LMLL & LLS Illustration

I recently completed another fun project for a client. (Okay, it was really for my wife because I enjoy taking on projects like this.) She’s been meeting with colleagues outdoors (distanced, with a campfire) for the past few months and asked if I could do some sort of logo for the group.

The brief from the client said “Draw a hoe!” So I drew a garden hoe. Now, typically for these things I’ll find a few reference photos, load one into Illustrator (or Inkscape) and create a layer on top of it then do a lot of tracing and drawing to get the general outlines, then fill in some colors, then try to add some highlights and shadows.

Here’s the first hoe, which I was pretty happy with. The client saw it and said “Well, it needs to be a delicate hoe…” and described it a bit more, so we did some image searches until we found one she liked, and I modified things to match.

Here’s the first draft. Originally there was a plan to make these into patches or badges or something, so I kept things pretty simplified and blocky, but as we discussed things more we decided that laser-etched coasters might be better. That also meant the design could be more detailed.

Oh! The client said maybe it needed something else, a wine bottle perhaps? Back to the art board! I found an image with five different styles of wine bottles and asked her to choose a style, then I illustrated it and added it in, along with a nice scalloped ring that was more that just a plain circle.

I’ve made tons of laser-etched wooden coasters, but since we had a full-color illustration I first had to convert it to a one-color design, which I did.

Fun Fact: The text on the wine label is “Lake Mills Winery” translated from English to French, and the client (who does speak French) pointed out it would probably be “Vignoble Mills Lac” or something. I am not a French speaker. We left it as it was.

The request was for four coasters, but I ended up making eight of them, with the assumption that at least four would come out good, and I could ignore the lower-quality ones. In the end they were pretty equal. Sorry, no photos of the laser etching! I was in a rush to get this done. One thing I am not sure about is that I used water-based polycrylic instead of oil-based polyurethane, which… I don’t know. I’m a fan of the cleanup, but I’m not convinced polycrylic is as nice as polyurethane (especially when heat it applied.) Well, we’ll see how it goes.

This was a fun project, and I am mostly pleased with the outcome. (If I’m honest, I am never completely satisfied with how my projects come out, which is probably good because it means I keep striving to do better. Yes, let’s go with that.)

Oh, I did have fun doing this project and I managed to learn a few new things in the process, so that’s a win in my book!


Laser-Cut iMac Holder Plate

In the studio at Brown Dog Gadgets we added an iMac on a rolling cart to the photo area of the studio so we could shoot tethered using a Canon M50. Josh had some concerns about putting a top-heavy iMac on a rolling cart, so I mentioned that we could secure it to the top, and then he sent me a link to this post How I work now – the iMac stand and I told him that was exactly what I was thinking.

I designed a few pieces to do the job. The smaller “front bottom” pieces are 1/8″ thick Baltic Birch plywood, and the larger pieces are 1/4″ Baltic Birch plywood. I cut them on the laser cutter and did a test fit…

The holes are meant to allow for 1/4-20 bolts to be fed through to secure it to the top surface of the cart. And yes, the iMac stand is really close to being 1/8″ thick…

Looks good! Adding this in should prevent the iMac from toppling over while on the cart. And to be fair, we don’t wheel this cart around at any high speed. It’s a large, heavy cart so it’s a slow mover on a smooth concrete floor. But the extra precaution is definitely a good idea.

I added another plate to the back just to prevent the iMac from sliding backwards at all, and so far this has worked out well.


Recording Sign

I recently made a few “Recording” signs for Brown Dog Gadgets so that when we are recording or streaming no one opens the doors to the studio. This is one of those projects where I thought about it too long instead of just getting busy making it. And of course, like everything, there’s the issue of it being “good enough” versus being “done” and yeah, I just need to find a middle ground between those two things.

I did a quick design in 2D so I could laser cut some 1/8″ Baltic Birch plywood. I didn’t put calipers on the wood so the fit was a little tight, but nothing a few minutes of sandpaper couldn’t solve. Also, since I painted the pieces it slotted together fairly tight so I didn’t even add the 3mm hardware I had planned on. I’m pretty sure if it falls off the wall there’s about a 50% chance it’ll stay put together versus coming apart. I’ll call that a win.

Josh and I talked about using an ESP8266 so we could control it from the studio wirelessly, or just running power to it from within the studio but in the end I just went really simple (hey, it’s version 1.0) and there’s an ATtiny85 programmed using the Arduino IDE to just blink a string of NeoPixels on and off in red. Simple works and usually gets done… eventually.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll make a version 2 that is controlled via WiFi and use matte paint instead of gloss and actually design in an on/off switch hole instead of drilling it later. Stay Tuned!


Cupcake Sans WiFi

Josh at Brown Dog Gadgets has a saying “Don’t add WiFi to a cupcake”, which sounds weird, but what it means is, don’t over-complicate things. A cupcake is delicious all on its own, and you don’t need to add WiFi to it. Lots of products have WiFi that probably don’t need it. (See @internetofshit if you doubt me.)

Anyway, I grabbed this cupcake and modified it a bit for some laser cutting fun using some stiff felt. I cut three different pieces then layered them and stuck them together with spray glue.

The letters were not cut out, but instead I used a “stitch” effect by outline them using LightBurn‘s Perforation Mode. (And yes, I’ve tried etching felt… it does not really work.)

You can set the length of the cut and then the gap between the next cut. It’s a handy feature for sure. (Yes, you can do this in your vector editing application before you load your file into LightBurn, but it’s helpful to tweak it to exactly what you want when you send the job to the laser.)

Of course I had to add a red LED to one of them, along with a CR2032 and some Maker Tape to complete the circuit…


Acrylic Bender

I made an Acrylic Bender. If you are one of the people who appreciates that joke, I appreciate you. I mean, it’s an Acrylic Bender, not an Acrylic Bender, an Acrylic bender, or even an acrylic Bender

Sheesh! Look at that face… it’s a face only a mother could love. Seriously folks, this “Acrylic Bender” joke is like six years in the making. I really hope you appreciate it.

I etched the acrylic as I usually do, with LightBurn and the RasterLaser upgraded with a Cohesion3D board…

After etching I applied some black Speedball block printing ink and spread it over the surface, pushing it into the etched areas. I then wiped it off the top surface with toilet paper… Just kidding! I used paper towel. (That joked will not age well.)

Thank you for reading this post, meatbag… also, bite my shiny, metal plastic ass!