The initial samples explored cutting through the pre-felt at various stages of felting to find a balance between being felted enough to give crisp edges but not too much so as to lose some softness and the technical ability for it to felt together as a fabric. The laser cutter has 3 variations to consider; the speed of the laser, the power of the laser and the frequency of the laser in relation to the speed. To reduce the flame and smoke the power needs to be reduced which restricts the depth of the cut. Each piece needed five to six passes at four to five minutes a go, to cut through each piece of felt. This made it a lot quicker and more accurate than by doing it by hand but was not as quick as I would have liked in terms of potential mass production or churning out samples.
The ice cream motif was developed using the vector drawing software Adobe Illustrator. This particular software is best for drawing from scratch and files can be saved in the appropriate format (EPS) for the laser cutter. The software is designed to take a motif and repeat it easily as a pattern. The stills (fig 4-6) show the design in full and also the separation of the components of the motif. Having the motif separated gave some flexibility and would enable the components of the design to be lasered separately if that was required.
The themes in my work are often based around childhood and/or found objects that interest me. I often start the creative process with photographs, objects and sketches. I see this stage as ‘ideas research’ and it often involves revisiting existing work or developing unresolved pieces. For this research I started with a photograph of myself as a child (fig 1) – the main focus and interest in this image was the ice cream. I often find it interesting to make relationships between objects and imagery and after finding an ornament of a boy with an ice cream (fig 2) this became the theme for the work.
The research examined the use of the laser cutter as part of a creative process in relation to my own professional practice.
My own professional practice has always explored the blurring of boundaries between disciplines, with materials and processes being tools and ways to articulate ideas. Combining traditional methods and techniques with new technologies adds another layer of context to my work as well as offering different sensibilities and aesthetics.