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Got It Made

Get into Molly McGrath's Favorite Tool: The Laser

Got It Made BY jane gauger 09/30/2015

Lasers have all sorts of applications—from scanning barcodes to putting on some pretty highbrow spectacles—and Molly McGrath of Molly M Designs is here to show you how she makes art using the pure magic of a beam of light. Cut to her step-by-step guide.

 

PULL TOGETHER THAT INSPIRATION

 

“The most interesting part of the process is gathering ideas. This is my mood board. It’s not specific to a particular collection—just a way to save things I like. I look everywhere—Instagram, architecture, textiles. The geometric images on the left are pictures I took of the Buckminster Fuller Biosphere in Montreal. Those pictures have provided me with a lot of inspiration over the years. The Bridget Riley postcard with the multicolored skewed rectangles has been a major source of inspiration. I love how she takes a simple rectangular shape and—through the play of addition/subtraction and color—she makes an absolutely beautiful composition.”

 

SKETCH OUT THE DETAILS

 

“I often sketch out my ideas in a notebook and create a color story, conceptual umbrella, and material palette. With my prints, each has anywhere from two to four layers, and there is a lot of trial and error figuring out which materials and colors look best on each layer ”

 

CREATE ON AUTOCAD

 

“I scan my sketches and create a file on AutoCAD, an engineering and architecture program. It makes it easy to scale up or scale down an image. The file breaks down the image into different layers that the laser has to cut or etch. The machine then reads the file and does the work.”

 

READY THE PAPER

 

“I get my two laser cutters running when I first get into the office. When I’m ready, I place the materials, in this case paper, on the laser cutter one at a time.”

 

PUT THE LASER TO WORK

 

“It takes about 20 minutes to cut the three layers of a print, and I have to place each layer by hand. More layers make the design three-dimensional and optically nuanced.”

 

INSPECT THE (VERY COOL) COMPONENTS

 

“I chose the palette to be soft and neutral, like the Saharan desert. But at the last minute I decided to add this screen-printed herringbone Lokta paper, a handmade Nepalese paper, which gives it a really psychedelic feel.”

 

COMBINE THE LAYERS

 

“Once that’s done, my assistant helps me put the layers together, assembly-line-style. The Of a Kind print is loosely based on a plaster carving I saw in Aït-Benhaddou, a Moroccan village with a huge kasbah where a portion of Game of Thrones was filmed!”

 

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