Barking about Bark spin-off


Working as an Artist with focus on building Artist’s Books I was invited to join the Barking about Bark Workshop series held at Sliperiet in 2017. Workshop had a focus on exploring limits and it aroused many questions such as:
If I order Birch bark from a craft supplier what can I as a newbie to the material make from it?
How can I work with bark – näver and modern machinery?

My personal questions were.
Can I kerf Bark and make it bend to my will?
How can I combine laser cutting and Birch Bark?
Is there an age limit to the material if yes will it be an issue when laser cut?

This last question is a bit like kicking in an open door. There are limits for all materials and bark is no exception. But is a crucial to understand if the heat exposure to the material when cut laser will affect the long term result. Kerfing bark proved to be difficult as this material has lentil cells and a natural bendiness. If the kerf is cut to narrow the heat from the laser will make the bark brittle and the object will fall apart over time. Same result when the kerf cuts across the lentil cells.

After some minor experimenting resulting in failures other question need to be asked. Why use a laser cutter at all and what is laser cutting good at, other than mass production?
Analyzing the Bark, the one bought from the craft supplier, I if find two difficulties that make working with bark extra frustrating, it is difficult to cut curved lines and make holes without the bark tearing by hand. This is exactly what the laser cutter is really good at cutting out fine details, cutting holes and curved lines. The heat seals of the cut edges and prevent ruptures.

Another big advantage when working with a laser cutter and vector based layouts are the easy scaling of objects. You can easily change size.

On display in the showcase at 3D-Lab, Sliperiet are some of my prototypes for an upcoming a limited edition of bark containers. Some kerf test results and an Artist’s Book.

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