Introduction: A Peace Chain

I want to use my art to make the world a better place. My work 'A Peace Chain' symbolically connects its participants and promotes the idea that each individual seeking their own inner peace contributes to world peace. It is 'A Peace Chain' for a peace chain reaction!

A Peace Chain consists of pendants and larger wall pieces, made of ceramic and laser cut wood, with words for ‘peace’ in one of 100 different languages on each piece. Over the past 22 years I have personally hand made and distributed over 500,000 individual pieces. They have been spotted around the world with sightings on every continent including Antarctica! It is an ongoing conceptual work that I will make the rest of my life.

They make nice necklace pendants, keychains, light pulls, wall hangings, ornaments, alter pieces,etc. They make a great gifts. The more you share it the bigger it gets!

I call my shapes ‘vegetables from the garden of my imagination’. I am sharing several shapes and words for peace in a font I have created. I invite you to use any shape, word or font you like. I'd love to see what you come up with!

Following are the steps I use to create my wood pieces. I made it at Techshop!

Step 1: Stain the Wood

I start with 3mm (1/8 inch) Finnish Birch plywood. Though there are many sources for this material I get mine from local to the San Francisco/ Berkeley CA area. I contacted the company they get it from and the company they get it from and have confirmed that it is Forest Stewardship Council and Rain Forest Alliance certified.

You can source the wood cheaper if you but bigger sheets at a lumber supply and cut it yourself, but there is often some warpage.

The bright colors I stain the wood with are also sourced in Berkeley at, a great source for ecological home improvement products. I use Saman wood stains for the colors. I use a matte finish clear sealant on top of the stains called Acrylac. These stains are, water based, non-toxic and laserable at Techshop.

Step 2: The Shapes

Many the organic shapes start with a pen on paper drawing. Scanned into Photoshop I then clean up some of the ragged edges. Transfer it to Illustrator and using auto trace turn it into a single line vector (.001 for Epilog, .003 for the Tormac). From there I tweek the vectors to perfect the shapes

I also draw shapes straight into Illustrator using a wacom tablet.

When using the Epilog I like to make two or three pass for the vector cut. I use three passes especially if the design is intricate. The laser will automatically do this if there are identical layers of the vector shape on top of each other.

Copy the layer with the shape by dragging the layer to the new layer icon in the layers window. This will copy it in the exact same position.

Step 3: The Words

I raster the word onto the piece and outline the letters with a quick vector cut to make the word 'pop'.

If you are using the fonts in illustrator you can make an outline of the letter by doing the following:

  1. Type in the word of your choice, change from the type tool to the selection tool.
  2. Select the word, go to TYPE>CREATE OUTLINE
  3. Make the stroke weight .001
  4. Make the stroke color RGB 255 (hold down the shift key to get the RGB menu when pulling up the color swatches.

If you are using one of my word files or making your own:

  1. Select the word
  2. Make the stroke weight .001
  3. Make the stroke color RGB 255 (hold down the shift key to get the RGB menu when pulling up the color swatches.

I like to make a separate layer for the raster shape and a layer for the outline in case I want to just use the outline of the lettering for a different effect.

Step 4: Set Up the Laser

I use the 60w Epilog Helix Laser at Techshop. The following are directions for set up on the software for that laser.

I generally use the standard suggested settings for 1/8 inch plywood:

raster: 45/90

Vector: 35/90/500

In the color mapping settings window select color mapping.

set the color at 255 (or the same color used for the outline of the word)

set the vector at 70/20/500

In the picture you can see I arrange several pieces together. The laser will first raster the words, the second pass will outline the words and the last pass will cut out the shape.

Thats about it! Pull them out and they are finished! If there is too much burn for your liking wipe clean with cloth rag and some hydrogen peroxide.

I always bring a sharp exact knife to cut through any gaps that don't get cut. Sometimes there are gaps in the laminate with a hard filler that the laser can't cut.


Woodworking Contest

Participated in the
Woodworking Contest

Jewelry Contest

Participated in the
Jewelry Contest

Full Spectrum Laser Contest

Participated in the
Full Spectrum Laser Contest