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.

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

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.

engraved Mr Cogsworth clock

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!

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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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How to raster engrave fine logos

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
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.

Wooden label used for branding at point of sale

 

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