Our story of the M begins when my friend Tiffany from While You Were Out Pet Sitting Service mentioned she was doing a charity event called Red, White & Black: 100 Square Feet of Art. If you remember the old “250 Square Feet of Art” event the Eisner used to hold (and I took part in) it’s like that. Artists create 12″x12″ boards, and they get auctioned off. So I volunteered.
I started with this letter M, in the typeface Umbra BT. I liked the 3D quality of it, and since I also love using the laser cutter at Milwaukee Makerspace, I had a plan.
The Photoshop mock-up was just an idea, so I re-created the letter M in Inkscape to prepare it to be laser cut. You’ll notice right now that the M in the first image and second image don’t match exactly. (I wish I had noticed at the time!)
I cut the shapes out of 1/8″ Baltic Birch plywood. My plan was to cut one board like this, and I’d the use the pieces to attach to another board, and the template piece as an assembly guide. Good idea, right? Right.
My next thought was, “Why waste full boards to get more pieces?” and I arranged the pieces to minimize waste. This works well for general assembly of things, but for art, maybe not so much. The pieces cut fine, but I did have to deal with kerfs, some scorching, the grain of the wood, etc. None of those things were huge deals, but they’re things to be aware of in the future.
At this point it was just a matter of assembly. A bit of glue, and bit of wood stain, what could go wrong?
There was a lot of time spent with the glue and the clamps. Well, most of the time was spent waiting for glue to dry. I obviously need another 20 spring clamps. Just for fun, this is about the time I got sick and had a work overload, so I started getting really concerned about completing this on time. (It gets worse.)
Here it is done! I call it “M1” by the way. An “M” for “Milwaukee” or “Mike” or “Mary” or whatever you like… or you could flip it over and make it a “W” for “Wisconsin”, etc.
I also had a nightmare time with the wood stain, though I managed to recover that by changing the piece. I learned everything I’d forgotten about staining wood in the 20 years since I’ve last done it.
Here’s a side view of M1 showing the dimensionality of the piece. The M is about 3/8″ thick.
But wait, what’s that? I still have that leftover piece that I used as an assembly template! Hmmm…
Yeah, here’s “M2” as it were. I figured that a perfectly nice piece of laser cut wood should not go to waste, so I came up with another idea. I reversed the color scheme of the stains on the two pieces of wood, attached the front piece to a back piece, and blammo! Another wonderful(?) piece of laser cut art.
I think I may actually like M2 better than M1, maybe just because of the process that created it, but hey, you be the judge, or the critic, or the bidder, or whatever. Cheers!