Tiki Me

Subtraction: CNC


Per usual, I wanted to make something functional so as to not waste material and aside the skills learned, get something tangible from the project. But a combination of builder’s block (?) and slim picking in the materials department forced my hand. I had to think creatively.

I remembered a really cool project by a design studio called Hey. They’ve been posting minimalist illustrations of pop culture figures, real and fictional, on Instagram.  I love the self-imposed constraints, clever designs, and brilliant use of simple shapes. For whatever reason, this got me thinking about tiki masks which lead me to a pretty excellent tiki-version of a Chicago restauranteur named Paul Mcgee. (He owns a tiki bar called Three Dots and a Dash. I highly recommend it.).

I wanted to create a tiki-style portrait of myself using simple shapes, adding dimensionality by stacking layers of material. 

Photo Feb 18, 7 05 24 AM
My initial sketch.
Illustrator file


After a few false starts, Ben schooled me on the most efficient workflow for the Techno Router CNC. The key is to separate each feature into it’s own Master Cam file (and eventually into its own G-code file). This allows you to reset the origin point relative to each individual tool path. Which is super helpful because you’re able to CNC each shape at will, and by re-zeroing the CNC you don’t waste nearly as much material. In the first image below you can see that I was reset the origin point, just outside of the previous cuts, for each shape.

Photo Feb 18, 12 44 28 PM

I decided to paint each layer in varying shades of one color. I think it looks killer. And the monochrome will help make the layers pop. (One caution is that that the acrylic paint I used added a few millimeters of thickness on the sides, so the pieces next to each other on the same layer don’t fit as well as they should.)


Tiki Me