Love for the Laser Cutter

by Kim J.

A collage of the ornaments and practical items made with the laser cutter, including a Seussical 2022 ornament with the Cat in the Hat's hat, a blue snowflake, a buffalo against a backdrop of trees and mountains, two pumpkin silhouettes that say "thankful" and "grateful," a keychain that says "I luv you Dad," tropical floral earrings, and a cookbook or tablet stand.

I’ve been a crafter all of my life. I make costumes and throw elaborate birthday parties. My first thought when I see something beautiful in a store is usually, “Can I make that?” I love to create handmade gifts, produce decorations for birthdays, and design personal touches for my home. The laser cutter/engraver (Glowforge) at HCLS Glenwood Branch + Makerspace is the latest tool in my crafting repertoire. Among the many things I’ve been able to make are jewelry, decorations, gifts, cake toppers, valentines, teacher appreciation keychains, and an LED light. My favorite things that I’ve made are keepsakes that engrave my son’s drawings and a lighted archway that I made to try and replicate the schwibbogen that are sold in Germany.

A picture of a German Schwibbogen village scene made with the laser cutter. The photograph consists of a village with homes, a church, lampposts, and fir trees, surrounded by an arch that has more cottages and fir trees, against a blue background resembling the sky.

What is a Laser Cutter/Engraver? 

This machine allows you to put a piece of material like leather, wood, or acrylic in the machine and it carves out your product using laser light. Glowforge is the name brand for the Laser Cutter Engraver at HCLS Glenwood Branch + Makerspace

What materials can it cut? 

At HCLS, we only allow Proofgrade materials in the machine – Glowforge sells proofgrade materials, which are certified to be laser safe. These materials also have pre-assigned settings in the machine – telling the laser exactly what power and speed it needs so cuts and engravings produce exactly how they should! Proofgrade materials include hardwood, acrylic, draft board, plywood, veneer, and leather, among others.

A yellow and green laser cutter atom with the words "Happy Birthday" in the center, atop a science-themed birthday cake with Erlenmeyer flasks and icing atoms as decor.

How can I get Proofgrade Materials? 

The Glenwood Branch has a selection of materials to purchase directly from the library, including many colors of acrylic and several finishes for hardwood, plywood, and veneer. Alternately, you can purchase directly from the site, shop.glowforge.com, or from local craft stores that carry Proofgrade materials.

A child's handmade stick-figure drawing of a family with their dog, and the laser cutter's reproduction of it as a wooden ornament, with the year "2022" inscribed at the bottom.

What kinds of things can I make?

The photos in this post are all things that have been made in the Makerspace with the Laser Cutter/Engraver. There is so much room for creativity and customization. Your design can be high-tech – you can create an .svg from scratch with interlocking or overlapping pieces to construct 3D artwork. Your design can also be low-tech – you can convert a line art drawing, photograph, or handwriting sample into a custom-engraved keepsake. You can also browse premade designs in the application and send them with customized engravings, or you can use the application to create a design using graphics, text, and shapes.

Two snowflake earrings made with the laser cutter.

How do I get started?

If you want to see a quick intro video, you can watch on HCLS’s YouTube channel here. You can also register for upcoming make-it and take-it classes at Upcoming Laser Cutting Classes. Someone is always available in the Makerspace to help you get underway. Anyone under 18 who wishes to use the laser cutter must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Kimberly J is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the HCLS Glenwood Branch. She enjoys reading, photography, creating, crafting, and baking.

Clarksville Youth Care Group Appreciation Project

The photograph depicts several of the kits with school bus themes, including handmade cards with school bus illustrations, and chocolate and trail mix bars.

by Nancy T.

It’s back to school time! Not just for students, but for teachers and bus drivers as well. To celebrate this year’s return, more than 70 local students from the Clarksville Youth Care Group (CYCG) worked hard all summer to create teacher and bus driver appreciation kits. These kits consist of a hand-sewn school-themed pencil pouch and a handmade thank-you card, school supplies (pen, pencil, notepad, bookmark, etc.), snacks, and a bunch of goodies. Funded by a Howard County Innovation Grant, CYCG has made approximately 850 kits. They have delivered the kits to 45 HCPSS schools as well as the HCPSS transportation office. The students received a lot of positive feedback; many teachers wrote thank-you notes to the group and said that receiving the handmade kit full of nice goodies has been an encouraging start to a new school year. It is a wonderful way to let teachers know their work is appreciated. The group still has limited kits to distribute, so interested teachers or staff can request them here.

The photograph depicts a handmade card with a sunflower, a back-to-school-themed kit, and some of the items from the kit, including a pen, pencil, notepaper, a trail mix bar, and origami birds.

