Pre-release - Leather Adventures
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Joined Jan 3, '16 

Since getting a PRU, I’ve mentioned more than once that I’m experiencing a bit of a learning curve. For one thing, I’ve never used a laser before - and while this forum has taught me an awful lot about that, I still have a lot more to learn. Another factor is my lack of experience with design software. I often use Photoshop to edit product photos, and I’ve used Corel and Powerpoint in the (very distant) past to create beadwork tutorials - but I don’t have a strong background with graphic design programs. I’m old school, and have always drawn my bead and leatherwork patterns by hand - so I’m not only learning new software, I’m having to learn to see my projects and patterns differently (if that makes any sense).

I had so many ideas for all of the amazing things that I was going to create, and it has been more than a little humbling to realize that while I have a strong imagination, my laser skills are pretty freaking weak :wink: Even so, one thing has worked easily from the very start: cutting leather. That’s handy for me, as that is THE single biggest reason that I ordered this machine. I’ve been a leatherworker for over 25 years, but between a serious car accident and chronic pain issues, it’s becoming harder and harder for me to continue doing this work. I hoped that by having the :glowforge: take over the bulk of my cutting, it would alleviate some of the physical strain, and extend my ability to create for a few more years.

It made sense to start with smaller and simpler projects, so I began by translating patterns for some of the hair accessories that I make. @Jules was kind enough to let me guinea pig some of the tutorials that she and @jbv, @markevans36301, @cynd11, @jamesdhatch, @marmak3261 and so many others have been working on behind the scenes. These tutorials gave me a HUGE head start with learning illustrator - thank you all so much for that.

Here are just a handful of the hair toys that I’ve been able to cut over the last few weeks (there are a lot more, but most are still in process):

Two were made with PG, two were not. Three out of four were hand carved, but the monarch was laser engraved (engraving seems to have improved since then, so bear that in mind):

While it is probably the most perfect of all, it is my least favorite. I used a butterfly image that I found online for this one, rather than my own art. To my eye, it looks too perfect. So, while I’ll definitely employ the engrave feature in future work, I hope to do so with my own hand drawn art or friends’ art/photography. YMMV, but that was my realization about how I want to approach my work.

From there, I began converting my patterns for masks and costume accessories. Still working through that process (I have a lot of patterns!). It’s time consuming, but the bulk of that time is in translating the patterns. They print quickly and beautifully, and I am thrilled to be able to do this work without pain. I cannot express what a game changer that is for me, or how much this will free me up to focus on aspects of my craft that I enjoy more!

I’ve only cut a few masks so far (waiting on more leather) but here are a couple of the designs that I’ve done thus far:

^ That’s a stock photo, because I haven’t bothered to photograph the new one. No need to, as it looks exactly like the versions of this mask that I’ve been making for the last decade +. It makes me so happy to see these designs translating so easily, and so well :slight_smile:

I also cut a couple more of these… it was a one off design for a child’s mask that I did several years back. People always ask me to recreate it:

I’ve added a few new touches to that one, so I’ll try to remember to nab a photo when it’s finished.

Long story short - in spite of my considerable learning curve, this machine has been very easy and intuitive to use. Yes I still have a lot to learn, but I can already see that it will address the most important purpose that I hoped it would. It is so amazing to be able to work without pain, and I’m really looking forward to what I’ll be able to create without that massive obstacle in my path!

Hundreds of ideas brought to life
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I am one with the Forge, the Forge is one with me

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