So after my big project last week, I decided I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew. As it happened, when we were receiving the assignment I was wearing a – rather nerdy – Zelda t-shirt.
I always thought the masks were aesthetically appealing and I thought the laser cutter would be a great way to try to make one so I decided to use some free acrylic I got – thanks to the ITP Listserv – to make Majora’s Mask key-chain’s.
I started by finding an image of the mask that was high quality
However, when I tried to use the “Trace Image” feature on Illustrator, the image that showed up wasn’t going to work for the laser cutter.
I asked a close friend of mine why this was happening and she told me that Illustrator wasn’t too good at live tracing color images. Not really know Illustrator at all I was a bit lost, so I attended Friday’s workshop on laser cutting. Rebecca let me know that rather than use Illustrator straight away, it would be best to upload the image to Photoshop and dull down all the colors to black.
I sent the new image back over to Illustrator, zoomed in to fix small discrepancies and saved the document using the ITP template in order to prepare it for laser cutting.
With the supervision of Aaron, I pulled up my image, set the preferences properly and began to cut my first mask. The first cut came out really well but it was going to be way too big for a keychain.
I reduced the size of the template, adjusted my acrylic and began cutting again. Happy with the size, I decided to print out four of them. I was going to have to do a lot of painting on these and I wanted to give myself a lot of leeway for mistakes.
After printing four that I was happy with, I asked the person on staff what the best way to go about drilling a small hole in the acrylic was thinking it would be a really small drill bit. Rubin, who was in earshot, suggested I just use the laser cuter again which was a great idea but I was worried about how precise the holes would be. Together, Rubin, a set of digital calipers and I found the exact spot in which the holes needed to be and proceeded to drill small holes in each of them.
With the templates all complete, there was only one last step and arguably the most difficult: painting the design. I went to Blick and bought 4 different acrylic paints and some brushes.
I traced the design onto a paper plate but the paint didn’t stick too well to it so I decided to set up some newspaper and paint a sample to that.
Happy with that, I taped down one of my acrylic’s with painters tape so I wouldn’t paint over any area’s I didn’t want to. I applied a base coat to the main part of the acrylic, waited for that to dry and painted many more layers.
The dark green of the acrylic made it so that if the purple was going to show up, there needed to be more than a few coats. After that, I taped out an area for me to paint the inner red design, then taped out an area for the eyes. Upon removing the tape however, I wasn’t too happy with the angular look of the center design so I decided to paint another acrylic following the same steps. Instead of taping out the center design this time, I did it by hand was much happier with the results. All that remained after that was painting the tiny stems of the design, which wasn’t too difficult. I applied coats in small doses and made sure to blend the areas that needed blending.
Looking back on this project, I think this is the happiest I’ve been with all of my projects. I think I had an epiphany after my last project: it’s all about simplicity. A week before school started I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi and while I definitely enjoyed it, I was mystified by how a man could dedicate his entire life to something that was so simple. He essentially said that all he wanted to do was make the perfect piece of sushi and I thought to myself, “How hard could that be? Would it require a literal lifetime of dedication.” Now I understand. Yes. It would. In order to do something perfectly, to make a bowl or, furniture or what have, you need to dedicate so much of your time to it, regardless of how simple it may seem.