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Ponoko ornaments

Ponoko ornaments

Here are a few pictures of our Christmas tree with the Ponoko ornaments I wrote about a few days ago.  They look great, especially when the sun hits them!

We got the tree from the grocer down the road and it looked so small all bundled up, but when we unwrapped the branches they sprang out wide – it was much bigger than we’d thought.  Still, I didn’t want to trim it.  I kind of like its lopsided look.

Christmas tree 2008

Christmas tree 2008

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Ponoko ornaments - red tint acrylic

Ponoko ornaments - red tint acrylic

I got my Ponoko ornaments in the mail today!  They took less than 3 weeks to be laser-cut and shipped to me.  I’m really happy with them.  The laser engraving has a pretty interesting texture – I thought it would have been smooth, but it’s got little grooves.  The cutting is extremely high quality.  This is one place where machine production is preferable to handmade.

Ponoko allows you to create your designs on pre-sized pieces of acrylic or wood, so I chose the smallest size, about 7×7 inches.  The ornaments took up less than the total space, so I used some of the extra space to create a few ring shapes that I can use for jewellery sometime.  After seeing the remains (they ship the whole piece to you and you just pop out your laser-cut design), I could have used even more of the space for other stuff.  Lesson learned for next time.

The ornaments are already on the tree – I’ll take a picture when it’s finished.

I stumbled across two awesome do-it-yourself sites in the past week, thanks to some of the great bloggers out there.  The first one is Ponoko, which allows you to do what I’ve always wanted to do: design something and then have someone else laser-cut it for you from wood, Perspex or felt.  When I was making jewellery, I wanted to experiment with creating patterns from wood, but I couldn’t find a maker who would laser-cut them for me.  Problem solved with Ponoko!

The second site is Spoonflower, which allows you to print your own fabric designs.  I squealed with excitement when I saw this one.  My other wish is granted!  I’ve always wanted to create my own fabric, and even took a textile design course, but making the design is more important to me than actually producing the fabric, and although I loved doing it, I was always kind of disappointed with my results.  I wanted something that looked like it had been professionally printed.  I can’t wait to try this out, but I need a few weeks to come up with a good design.  See the Flickr Spoonflower Fabric Design Pool for some great designs by Spoonflower users.

One of my Ponoko Christmas ornaments

One of my Ponoko Christmas ornaments

I placed my first order with Ponoko today – a set of four Christmas ornaments I designed myself.  They’re going to be cut from red-tinted perspex.  I can’t wait to see them!  I had to teach myself Inkscape (an open-source vector drawing program, kind of like Adobe Illustrator) to make them, so the designs are rudimentary, but this is just a practice run for some jewellery designs that I’ll be making.  I’ll be teaching a 2-day course in jewellery design at the V&A in May, and we’ll be producing our designs with Ponoko.  The only disappointing thing is that shipping my ornaments to the UK is going to cost more than producing them – quite a hefty sum.  I think it’s worth trying out the service, though, and if I like the results my challenge will be to work out how to use the greatest amount of surface area in order to keep costs down.  Awesome idea, though – I’ve been waiting for something like this for a long time!