With nearly 2 million views and over 43,000 subscribers to her design-meets-DIY YouTube channel, Karen Kavett clearly knows how to build an audience.
At just 22 years old, Karen works full-time as a video blogger and freelance designer in San Francisco.
She’s been creating videos on crafting, graphic design, “and other nerdy stuff” since 2008. She’s signed with one of the top online video agencies and her design work ranges from UX for YouTube to cover illustration for a NYT best selling author.
And she’s recently decided to expand her brand to a line of typographically inspired jewelry she makes with the help of Ponoko’s laser cutting service.
Let Karen introduce herself to you — and get a look at her mirrored acrylic ampersand necklace — in the video below.
“I had known about Ponoko for a long time,” says Michiel, “but never had a great reason to use the service.”
That reason finally came while he and his soon-to-be wife Jo-Ann planned their Berkeley, California wedding. “Many of our guests were traveling from different countries, and we wanted to give them something special to say thanks for making the journey,” Michiel explains.
His idea was to use our laser cutting service to create a DIY kit that let people build their own honeymoon scenes.
“Clouds are such a beautiful expression of the way landscape systems function” says Helen Reynolds, an artist and instructor of landscape architecture in Wellington, New Zealand. Last year she began a series of work exploring cloud shape and formation, including a sculptural installation she created with the help of Ponoko’s laser cutting service.
“Changes in the landscape make changes in the cloudscape, and I love that connection,” Helen explains of her initial interest in the subject. “They’re the responses of water vapor in the contracting or expanding atmosphere and castles in the sky.”
After creating several drawings and hand-cut cloud sculptures, Helen decided to use laser cutting for a project proposal that had been accepted for exhibition at the Dowse Museum of Art.
Jay Thomson wears a bow tie to work every day. “[People] get a kick out of seeing them, and they often will strike up a conversation with me about my tie. They’re always amazed when they find out I make many of the ties I wear,” Jay writes on his website Lavaguy.com
So Jay decided to find a way to streamline the bow tie making process. He designed 7 different tie shapes and used Ponoko’s laser cutting service to create acrylic templates (shown in action in the photo above).
Kevin Taylor was the ‘T’ in T&C Lures, a small business started by two guys who loved to fish in the San Diego bay. His partner (the ‘C’ in T&C) was taking a CNC machining class and “just wanted the challenge” of creating his own lures. Their first product, the swimgrub shown below, made the rounds at fishing forums and quickly became very popular.
But after just a few months of starting the company, C moved on and Kevin was left to carry on design and production. He would either have to pay a lot of money to a product development agency or learn to do it himself. So he decided to dive in and learn.
After some initial research on CAD and rapid prototyping, he came across SketchUp 3D design software and Ponoko’s 3D printing service.
Rather than make CNC machined masters for molding the lures and bait, Kevin decided to try 3D printed models. Below are images of his SketchUp designs as well as a model he produced with Rhino.
Andrea’s inspiration came from the medieval history surrounding his home near Modena, Italy. “It’s not a strict reproduction of a real castle. I wanted to include as many medieval elements as I could,” he says.
As part of the prize, Ponoko sponsored free laser cutting for the winner. Andrea’s epic design required thirty-two P3 (about 31″x15″) size sheets. Rather than ship an entire castle battle over from the US, we worked with our friends Vectorealism, a laser cutting service based in Milan, to have Andrea’s design made closer to home.
The picture below of Andrea’s son standing behind the castle walls demonstrates just how big this toy is!
Ponoko-made products from Fabien Royer and Bertrand Le Roy of Nwazet
Nwazet develops and sells a range of unique electronic kits, parts, and components. Recently, the company has been focused on creating new products for the Raspberry Pi.
As it says in the Raspberry Pi FAQ, “The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard.”
Nwazet founders Fabien Royer and Bertrand Le Roy started experimenting with the Raspberry Pi late last year “and we just fell in love with it” Fabien tells me. “We felt that the educational goals of the foundation were very much aligned with our own, and we appreciated the sheer versatility of the product which sits in a sweet spot between bare-metal microcontrollers and full blown computers.”
For many of their Raspberry Pi products, they use Ponoko’s laser cutting service as a “quick, cost-effective means of creating custom project enclosures without investing in our own laser cutter.”
It was love — of wood — that lead designer Valerie Thai to laser cutting.
“I have always loved working with wood as a medium. In the past I did a lot of woodburning (pyrography) as a hobby and craft,” she says.
When Valerie started seeing laser cut wood designs on various blogs, she decided to research the method a little more. She then came across Ponoko in the Etsy forums. “It was really exciting to know that there was a way I could work directly with a user-friendly laser cutting company,” she tells me.
Most small creative companies start with a product — not a business plan. But Mariko Carandang of iluxo was all business right from the beginning.
“One day I decided that I wanted to start a company and start selling things on Etsy,” she says. “I wasn’t already making something that I wanted to sell. I asked myself ‘Now what should I make?”
As a web developer and designer in San Francisco, she had the software skills to jump into digital fabrication. Mariko did lots of product research ranging from materials to manufacturing methods to fashion trends. She finally decided to enter the competitive market of laser-cut jewelry, and the next big question was how to set her designs apart from the crowd.
“Laser-cutting is inherently flat, so I thought a good way to differentiate my first product was to make something 3D. That’s where the idea of creating a locket came from,” she says of her first design.