Laser Cutting

Clouds - One Design

In response to a pretty consistent question, I’m going to share with you my laser cutters. I know, it’s either a very brave or completely overdue move…

OBLIGATORY CAVEAT: both of these companies will only deal with you if you have a drawing capable of being machine-read. Which means, you need to have a drawing in vector format (Autocad .dxf or .dwg is most common, [if in, say, Rhino, I’d imagine that’s a ‘save as’ option] or perhaps an Illustrator file saved to .eps – I have had some cutters deal very well with Corel Draw [and if you remember playing/working with that program, you’re older than you look!]) before they will look at the file to quote you a price. Real talk: if you need help with that, I’m not your person. I dream in AutoCad (*not actually true, but admit it, I almost had you?!) so I’ve never had to outsource that part of the process.

The drawing part is essential as the quote that either of these companies will want to give you is based on the machining time – which is a calculation on how long it will take the laser to trace the lines you have drawn. Part of that calculation is an allowance made for the thickness/hardness the material. For instance, working in wood is normally faster, ergo cheaper, while working in 1.5mm/0.59″ stainless steel is going to challenge some lasers, and therefore be more expensive.

These two cutters are best for very low tolerance work; they are precise, as I like to be able to put a .5mm hole in the middle of a 1.5mm channel (see above). If you’re looking for less precision, take a look at other options, as it’s likely that there are cheaper local people who can do your thang. TBH, that might even be a challenge for one of these people to do neatly, but I know their machine is more or less capable.

One Design - #07 Ring 01Image of Melissa Cameron, 2014


Ok, no more pfaffing:

Starting at the top – and I mean in terms of price, and from the image at top: expensive, great quality, medium turn time, will source and cut low carbon steel (for enameling)and titanium along with their regular lineup of metals: Laser Services USA

My preference for wood and mass production:
Cheap, medium quality (some deburring required with metal, depending on the cut), stainless steel and a huge array of default non-metal materials and with the option of very, very fast: Pololu

Please be nice to them, y’all, I want to be able to show my face at either of their establishments (or rather, web portals) well into the future 😉


Recently Bin Dixon-Ward had a solo exhibition, Grids, at Craft in Melbourne. I’m a fan of her works, and so was pleasantly surprised to see her talking about her works and showing off their movement in this clip.

Found on the Craft website. Thanks Craft!

Opening This Week!

One Design

My new collection of work – One Design – from the 2013 pattern “Clouds” is going on display in at Studio 20/17 Sydney, and as a part of Sydney Design there will be an accompanying workshop. I made the video above to give a bit more insight into how I work with the laser cut materials, and have included a sneak peak of a few finished works too. Check it out!

Studio 20/17
6b/2 Danks Street
Waterloo NSW
1st – 30th of August
11am – 5pm, Tuesday – Saturday

One Design - #25 Titanium Pendant 05
Work #24 from One Design – Pendant-05. Melissa Cameron, 2014.

23rd August, 2014 at Studio 20/17

How many different objects can you create from one pattern? Be part of a fun DIY collaborative workshop to create unique works from a suite of pre-cut forms designed by jewellery artist Melissa Cameron. The class will be held in the gallery space to ensure that the new works do not duplicate any pieces in the exhibition. The results will be shown alongside the artist’s work for the duration of the exhibition and can then be taken home by the participants.

Sydney Design link to Exhibition and Workshop

Then, there’s this:

Powder Case - base material for Powder Case Triptych I & II

REclaim / REpurpose – a showcase of artists working in repurposed materials, curated by Seliena Coyle.
On show throughout August 2014
Ebrington, Derry, Northern Ireland
with a link to my works here.

It’s done!

Two weeks ago today I finished making pieces for my upcoming One Design exhibition, taking place in Sydney throughout August, at Studio 20/17.

Last week the Sydney Design 2014 (subtitled Design Futures) website went live, where you can find a link to the show as well as the workshop I have designed to take place at Studio 20/17, also happening during the festival.

And this week I share with you an image of one of the thirty new works that will be presented in the show.

One Design - #07 Ring 01

Needless to say, if you’re in Sydney in August please go and check it out! It’s on at:

Studio 20/17
6b/2 Danks Street
Waterloo NSW
1st – 30th of August
11am-5pm, Tuesday – Saturday.

