I love to give clocks as a personal and individual gift. They can be created to suit the persons personality, interests or theme of their space.
A friend is having their first baby and I thought I would design a clock for the new baby's room. I asked the mother-to-be what she visualized the new baby's rooms theme to be. She said neutral colours and sent me a picture of a Scandinavian type influenced room with tropical plants as accessories.
I thought what goes well with a neutral palette and tropical leaves, plus knowing the baby was expected to be a girl and I thought...
A Pink Flamingo!
What you need:
Picture to inspire the flamingo and tropical leaf paradise
Vector drawing program
3mm Acrylic in various colours
A laser machine
Acrylic welding adhesive and syringe
Step 1: Step1: Design
Using Flamingo picture, tropical leaf pictures and the colours available in acrylic to design the picture in a 300mm circle with a 8mm hole in the centre.
I used Coreldraw but Illustrator or Photoshop or other vector program would allow for the programme to be converted into laser cut software. I set the Coreldraw canvas the same size as the laser bed and ensured that I kept in the limits of cutting area.
When designing a clock, you need to remember that there must be spaces for the numbers or dots to represent the times on the clock and the picture must be placed in such a way that the hole for the mechanism isn't obstructed in the final illustration. You need to make sure the picture is in blocks of simple colour, as there is a limit to the colour choices. With this picture I pushed the limit of the outline and wasn't totally successful as the edges melted away when the laser cut them so close together.
The design must almost be thought out as a puzzle that will go together and they must fit perfectly into one another to have a successful result. I choose a circle area of 300mm for most of my clocks because it fits perfectly into pizza box which makes a great box to deliver and gift with a ribbon.
I make sure each area of colour is a closed shape by filling it with the desired colour. This helps save time when separating the pieces in individual pieces for the next step.
Step 2: Step 2: Colour Separation
I now take the picture design that I have created in the 300x300mm size and make a copy of the picture.
Using the copy I starting thinking of the layers that will be created for the image. It is advisable not to go over 3 layers as this is the standard clock mechanism clearance. Although you do get mechansims for higher clearance if so required,.
I always have a base that is a standard circle with a hole in the middle. In this case I gave the area a border in the same colour. As I separate each colour into its "puzzle piece" I try and think of what would fit into what and make sure I will cut holes of the at shape into the colour.
It is a good idea once the picture is separated to make another copy and piece it to together to ensure the pieces will fit like a puzzle. I know that I didnt allow for the eye when I cut and although I added an extra layer and it worked, it sometimes will require that you recut if you plan incorrectly.
I keep the colours in solid shapes so that it is easier for me to remember which colour to save to which document when preparing for laser cutting.
I created a base layer of white with an inlay of the different colours and the final layer was the hearts on top of the picture.
Step 3: Step 3: Laser Cutting
Each colour is saved onto the laser software as the required colour. This helps when you are faced with a list of shorthanded words and to try remember which file matched which colour. I usually save as:
BlackFli and so on...
Then we go ahead and cut the 3mm acrylic in the different colours- Perspex and Plexiglas are the usual chosen makes of acrylic but you do get some Chinese makes that give you more diverse colours. Acrylic requires a high power and a low speed to cut through successfully. This will be different according to your laser and doing a testing square 20x20mm is recommended before cutting a new material for the first time to ensure the material cuts through first time and doesn't melt because the temperature is too high.
The black outline that we cut lines were too close and didn't cut as successfully as I hoped and will take care in future about not trying to create outlines on my illustrations that are too thin.
Step 4: Step 4: Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together
Once all the pieces are cut, we pull off only the bottom layer of plastic and put the puzzle together to ensure it fits as required. We keep the top layer of plastic on to protect the pieces while welding later on.
There is always some adjusting that need to be done but once we are happy that it all goes together we separate the layers again.
Step 5: Step5: Welding Acrylic
Safety equipment such as gloves and face mask is recommended at this stage as the chemicals are very toxic. It is advisable to do this in a room with good ventilation. If the liquid is left uncovered, it evaporates, so it needs to be recovered once it is taken into the syringe.
The acrylic is pieced together one piece at a time and using the acrylic welding glue in a syringe with a needle.The welding takes place using capillary action. You put a drop of the chemical between layers and it it draws it underneath the acrylic.It only requires a few drops to work successfully.
It only takes a few seconds to dry. It is welded and not glued together, so it is not able to break apart later. The plastic actually melts together. If a drop of the chemical is accidentally dripped on the wrong piece, it will create a white like stain. That is why we only remove the top layer of plastic on the acrylic once all the welding is done.
Step 6: Step 6: Finishing
Once the clock is welded together, the top layer of plastic is removed.
This is a very special moment as the effect is then felt immediately at the success of the layout.
We then go ahead and assemble the clock mechanism and choose the appropriate hands of the clock according to the theme. We might add an extra hanging loop at the back at this point if the mechanism isn't a successful hanging point.
Step 7: Step 7: Final Image
We hang the clock on the wall to check it hangs correctly and then we wrap it up in a pizza box to present it to our friend as her gift.
We are very excited at this point as everything has come together and think that the gift receiver will be over the moon with her special gift!