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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Personalising a Mr Cogsworth clock

Posted Posted in How to, Other

A customer asked if I could engrave a clock for his girlfriend’s birthday. He said it was made of wood and that there would be flat areas where I could engrave. It all sounded pretty straightforward, so when it arrived, he brought the clock round to the workshop.

A few surprises

Connor’s girfriend is Mr Cogsworth mad, so he’d bought her a Mr Cogsworth Dysney clock! When we had a closer look, it became clear that it wasn’t made of wood, but resin.

I know that I can get good engraving results with wood. I’ve engraved a resin items like sunglasses before, but this resin looked different.

The only way to see what results I’d get would be to test a spot.

Avoiding expensive mistakes

I asked Connor how much the clock was. It was much more than I’d expected! The last thing I wanted to do was engrave it, cause damage and have to pay for it. Connor understood by dilemma, but wasn’t quite ready to give up.

All I could suggest was to find a place where I could engrave a small, simple shape like a star where it would be hidden. If it worked, it could add to the message. If it failed, Connor wouldn’t hold me responsible.

A test engrave

We realised that the chamber for batteries and time adjustment was a flat panel held onto the back of the clock with magnets. This was perfect. It would be easy to remove and place flat in the machine for engraving. And I could engrave on the inside of the panel where it would be hidden.

I set up artwork for a small star and engraved it at the top of the panel. It worked! The star looked creamy in comparison with the orange background. There was a slight indentation too. Connor was delighted.

Engraving a message

We set up the text that Connor wanted. Then we had to decide where to engrave it!

There were two options.

  1. We could engrave the outside of the panel where it would be seen but wouldn’t be noticed so much at the back of the clock.
  2. We could engrave on the inside of the panel under the star I’d engraved.

Connor loved the second idea and thought it would be fun to give his girlfriend the battery separately. She’d have to put it in herself and then she’d see the message in a secret place.

Feeling very pleased with ourselves, I engraved the text below the star with a heart beneath. We were both so relieved that everything turned out well!

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.

How to raster engrave fine logos

Posted Posted in Corporate, How to

Xander Cloudsley  is a chocolatier. He started his business, The Edible Alchemist, in Glasgow this year.

He decided that he didn’t want sticky labels with his logo to put on his boxes of chocolates. Something more special was in order. After having a good look through my Instagram feed for some inspiration, he sent me a message asking if I could help.

An artwork conundrum

Xander knew that he wanted wooden circular tags about the size of a £2 coin with his logo engraved on.

When he sent me the logo file, I could see how fine the lines to be engraved were. I hoped that I could vector (line) engrave the lines to make sure they were clear.

Although he provided a pdf version of his logo which is made up of thin lines, it presented me with a few problems as illustrated by the logo image below:

  1. the lines making up the text, the chef and his spoon were made up of two lines where the space between the lines should be infilled
  2. the bubbles and the bowl were made up of single lines that should be engraved as the same thickness as the chef, spoon and text line thicknesses

I couldn’t vector engrave the lines in the first category as the laser would have drawn all the visible lines and there’d be no infill.

If I vector engraved the category 2 lines, they’d be too thin and would look lighter than the other lines of the chef, text and spoon.

What should I do?

The Edible Alchemist logo artwork

To raster engrave or vector engrave?

Raster (fill in) engraving was the only way to go without lots of logo surgery being necessary. I saved the logo as a high quality pixellated image. This allowed me to raster engrave all the lines so they’d be the right thickness. My only remaining challenge was raster engraving such fine lines clearly!

I suggested to Xander that 3mm ply would be best for the tags. As well as being very robust and good value, it’s very pale in colour. This makes it easier for fine logos stand out without getting lost amongst wood grain.

After I made a prototype that was 30mm in diameter to make sure the lines engraved nicely, Xander decided that 40mm was closer to what he wanted.  The logos on both were beautifully clear. After seeing both sizes as prototypes, he decided to place an order with a mixture of both sizes.

Engraving fine lines

The video below shows some of the tags being engraved and cut.  I used a slower engraving speed to make sure all the fine lines in the logo detail looked sharp.

Branded chocolate box tags

These wooden tags are another example of a design that can work hard. Xander not only uses them as tags on his chocolate boxes. They’re handy as point of sales branding at outlets including coffee shops that sell his chocolates. The picture below was taken in Artisan Roast‘s coffee shop in Glasgow.

 

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How to make designs work hard

Posted Posted in Designers, How to

Katie Gammie makes bags and lampshades with her screen printed designs, and creates prints too. As her business is called Katie Birdie (inspired by her school nickname) she commissioned some bird shaped tags with her logo on. They would be ideal for branding her products, especially her lovely bags.

Designing the tags

Katie wanted two sizes of tags for flexibility. She sent me vector format versions of the Katie Birdie bird shape and of her logo with the text of her business name.

I suggested that 3mm plywood would work well and that I could vector engrave the inner curve of the wing rather than cut it. I made up some proofs, resizing the birdies and the text to suit. Then I made a couple of prototypes to make sure that the tiny logo text would engrave well. I often engrave very small text, but I like to test each new product incase there are any surprises!

Katie loved the prototypes and commissioned a production run of both sizes to get her started.

Putting the tags to work

It wasn’t long before Katie was posting pictures of the tags in use on Instagram like the one above. People posted comments asking Katie if she could make key rings.

Christmas inspiration

A month or two later, Katie had another idea. Christmas was a couple of months away. She realised that her birdies would make great decorations. In her next order, she asked for quantities of both tag sizes with and without logos. Then she added some red fabric to the decorations and turned them into robins!

Here’s a picture of one that Katie made into a brooch and wore on her dungarees. The hanging hole doubles up as the robin’s eye.

Flexible designs

It’s great when customers can think of lots of applications for products like this to increase their sales. If artwork is in vector format, it’s easy to rescale for different applications, and design elements can be added or removed easily.

 

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.

 

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