New Tools from Haystack

  fabrications digital facility at Haystack

More than a month ago, I returned from the open studio residency at Haystack in Maine; two weeks of uninterrupted time in three studios: graphics, wood and a digital fabrications facility.  I came home renewed and excited about  prospects for new work.   I went to continue further explorations with 'cutting' using new tools in the fab lab. Haystack established it in 2011 and was the result of a collaboration with MIT.  It includes a CNC router, laser cutter, 3D printer, milling machines, sign center and computer terminals,  and was staffed by two tech assistants from MIT.  I spent much time there experimenting primarily with the laser cutter.

tool of choice the laser cutter in the fab lab

There are two different cutting techniques one can employ with the laser cutter: vector and raster. Vector is more adept at cutting shapes out or into a material; raster tends to be used for engraving and making relief cuts.  I tried both and found that I preferred the raster images.  Some experimenting below:


rastarized repeat image of basalt to be a cover for a book

back cover of book using raster technique

My goal was to make work that looked like it was not done with a machine. Image selection and treatment of materials contributed to the look.  More examples below:

basalt images rastered on plywood treated with walnut ink, acrylic and organza silk

slice of basalt image rastered into book  cover treated with layers of book cloth and organza silk

Wind image rastered into treated book board with acrylic and organza silk

wind image rastered into painted book board. Line in image due to second cutting of board

I also spent some time in the wood working studio. While there I observed one of the participants working with stacks of wood and realized that I could use a similar approach with book covers.  Her primary tool was a scroll saw.  I came home and purchased one!

my new scroll saw!


Other highlights:

the "dead calm" of Maine