CYCG was founded by two River Hill High School students, senior Arthur Wang and sophomore Amanda Wang, at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, with many students becoming involved in community service projects organized by CYCG. The group proudly donated 3,660 heavy-duty reusable face shields to hospitals, clinics, dental offices, and first responders in 2020. Last year, the group made Teacher Care Kits and donated them to 64 HCPSS schools. The kit consisted of a handmade school-themed mask, an ear saver to relieve ear stress, a mask lanyard, a thank-you card, and a mask filter. The kits supported teachers physically and mentally, winning a national award for their efforts.

The photograph shows the display case at Miller Branch with a selection of the teacher appreciation kits as well as photographs of the students at work creating them.

You can visit the display of CYCG’s work, showcased at Miller Branch, until September 30. For more information, visit www.clarksvilleyouthcaregroup.org

Nancy T. is an instructor and research specialist and the display coordinator at Miller Branch. When she’s not in the branch, you’ll find her in the swimming pool or out walking in the fresh air.

One Person’s Trash…

The picture us of a leaping reindeer made from colorful tubes of scrolled paper, against a lime green background.
Join us for a reindeer craft on Stress Free STEAM evening!

By Holly L.

One person’s trash….is another person’s CRAFT!

Holidays have you feeling stressed? Relieve some of that tension and join us for Stress Free STEAM for Adults on Thursday December 2 at 7 pm at HCLS Miller Branch. We will be making easy, seasonal upcycled crafts using everyday materials. Try your hand at some dazzling wall art, paper pillow boxes (perfect for small gifts), or a festive paper tree.

The picture is of two paper pillow box crafts made from recycled cardboard from a Chex box of cereal, both laying on an orange tablecover.
Paper pillow boxes like these made from recycled cardboard are the perfect container for small gifts.

All abilities welcome. Beginners and the non-crafty are encouraged to come. Materials provided.

Registration required. Register here or call 410.313.1950.

For further reading, check out our collection of books on upcycling.

Also, did you know that you can access several crafty magazines such as HGTV, Simply Knitting, and Family Handyman online for free using your library card? Visit Overdrive to browse our complete collection.

Holly L. is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She enjoys knitting and appreciates an audiobook with a good narrator.

Don’t Underestimate a Good Craft

The photo shows a shadowbox format of birch tree branches and falling yellow and orange leaves against a pale background in a white frame, with a brown and a tan stone in the foreground. All are placed on a wooden tabletop.
Join fellow crafters at Tezukuri Crafternoon on Wednesday, November 10 to create this delightful fall display!

By Peter N.

First of all, a well-deserved welcome back to all of our customers! We have so enjoyed seeing your faces (or at least, half of them) in our branches once again, particularly for in-person classes and events like the one we’re sharing here.

Were you one of the regular participants in Create by Music at the Miller Branch in the pre-pandemic times? Well, good news! We are back but we have re-branded. Create by Music is now Tezukuri Crafternoon. What does that mean? Well, Tezukuri translates to “handmade” in Japanese and Crafternoon…well, that’s just craft combined with afternoon.

The photo shows the word "Tezukuri" in Japanese, followed by "Tezukuri Crafternoon" in English.

Each first Wednesday of the month, join us for a relaxing afternoon hour of crafts and conversation. No artistic talent required! And if you’re looking for a selection of titles from our collection to check out about handmade crafting, please enjoy this list of items from our catalog.

Register for our next Tezukuri Crafternoon on November 10th at 2 pm here. Ages 19+.

Peter is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch and LIVES for the upcoming sweater weather.

Stress-Free Steam for Adults

The picture of the craft is of a turkey made from beads, multicolored feathers in fall shades of brown, orange, and red, strips of brown leather for the legs and feet, with a walnut shell for the body.

By Holly L.

Does the prospect of a second pandemic holiday season already have you on edge? Did you feel a pang of sadness when your kids aged out of the family craft classes? Would you like to unwind in a relaxed setting with some calming hands-on fun? Are these questions getting tedious?

If you answered yes to any of the above, please join us on at the Miller Branch on Thursday, November 4 at 7 pm for Stress-Free S.T.E.A.M. for adults. We will provide materials for three fun fall-themed crafts, including a terrific turkey pin, an awesome autumn leaf placemat, and a brilliant beaded harvest corncob.

The fall placemat depicted is of various geometric shapes and fall leaves in different colors, cut and pasted onto a blue background and then laminated.

Focus on one project or make a few, it’s up to you! No prior craft experience needed and all abilities welcome.

Registration required. Please register by clicking here or call 410.313.1950.

The picture shows a craft of an ear of corn, made from beads in fall shades of red, orange, yellow, and white for the kernels, and brown pipe cleaners for the cob.

Holly L. is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She enjoys knitting and appreciates an audiobook with a good narrator.