossie’s padlock nose and both sets of skeleton key teeth from a material that clearly wasn’t up to the rigours of touring. After only two shows, they were drooping, curling and delaminating, not a good look! They hoped to make replacements out of 5mm acrylic which would be tough, rigid and colourful with a much longer life.

Plastic surgery for Funbox funster
Fluffy the Funbox funster with laser cut yale key eyes and skeleton key teeth

Acrylic eyes, teeth and noses

Kevin found artwork for key and padlock shapes that they liked for the eyes and nose, and other skeleton key shapes that he wanted to base the teeth shapes on. He also sourced the acrylic for the eyes and noses because he wanted to use particular colours. He brought everything to the LaserFlair workshop and together we edited the artwork to make everything the right size. We also created holes in convenient places so the parts could be stitched onto the costumes. Acrylic is a great material to laser cut, so we soon had a colourful pile of eyes, noses and teeth.

Unfortunately, acrylic don’t last forever. So eighteen months on, LaserFlair performed laser eye surgery for Flossie who needed new green yale key eyes. She needs to look at her very best as she tours the country keeping the nation’s kids entertained!

 

Have you got a project that you think we could help you with? Contact us or ask for a quote.

Jo Black Design's menu boards

Jo Black Design’s menu boards

Posted Posted in Furniture, Wood

Jo Black Designs received a commission for oak menu boards from Illicit Still, a bar and restaurant in Aberdeen. Jo, a furniture maker based in Edinburgh, made the boards from oak. They were about 5mm thick and felt nice and chunky. Each one was unique because of their rich grain and knots patterns.

Illicit Still wanted their logo engraved onto each of the 50 boards and Jo asked if I could help.

Resizing the artwork

Jo supplied the customer’s artwork, a beautiful and intricate Celtic style logo, as a black and white vector file. When she brought the boards to my workshop, we set up the artwork to the size she wanted and decided where to locate them on the boards.

Vector files are perfect for resizing as image quality is not lost during the rescaling process as it is with pixel based images like jps and pngs. Unwanted pixellation can occur around the image and if this is engraved by the laser, product quality is reduced.

Dark and brooding menu boards

Next, I performed some test engraves to work out the best power and speed machine settings. They affect the depth and colour of engravings. Jo she wanted a deep, dark engrave to achieve the look her customer wanted, and the oak she supplied gave a very dark mark that suited the mysterious logo perfectly.

Once Jo was happy with the result, I engraved the rest of the boards. She then took all the boards back to her workshop to finish them before shipping them to her customer.

They look fantastic! An oak offcut that we used for the test engraving is on the workshop wall and it always gets lots of compliments from visitors.

 

Have you got a project that you think we could help you with? Contact us or ask for a quote.

plywood shapes for Hooperhart dioramas

Plywood shapes for Hooperhart’s dioramas

Posted Posted in Artists, Wood

I learned a new word last week – diorama. Dioramas are miniature three-dimensional scene in which models of figures are arranged against a background. They were used by Victorians as a theatre device and can be used in film animations.

Hooperhart creates magical little wooden worlds in boxes and pictures. Cal also makes jewellery, pop up kits and decorations, and embellishes them with hand painting and screen printing. She got in touch to ask if I could laser cut her miniature pieces from 3mm plywood.

Miniature pieces for miniature worlds

As Cal needs lots of small shapes for her scenes, she only needs one sheet of plywood shapes cut at a time. She sends new artwork depending on the shapes she wants, filling the sheet with little trees, deer, boats, clouds and mountains to get as many pieces as possible. Even the offcuts make me smile!

Stand up kits

Cal wanted a couple of stand up kits in her first order, so I needed to test the slots to make sure they would fit neatly. Plywood thicknesses are nominal, and the 3mm ply that I source is typically between 3.1 – 3.3mm thick. If the slots are created at 3mm, they are too tight and the kit doesn’t work!

Cal sent me two pieces of artwork to try. One was too tight and the other was spot on.

Fragile – handle with care!

Cal’s mountains, bears and moose are very robust as they’re chunky. Some of the trees, plants and deer are very fragile though. Look at the tree trunks in the picture at the top. Their trunks are only a few millimetres thick, so I pack them very carefully and they arrived with Cal in one piece.

Thankfully, plywood is inherently strong. 3mm ply typically has 3 layers of wood laminated together which helps, but it wouldn’t take much to break them.

Hooperhart knolling
Knolling

Knolling

Cal loves arranging her pieces in pleasing formations, known as knolling, another new word I’ve learned from her. She creates some of her pieces in this way, and her Instagram feed is a great place for her to play!

Have you got a project that you think we could help you with? Contact us or ask for a quote.