Posts Tagged ‘laser engraving’

So, I’ve been thinking about art and technology. In my fantasy life, I am an artist. In my real life, I an educator with access to a lot of technology and art supplies.

Recently I have been using Adobe Capture (the free app version) to create black and white images that I then cut into wood on the lasercutter and print. First, use the ‘shapes’ feature in Adobe Capture. I can use the sliding scale to determine how much black I want in the image. Below you can see the image I was using and how Adobe Capture transformed it.

Next I put the image into Adobe Illustrator, did the image trace, expanded it and deleted a few stray bits. Then I raster engraved that image onto wood using the lasercutter. I reversed the black and white so that the lasercutter cut away all the areas of white, leaving the raised portions the equivalent of the dark areas in the image. From there, I could ink the wood and print it on paper.


The question I have is, although the print is quite nice, I am wondering if it is art. I mean how much did I really do here? I found the chair sitting as is in my house. I did move some junk and maybe a cat off of it. I used the app to take a picture, cropped out what I didn’t want, used the slider to decide the black/white balance, which the app implemented. This is the hard part, in my opinion. I made minimal changes to the image. The lasercutter cut the wood. I inked the block and put the paper on.

I don’t know. I didn’t draw or cut the print image. I made minimal decisions about color and paper. I chose the amount of black and white, altered lighting a bit to get the pattern I wanted.

This makes me think of the picture book Seen Art by Joe Scieszka and Lane Smith. (Our main character ends up in the MoMA in New York and keeps asking if anyone has “seen Art?” Various people talk to him about the works in the museum including the helicopter that hangs from the ceiling, which the other museum patron recognizes for its engineering but admits some wonder if it is Art. Finally, our hero finds what he has been looking for–his friend Art.) As I think about this, I wonder if I can come to terms with this idea be taking into account the lower case or capital a in art. Maybe these prints (I have many more) are not capital A Art (said with deep, serious voice), but maybe they are small a art, which is probably about right for me.


So, I’ve been thinking about maker projects and STEAM a lot lately. I co-taught a minor class last year called Digital Fabrication. It only met a time or two a week and was ungraded. We worked with soldering circuits, 3D printing, and laser cutting/engraving. Let’s just say, I was not an expert in a lot of this.

It turned out not too many of the students were either. My co-teacher had a lot of technical skills. I provided some creative ideas, gender diversity, and a more artistic perspective. Now that it’s summer, I need to learn some more about the tools we use. We have a few 3D printers, soldering materials, and a laser cutter/engraver. I have done some soldering in the past and am a fairly confident solderer, but not exactly a circuitry expert. (When I was younger one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up was a stained glass window repairer.) My colleague and co-teacher is not only good with circuits and soldering but has also done quite a bit of 3D printing, so we have some know-how there. That leaves laser cutting/engraving wide open, waiting for an expert. My other colleague, @Mr_Fornaro has also been working on learning the ins and outs of the laser engraver.

On a VERY rainy Sunday, I went to the Department of Making and Doing to take a class on laser cutting/engraving with the @Betny802. It was supposedly about using the laser cutter for jewelry making, but it didn’t really matter what you made. We worked in Adobe Illustrator and got the very basics. There is plenty more to learn and practice, plenty. But, I now know what kinds of things I need to know, which is not only a step up, but also makes it easier to progress. Plus, is there a better way to spend a Saturday than making stuff? I will answer this for you. No, there is not.

So, we learned a few basics about Adobe Illustrator and were off. @Betny802 tweeted this at the end of the class.

I also made a chicken pendant which I put on some reddish cord I had at home. I wore it to school last week. I thought central administrative team meetings might benefit from a humorous accessory.

Photo on 7-2-15 at 3.49 PM

I can’t wait to learn more about Adobe Illustrator. Summer is so great.