After a year of having my GF and learning from this wonderful community how to use the tools to design for laser cutting, I finally decided to start posting my creations (other than simple things like coasters and rulers).
My best friend is celebrating his 60º birthday and I wanted to make him a custom gift that would remind him where he came from, and how much he had achieved to get where he was now.
I came up with an idea that I called LifeMap which is basically a set of panes with relevant maps of places and dates, with discreet markers to identify locations important only to him.
I store purchased an appropriate sized shadow frame and sized the panes around that. I then created simplified black and white maps using Snazzymaps, image traced them in illustrator, cleaned the redundant lines, removed color, and placed in a solid frame with the name of the place and the date.
Using medium maple plywood, the maps are scored at a very low power because of the closeness of the lines. The frame and letters are engraved at a slightly higher power, just enough to slightly mark the veneer of the plywood without burning through to the next ply. The markers are also engraved, and the final process was to cut the perimeter of the pane.
I made several tests with other materials like painted acrylic and white melamine panelboard, and also painting the markers with red nail polish, but decided to stick with the simplicity and elegance of plain unstained wood.
I added a scored dedication on the back. I am very pleased with the result and I think my friend appreciated it because he actually hung it in his home.