Going to the Dogs

11Aug14

How could anyone not like Jerry?

Isn’t that exactly how we feel about our dogs? (Just don’t ask my neighbor Crazy Joe Devola, whose trash she used to tear apart)

This project started with the simple idea of creating a nice pen with a picture of my dog. She was a Siberian Husky/Malmute mix. (I am not mentioning her by name here, because I have used her name in a number of online logins).  I got her used from a guy I worked with at the time. He wasn’t sure of her age at the time, but we had her for 16 years.

Finished Husky Image on Corian Pen

Finished Husky Image on Corian Pen

Easy beans. Make a pen, get a picture, engrave the pen, color fill and I’m done…..Wrong!

Selecting the pen material and making the pen were pretty straight forward. I used white Corian with the intent of doing a black color fill. For a Siberian Husky, what could be better?

Now I’ll just sort through some old pictures, I’m sure I have some nice ones. She was alive in the pre-digital age, but I used to take a lot of pictures with my 110.

Hmm….. Too blurry. Too dark. Too far away. The background is the same color as the dog. Would have been perfect if one of my kids wasn’t hugging her and blocking half of her face. Are you getting the idea? This was supposed to be easy.

If she was still alive, and I used my digital camera, and I set the background, and I tweaked the lighting, and she sat still long enough etc  etc  …….

Time to regroup. These are probably typical of most people’s pictures, so it’s time to get over it, and make something work. I chose a pic that was pretty far away, but very good otherwise. Scanned it at a high magnification and very high dpi. It made for a pretty large file, but I only needed her upper body, so not unmanageable.

To remove the background can be a little tricky. I have used Photoshop for this, but found a great site that is quick and easy – clippingmagic.com.

Finally, a good looking high res image of my dog. On the computer screen anyway. Time to test it out. I polished up some Corian, and did a test engraving. As I wiped off the excess ink from the color fill, I was thinking, am I good or what? It turned out to be what. The result was ok, but just ok. So, back to the drawing board.

I engrave a lot of half tone images, and they come out really nice, but for this project I wanted to refine the result. There was just something a bit off with the look of the fur. A dithering pattern might do the trick, so I searched out and tested as many as I could find. By now, I had a pretty extensive string of color filled Corian Husky images. After exhausting the list of patterns, I had at least one very promising result. The next step was a foot long strip of Corian where I stepped out the image to fit as many as I could over that length. Each image was given a different speed or power setting or both (obviously I recorded the settings for each). Upon completion, I had one image that just looked just right. As it turned out it was at a setting that I never would have used for something like this, but I guess that is how we learn.

Now I had to make sure the result was repeatable, and also looked as good when engraved on a cylinder. The final testing was done on turned Corian instead of the flat stock. The only adjustment required from that point on, was in the aspect ratio (length vs width) to compensate for the diameter of the finished pen.

This whole saga was spread out over about a month, because sometimes you just have to walk away. I’m glad I didn’t settle for some of the earlier results, because I like the way it finally came out, and hope you do too.

Finished German Shepherd Image on Corian Pen

Finished German Shepherd Image on Corian Pen

Using what I learned, I applied it to some other breeds with good results.

I sure miss that dog.

Multiple Breeds of Dogs on Pen Blanks

Multiple Breeds of Dogs on Pen Blanks

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