Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Damn, I jumped down a rabbit hole with the laser. I can't stop cutting boxes.  This box is small, but the detail on that logo is amazing in its clarity. 


There's a new kid in town... well, new to us, at least!

A huge thank you to the Lazer Ladies, who donated this amazing Epilog laser engraver to the school. If you're not familiar with what they do, you really should click on that link and check out their site. 

They're amazing entrepreneurs, and their story is truly an interesting feat in assessing their market and starting a very successful business. 

MaryLou and Cindy warned me that the machine might need some maintenance and TLC to coax it out of retirement, as it had sat idle for a while.

But - when Cutting Edge Systemsfrom Costa Mesa, California offered to service our machine while they were in town servicing another customer - well, you couldn't ask for a better offer from both companies. 

Their technician ran us through hours of demos on maintenance, cleaning, and more, and within a few hours, we were up and running. As a sample, Dave printed this photo on a piece of aluminum - and this picture doesn't do it any justice. This looks better than a photograph, with perfect precision. Amazing clarity at 600 dots per inch. 

We tackled a few simple cuts, including this sign for the shop. We cut this design in a few different pieces of wood, experimenting with wood thicknesses and species.

Baltic Birch plywood here.  

Here's a piece of mahogany plywood. It's pretty interesting to watch the laser do its magic.

Seriously, this machine is nothing short of amazing. 

This opens up so many new avenues to explore - and in fact, we've just accepted a commission for which this machine will play an integral part. 

I'm ready to throw away my jigsaw....

Thanks MaryLou and Cindy for the donation - our work has just begun!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

As you might imagine, having the Glowforge laser engraver is opening up all sorts of new design avenues. I'm still taking baby steps, but right off the bat, I was able to cut and engrave these small boxes. 

Perfect for holding business cards. 

 But that's not all - I found a pretty amazing web page that allows someone to plug in a few dimensions and cut a custom sized box. 

Since my BoyFriday, Denny, is a huge Kiss fan, I pulled some clip art off the web and engraved a small box. 

Even better? I made a small puzzle for him, too. 

Together they make a fun little gift for a music fan.  The big news - we've acquired yet another laser engraver, and well.... this one is a powerful beast! 

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Glowforge has arrived...

Think back to 2016. 

July 4th, to be exact. 

Do you remember where you were, or what you were doing? (Besides watching fireworks, of course!)

Way back on the Fourth of July, 2016 - I ordered a Glowforge Pro unit.  You can watch a video on it here.

It took over a year and a half to get it, and there were times when I'd read message boards where people wondered if the machines were ever going to ship, or if the whole company was a sham.  But slowly, they started shipping, and as new owners fired them up and started cutting their first pieces, the internet lit up with excitement. 

My "day" came a few weeks ago. 

I'd received an email, announcing its imminent arrival, with tracking numbers for all the boxes heading my way. As a way of thanking buyers for their patience, Glowforge threw in a lot of goodies, including extra materials, extended warranties, and more. 

And then... the boxes started to arrive.

Their website has perfect instructions for unpacking the machine, and its set-up was so simple, even a kid could handle it. 

Pop the handles off, 

lift out the foam padding, 

and open the lid and remove even more padding. 

The crumb tray and vent hose were the last two parts of the puzzle, and I was ready to start cutting. 

Within minutes, it was connected to my computer, and recognized the piece of Baltic Birch plywood I'd inserted. 

Glowforge offers all sorts of files for people to start with; I chose the Founder's Ruler. 

Four minutes later, I had my first creation - and I have to say - my DVR is more difficult to use than this machine!

Here's a video - I can't wait to spend some time coming up with new creations!

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Pounding away at it....

One of the best benefits of having a studio in a warehouse complex where other artists are located is our collaborations - working on projects where we rely on each others talents. 

When you have Mario, a sign maker/graphics master, next door, It's easy to create a pedestal like the one I built last summer.  

This is the second time I've made one of these displays for the Interbike convention, so I already had their artwork in my computer. It was simple to email the graphics file to my neighbor, and after I built and painted the box - he applied the vinyl lettering. 

A simple and valuable collaboration. I love that!

The other day, I wandered over to another neighbor's studio, when I needed some metal parts fabricated for a new commission.  

He had a forge set up, where he was heating metal and pounding it into submission. Here's his simple setup... yes, that's his cool truck in the background. He's been working on that for a while, and it's going to be outstanding when it's done.

I'd never seen a portable forge like this, and it was pretty mesmerizing to watch him take a piece of heated metal and rough out the curve, then bend it around this form. 

His shop is filled with pieces and parts, awaiting fabrication into larger works of art, 

like this door.  

Hugo's an artist and a true craftsman, (and the sign maker's brother!) and can make just about anything - from gates and doors, to sculptures and architectural statements. 

One of the best kept secrets in North Las Vegas! (Well, maybe not anymore!)

Saturday, February 03, 2018

When it rains, it pours....

If it seems like I've been MIA lately, you're not wrong. 

I've been working my tail off, finishing up a ton of repairs and miscellaneous small things, with a few larger projects thrown in the mix.

For some reason, chair repair was on everyone's mind during the month of January. This bad boy came into my shop in five different pieces, and required some outside-the-box repair to get it back in shape.

I had to rebuild a few areas on the base, in order to re-assemble it Sort of like Humpty-Dumpty. But ... wood.

It seems like a few of these wandered in, to be re-glued and sent on their merry way. One thing's for sure, I don't like doing these repairs, but I feel like they provide a necessary service for the people in my area.  

In between all of that, we finished up a Spoon carving class that was very fun. 

This group was not only talented, 

but they had great chemistry and made some fun spoons.We started off with shallow spoons, 

but finished up the course with deeper ladles and even a bit of carving. I was quite impressed. 

My California connection shipped some fabulous slabs, and within days, they were almost all sold. This book matched set was snatched up almost immediately. 

These are the last three I have left, and I swear - these are the ones I liked best!

Seems like live-edge work was in demand - a student and I finished up her table, attaching the top at her nephew's house. This beast was gorgeous, the picture doesn't do it justice. 

 And I was working on this low table, a rush order that (sort of) kicked my ass! 

From glue-up, 

to staining, 

to lacquering  - I always felt like I was behind schedule and working to catch up on the other 25 things in my shop that needed attention.  

I scraped and sanded the shop until all of the flaws disappeared, and then did it again, and again. I've forgotten how much harder it is to work with softer woods!

But in the end - gorgeous!

Speaking of tables - this pub height table came to the shop, needing some TLC. It was too tall for the owner to get into his house! 

We ended up cutting the legs off, and then reattaching them with beefy bracing. 

A little unconventional, but at least they could get it into the house and raise it back up again. 

Finally (whew! - I told you we were busy!) - a few CNC jobs were knocked out, 

and ..... here's the big news.... 

the Glowforge finally arrived. 

What's that, you ask? 

It's only one of the most popular laser engravers on the planet, and I've been waiting since July, 2016 for it. 

Damn, we have some big plans for this, and I can't wait to spend some time with it. 

That will have to wait for now, I have too many projects in the pipeline to even open the box! Stay tuned... this is going to be big!