Surfing Championship medals and trophies

Surfing Championship medals and trophies

Posted Posted in Other, Wood

The Scottish National Surfing Championships were held over the Easter weekend in Thurso. Frazer Reid of FAR Cabinet Makers, a keen surfer himself, was commissioned to make the medals and trophies for the event. He commissioned me to engrave the competition logo on oak for the prizes.

Trophies and medals

Frazer wanted 24 items made. There were to be trophies for the winners of each  of the eight categories and each was to feature a 150mm oak disc. Second and third places would receive 90mm oak medals. All 24 pieces would feature the competition logo.

Frazer prepared 5mm thick oak pieces for me to make everything from.

Celtic design

The only way to create artwork was from the event posters! Frazer emailed me a copy. Thankfully it was of high enough quality that I was able to convert the image to black and white. Unfortunately, the areas that I wanted to engrave were white and I needed them to be black. So I inverted the image so that the detail to be engraved became black.

Once the artwork was ready, my next worry was reproducing the logo detail. The surfer and his board were the most detailed areas. I decided to make a prototype of the 90mm medals. If the detail engraved well at that scale, it would be fine for the trophies.

I decided to engrave the medals at half speed to get the fine details as sharp as possible. It worked!

Frazer also wanted 1st, 2nd and 3rd engraved on each piece. Gill sans font suited the artwork and the text looked good under the crest of the wave. Frazer was really pleased with the results and gave the go ahead.

Turning them into medals

Frazer gave all the pieces a sand and treated them. He mounted the large discs on trophy bases and drilled holes for jute string. They looked amazing!

 

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Plywood lapwings take flight!

Plywood lapwings take flight!

Posted Posted in Artists, Wood

My name is Kate Millbank, and I’m a printmaker and designer. I contacted Jane at LaserFlair to help me make a range of plywood birds on which I could print some lino print designs. Jane was amazingly helpful. Following the success of my first bird design ‘flying geese’, I have returned to seek Jane’s assistance in producing a second bird to add to the flock.

Coastal inspiration

I am lucky enough to live near Aberlady Bay in East Lothian, with its diverse population of coastal birds. It’s a constant source of inspiration. You only have to walk down to the shore to see oyster catchers with their bright orange beaks, wading redshanks, curlews and lapwings. Thousands of pink footed geese arrive every autumn.

I chose to base my second bird design on the lapwing. Its distinctive head crest and bold feather patterns would make an ideal subject to recreate in print and birch ply.

Cutting the lino for artwork creation
Cutting the lino for artwork creation

Planning my lapwing design

I wanted the lapwing design to be similar in size to the flying geese so that both designs of bird have the potential to hang together. When considering the size of the birds, not only did I need to make sure they were a suitable size for displaying in the home, I also had to take into account the dimensions of the plywood sheets. I wanted to maximise the amount of birds that I could cut from each sheet, keeping the production costs of each bird to a minimum.

Once I was happy with the silhouette of the lapwing, I scanned it. Using Adobe Illustrator, I created a vector based file that the laser cutter would be able to read.

Checking the lapwing print against the ply cut out
Checking the lapwing print against the ply cut out

Finding the right printing technique

Next I designed, cut and printed the lino print to give the lapwing some distinctive markings and feather patterns. I love the bold and slightly naive impression lino prints create, and I wanted to use this style of print for the lapwings.

Having tried to print directly from lino onto ply when developing the goose design, I realised this was not going to work well. The ink tended to bleed into the grain of the ply. It was also a very time consuming process. Being a mum with two small boys, time is the one thing I don’t have a lot of! If I wanted to produce and sell these at an affordable price, I needed a different solution.

This is when I discovered The Print Block. It was a breakthrough to realise that my lino print artwork could be screen printed. This technique works beautifully for printing onto plywood. I also found the prospect of working with another small and exceptionally talented UK based business very exciting.