One Design: Exhibition and Workshop

If you follow the Klimt02 newsletter (and why wouldn’t you?) you might have seen a few hints about what I’m up to at the moment in the basement of chez Queen Anne.

Clouds - One Design

Studio 20/17 in Sydney, Australia will be exhibiting a new series of my work from the 1st until the 31st of August this year. It may seem like it’s a long way off (though I can tell you from my perspective it’s a hell of a lot closer than it looks), but I have good reason to be in your face about it already. Right now I’m making works from the metal incarnations of this pattern – steel and titanium, to join up with a few sterling silver pieces that I hand cut as the prototype  (prototyping in silver, I know, but as y’all know it’s quicker to slice than steel and more robust than copper.) But that doesn’t explain the wood in the picture, does it? Well the bottom version – or at least a piece very similar to it – will be on display and the focus of a workshop in the gallery over the course of the exhibition’s run.

I can hear you from here, “What? Why? How? What do you mean, Melissa?” Well, we’re going to rip it off the wall and pull it apart and put it back together again as  jewellery. So if you have ever thought about my work “Huh, I bet I could do that!”, well now HERE’S YOUR CHANCE!!

The plywood piece will be removed from the exhibition and created into individual works by people attending the workshop on the 23rd of August. These new pieces will go on display, credited to their makers, alongside my works for the final week of the show.

So check out the show, (so you can store away a few ideas of what not to do) and sign up to make yourself a ___(your name here)___ + Melissa Cameron original. I for one cannot wait to see the results.

Collaboration is fun!


We interrupt this blog-post-stream on Brisbane and the JMGA conference, to feature a delightful lasercutting demonstration by the affable nerd Adam Savage.

It’s super awesome, as it shows how the whole laser system works (the part with Adam drawing in Rhino is pretty much how I design my pieces, right down to the removable guidelines and layer manipulation, and you will note after his demo that I am clearly also in love with polar arrays) alongside the drafting of the object, and how quick it is to have a part versus how long it takes to draw one.

And if you, like me, now have Georgie Girl stuck your head, here’s the complete track;

With thanks to Arthur Hash for posting up the first link on his blog. On a side note, I’ve seen a few YouTubes of late that feature Adam getting around his private workshop, and I’ve found them pretty good viewing.

Categorized as Cad, lasers!

Still in Pittsburghia

During my travels I overheard a local mention that Pittsburgh was on its way to becoming ‘the new Portland’. Given that actual Portland is only a 3 hour drive from Seattle you think I’d be able to make a call on this… I’ll let you know when I get down there.

So while I was in Pittsburgh I spent part of Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday teaching a group of seniors at a local high-school the basics of working with recycled materials, so that each could make a small wearable pendant. I don’t have images of those guys, but I hope to have images of their works to share with you at some stage.

What I do have however is an image of what I made on Wednesday before class, after an overnight dumping of 5 inches of snow. It’s meant to be a snow kangaroo – a ‘White Boomer’, if you will.


Yes, I know, it’s more of a snow wallaby. Or a snow quokka even.

On Thursday I went out to Slippery Rock University with assistant professor in metalsmithing Sean Macmillan. He also just happens to be one of the first people to have put one of my works in an exhibition in the ‘States, many moons ago. Turns out I incorrectly stated that he was actually the first to bring my stylings to America. I have since had a read of my own CV (memory failing already is it jewellist?) and realised that I first got a piece into SFASU in Texas, with Slippery Rock not far behind. Sorry guys!

Out on the big Slippery Rock campus I first got a tour of the jewelry/metals building and then did, for want of a better description, a technical demonstration of Autocad. Using my computer I went through a bunch of my drawings and explained what and how I ideate and then design straight into cad. I had with my one of my lasercuts as well as a bunch of my drawings printed at scale and a few completed works that I make from such a beast. Using them as props I described how I work, the concessions I have to make for the laser and the general process I have for when I’m making drawings for someone else to cut.

After this we had a coffee and a quick tour of the creative buildings of the campus, including the new textiles facility, before I went back to the 3d/sculpture building to give a second presentation on my work. The lovely Sharon Massey (previously mentioned as part of my Monday night capers) came out to The ‘Rock (she now runs the gallery that Sean was previously in charge of on campus) and we all went for lunch that turned into a great discussion that lasted half the afternoon.

