Fired up by the sewing lab from a few weeks back, one of our Making Social Change groups ran with the quilt theme, creating an A-Z of Planned Parenthood quilt as their final group project. They used the laser cutter to cut various shapes and letters, and employed a variety of techniques, including embroidery and applique, to create their squares, and PVC pipe to assemble the frame.  Here they are putting the finishing touches on their project.

Preparing for Visit from Planned Parenthood

On Thursday, December 7, representatives from Planned Parenthood tabled outside the Falcon’s Roost, and our students staffed the booth and displayed their quilt. They got a lot of foot traffic, answered a lot of questions, and distributed lots of literature, including some from built-in pockets on the quilt.

Planned Parenthood!

It’s great to see our students using their skills and passion to take a project from idea to application, and this project is a perfect example of exactly what we hoped would be the outcomes of this course when it was just some ideas on a whiteboard back in 2015.

This is Tom, and he recently finished installing our magnificent sink.

Wood Turner Turned Plumber

Tom is a wood turner, and after spending some time in the space and seeing the capabilities of the laser, thought he might like to try to engrave some of his work. He brought in a pear bowl he had recently turned, and Rebekah (student and Innovation Center student employee) and I figured out how to use the auto-focus feature of the laser – we don’t use this much, and perhaps the only other time it’s come into play was when we tattooed a pumpkin back in October – to successfully engrave his signature on the bottom of said bowl.

Signature Bowl

The sink, by the way, has a built in eye wash, something that we we’re happy to have for safety reasons…

Sink and Eyewash in all their Glorw

…and for friendship! 🙂

Tramp and the Tramp

Behold the Ion Drive!

Ion Drive MK 04

Students Andrew Canafe, Tristan Chutka, and David Taylor created the project for their Physics 421 course, and used the Innovation Center’s laser cutter to produce the final parts. Here’s a video of its majesty. Note the safety key and prominent warning sticker. Try this at home, kids, but do it safely!

I’ve been working off and on for months on a furniture project, a set of cabinet door panels inspired by the Japanese woodworking art of kumiko. Today I was finally able to laser cut a full-scale prototype of the project.

Kumiko Laser Panel

Here’s a look at the Illustrator file, a painstakingly assembled collection of hexagons, based on three archetypes:

Kumiko Screenshot

Here’s what was left in the laser:

Kumiko Negative

I couldn’t be happier with the result, and it’s particularly thrilling to hold in my hand something that has lived for so long inside my head and on a computer screen.

Update – Amazing when backlit!

Chemistry Extra Credit Chips

Dominic Green (Chemistry) and I collaborated on these General Chemistry extra credit coins, and used the laser cutter to etch and cut them.   Dominic will distribute them to students who earn extra credit in class, and then collect and tally them at the end of the semester.

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The hardware store was blowing out these Halloween ghost-projecting LED lights for $5, so I picked up a couple, with the intent of modding them to project images of our own choosing.  After some initial hassle getting the nonstandard screws out of the housing, we were able to pull the whole thing apart, after which CJ (student) laser cut a new projection mask featuring Nova, our mascot.  Behold!

A couple of additional laser + fabric experiments…

Our first fire! 🙂  Here we were cutting very fine letters, and it was a little too much for the fabric to handle.

Burnt

Here’s FLC’s Feminist Alliance logo on some contrasting fabric.

Feminist Alliance in Fabric

Our next step will be to try the process with fusible appliqué paper.

At the Rocklin Mini Maker Faire this past weekend, I spent a lot of time in the sewing lab, and was able to gain some confidence in working through the sewing process. Diane Carlson (Sociology) and I have been working to develop a collaborative quilting activity for our Making Social Change class, and one thing we’re really interested in is using the laser cutter to cut fabric.  As it happens, I had an appointment yesterday morning with Mark Boguski (Ceramics and Ceramic Sculpture, Sacramento City College).  Mark works in clay, and whenever he’s in the lab we end up brainstorming different ways to combine technology and other production processes traditionally associated with the studio arts; for instance, our recent experiment with multi-part stencils.  I was sharing with Mark my interest in using the laser to cut fabric, and showing him Tinkercad, and in particular its *.svg export functionality.  In the process of poking around, we found a Japanese prefecture generator, and decided to use that as the basis for our experiments.

Mark set up a few prefectures, after which we exported the file, opened it in Illustrator, made the tweaks required to prepare the file for the laser, then fired up the machine:

I’m not sure why, but I was surprised that it worked as flawlessly as it did. No scorching, no fuss, just crisp, clean, viciously accurate cuts.

Mark Makes Japan from Fabric

Here’s Nagano:

Nagano Prefecture, In Fabric

Not sure what Mark plans to do with them – we talked about collage, and about dipping various things in clay slip and then firing them – but we’ll certainly cut some fabric as part of Monday’s Making Social Change class.

In Making Social Change today, we talked about Zapatistas and the Chiapas conflict, and the role of symbols and murals and art in political and social movements.  Based on social justice issues important to them, students then created stencils using Stencil Creator and cut them out of card stock using the laser cutter.  They spent the rest of the class spray painting their stencils on a makeshift gallery structure Diane Carlson (Sociology) and I created out of leftover metal shelves and an old scaffold that’s been out behind the Innovation Center for a decade or more.

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F*ck the Gender Binary!

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Great students, great class!

The Innovation Center has been collaborating with folks from FLC’s Career and Technical Education (CTE, soon to be just Career Education) department on a lobby sign, and after some conversations about possibilities, we were able to very quickly come up with a few scale conceptual models.

Rapid Prototyping!

Brandon (student) has woodworking, mechanical engineering, and CAD skills, so he has taken responsibility for the project. One of the challenges Brandon is working through is scale. The largest stock the laser cutter can in our shop can cut is 18″ x 32″, but the final sign will be much larger than that. We’ve got something of a machine sharing arrangement with FLC’s Theater Arts department (the folks with whom we collaborated on the aquaponics project), and Brandon was able to get some time on their big ShopBot. Here’s some work in progress at scale…

Sign Progress

FLC Works!

…and here’s where the project stands now.

FLC Works!

Brandon rigged up some temporary LEDs while we figure out a more permanent solution, and the whole thing will be polished up and stained before installation.  It’s turning out to be a great example of the power of rapid prototyping, project-based learning, and of providing students with meaningful challenges related to materials, design, and fabrication.