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

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!

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

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.

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

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.

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

In/out boards for St Leonards school

Posted Posted in Signage, Wood

Nicole’s husband is the Housemaster at Ollerenshaw House, one of the houses where boarding boys live at St Leonards school in St Andrews. It was completely refurbished last summer.

All three boarding houses have in/out boards where the pupils indicate their location. Nicole and Rupert didn’t want to put up the old in/out board in the the redecorated house as it was functional but not beautiful.  They wanted something special, a piece of furniture that would look the part. They also wanted door signs for the boys’ rooms and keyrings for each room too.

A mutual friend gave her Nicole my name, and she visited the workshop to discuss ideas.

In/out board specification

Nicole had clear ideas of how the two boards with up to 20 names each were to function.

She wanted small wood ‘clickers’, pieces with the boys’ names on them. These would slide along channels under  a header inscribed with the following locations: Home, Campus, Town, Trip and Golf. She also wanted a picture of Ollerenshaw House at the top of each board if possible.

I showed Nicole some engraved wooden signs that I’d engraved for Jupiter Artland and The National Library of Scotland. She also saw sample badges that I’d cut and engraved from 6mm oak for Cambo Estate weddings team. Their size was exactly what she was looking for, and she loved the oak finish. I also explained to Nicole the maximum sizes of board the laser can accommodate.

Working with a local furniture maker

Engraving the house artwork, header text and making the clickers was possible for me. Making the boards was not something I’m set up for however. So I gave Nicole FAR Cabinet Makers‘s contact details.  Frazer is a furniture maker near Crail. I’ve worked with him on several projects including signage for Cambo Estate.

Getting to work

Nicole liked our ideas and quotes, and was keen to get to work. She hoped to have the boards made as soon as possible. She send me a list of the boys’ names and year groups and I created proofs for the clickers and the header boards.

Frazer delivered one board and the two strips for location text and two waney edged pieces for the house artwork. It was really useful to have the board in pieces to work on and I could double check measurements and fit.

All the pieces were solid oak except for the backing board. It was oak veneered mdf which made it easier and cheaper to make.

I tweaked the clicker sizes so they’d sun smoothly in the grooves that Frazer had made, making them 65 x 30mm. He kindly planed my oak planks down from 7.5mm to 5mm thick. Just as well I’d checked or they would have been too thick!

Then I cut and engraved the clickers and location strips and treated the clickers with antique oil.

Installing the in/out boards

Frazer  sanded, finished and assembled both boards and installed them in Ollerenshaw House last week. They look great, and Rupert, Nicole and the boys are really pleased with them. They really are pieces of furniture and a joy to use.

 

I’m going to write a separate blog about how I engraved the Ollerenshaw House artwork, and about the keyrings and door signs.

For obvious reasons, I’ve blanked out the name in the top photo as I can’t show pictures where any names can be read.

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

Laser engraving tiny text successfully

Posted Posted in How to, Wood

Maggie’s Fife is a much loved local charity that supplies practical support to cancer patients, helping sufferers with advice on everything from wigs to insurance, and how to explain things to families and friends.

Tu, their Centre Fundraising Manager got in touch. She wanted to create some baubles that people could sponsor as a Christmas fundraising campaign and wondered if we could create something together.

Bauble artwork

Tu wanted a bauble shape with the Maggie’s logo in the centre. She sent me a black and white pdf which was perfect for my needs. She also found artwork for a bauble shape she liked that was free to use and asked me to make the bauble shape 7cm in diameter.

After some feedback on an initial prototype, Tu sent a snowflake shape that she wanted dotted around to add more interest as the baubles looked a bit bare. To add variety, I suggested that I could vector engrave them. As vector engraving is more efficient than raster engraving, it would help to keep the cost down too. I added three snowflakes, resized and slightly rotated so they’d all look different.

Tu loved the proof, approved the quote and asked me to make an initial production run to get them started.

How to engrave tiny text

I knew that the biggest challenge with the baubles would be engraving the second line of text in the logo, ‘Everyone’s home for cancer care’.

When any artwork is miniaturised, whether logos or anything else, all details become smaller. It can be difficult to get good engraving resolution. In cases like this, I always do tests to ensure I’m happy with the results. If I’m not, I’ll offer solutions which can include enlarging or tweaking the problem details. Elements can be deleted altogether, or the whole product can be enlarged.

In this case, slowing the engraving speed significantly was enough to do the trick, along with selecting the right power so the text was clear, but not too heavy.

The E of ‘Everyone’ is just under 2mm high, and the smaller letters are just over 1mm high. They’re the smallest text I’ve engraved I think! It helped that the of the font was fairly bold to start with.

Tu wanted 50 baubles to start with, with the option to come back for more if they’re popular! If you’re interested in supporting the campaign, you can contact Maggie’s Fife.

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.