My jewellery is made using a laser cutter located at Makespace in Cambridge. This is Jaws. She sits next to Betsy. It was fellow artist Diana Probst who first told me about Betsy and Jaws and taught me how to use them. I’ll describe the stages I go through when laser cutting.
First I print card with my designs. Then I use Inkscape to design the shapes I will be cutting and save as svg. and dxf. files. Then at Makespace, I move the dxf. file into the laser cutting programme and make any necessary amendments. Learning how these two programmes work and interact with each other has been challenging but I’m confident with the basics now.
Then I set the laser cutter up and press the start button. Different shapes and different materials require different power and speed settings and finding the right combination of these that leaves the least scorching takes trial and error. I can pause the cutting at any point if I want to move a piece that has got stuck for example. Simple shapes such as circles can be cut in about a minute each sheet but shapes such as in the picture here take much longer.
At the end I’m left with a pile of these. These need sorting and cleaning. The more complex shapes have to be cut at a lower speed, otherwise the laser cutter shakes and the cut line is wobbly. Cutting this thickness of card at slower speeds leaves strong scorch marks. I clean them up as soon as possible to get rid of all the bits of charcoal flying around.
I'm also left with a pile of these. I haven't done anything with these yet but I'm keeping them all as I may use them to make artworks at some point.