Sarah Peterson Design's geometric clocks

Sarah Peterson Design’s geometric clocks

Posted Posted in Designers, MDF

Sarah decided that she wanted to create some colourful geometric clocks to sell in her furniture restoration shop in Perth, Sarah’s Attic.

She needed shapes for the clock faces and supplementary shapes to decorate them with, but couldn’t make them herself. Sarah wondered if I could make them from 4mm mdf for her and she would paint and assemble them in her workshop.

Experimenting with clock prototypes

Sarah settled on three basic clock face shapes – square, round and oblong – and she sent pdf artwork files for each shape.  Another pdf file contained the smaller shapes for decoration including triangles, rectangles and semi circles.

Initially, I cut a sheet of each file and sent them to Sarah to make some prototype designs with.

It wasn’t long before Sarah was experimenting with all the clock shapes and posting some photos on Instagram. She has an amazing eye for colour, and the layered 4mm thick shapes added 3D interest. Sarah has a reputation amongst her customers for great colour combinations that have a real sense of fun.

Square clock
Square clock

Making new products

It’s always tricky deciding what new products will appeal most to customers, and estimating how many you can sell. Making prototypes helped Sarah get a feel for how they’d look and cost, and that helped her decide how many to make. Then she tweaked the artwork file for the small shapes to add new ones that she wanted and placed an order.

Cutting geometric shapes

MDF doesn’t look like the most inspiring material, but it’s good value and cuts well as you can see in the video below. The shapes didn’t look very exciting in plain MDF, but they look fantastic when painted and assembled into Sarah’s clocks.

The two pictures above are two of the designs she makes. You can see more of them on Sarah’s Attic homewares page.


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Oak and leather menu boards

Oak and leather menu boards

Posted Posted in Corporate, Leather

Homefield Grange is a luxury health and wellness retreat. They wanted oak and leather menu boards for their spa treatments and  commissioned Caroline from Butterscotch Design to design something special. She got in touch to ask if I could make and assemble the boards for them.

What the customer wanted

Caroline said that her customer was looking for oak boards with a leather cover that would sit over the paper menu. The wood, paper and leather would be held in place with a metal plate.

Caroline specified the size and thickness of the boards. She also wanted each one to have a waney edge  on one side. Waney edges are from the barked edge of the log which is never straight. They make each piece individual and even more tactile.

Homefield Grange’s logo was to be engraved on the backs of the oak boards. Related artwork around the flower design was to be engraved on the leather cover too.

I explained to Caroline that I could do the engravings and cut the leather pieces, but I’d need to work with a furniture maker to create and assemble the boards. Caroline agreed, and Kirsty of  SK Furniture Design came on board.

Measure twice, cut once!

First, Caroline wanted some samples for Homefield Grange to approve. They weren’t sure how the engraved leather would look and wanted to see how the boards would look when engraved too. Would the detail look clear?

Oak boards

Kirsty created sample boards and sourced and painted the metal clips.  I engraved the boards with Homefield Grange’s logo. The tiny flower in the middle was a challenge as it was so tiny and detailed. I slowed the machine down to get good resolution on all the detail and it worked perfectly.

Then Kirsty gave the boards a final sand to remove the discolouration around the engravings and finished the boards to protect the wood and bring out the beauty of the grain.

Leather covers

Caroline wanted a larger but very intricate flower design engraved on the leather. We experimented with raster and vector engraving as they look very different. Caroline and her customer chose raster engraving as it looked softer, and all the detail  came up nicely without cutting through the leather in places on the back in areas where details overlapped. The picture below is a close up of some of the engraved detail.

Caroline sourced some leather in a lovely asparagus colour.  She had a whole hide sent to me to cut the pieces from! It was much bigger than the machine, but I managed to roll up one edge to make it fit.

When they were finished, Kirsty assembled each board with its leather cover and clip. We felt so proud of our beautiful boards.

Seal of approval

Caroline loved the results and said that they were very well received at Homefield Grange. Another happy customer!


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

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.

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.


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.