Learn more and access the files on Rachel’s blog: The Crafty Avenger
What is Lead to Life?
Lead to Life is an Oakland-based organization of black and queer artists, ecologists, and healers. The group is primarily focused on reversing the effects of violence against black people. They turn the metal from guns into tools that are then used to repair ecosystems, specifically in black neighborhoods.
Lead to Life’s goal is to empower racial and environmental justice through artwork. Their commitment to removing systemic oppression is done through what they call “applied alchemy,” or in other words using nature to provoke new ideas for justice. The group intends to create connections between restorative and environmental justice. The organization also aims to reconnect people to a more natural and peaceful life.
Lead to Life’s main purpose isn’t just to make gardens and have shovels with words on them (though those are both things they do). Lead to Life was created to foster peace in chaotic places, to provide a grounding factor that many people could use. It was because of this main driving force that Ace decided to collaborate with Lead to Life.
How Ace is Involved
Lead to Life and Ace Makerspace are running a joint project where Ace used its in-house tooling to create a fresh batch of shovel handles for Lead to Life. The three main people who spearheaded and worked on this collaboration were David Perry, Rachel Sadd, and Greg Habiby.
Rachel worked with the laser cutter, sanding blocks, and finishing chemicals, creating the shape of the shovel handle as well as polishing it. David was the primary user of the laser engraver that put the words into the side of each shovel handle. Greg took the role of photographer for the project, taking all the pictures that were used in this article.
Rachel answered a few questions about the project for this blog, ranging from what was challenging about the project to how being a part of this collaboration changed her.
As stated, Rachel worked on laser cutting the handles and polishing them. While working with the irregularly sized wood pieces and modifying the lathe to work properly, she had time to think about what the project meant to her. Lead to Life works with organizations she has a connection with, one of them being the Segoroea Te Land Trust. Both organizations work with community gardens and building relationships with nature, which are values that Rachel holds deep in her heart. Working with Lead to Life was a form of direct action that reminded Rachel of her connection to the Oakland community.
If you want to learn more about Lead to Life, check out their website at https://www.leadtolife.org/
So Ace is working on a holiday card and we need rubber stamps for some of the art. This is the tale of making rubbers stamps including all the mistakes on our 100w CO2 Laser.
- Scrap wood
- Gorilla Spray Glue
- Craft Foam
- Art Ink pads
- Laser Engravable Rubber Polymer, low odor, from rubber-stamp.com
The artwork… that is the first place things went wonky but I didn’t realize it until I cut. I had forgotten that engraving needed an outer boundary in order to drop out the right stuff. Check out these screenshots. Everything black in these images will be burned away.
The thing to remember with vector laser files, LaserSoft, and rubber stamps is:
- Mirror the art
- Set an outer boundary for the etching
- The outer boundary is the same as the cut line so you will need one object to be the boundary and one object on another layer to be the cut line.
Here are the results from the two files. As you can see the art in the first file didn’t match the intention.
Testing and getting the right settings down
The laser polymer comes with some settings but they are for much lower wattage lasers than ours.
It took a bunch of test etching to get to settings that worked. I used a focus range for etching. These are the settings we finally settled on:
- Cutting: 15/90/87
- Etching: 150/80/78 (make sure to turn on grade engrave)
Putting it together and what I learned about glue
So I cut the outlines out of some scrap wood and used e6000 glue to attach the rubber bit. The results were… bad.
The final product did work out well with a layer of craft foam and using gorilla spray glue.
The post-laser etching finishing and clean up
Laser etching rubber polymer is dirty. Really dirty. When the stamps come off the laser they should be soaked in the water right away for about 10 – 15 min. then scrubbed with a soft brush.
This is what a brand new filter looked like after 8.1min. of cutting and etching laser.
So we have been. having a great time with our new 100w Baracudda Laser from Light Object. Like any laser, there are fun times to be had with focus, and so on.
We have a slight wobble at high speeds and tight art we are fighting along with just learning what is the best default configuration for a wide community of users.
Below are a few picks today that show the difference between what I am getting with different lenses. I am cutting on 1/8 inch cabinet grade Russian birch plywood.
The one on the left was cut with a 2″ lens with these settings
- Cut: 30/55/50
- Partial Cut 55/12/12
- Etch: 400/30/.1
The one on the right was cut with a 2.5″ lens with these settings
- Cut: 30/35/30
- Partial Cut 200/12/12
- Etch: 600/30/.1
As you can see for the partial cut and sharp detail the 2″ lens was a way better bet.
We discovered that flat material really matters when your laser is new/focused properly. Here is a little movie that demonstrates. (sorry about the sound and the shakes… I am learning!)
This free workshop was a super fun pride project held on June 15th at the Golden Gate Library.
So this was an ambitious workshop where each person got to make a few pieces of custom laser cut jewelry out of wood or leather.
We learned a lot at this workshop. With a bit of restructuring, I would be interested in doing this again. All proceeds went to the new serger fund.