Creating a file ready for screen printing
Creating a file ready for screen printing

The moment of truth

With the artwork completed, all I needed to do was wait to see my completed product. When the parcel arrived at my studio a few weeks later, I was delighted to see how wonderful the lapwings looked. It is very exciting to think that the plywood birds I sold are making their own migration across the UK. They’re laser cut in Fife, screen printed in Kent, and then they fly off to their new homes. Feedback to date has been overwhelmingly positive and I’m already having to cut and print a second run!

The lapwings and geese can be purchased from my online shop and are also available from two galleries in East Lothian, Norden in North Berwick and The Found Gallery, Dunbar.

Cullivoe Up Helly Aa souvenirs

Cullivoe Up Helly Aa souvenirs

Posted Posted in Stainless steel, Wood

Fiona was preparing for the Cullivoe Up Helly Aa, one of the many that happen in Shetland in January and February each year. Her husband James and their son were in the Jarl Squad that dress up as vikings and lead the celebrations.

To mark the occasion, they wanted to make badges for each child on the island. They also wanted souvenirs for the 12 community stop offs of the viking procession including the school, and some stainless steel souvenir hip flasks.

Celtic bull artwork

Fiona sent me a file of a wonderful Celtic bull that the Up Helly Aa Jarl Squad were decorating their shields with. Celtic artwork always looks amazing when vector engraved, especially on wood!

This bull has a lot of detail in its hooves, head and musculature. I was concerned that some of it might get lost when reduced in size for the 40mm in diameter badges.

I engraved some samples for Fiona at different power settings to give different depths of engrave, and she was really happy with the result. She preferred the one on the right engraved with the most power, yielding the deepest engrave and the darkest mark. It was the look that they wanted. 

As the engravings on the hip flasks and large ply discs would be bigger than these, I knew that the artwork was fine for what we needed . 

Stainless steel and plywood

First, I cut and engraved 400 badges from 3mm ply. Then I cut and engraved the 12 souvenirs for the Jarl Squad parade stop off points. They were 300mm in diameter, so the artwork was much bigger.  And I could engrave them much faster as the detail wasn’t as fine.

Finally, I engraved the  stainless steel flasks. I painted Thermark onto each flask, allowed it to dry, and engraved the flasks as usual. Wherever the laser engraves, it melts the glass particles in the paste. This forms a thin black enamel layer on the surface of the metal.  As you can see in the title picture, the black mark gives excellent contrast. It’s also highly weather proof and scratch resistant.

 

Cullivoe Up Helly Aa Jarl Squad in the costumes and viking ship that they’d made themselves

Happy Up Helly Aa!

Fiona was delighted with her parcel. The extra badges that I thew in were cunningly used as cloak clasps. The whole day was a great success and the weather was kind!

Laser cutting felt fairisle brooches

Laser cutting felt fairisle brooches

Posted Posted in Designers, felt

Donna Smith Design is a knitwear designer on Shetland. Donna teaches knitting and design workshops around the world. She got in touch because she wanted to create felt brooches of her own design and wondered if they could be laser cut.

Fairisle jumper artwork

Donna sent me vector artwork with a design for a fairisle jumper. It had a pattern of round holes that were to be cut out around the yoke. There were also slit cuts to be made at the cuffs and the waist of the jumper. Both sets of details were well spaced and robust

I made a prototype from 3mm plywood as I don’t have felt in stock. It was possible to see through the slit detail, something that I’d never cut before. Donna was delighted with the effect.

Felt properties

Donna sent me four colours of felt to cut the jumpers from. I hadn’t cut felt before. It’s always interesting trying out new materials! Sometimes it all goes to plan and sometimes the unexpected happens.  

With a soft, flexible material like felt, you have to think about products stretching and distorting as well as general robustness. But this felt was much thicker, stiffer and chunkier than other felts I have come across and it wasn’t easy to stretch. It was better suited to making brooches than I’d expected.

