In order to make this project work within two meeting times, I decided to limit the amount of graphic design work involved. Rather than focus on using a vector-based design program, like Illustrator, I opted for hand-drawings. Students were given templates (boundaries) on paper inside which they could design an object. They could choose from circular and rectangular medallions that could be attached to a backpack or hung on a Christmas tree, to name plates and business card sized drawings. They could also create a shape from scratch if they wanted to make something different than what was available. We brainstormed ideas on what to draw, what would visually represent who you are, what you are passionate about, and what hobbies and interests you have.
After completing a sketch on these various templates in pencil, students selected one to finalize. They used a thin sharpie pen to outline and fill in all parts of the drawing that they wanted engraved. These pages were turned in by the end of the session. We also attempted to explore just a small portion of Adobe Illustrator, but even that limited tool set was a bit overwhelming, particularly for the younger students. I may revisit vector drawing through Pages next week.
With all of the hand-drawn items ready, I scanned these and inserted the images into Illustrator after class. Using Live Trace, these scanned drawings were then converted to vector images. While scans and other bitmap images can actually be engraved, I felt the vector-based versions looked better. The final Illustrator files were laser engraved and cut, samples of which are seen in the photos below.