Tag Archives: typography

86: 3D Letters

Looks nice and solid for paper, eh?
Looks nice and solid for paper, eh?

So, apparently I’ve got weddings in the brain.  For a friend, of course, I got that done over a decade ago myself.  Bridesmaid dress is purchased, invitations are nearly done, we will scouting wedding venues this weekend!  For this week’s project, my mind turned to table decorations.

Making 3D letters has been on my list every since I saw the “8 bit” 3D word project in the book MiniEco by Kate Lilley.  There was not a lot of instruction in the book, and the only letters available were an 8, B, I, and T.  So, off to the internet!  I found three different free printable 3D letter sets (if you want to try this yourself!)

Mr. Printable’s 3D Alphabet

Punched out Font by Shasta – Extra cool because every letter is made of a singe piece of paper!

Alphabet by Digitprop – Seriously cute 3D letters in animal shapes!

Terrible colors in the photo, but the dark lines are a full cut, lighter ones are the scoring
Terrible colors in the photo, but the dark lines are a full cut, lighter ones are the scoring
Folding along the score lines revealed the card stock underneath.
Folding along the score lines revealed the card stock underneath.

Mr. Printable’s were my favorite, so we created a laser friendly version of the letter M, the new family’s last name.  The bride loves bright colors, and I had this fabulous peachy orange mulberry paper with gold designs.  I used spray glue and mounted it to 100 pound card stock, making it nice and sturdy.

The laser makes cutting outlines a piece of cake, but the best part is that the laser can score fold lines too.  It’s a light partial cut that lets you make all folds sharply and in the right place – it’s amazing.  Folding took zero thought!  (We also used this technique for Week 33: Google Cardboard as well.  For tips on paper cutting, check out Week 66: Tips for Laser Cutting Paper)

One side folded up!  I found it was easier to glue in the walls for the "v" of the m and inside legs before folding up the sides
One side folded up! I found it was easier to glue in the walls for the “v” of the m and inside legs before folding up the sides
Partially folded, this is what it looks like on the inside.
Partially folded, this is what it looks like on the inside.  I glued it so the tabs were inside.

It was a fun little project, and they were surprisingly sturdy when finished.  I can’t imagine making tons of them, but they would be super cute on a reception table.  Unless, of course, the bride asks.  I’m a sucker for helping and crafts!

Sides folded, just waiting for the back cover.
Sides folded, just waiting for the back cover.

85: Sticker Sheets

As part of a custom order of Ingress badges, I recently had a chance to revisit kiss cutting. I’d played with the process a few times before but not on 52lasers projects.

Kiss Cutting is one of the most popular methods for creating pressure-sensitive labels. During the kiss-cutting process, the perimeter of each label is cut by a sharp metal die or laser beam…but the cut does not penetrate the label’s backing material (liner). – Formax Printing

In this run, the client and I opted to use thin self-adhesive acrylic stickers to allow for adjustable agent levels, saving on badge reprints when agent levels change. Each badge was to receive its own accompanying sticker sheet with options for sixteen levels. Because it’d be just plain silly to have that many separate stickers to keep track of, using a kiss cut to carve stickers out on a rectangular sheet made a lot of sense.

16 levels. I am not a dedicated enough agent to get past level 9!
16 levels. I am not a dedicated enough agent to get past level 9!

With our 40w laser, I cut the sheets out of the LaserLights material at full power and 80% speed. The octagonal stickers themselves were kiss-cut at 35% power at full speed. It took a little nudging of the numbers to end up at that point; earlier kiss cutting attempts weren’t cutting all the way through the adhesive transfer paper but they were still scoring it enough to make removing stickers tricky.

The sticker sits in a deeper engraving on the badge so that it's protected from accidentally being removed.
The sticker sits in a deeper engraving on the badge so that it’s protected from accidentally being removed.

While the stickers turned out great and will perform their function admirably, the aesthetic clash between silver foil/black stickers on fluorescent transparent green acrylic is stronger than we’d like, so future runs are likely to utilize a different adjustable level solution.

The engraved sticker channel depth is clearly visible from the back.
The engraved sticker channel depth is clearly visible from the back.