Prototypes

I test cut some brooches to check the results. First, I tried my short focal length lens as felt is usually only several millimetres thin, but the felt was getting scorched.

Next, I tried a longer focal length lens that would be focused further away from the surface of the felt. This time, I didn’t get any scorching and I cut the rest of the brooches. The felt cut really well and the cut out detail worked really well.

Contrasting detail

When Donna published photos of the finished brooches, I noticed that she’d added contrasting detail with wool embroidered through the small laser cut holes. It finishes them off perfectly!

 

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Morton of Pitmilly resort sign

Posted Posted in Signage, Wood

Eilidh from Morton of Pitmilly Countryside Resort needed a new sign post to direct her visitors around the site and asked if I could help. She’d seen a laser engraved wooden sign that a neighbour had commissioned, thought it looked very smart and was interested in something similar.

Sign design

Eilidh wanted a central post to stand outside reception with 14 fingers. She gave me a list of what was to go on each finger and which were to point left or right so I’d know which way round to engrave them.

Eilidh wanted a clear font, so I chose Arial and created a proof to match the wooden finger dimensions that she wanted. We decided that the text would be 70mm from the edge that would be inserted into the uprights. This would make sure that the text on all the fingers would be the same distance from the post, whichever side of the uprights they were on.

If I made the text 200 point, it fitted the finger shapes perfectly, and even the longer lines of text fitted the fingers comfortably. I sent Eilidh the proof and she was happy with it.

Wood to last the test of time

Eilidh contacted Frazer from FAR Cabinet Makers about the wood for the sign. As it was to be located outdoors, it was important to select the right wood. Oak always costs more, but it’s very beautiful and takes laser engraving very well. After some thought, Eilidh knew it was the right choice and would give the look that she wanted.

Engraving the oak fingers

When the oak was ready, I invited Eilidh to visit the workshop while I engraved the first finger. She had been considering colourfilling to make the text on the sign stand out, but I was convinced that this would not be required. If she saw the engraving and how it looked, she could decide for herself.

Eilidh and her mum were fascinated to see the laser at work, and completely agreed that the engraving was deep and dark enough to be clear. They picked up the fingers when they were all finished and their handyman assembled the sign and treated it for weather protection.

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Oak signs for The Green Lodge Aviemore

Oak signs for The Green Lodge Aviemore

Posted Posted in Signage, Wood

Helen asked me if I could make two oak signs for her holiday cottage, The Green Lodge, in Aviemore. It was about to open, and she thought that signs would be lovely finishing touches that would also help visitors to find it.

Making up proofs

Helen wanted two signs, a smaller one to sit by the front door, and a larger one to sit at the turn off to the house. She had a logo that she wanted on both signs. Helen decided that an arrow on the larger one would be helpful too.

She emailed me a black and white logo in PDF format which was perfect.  I could rescale it to two sizes , one for each sign, without loss of image quality.

Helen contacted Frazer at FAR Cabinet Makers to specify the wood and sizes for the signs. Then I prepared some proofs, locating the logos centrally within the shapes of the wood. The sizes I could engrave the logos was dictated by the width of the logo. It’s important to have enough white space around artwork so that it doesn’t look crammed in.

To make sure it was clear, Helen wanted the arrow on the larger sign to be long, sitting across the width of the sign. After she saw the proof, she decided on a smaller one in the bottom left corner. This was  definitely the right decision. While still very clear, the arrow was much more subtle and didn’t dominate the sign.

After a couple of proofs, Helen was happy and I engraved the signs.

Frazer Reid from @farcabinetmakers sanding down the Green Lodge house signs

Posted by The Green Lodge Aviemore on Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Finishing the signs

Helen came round to pick up the signs after I’d engraved them. She took them to Frazer’s workshop where he gave them a light sand and varnished them to protect them from the elements.  She loved watching the process, and made the film above.

Both photos were taken by her after the signs were installed. She’s delighted with them and they really suit the property.

The Green Lodge Aviemore sign lit up

 

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