Whenever I see a papercraft project online that involves a lot of precise x-acto blade cutting, a part of my brain usually reserved for laying out SNES SimCity towns activates and taunts me, “Oooh, you could do this hour long cut in like one minute! You should totally make one of these!”
Thanks to the vector sleuthing work of those X-ACTO wielding warriors before me, setting up the cut and score lines was a much simpler task than if I had to figure the shape out myself. I spent much more time aligning two sides of the design to create an opening chest similar to “yetanothrs” neat Zelda project. When you open the card, the lid lifts up and the heart “rises up” out of the chest. It’s a subtle effect, but totally worth the extra time spent getting the alignment between the outside and the inside right.
Okay, this one has been on the list forever, and it was so easy it almost feels like a cop out. But the results are pretty adorable!
Buttons have a history stretching back at least 5,000 years, and are as often decorative as functional. They can be made of nearly anything – wood, plastic, shell, leather or even metal. There are several ways of attaching buttons – the sew through method is the most popular, followed closely by shanked buttons (or buttons with the loop on the back.)
Sew through buttons are also called flat buttons, and are easily replicated with a laser cutter. So, to make this post, I basically had to pick my favorite designs, and decide where the holes would go! I found that in designing I preferred the 2 hole look, while Ryan had the four hole mindset. In doing a little research, apparently 4 hole buttons are used more regularly on menswear. I had no idea! Perhaps it’s assumed men are a bit more rough on their clothing and need a stronger button attachment.
Buttons have a whole different measurement system, as any serious sewer or button collector would tell you. Buttons are measured in “lignes“. I decided to make my buttons medium sized, between 3/4″ and 1 1/4”, or 30-50L (lignes). The holes are 2mm, which just seemed to fit rationally with the button surface area.
I’ve been wanting to try making buttons for years, so I had a package of glue on shanks ready for the occasion! Find a strong enough glue, and virtually anything can be a button! I recently made a vintage camper design for a swap, and it makes a perfect button. Putting holes into it to make it a sew-through button would just mar the design.
Overall, I’m tickled with how they turned out. My favorite are definitely the anchors (a new jewelry design) followed closely by the Moroccan inspired set and the Starmen. Now I just need to learn to sew so I can have something to put them on! Any of the Isette or Beadeux designs you’d like to see at buttons?
This week, Jennifer and I have been super busy preparing for Show of Hands in Chicago. We’ll be there at the Isette booth (come visit if you’re local) and will be selling Jennifer’s work from Isette and a I’ll have a selection of wooden products from Pixelaser. But because we’ve been so busy with prep, I haven’t had a chance to really prepare a project of our own this week. Thankfully, the folks at Eagle Engraving had some materials they wanted to test engraving on but have been too busy to process: fleece blankets.
Eagle provided two fleece blankets, one with a Maltese fire department emblem already engraved onto it, and a similar blank fleece blanket from a different provider. The Maltese example was allegedly laser engraved, so it stands to reason we should be able to recreate the look of it with our available laser power.
Since I was planning on keeping the fleece blanket I engraved, I wanted to choose a design more appropriate for me than a fire department Maltese. I chose the logo that appears at the end of Super Metroid, which came back up on my radar when I was engraving Super Metroid tool icons into magnets last week.
I don’t spend a lot of time engraving fabrics, but I knew fleece wouldn’t require that much power to engrave. This was good, because I was asked to determine how quickly the material can be engraved—to keep costs down should it be a product in the future. With this in mind, I started by setting my raster engraving density to its lowest setting, which meant that the laser would be leaving quite a bit of space between each raster-engraved horizontal line. I assumed this would be fine because of the material’s sparse fibers. Then I set the laser power setting to only 10% (my laser is 40w, for reference).
I then had to make sure I folded the blanket very evenly so that it would fit in the laser bed and retain a flat surface. Even at low powers, I was worried about the engraving issues having an uneven surface would cause, so while getting out all of the little folds and lumps took some time, it was time well spent.
A quick test engraving in an inconspicuous area let me know that this was too low, so I gave it another test at 35%, which resulted in an engraving very similar to the one featured on the Maltese blanket. One full size, 12″ square engraving later, and I now have my Super Metroid fleece blanket, just in time for Summer. Hah!
For most of the magnets I make for Pixelaser, I use a 1/2″ or 1″ wide roll of magnet cut down to a size that will fit easily on the back of the piece in question. The end result is a magnet that looks pretty awesome from the front but suffers from a significant lip on the back. It can also make preparing magnets for acrylic pieces of more complicated shapes pretty difficult.
One of my laser material suppliers offers a magnet with a cap layer that you can engrave away, and since it’s laser safe you can cut whatever shape you’d like out of it. Unfortunately, the only color options offered are a brushed silver and brushed aluminum—great for some uses, but not great for the icons and dialog boxes I enjoy. But then I found some laser-safe, pre-adhesive magnet sheets that I could stick to the back of any of my acrylics. I knew I wanted to find a better magnet solution for one product I’ve been working on, and this seemed like the right direction, so I ordered some material and got to work!
Adhering the magnet to the back of the acrylic was no trouble, but I did have to pay attention to air bubbles and made use of Jennifer’s brayer to flatten the magnet down. In a few spots where air bubbles persisted, I used a razor to cut a tiny incision into the magnet, which made it much easier to squeeze the air out.
I had a few different designs I wanted to test with this new magnet backing. One, a selection cursor from Final Fantasy VI, featured a varied edge and would be a good test of how well the magnet can deal with more complicated shapes. Another, a custom magnet design based on a user’s Miiverse posts, is a much simpler rounded rectangle but is much more of an eye-catcher, featuring example Miiverse posts by super artist Drew Wise! For fun’s sake, I also created icon magnets featuring weapons and tools from Super Metroid.
Engraving the material worked exactly as it always has, since the top layer is the same acrylic I’m used to working with. I did have to adjust the depth to account for the new layer of magnet, though, and I had to increase the laser cutting power just a little to power through the magnet. The finished pieces come out pretty messy (nowhere near as dirty as laser rubber) but some isopropyl alcohol fixes that right up.
Because this week’s project went so well, I’ve gone ahead and made a listing for the custom Miiverse post magnets. If you’ve made some kick-ass pixel art on the Nintendo 3DS or Wii U Miiverse, you can have it made into a physical magnet for only $12! Got a friend with that artistic knack? Send me their NNID instead and I’ll engrave a magnet you can present to them as an awesome personalized gift. Check the listing for more details.