Metalsmithing studio overview.
Metalsmithing studio overview.
Metalsmithing studio, view over the soldering/casting area.
Metalsmithing studio, view over the soldering/casting area.
Sharon Massey in the enamelling room of the SRU's metals building
Sharon Massey in the enamelling room of the SRU’s metals building
Sean Macmillan in his office/studio.
Sean Macmillan in his office/studio.

Laser Sintering

**edit** I got so excited about the technology yesterday, I didn’t clearly articulate that I was referring to specific source material, just published by the BBC. So here goes:

Chris Vallance for the BBC has just published an article on How tech is transforming jewellery. In his piece he specifically reference a new machine that uses laser sintering to create gold jewellery works. As I mentioned in my presentation at the 2010 Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia conference – the next big thing in jewellery manufacture would be laser sintering. Finally I have some justification!

Sintering? Printing directly onto a granulated media using a laser – in this case with gold powder. (In my presentation I mentioned steel and titanium, but it was only a matter of time before gold got a guernsey.) It’s similar to the existing forms also known as direct deposition printing which are available through your average print shop (Shapeways or Ponoko), which to date have been able to work with plaster and a few types of plastic, in that there is a deposition of the media, then the laser comes in and fuses that layer to the one previous. (With plaster/plastic there is not necessarily a laser involved in fusing layers, instead a layer of adhesive is applied, then the next layer of material.)

Unlike building with a wax, you don’t need to also deposit supports as the loose media surrounding the object stabilises the piece until it is finished, after which you just brush the excess material off. My guess is that it will still have striations, a hallmark of other ‘printing’ processes, but being gold they will be relatively easy to work with. Cleanup of these kinds of printed works present their own challenges however, in that the resolution of a print is not always kept during sanding and buffing procedures. Speaking with a local designer who works with many ‘grown’ objects, he tells me that you have to be careful of your resolution, since if you design really small features as a part of a larger object, they might not survive the cleanup.

Cookson’s, the company featured in the article (Ok, full title, Cookson Precious Metals), are like the Rio Grande of the UK, and are located (well, at least the branch I visited) in the jewellery quarter in Birmingham. They have invested in a new machine that you can use (obviously with the right 3D file – and plenty of money to pay for the print and the actual part), which now takes its place alongside all of their other supplies that they sell for jewellery makers.

Interesting times ahead!!

Thanks to Wing Mun Devenney (@ispymagpie on Twitter) for the heads up.


Jessica Rosenkrantz from Nervous System (I’ve spoken before about these amazing creators) has just tweeted a bunch of cool images of new prototypes, created from the drawings they were profiling as a part of this post.

I have to admit at being kinda blasé about the drawing with accompanying video when I saw it on the blog a while back, but wow. I’m very impressed at the finished works.

Look out contemporary/art/research/whatever-you-wanna-call-yourselves jewellers, the designers are coming…


Cad News! (It’s been a while, eh?)

Tinkercad has just been released, winning the race to be the first cad program that is fully functional inside a web browser – that is, so long as you have Google Chrome of Firefox as your browser (at this stage at least). The concept of browser-cad has been approaching for a while, and it’s a great idea, since will make it easier to do tune ups to drawings on-the-fly, making sitting down to design more like ‘preparing’ to write an email (as in, how often do you really have to do that?) and less like making ready to do your taxes.

Tinkercad is not that package though – it’s a smaller and less powerful program, and as they say in their demo video, a learning tool, mostly intended for those new to Cad to get a feel for designing and making single objects or relatively easy parts.

Of course, they are asking for a subscription fee to use their service online, which means it’s still tied to a single user, so once again at the ‘manufacturer’* the difficulties of having the right format to view the drawing still might occur.

After a cursory examination of the tool I can say that it holds true to many of the constructs of the cad programs I know, but in a simplified fashion. A few early comments; I found the arrows for panning around the object annoying, and while the ability to re-size in multiple directions at once using grips was good, the grips were hard to get a hold of.

I have to say though, as a simple and direct way to get hold of some cad software in order to learn or to begin teaching others, I think it’s a great idea.

For more info, have a look at the Hyperallergic article, from which I got the heads up.

*likely the owner of a Makerbot or similar 3D production device

Categorized as Cad, process