84: Color Fill

The blank barrel plaque.
The blank barrel plaque.

Recently, a potential client handed me a nice thick piece of finished hardwood and asked me to see how it looked when laser engraved. The goal is to create a higher quality look than the simple ink stamp he had used for these barrel-shaped plaques previously.

I prepared some engraving tests on the back surface with several power and speed settings to determine how much power the wood needed to get past the stain. As it turned out, no matter how much power I pushed at it, the deep stained grain made the logo and company name illegible. It was a perfect opportunity to try out some color fill paint that Jennifer and I have had for a short while but hadn’t used yet.

The initial test engravings were not visible enough against the strong contrast of the wood grain.
The initial test engravings were not visible enough against the strong contrast of the wood grain.
Pro Color Fill paint that doesn't stick to transfer tape. Whew!
Pro Color Fill paint that doesn’t stick to transfer tape. Whew!

I previously used some acrylic paint to fill in an engraved picture frame, but the way the acrylic paint attached itself to the transfer tape made pulling the tape away into a meticulous, time consuming affair. We even needed to touch some areas up after removing the tape because the paint had come with it! Thankfully, this new color fill paint was made specifically to work in tandem with laser engraving. While it’s primarily made to be used to fill engravings on acrylic, my material was a grainy wood. Because I wanted to avoid paint sticking inside that grain, I put down transfer tape before engraving.

I used transfer tape to keep the paint in the engraving and off the wood surface.
I used transfer tape to keep the paint in the engraving and off the wood surface.

 

I ran two tests, one for a “titanium white” color fill and one with standard black. While the white was immediately and clearly visible, that also meant that some tiny bits of paint that got into the grain underneath the transfer tape were also very noticeable. I could probably prevent that by putting down a clear coat first, but I’d have to make sure to get a clear fill material that wouldn’t adhere to the transfer tape like the acrylic paint used on the aforementioned frame.

The white paint bled a little into the grain.
The white paint bled a little into the grain.

The black test is a little harder to read on the already dark wood, but any leaks into the grain were also undetectable and the black filled engraving more closely matched the client’s previous ink stamp design.

The front engraving, all ready to be filled!
The front engraving, all ready to be filled!
A close-up of the foxy logo.
A close-up of the foxy logo.
A front shot; the lower half would feature an engraved brass plate with a name on it.
A front shot; the lower half would feature an engraved brass plate with a name on it.

83: Lacing Cards

The lacing card activity idea has been in my back pocket since probably the start of the blog, thanks to Rebecca at Hugs Are Fun, who is totally a pro at the whole mom thing.  She knew that lacing cards were a great toddler activity that can keep little hands busy.  And busy is what I needed last weekend, when I was road tripping with a toddler (and her parents, thank goodness!)

The lacing cards on top of the trusty Buick that holds 4 good sized adults and a toddler in a car seat.
The lacing cards on top of the trusty Buick that holds 4 good sized adults and a toddler in a car seat.

I was not her only source of entertainment, but little Z is a busy 2 year old girl that would be trapped in her car seat for 3 + hours as we drove to pick blueberries in Michigan.  The lacing cards were easy to whip up with some of my preexisting designs.  Most commercially available ones seemed to trace around a known shape, so I chose to make a cloud outline and a square with her initial on it.  Around the edge are 1/4 circular holes, the same size as a standard paper punch.

To shake things up, I also scaled up the rectangle cross stitch pendant, and made the holes big enough to accommodate a shoe lace.  This way Z could stitch designs if desired, rather than just tracing.

Z knowing exactly what to do!
Z knowing exactly what to do!

I will admit, I may have played with them more than Z did, but they were a hit.  Apparently lacing cards are a thing every toddler knows these days, so no instructions were needed.  And Z’s mom really liked the multi-holed option, for even more creative play.

I got a little creative and laced it up like a shoe for a bow tying activity.  I love the multi-color laces!
I got a little creative and laced it up like a shoe for a bow tying activity. I love the multi-color laces!
Busy working at the card on the way home, after a long afternoon of berry picking.
Busy working at the card on the way home, after a long afternoon of berry picking.