Once in a while I come across a job where I’ve got a handful of pre-cut shapes and I’ve got to etch a design onto them. This can be tricky for any number of reasons, but the issue I run into most often getting the alignment between the etch and the shape it’ll be on just right—it’s called registration. I don’t have one of those fancy lasers with camera-aided registration systems, so I’ve got to do it by hand. Most of the time the job is small enough that I don’t mind just sliding one shape at a time up against the x- and y-axis rulers, using the corner for quick edge registration, but sometimes you’ve got so many items to produce that this becomes inefficient. That’s what at template is for!
In this case, several dozen leftover pieces of bamboo from Jennifer’s super-awesome hex pendants were lying in stacks, wondering when they would themselves become useful. I like to stick tiny little free things in orders received at my Etsy shop like the wooden triforce eagle insignia that were cut a while back, but I’ve been out of random tiny little things for a while, so I decided to design some hex-shaped “tokens” with the Abecediary logo and my email. You can’t redeem anything with them, but having an email address for any custom laser geekery you have in mind has got to be pretty handy, right? I suppose they’re like tiny business cards, but cuter and slightly less useful.
There were a lot to cut though, so I took a piece of spare acrylic and cut a hexagonal grid into it, paths offset, allowing Jen’s leftover bamboo hexes to fit snugly inside. I made sure that the hex grid matched the layout of the design I would be etching into the surface exactly. I had long ago decided that this acrylic was scrap, but you can make a template with just about anything and most people prefer to use much cheaper materials like cardboard or chipboard.
The design itself was mostly achieved through light vector etching, with only the text and the ABCD logo being raster-etched. The result was cleaner than if I had used a deep raster etch on either side, and it afforded me a chance to get more familiar with using hairlines in design rather than relying on solid blocks.
If you’d like one for yourself, go nab an abecediary or a dialog box from the shop! There’ll be an extra tiny little bamboo token tucked inside. Unfortunately, I can’t fit the template in any of the envelopes I use for shipping so that’ll stay here.