Saturday, March 15, 2014

Ponoko, Vector drawing & Natural Birth

The next project focused on learning to use Photoshop for vector drawing with the goal being to have a laser cut acrylic component produced by a company called Ponoko.  The completed project was to be a set of 5 brooches with each brooch containing one of the Ponoko components. This was a multi-step process that came, for me anyway, with a fairly steep learning curve and a series of setbacks.

The first thing I had to decide was what I actually wanted to make.  I was really working through feelings and emotions that were linked with motherhood and birth.  Not just the birth of my child, but the rebirth of myself as I moved into the next phase of my life.  Because of this, I chose for my acrylic element to be a baby.  And because I believe that we reflect ourselves onto those around us and we look for reflections of ourselves in others I chose a mirrored bronze acrylic for the material.  Once I made these design design decisions, then I began the computer part of the process.

Being a little older than most of the class, I had less previous experience with digital technology than most of the other students.  My first issue was learning how to actually use the program.  This involved many extra hours in the computer lab and and the repeated help of some of my classmates. The first completed drawing got lost somewhere in my lack-of-tech-knowledge and had to be redone.  This was actually very helpful in the learning process which led me to redo the drawing a number of times until it really was what I wanted.

Once the drawing was to my satisfaction, I used Ponoko's online uploader (which thankfully contained detailed directions) to submit my design for production.  For our class, the suggestion was to use acrylic because of cost but Ponoko offers a variety of material and color options.  The website was also very user friendly.  Once the drawing was uploaded to Ponoko and that part of the process was out of my hands, it was time to finalize the brooch design.

Earlier in the semester, as is evidenced by the last project, I had begun a study of foldforming and enamelling.  I felt a strong need to continue that thread and so brought it forward into this project.  I decided that my series of brooches would combine the foldformed and enamelled leaves with the mirrored acrylic babies.  From this point I began thinking about the best method of cold connection, how to attach the acrylic to the enamelled element, as well as how to attach the brooch backs.  I enjoyed this exploration very much and it was fun to play with ways of capturing elements within the enamel, which is ultimately how I connected the brooch backs and the partially the acrylic element.

Above you can see the finished, "It's Natural" Birth Series Brooches.  For me, there is no disconnection between us as humans and the natural world.  I wanted this series to reflect that point of view and for each brooch to be viewed in more than one way.  For me, these brooches hold the imagery for the literal birthing of a child as well as promoting the idea of a being growing directly from the plant/natural world.  The babies are attached in such a way that they are movable and can be readjusted into a different position if desired.

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