I have put all of my supporting work on the floor beneath my final exhibition ready to be assessed on Monday afternoon. I have separated subject and field work. Subject is focused on the research and development of my work and is on the left hand side. Field is everything I have done in preparation for the final show and is placed on the right hand side.
I have begun to use wood oils to add a finished look to my work. I had to do a lot of sanding to remove the burn marks on the wood from the laser, so, I have had to meticulously “dust” the pieces using a cloth as the dust really gets stuck in the living hinge design. Oiling is a lot simpler, I have put it onto the wood with a sponge brush so that there are no brush marks or bristles left behind. They have then been left over night to dry and absorb the oil before i rub them down with another cloth.
I left these pieces to dry in workshop space in the evening and unfortunately came in early the next morning to find that my work had been played with after I had left. This has caused a breakage – the small green box you can see in the picture had the hinge snapped almost clean off.
When designing the boxes with self supporting hinges I always wanted to use LED tape that would run around the sides of the boxes to give an even illuminance. The neatest way of installing this is to solder these little connections to the end of a length of LED tape, this will then fit into a connection with a 12 volt DC plug at the end.
The wood is too thick for the fitting to be screwed into the holes which I measured before adding to the laser cut files. So the section where the fitting is has been routed out (I am not allowed to use this equipment myself, so I have had no control over the size of the routed section). The MDF piece was, unfortunately, cut before these components were sourced, so the hole is slightly too big (by chance it was almost the right size!). For this one the component has been fixed into the hole using Araldite, which got a bit messy as the technician decided to use a heat gun to speed up the setting of the glue, but instead melted it. I have now managed to gently chisel off most of the glue.
The gilded panels need to be raised from the back of the light boxes to enable them to be hung using nails. To do this I have used off cut pieces from the hinges to make runners for the false backs to sit on. I have simply used PVA to put the strips in place and PVA to attach the panels. The runners will not be seen, so I felt that it would be appropriate to recycle waste material.
After picking up the laser cut material from Bespoke Laser UK I have had to put the pieces together quite rapidly as I was not able to pick them up as early as I had hoped. Because of this I managed to put together six boxes in a day, which is a record I have not managed to beat. Although working at speed my work still maintained a high quality.
I picked up four sheets (1000x610mm) worth of laser cut lights yesterday, unfortunately there were a few pieces that had not fully cut. This is because the Valchromat is 8mm thick and more dense than standard MDF, and even the super powerful laser at Bespoke Laser UK only just cuts through. I have managed to fix the problem with the parts by creating a file for the uncut sections, cutting them in card and placing the Valchromat pieces into the holes left behind. It has taken about three or four passes (this laser has only 40 watts of power) and the edges are a little more charred than the smooth quality from Bespoke Laser UK, but, I made it through!
Today I picked up the final cuts to construct for the degree show. I had four files, two green Valchromat sheets and two grey Valchromat sheets. Three designs fit on each sheet, as they are 1000 x 610 mm. I had them cut to the size of the laser bed at Bespoke Laser Uk when I picked them up from Avon Ply.
Another piece cut by Bespoke Laser UK. After sanding this piece down I have tested out the measurements I used for the supporting hinge. This is the first time I have only used two notches as I have previously been trying to get this right so the piece can be cut down in size.
The next stage is to prepare more files like this one for cutting in green and grey valchromat.
Here’s a new design. This uses a hinge I experimented with a few months ago, but have left behind whilst I developed the other styles. This box plays on earlier ideas I had to incorporate lighting with storage solutions, as can be seen in a previous visit to the photography studio.
Initially I wanted the hinges to move within the box on elastic or a runner, but this seemed hard to achieve due to the nature of laser cutting. As the pieces are cut in one direction it is difficult to achieve movement in another, the hinges do not flow easily. But instead, create a curved shadow effect, like the one in the image above. The hinge is also interesting when not clipped into the end pieces and hangs naturally.
The front panel of the final design simply clips onto a middle support section, I felt that gluing it to the box would limit the movement. By not permanently attaching this piece it also allows more versatility of the design. It can be removed if desired and could also aid cleaning.
This design can be developed further through increasing the size of the box and also by adding more hinge panels. The next steps for this object are to oil the parts, as I have begun in the third image, and to begin to cut false back panels to gild.
At first I was planning to simply gild the back of the boxes, as you can see in the image above. This was before I had developed the cuts for hanging the work onto nails. For a neater finish I have chosen to put false MDF backs into each of the designs, this is to hide the nail holes, as you can see in the last picture and also because gilding at right angles is not easy, and will not have as crisp a feel. To accommodate for this I have added 10mm to the depth of each design, as this will allow for the thickness of the MDF panel and raised runners which I will be using to raise the panel from the nail holes.
I have gilded these panels to have a textured finish. If I wanted a smooth and flawless finish I would have used metallic spray paint. I feel that the textured back gives more of a nod to the hand finished element of the design and is a contrast against the clean cuts the laser cutter creates. The texture of these will also allow light to bounce off the panels in a more arbitrary way.