Hand-held plasma cutting

I've been super busy lately juggling various illustration projects and my job in an arts centre, but did manage to clear a day to spend some more time at Hereford Make! I've been looking forward to getting back there to work on some marketing materials with the volunteers, and get an induction to the onsite hand-held plasma cutter.


Before I used the machinery, I had to put on some overalls, because my clothes were made of flammable manmade fibres. I also had to put on some ear defenders, and safety goggles to protect me from the intense light the plasma arc emmits. We positioned the extrator above and slightly behind the steel, to encourage the flow of air away from me as the fumes produced were extracted from the room.

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James showed me how to use the machine and gave me a couple of pieces of scrap steel to practice with. At first I pressed too hard into the steel which caused the plasma cutter to get lodged in the steel. Once I realised the trick was to not push it into the metal but instead guide it across the top, I was able to make longer lines. I was also super anxious to begin with because it was all so loud, and this showed in my mark making, because I was drawing too quickly. James told me to go slower to get the clean cut through the steel, and not only did this achieve that desired effect, but going slower also gave me more control over the lines.

I'm really happy with what I managed to produce in such a short space of time. I'm looking forward to going back and creating a bigger illustration with these new skills. What really interests me is that although I've created many continuous line illustrations in the past, these ones have to have continuous uninterupted space flowing through them to keep them structurally sound.