Over the Spring semester I began experimenting with laser engraving on sand. The process began without any expectations of what would come out of it — I just liked the idea of shooting a laser into a new material. I had a plenty of experience using a laser-cutter, but mainly with thin sheets of wood, mdf, cardboard, and metal. In this case I was putting in much larger, three-dimensional blocks of sand. This meant that I had to teach myself new settings to input into the machine: how do I focus onto a 3D surface? What power and speed do I use? And what will happen to the sand?
After several tests and setting the machine on the highest power and slowest speed, I finally got some results. The laser was melting and fusing the sand, creating a dark, translucent glassy surface. Being a Glass major, and perhaps just by knowing what glass is made of, I should have predicted the result I would achieve. I was still skeptical about the fact that I had made glass, up until our visit to the Nature Lab last week. Seeing samples of this laser-glass under the microscope was a revelation. The images I captured proved to me that I had made glass. Beautiful, sandy glass.
Under the microscope the sample lose context and definition. It is hard to figure out what I am looking at, which may be problematic for my work because so much of the narratives and concepts are based on context with landscapes and memory. However, this new scale of perception opens up new possibilities to work with. My next step: how do I make things that can only be seen under a microscope?