This is the pattern I hand drew in illustrator in order to use the laser cutter to etch and cut the pattern out of leather and wood veneer. These where the materials mentioned in my interview with Laura from the Harvey Nichols display team, I wanted to see how I could manipulate them to create a sculptural, textured form.
This was the first test sample. The patten was too small and too narrow, causing the laser to burn the leather and start small fires. This was dangerous and so I went back and edited the pattern , scaling up and adding more joins.
This is the wood veneer that was cut using the improved pattern. Once placed in front of the Xicato there was a warm glow and the effect of using both the cut out pattern and it’s negative give the veneer more texture. The veneer’s problem is it’s inflexibility, it snaps and cracks at the slightest movement and would be very temperamental to work with.
More wood veneer with a lighter shade of veneer behind to add contrast. This picture show’s the errors where parts of the pattern have snapped due to the fragility of the material.My time with Jane taught me that wood veneer was difficult to shape, but her’s comes from a supplier that use a special treatment and backing for the veneer that allows her to bend and form her lamp shades. This veneer is very thin and dry, ordering a different type would be an option but I feel the leather is more suitable for this project.
Tan leather small sample- In order to test the power of the laser and it’s effects on leather I tested three different types of leather.This one was a good quality thin piece of real leather that reacted well to cutting but further etching experiments are needed.
Modelling with the cream leather- after cutting an A2 sized piece of cream leather, i decided to model it around the light to see how a form could possibly be made.The dark edge add’s contrast to the pattern but in part’s looks dirty and needs to be cleaner. In future the fabric must be pulled tight to avoid these thick, black lines.
“There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes”
The experiments did not present me with an ‘ideal’ process to produce my luminaire but they did eliminate and highlight points I would never have for seen without conducting these trail runs. Going forward these are my points to consider and aims :
- The wood veneer was too difficult to work with, I preferred the texture of the leather even though it will be harder to achieve a warm glow.
- The pattern was never intended to be the one I’d stick to, although the floral pattern creates a good amount of texture and reflects my inspiration well, it lets too much light through. It’s also the slightly obvious option I’d like he final pattern to be more abstract.
- The burnt edge is an inevitable result from the laser cutting process but I’d prefer it to be less obvious. By adjusting the laser power I’l hopefully get a cleaner line.
- I need to create a sample that shows the full area of the pattern just etched and not fully cut, this will give me an idea of what a fully etched pattern could look or if it’s worth combining both etching and cutting.
- The form of the final luminaire is something ive been leaving to one side whilst determining materials. I now want to experiment with forms and consider scale as it will effect the pattern and the amount of materials I’m going to need.
The safety and ethical issues of using leather as my material will have to be considered. In a high end environment it would be more suitable to use a real leather, but as I am creating a prototype I will use a high quality fake. The smell of leather that’s given off when the bulb is placed behind the leather is also something worth considering. Harvey Nichols has real leather sofas in it’s personal shopping area as well as real leather fashion products, and so I do not feel it would be an issue. On the other hand by placing the lather on a frame far away enough from the heat of the bulb the smell would then not be an issue. Leather comes in a fire safe variety that would be good for use in this context, it’s a material that has a history within the fashion industry. It represents skill and the traditional making of high quality goods, these are attributes that I feel make it a good choice for my luminaire.