Step 1: Pumpkin Carving 1.0 - Paper Stencil & Misery
Every year at my neighbors annual pumpkin carving block party, I spent about 25 minutes attempting to carve a pumpkin and about 2 hours sulking in the darkest cobwebbed corner of the room contemplating my pumpkin carving failure.
Needless to say, I hated pumpkin carving. I hated everything about it, especially...
- trying to tape a flat, paper jack-o-lantern stencil onto a not so flat, sometimes slimy pumpkin
- spending what felt like an eternity, poking tiny holes through a paper stencil which, without failure, would render itself useless after tearing or ripping
- failing to carve an image that would, even remotely, resemble the image depicted on the orignal paper stencil
Step 2: Pumpkin Carving 2.0 - Vinyl Stencil & TechShop
TechShop is a DIY workshop space where you can find the tools, classes, and community to help you make, build, or create whatever you dream up. One of the classes offered at TechShop San Francisco is the CNC Vinyl Cutter SBU, the required safety and basic use course for the computer controlled vinyl cutter. In the class you learn how to create custom banners, signs, and stencils etc. out of adhesive backed vinyl.
Now that I have taken the CNC Vinyl Cutter SBU, I can create my very own pumpkin carving stencils!...and put my dark, miserable, pumpkin carving days of failure behind me.
Step 3: Designing Your Stencil - Vector Graphic
The first step to creating a custom stencil can be the most challenging...deciding on a design. Do you want your jack-o-lantern to be scary? cute? scary and cute? Do you want your design to be an image? text? a combination of both? Regardless of what you choose, you'll need to your save your design as a vector graphic using a program like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw.
For my stencil, I simply imported a black and white image found online into Adobe Illustrator, and then used the live trace tool to turn the image into a vector graphic. Easy breezy.
Step 4: Using the Vinyl Cutter and FlexiStarter
First, you'll need to get the vinyl cutting machine ready. This includes adjusting the blade height, loading the vinyl, setting the origin, and adjusting the cutting speed and blade pressure. Second, you'll need to adjust some settings in FlexiStarter, the software that controls the vinyl cutter. After setting up both the physical machine and your FlexiStarter preferences as per class instructions, just do it already, cut your stencil out!