Pre-release - Leather Adventures



Since getting a PRU, I’ve mentioned more than once that I’m experiencing a bit of a learning curve. For one thing, I’ve never used a laser before - and while this forum has taught me an awful lot about that, I still have a lot more to learn. Another factor is my lack of experience with design software. I often use Photoshop to edit product photos, and I’ve used Corel and Powerpoint in the (very distant) past to create beadwork tutorials - but I don’t have a strong background with graphic design programs. I’m old school, and have always drawn my bead and leatherwork patterns by hand - so I’m not only learning new software, I’m having to learn to see my projects and patterns differently (if that makes any sense).

I had so many ideas for all of the amazing things that I was going to create, and it has been more than a little humbling to realize that while I have a strong imagination, my laser skills are pretty freaking weak :wink: Even so, one thing has worked easily from the very start: cutting leather. That’s handy for me, as that is THE single biggest reason that I ordered this machine. I’ve been a leatherworker for over 25 years, but between a serious car accident and chronic pain issues, it’s becoming harder and harder for me to continue doing this work. I hoped that by having the :glowforge: take over the bulk of my cutting, it would alleviate some of the physical strain, and extend my ability to create for a few more years.

It made sense to start with smaller and simpler projects, so I began by translating patterns for some of the hair accessories that I make. @Jules was kind enough to let me guinea pig some of the tutorials that she and @jbv, @markevans36301, @cynd11, @jamesdhatch, @marmak3261 and so many others have been working on behind the scenes. These tutorials gave me a HUGE head start with learning illustrator - thank you all so much for that.

Here are just a handful of the hair toys that I’ve been able to cut over the last few weeks (there are a lot more, but most are still in process):

Two were made with PG, two were not. Three out of four were hand carved, but the monarch was laser engraved (engraving seems to have improved since then, so bear that in mind):

While it is probably the most perfect of all, it is my least favorite. I used a butterfly image that I found online for this one, rather than my own art. To my eye, it looks too perfect. So, while I’ll definitely employ the engrave feature in future work, I hope to do so with my own hand drawn art or friends’ art/photography. YMMV, but that was my realization about how I want to approach my work.

From there, I began converting my patterns for masks and costume accessories. Still working through that process (I have a lot of patterns!). It’s time consuming, but the bulk of that time is in translating the patterns. They print quickly and beautifully, and I am thrilled to be able to do this work without pain. I cannot express what a game changer that is for me, or how much this will free me up to focus on aspects of my craft that I enjoy more!

I’ve only cut a few masks so far (waiting on more leather) but here are a couple of the designs that I’ve done thus far:

^ That’s a stock photo, because I haven’t bothered to photograph the new one. No need to, as it looks exactly like the versions of this mask that I’ve been making for the last decade +. It makes me so happy to see these designs translating so easily, and so well :slight_smile:

I also cut a couple more of these… it was a one off design for a child’s mask that I did several years back. People always ask me to recreate it:

I’ve added a few new touches to that one, so I’ll try to remember to nab a photo when it’s finished.

Long story short - in spite of my considerable learning curve, this machine has been very easy and intuitive to use. Yes I still have a lot to learn, but I can already see that it will address the most important purpose that I hoped it would. It is so amazing to be able to work without pain, and I’m really looking forward to what I’ll be able to create without that massive obstacle in my path!

Weekly Highlights for the Week Ending April 29th, 2017
May 2017 Update

Wow, those look AMAZING! Would love to see you post a step-by-step of your process with the glowforge fro the butterflies.


Beautiful work. Thanks for sharing! My daughter loves the green winged ones. What weight of leather did you use for the monarch? Where do you usually source your non-PG leather?


Holy Jumping Jesus!!


See, I knew you were going to astound and amaze us! These are just breathtaking! Thanks so much for sharing.


Absolutely beautiful work! Glad that the GF is helping you out. It would be a great loss to lose that talent in the world.


And here I was assuming I’d never find a use for leather these are gorgeous!


I see you belong to AA ( Amazing Art) Very nice. I can’t wait for my GF


Oh yeah, that’s some serious artistry! Awesome cubed! :smiley:




holy cow… OK those are astonishingly good. What is the coloring on the butterflies? The green seems iridescent even. Just incredible.


Beautiful work!!!


Thank you so much, that is such a kind thing to say!


Process = load image > select proofgrade > press shiny button

The monarch was done with 5-6 oz proofgrade.

The butterflies have a mix of iridescent, pearlescent, metallic, opaque and translucent effects, and are mostly acrylics.

Thanks folks, I appreciate the kind words! :blush:


We’re in the same boat. It’s very frustrating to have so many ideas in one’s head and for it to take soooo long to translate them into a cut file. I’m really looking forward to the :glowforge: making some of that easier with its many awesome features. :grinning:


The butterflies are really beautiful!


Leather may be what I’m most interested in. It’s great to see what someone who knows what they are doing (leather wise :slight_smile: ) can do.


that’s great - thanks for the wonderful write-up. I find your leather-work just amazing. I never knew leather could look like that. (for those who haven’t yet done so, click @Drea’s avatar and go look at her shop/website) :heart_eyes:


I’m so happy for you. You have really invested a lot of energy and planning into the Glowforge. I’m so happy you got a pre-release and it is working for you. Your leather working experience and library of designs are going to knock people out of the park, just as these do. The transition to digital is above all tedious. There are shortcuts for tracing, but at the moment, the best designs always require some manual tweaking because digital vectors have so much potential. They aren’t just single lines. Please feel free to ask for help. Glad the tutorials are working for you. Really wish I could get more how to videos out. I’ve learned so much in the past year but there is tons to go.


I am so, so glad you are able to do this! This is wonderful.