Last week I booked a time slot at the Laser Cutting Cafe to try out having some of my paper cut work fabricated into other materials. I took two files with me to experiment with and came away with some very lovely results.
Since my previous visit to the Cafe, Derek (the owner) had acquired an even larger laser cutter than the previous two he has on site. It has a larger bed and a more powerful laser, and this is the machine I worked with.
Here you can see the file of my artwork on-screen. To create it I scanned the original, cleaned it up in Photoshop and then converted it into an outline using Illustrator. The highlighted bit indicates the area where the laser is currently positioned as it cuts.
I created two version of this piece using different materials. One is cut into an 8″ x 8″ wood cradle panel, and the other is etched into the surface of a piece of white mat board. I sized the artwork smaller than the original and I think some of the pieces that make up the word were a bit too tiny for the laser so there is some fine detail missing. Overall though, it is amazing to see this work translated into other materials.
The second artwork file I brought with me was the one I most wanted to see. I scanned one of the repeating crescent paper cut designs I’d created last year for the culture crawl, and chose a piece of 20″ x 12″ bamboo board to cut it into.
Watching the laser cutter reproduce something I’d made by hand was pretty weird but exciting. It took about half an hour to complete because the design is so intricate, and the material is fairly thick.
The finished piece is fantastic and so very beautiful. It smells a lot like a campfire, even days later.
I am so pleased with this experiment because it confirms a few ideas I’ve had around translating much of my work into other more durable materials than paper. The possibilities are endless.