Saturday, I faced my fear of big machines and the possibility of catching things on fire and took a TechShop class up in Redwood City, where I learned how to etch and cut different materials using lasers. And it was awesome.
I probably could have spent hours designing patterns alone (it seems that I picked a good time to start learning about vector graphics) but I knew what I wanted to etch before I got there. My kitty Mosby has been particularly adventurous since we moved to a new apartment, and has already ventured outside once, so I wanted to make him a tag in case he ever got lost on one of his escapades. The first hour or so was spent going over the mechanics of the laser cutter, learning the basics about safety practices and different ways to use the laser while the second half was all hands-on practicing. We learned the hard way that even aluminum tags were susceptible to getting blown out of place by the air assist valve, but try two came out great!
Equally as interesting to me as the laser cutting was the vector graphics program – I’ve recently started to teach myself how to use Inkscape and using CorelDraw was a lot of fun. I love the idea of being able to create customized gifts for people by hand, so I’m already tempted to start working on a few side projects that I’ve been dreaming up.
If you’re in the Bay Area and interested in getting your hands dirty on a project, I highly recommend you check out one of the TechShop locations!