This Crafty Woman Made 3D-like Art at the Library's Maker Space
April 22, 2021 — As a high school substitute teacher, Helen Davis always hears stories about how people are using technology to create new things. It got her to thinking, “If they can learn it, I can learn it.”
She did, and the result so far are some pieces of artwork that she made with the laser cutter at the Maker Space in the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library. It’s one of several pieces of equipment available for use free for the public at the Edge Community Technology Center.
Helen’s first piece is a 3D-like wood cut of an ocean scene with a shark, fish and starfish. She started with a photo that a friend hand edited in black and white, and with shading to look 3D, then downloaded to a computer file for her. “It’s all in the shading; it’s an optical illusion.”
She also used the scan of a 3D veteran’s logo to make gifts for veteran friends. Each one took about an hour.
For the 3D ocean scene, she inserted the jump drive into the laser cutter’s computer to download the file. With that data, the laser cutter proceeded its line-by-line cutting pattern on the piece of wood Helen provided. Since she brought her materials, there was no cost for her to use the equipment. It was a day-long process that she was prepared for.
“Anybody that has any thoughts about it at all should come and try this,” Helen says. “It is time-consuming, but you can make some really neat things. You can make some keepsakes.”
She has plans for the vinyl cutter at the Maker Space. She’d like to make decals for T-shirts, her car and kayak. “My two grandsons play soccer, so I need to make T-shirts for Soccer Mom, Soccer Brother and Soccer Grandmother, so we’re all alike when we go to soccer games.” Use of the machine is free; there’s a fee for vinyl materials.
“Each time I come, I learn something new,” she says.
Her next project: She wants to laser cut one of her mother’s handwritten recipes onto cutting boards for family members. It’s a cherished formula for her mother’s caramel corn, Helen says, because no one can make it like she did.
“If I do it for the grandkids, I’m afraid there’ll be a couple others who want them. I’ll probably end up doing 10 of them.”
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Other DIYers and Master Fix-its have found the Maker Space a great and inexpensive way to make signs, preserve photo, make toy replacement parts, and more. Here’s what you can do:
- Use the laser engraver to make a sign or designs on wood, acrylic, paper and cardboard. Make your own puzzles.
- Program the vinyl cutter to make iron-on transfers for T-shirts, plaques or flags
- Use the 3D printer to make replacement parts for toys, shelving, cabinets and board game pieces – or just art.
- Convert and save your old negatives, slides, VHS and DVD movies to a USB drive or SD card using the video transfer equipment.
- Repair electronic components, make or fix jewelry at the soldering station.
Use of the Maker Space, including tours to get acquainted with the equipment, is by appointment by calling The Edge at 417-837-5011.