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  • The Disruptive Designer

Chest Canvas and Laser Cutting


19.10.2018 - Laser Cutting Test on a Chest Canvas

Juggling work commitments at SHU and spending time on my masters is proving a tough challenge and despite allocating time in my schedule for my MA it is the unexpected Adhoc requests of SHU that are getting in the way and delaying productivity. It is leaving me not only frustrated but concerned that I am falling behind.


Today I did manage to find a little time to experiment on the laser cutter with the aim of:

1 - Refreshing my skills with the laser cutting process and CADCAM.

2 - Seeing what happens if I etch on a mocked jacket chest canvas.


With no technical assistance available, it was a challenge to remember the process, however using video tutorials and asking for assistance from students in the room, I did manage to produce the above sample, though the outcome was not what is intended and in some ways incorrect, it provided scope for further creative investigation and experimentation. Seeking help for knowledge individuals also reinforces the importance and advantages of collaboration.


The chest canvas I used consisted of three layers;

1 - A base layer of typical jacket suit canvas

2 - Shoulder piece made from horse hair cut on the bias

3 - Fusible chest felt holding all three layers together. Applied using a heat press, melting the felt to the two layers.


Although this chest canvas was mocked up and based on the tailoring SHU methodologies developed and refined over the years, (Devised on bespoke and CMT methods) I am aware that it is not the "normal" chest canvas I would expect to find in the typical mass produced or bespoke jackets. However, most tailored jackets will contain a form of canvas and felting layering.

Further dissection of tailored jackets are required to better understand the "scope of variety" in chest canvas application.


The William Morris pattern of the late 19th Century, was digitised using Adobe Illustrator, LIVE TRACE and manipulate to reduce noise and simplify. The .ai file was imported into Coral Draw for further digitizing, before being sent for printing by the laser cutter.

The pattern was very detailed and too intricate for the physical size, and once etched resulted in a fragile sample, which rips very easily. The felt was fused to the canvas prior to etching which provided additional stability in the majority on the central area of the sample, although the edges are still delicate to the touch. Further testing could potentially stabilise the felt through the adhesive.

The file was set up to etch, however the felt was laser cut away in the detailing sections, revealing the canvas underneath, thus more cutting and not etching. This could be due to incorrect set up of the digital file or the laser collaboration and height setting.

The outcome however is effective and opens opportunities for a layering affect of the chest piece.

Further investigation:

1 - Printing/colour manipulation of the canvas prior to chest felt fusing. Once the felt is etched the colours/ pattern of the canvas would come through.

2 - Embroidery after (or before) etching to added an additional tactile top layer.

3 - Painting the canvas after etching in between the etched areas.

4 - Beading potential within the process - further beading research required as this is an area I am not familiar with at all.


Thoughts, moving forward:

The pattern I have been manipulating so far is a William Morris late 19th wall paper, however moving forward I would like to use my own imagery for sampling. My thoughts currently are to produce my own imagery "in the style of William Morris" or "In homage of William Morris", but with a twist. Given my proposal has a sustainable underpinning I am thinking perhaps images that provoke a response or catalysts for debate on the environmental damage mankind is causing to the planet. One area I could explore further is the very topical situation of plastics and the impact on animals and wildlife. The V&A exhibit, Fashioned From Nature could be worth visiting for inspiration. https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/fashioned-from-nature



One idea is to look at recreating a Morris Wallpaper design using a collage technique composed out of discarded plastics found in the recycling bin. This could then be digitised for embroidery or laser cutting?


I am also keen on the idea of "exposed construction of process". This could involve revealing the internal construction elements of the tailored jacket, but could be applied to machine embroidery by stitching only (or part) the frame work of the design (supporting stage prior to over stitching desire effect). In hand needle craft this would be canvas with the print or drawing (design) applied.


Question: Could the chest canvas be embossed?