Craft Snippets – Laser cutting with Jena Johnston

Sally reports back from Craft snippets at Upper Riccarton Library which featured guest crafter, Jena Johnston. The next Craft snippets event is on Wednesday 25 January with ceramic artist, Cecilia Freire.

It was a lovely evening at our latest Craft Snippets event with our speaker Jena Johnston from Silvereye Laser Cutting talking about her crafting journey.

Teaching design technology

Originally Jena did a fine arts degree and planned to be an art teacher, but currently teaches design technology. Although this isn’t where Jena planned to be, she found she loves the technical space and how students find their creativity. When the school bought a laser cutter, Jena found this hugely exciting and turned to TradeMe where ‘all good journeys start’ and bought her very own.

Coming up with a name for her business was interesting. Jena loves birds and came up with the idea of Silvereye Laser Cutting. Her mother, a fountain of knowledge, pointed out to her that Silvereye birds only live in two parts of the world – South Africa and New Zealand. Jena is from South Africa.

Upskilling and inspiration

After a bit of research and finding amazing websites, for example Domestika, Jena was ready to embark on a new creative outlet making beautiful laser cut creations. One of Jena’s favourite people on Domestika to watch was Amanda Woodcock.

When you think about laser cutting, people often think about quite plain items cut out of acrylic and wood. Jena wanted to make ‘cool’ stuff with a real New Zealand flavour. Jena has always loved birds and liked the idea of Victorian portraits and their formality. Jena blended the Victorian portrait idea with New Zealand birds and her first earring design was born, which is still a bestseller now.

Jena keeps busy now selling online and at markets. This year has been particularly busy with markets around Canterbury and as far afield as Geraldine. Jena has spent a bit of time designing her sales table and had some nifty containers she has made to carry and display her wares.

Learning about materials

Jena talked a bit about the actual laser cutting process. You use sheets of acrylic or wood. You can etch and cut other materials but Jena has learnt through trial and error what works well and what doesn’t. The laser cutter can cut or etch and follows an image created in a vector file. You can draw something freehand and turn it into a vector file for the laser cutter. Jena uses Adobe Illustrator but there are other programmes you can use.

Once the design is cut or etched, Jena uses acrylic ink or paint markers to colour her creations. Cleaning up Jena uses nail polish remover, which becomes your best friend in this kind of work. The next step is putting the pieces together which is Jena’s favourite part. Through trial and error Jena has found two types of adhesive glue that work the best. Quick Fix if it is acrylic and not metal and Allfix if you are attaching metal to acrylic.

There are two suppliers of acrylic in Canterbury which Jena uses, Psp Plastics and Mulfords. There are some American suppliers, such as Hudston Acrylics who incorporate glitter and have beautiful coloured acrylic. Jena typically uses 3mm sheets. Different machines allow you to use different widths and different materials including leather.

Latest craft titles

Craft Snippets November 2022

Angela did a round up of what is new in the way of crafty books and mags. You can put a hold on any of these items. Items shared at our November gathering.

View Full List

Upcoming craft events

Sally did a round up of what’s on around Ōtautahi. There are a lot of Christmas markets in particular at the moment. And opportunities for family Christmas crafts at the library:

Two big things on the calendar for early 2023 are:

Upper Riccarton Library

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