It’s almost been a full year since I first walked into the Aurora Yoga Center and took my first yoga class with Jeff Manning. And, as a laser cutter, a year since I spied the lovely handmade wooden yoga blocks in the studio and thought “I could etch those!” Fast forward to 2014; a new year for new ventures. I was thinking about projects for 52 Lasers, and Jeff and Lisa (his wife and owner of Nido Art Studio) were launching their own blog and an on-line shop for their popular Yoga Bones t-shirts. Perfect time for a collaboration – and I finally got to etch those blocks!
Yoga blocks, along with other types of props, are important in the practice of Iyengar Yoga (which has heavily influenced Jeff’s teaching style). The Iyengar method emphasizes detail, precision and alignment in the poses which can be difficult for beginners. The props help by minimizing strain and, more than once, have kept me balanced enough to not topple over. They are a yoga necessity for me!
Thanks to the T-shirts, the Yoga Bones designs were already in a file format we could use on the laser cutter (win!). Working with the Warrior II pose and the Yoga Bones Logo, we deeply etched the wooden blocks. They were a nice soft wood, pine I think, and the the laser took to them beautifully. The deep etch created a nice burn. If more color was needed, the lines could easily be finished with rub ‘n’ buff, or some other sort of color fill.
One of the passes was accidentally cut with CMYK values instead of RGB, which created an interesting dithering effect. The rule of thumb is that CMYK refers to inks and is best for printed materials, and RGB is based on light and best for screen and web. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and K is a black (which actually stands for “Key.”) Black can be made from mixing C, M and Y, but it’s cheaper to just use a black ink. But 100% K, or black, does not produce a true, saturated black, and, because it only uses one of the 4 channels of color, the laser interprets it as a half tone. If you look closely at the photo, you can see dither marks. RGB, or Red, Green and Blue, produces a solid black when all are set to zero – none of the channels are adding any color. It is a solid and true black, and because all channels are set of “0”, it is easily read by the laser cutter. (This is my interpretation of Ryan’s explanation with a little help from the web. Clear as mud?)