Lasering Cactus Leather

I’m always interested in exploring more sustainable materials for making things. Awhile ago, I got a cactus leather sample kit from Desserto and, finally got around to trying it this week.

The samples range in thickness from about half a millimeter to 1.8 millimeters and, come with a different backing materials:

50% polyester / 50% cotton
65% polyester / 35% cotton
100% polyester
100% cotton
100% cotton “infused with cactus”
100% nylon

Some of the backing matches the material for color while others do not.

They also offer a number of different surface finishes.

The bolts are 1.4 meters wide and, run between $22 and $52 USD per meter, depending on the specific configuration.

Vaporized material seems to re-deposit as a sticky goo on the surface. Masking mostly prevents that and, the goo will wash off with some mild soap (I used a foaming hand soap) and a bit of rubbing. Isopropyl alcohol can take it off, too but, will also damage the finish noticeably in some cases.

I found the masked 1mm thick 50/50-blend-backed stuff cut at about 245 speed / 75 power on the Glowforge. I got decent (masked) engraves at 1000/51/270LPI.

Filling engraves with acrylic paint (via Posca-style pens) worked pretty well. The surface also takes paint acceptably. I bet it would screen print nicely.

I came up with a simple card case to make from one of the 10cm by 15cm samples.

I made a one-minute video summarizing all this:

As a bonus for those actually reading this post on my site, here is the pattern for the card sleeve (right-click, save link as to save the SVG).

Walnut Scouting Fleur-de-lis Pins

I had a whole bag of these Scouting fleur-de-lis walnut cut-outs left over from making Cailyn’s Challenge Coins. With a little sanding, some butterfly clasp pin backs, some glue and, some wipe-on poly, I turned a few into these nifty pins.

Scouting Fleur-de-Lis Pins

I made a one-minute making-of short:

Butterfly Knotwork Cards

There have been some inquiries about cards printed with some of my Celtic knotwork designs. I made up a small batch with the butterfly printed on some really nice bright white paper with a lovely “touch” (the way the card feels).

These are not Gocco prints, like the ones in the portfolio as those would have to be priced much higher. These look and feel really good, though.

The Knotwork Butterflies are up in the shop now, individually and, in packages of three (for less than the price of two singles).

Cailyn’s Challenge Coins

I made these walnut “challenge coins” for my niece to hand out at her Eagle Scout Court of Honor. A simple project on a tight timeline, I got 80 of these to her in time.

These are 1.5” diameter, cut from 1/4” thick pre-sanded walnut hardwood. I used the jig-in-place technique to align both sides of each coin. After engraving and cutting, they were sanded with 320 – 2000 grit sanding film, cleaned with my mini shop vac, wiped with a microfiber cloth, then coated with wipe-on poly. There was only time for one coat but, it contributed a lot to the final look.

I made a one-minute making-of short:

Spirals Bookmark Redesign

I designed a kirigami Spirals Bookmark last summer, mostly just taking what I did for one of my velvet embossing plates and, using that with minor changes. It was good but, there were a few spots where it was a little fragile – bits of connecting paper less than a millimeter wide.

More recently, I was inspired to redesign the spirals bookmark to make it a bit more robust. While I was at it, I made a few and, made a few of my Celtic key pattern design bookmarks and, put them all up in the new shop section. The designs are available individually, in three-packs and, in a variety pack with all three designs.

Kirigrami bookmark with an interlocking pattern of organic Celtic spirals cut from a white pearlescent stock with a gold gauze ribbon tied to one end.

Auntie Tanya Kokeshi

The Auntie Tanya kokeshi is kind of a work-in-progress. My friend has three nieces and is her generation’s keeper of the family’s cultural traditions. I modeled this in Nomad Sculpt, 3D printed in nylon resin and, painted by hand (obviously … I need some more practice). I made a tiny azuma bukro out of retired kimono pieces and silk to wrap them. The dolls are about 75mm tall. Bottle cap for scale.