When I accepted this order I knew it would be challenging but I'd thought I'd be able to work out the kinks. The client wanted a flexible leather play mat for the Dune tabletop game and in practice that basically worked out to a giant (about 30x30) Adventurer Map. I had a side that was (barely) large enough to accommodate that and I was able to slice the image into six segments that would individually fit on the laser's bed. The trick was going to be aligning those six segments between cuts, especially since I'd have to fold the material to physically fit it inside the laser.
To start with, the first segment engraved perfectly. Each segment took about six hours to engrave onto the suede and then I'd spend about an hour setting up the next segment. That included removing the material from the laser, refolding it to expose the relevant area, slipping it back inside the laser and then trying to manually align the segment with lots of tiny, faint scores that ultimately wouldn't've been visible (in theory).
This process, though tedious and labor intensive, would probably have worked if I was using a rigid material (nevermind that then I couldn't have fit it inside the laser) but this particular variety of leather is quite flexible and elastic. Because it would not stretch, bunch, crease, etc only one or two of the 7 joints between segments actually lined up in any appreciable way. The client was willing to pay for a second attempt if I could figure out a solution (awfully generous of them) but ultimately I had to conclude I wouldn't be able to produce what we'd had in mind. The client got a full refund and I got an expensive lesson in what isn't quite possible.
- Tags: Commission