Making a Giant Resin Dreamcatcher / Suncatcher (it’s Laser Cut!)

Today I’m making a Giant Resin Suncatcher at the Makerspace, inspired by the design and beauty of Dreamcatchers to hang in a a bedroom window that gets flooded with light in my home. The wood pieces were laser cut in wenge on our Laguna EX Laser Cutter and then filled with total boat resin.

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Tools

Laguna Band Saw

Supermax Drum Sander

Parallel Bar Clamps

Laguna EX Laser Cutter

Painter’s Tape

Dewalt Random Orbital Sander

Dewalt Powerdrill

Materials

Titebond III Woodglue

Total Boat 2:1 Epoxy, Medium Hardener

Charcoal Powder

Black Diamond Silver

Micah Pigment Sample Pack

Fishing Line

Copper Chain

The first thing I needed to do was prep a large thin panel of wood. I had a dimensioned piece of Wenge that I was able to quickly resaw down the middle on the bandsaw. 

I lined my floor with craft paper to go underneath the parallel bar clamps I was going to be using for this glue up. 

I thought this wood was perfectly square before I resawed it, but it was just a little bit off. So, I needed to pass the edges through the jointer a few times until the panels fit perfectly flush. 

There’s not a substantial surface area involved in this glue up, but there’s going to be a big resin fill in the finished piece, which will add stability. I laid a liberal coat of wood glue on each edge and squished everything together. To keep the top of the panel from bowing upwards, I added some weight to the top. 

The next day, I unclamped the panel. After sitting overnight, it was solid as a rock. I unloaded it and prepped it to be drum-sanded by sketching guidelines on both sides of the panel. 

I loaded up the drum sander with a 60-grit belt to make quick work of evening out this panel. 

Now that I knew the final dimensions of the finished panel of wood, I jumped into making the design. I knew exactly what I wanted the feathers to look like, so I created those quickly in Adobe Illustrator starting with a circle, a triangle, and an oval. 

Then, I tweaked the design until I was happy enough with it to move on to the top round part of the dreamcatcher. To assist with this, I used an iPad app called Amaziograph. The app mirrors sketches along any number of axes and makes it easy to do perfect mandalas. 

For something reminiscent of a dreamcatcher, all I needed to do was a zigzag line. I made a few versions of this and thenI imported my favorites into Illustrator to see how each of them looked. 

For the final design, I actually ended up liking one of my simplest designs the best with the feathers that I had done. So, I went with that design. 

Then, I played around with colors for resin fills in the design. I also wound up with two feathered designs: one that was one solid color and then one that was split down the middle. But, I wasn’t sure which design I was going to use in the final piece, just yet. 

I have laser cut Wenge before and know that it laser cuts very well,  even though it’s a really hard wood. I just needed to hone in the settings before cutting the final pieces. To do this I designed a small test cut piece that’s a similar level of detail to the final laser cut.  

I lined my panel up in the laser cutter and tucked the test cut as far to a corner as I could to minimize making waste. Once I confirmed that I had my settings honed in, I went in with the final design, and the laser cutter handles the wenge like butter. 

There’s something pretty cool about finally seeing a digital file that I drew from scratch come to life, especially when it’s oversized like this one is. 

Next, it was time to get ready to get resin into the design. I made sure the design was nice and sealed because I didn’t want my resin seeping between the cells since some of them were going to have different colors in them. My plan of attack here was to use painter’s tape. 

I pulled the tape as taut as I could as  I laid it down. Then, I used a plastic scraper to press the tape down firmly to the wood. A credit card or something similar would have also worked.

I was expecting the tape to possibly leak a bit so I covered my table as a precaution. 

Then, it was resin time. I used Total Boat 2:1 with a medium hardener for this. I started with the big round section, the bulk of which I wanted to keep clear, which made the mixing and pouring pretty simple. 

Next, I wanted the spots on the perimeter of the circle to be a light silvery gray. I added just a touch of charcoal powder and silver mica to the remaining clear resin from this first batch and stirred it up. 

I wanted the feathers to be colorful. To make sure the resin pour went as smoothly as possible II laid a paper cup for each color with the different pigments already portioned in them. Then, I mixed up another batch of resin and divided it up between cups. What was left in the container, I colored bright red because I wanted a red stripe in all three feathers. 

Then, I poured. 

This went off without a hitch. The tape peeled off almost perfectly with slim to no spillover. In fact this might have been one of the best techniques I’ve ever tried. That being said I wouldn’t suggest doing this for a pour larger than this one.

I loaded up the drum sander with a 220-grit belt. As I got closer to finishing off the resin pieces, I try to avoid sanding with coarse sandpaper because it leaves scratches through the resin.

I took these as far as I could get them on the drum sander before handling the final sand with a random orbital sander. 

I thoroughly wiped off all the dust left behind from the sanding process with paint thinner on both sides of all the pieces. This is a key detail for getting a great looking finish over the top.

Once the paint thinner dried, I went in with a Satin Wipe-On Poly. I used a few very thin layers to avoid having wipe-lines because they can be quite distinct over clear resin.

To get all the pieces assembled, I drilled a few small holes into all of the pieces for fishing line. I chose fishing line because it will look nearly invisible, but also handle the weight. , but also wanted strings to be able to handle the weight. 

For the handle on the top I used a thin copper chain as the top handle, and then it was done!

When the light hits the feathers, they almost look like they glow in real light. The gray and clear top added just the perfect amount of dimension. 

I really enjoyed making this dream catcher and I think I’m going to hang it in the perfect spot. I think it will be a really beautiful piece above the window where the light really hits. 

 

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