Saturday, November 28, 2020

Creating Badges / Ornaments Adding SVG Clipart to Gravit


My first  Gravit tutorial featuring an  Ornament or Badge  used primitive shapes and a stencil fonts to keep things as simple as possible.  But what if you want to use a font that is not a Stencil font or expand your choice of images?   Here is a cardboard prototype of an ornament for my grand-daughter, Rosie, along with a poplar wood version.

Today's tutorial is the fourth in the following series, where I'd like to share my next steps in learning how to design in tools that work on Chromebooks for  the GlowForge.

4) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Gravit -- Next Steps

Here is a short video tutorial that will help you add more personalized SVG clipart to your ornament.   This tutorial builds on the Getting Started Tutorial  from my last blog post. 

In the tutorial above, I used this image from Those Icons   from

For this project, I wanted to find a simple silhouette that would lend itself to be 'cut' out of wood.   There are several places to find great icons, including Flat Icon and IconFinder where, you can find lots of SVG images that are free to use with attribution.  Here is the attribution for the graphic used in the video tutorial?

Flower free vector icons designed by bqlqn via @flaticon

 My favorite place to look for icon's that might work well is THE NOUN PROJECT with over a million images.

I love this site so much that I subscribe to the Noun PRO version for  less than $20 per year if you are an educator. This allows me to use any icon on the site without attribution and also adds features such as SVG download  and a few other apps  for easy integration with tools such as Google Slides, Adobe products, etc.

The trick is to look for a shape that will work well for your project.  The shape below could work well if you are trying to cut out a rose out of a round circular disk. But if you wanted to insert it inside a hollow circle, you would have to make sure that each part overlaps with the circular rim, so that the piece doesn't just fall out. 

Once you download the SVG image, you can use the the IMPORT Image under the File Menu Item to bring your SVG graphic into your design. This short video tutiorial 
can walk you through the process of successfully integrating SVG files.

Using the Compound Shape tool in Gravit is key to ending up with an ornament or badge that can be successfully cut on a laser cutter.   Here is more information about  creating compound shapes.

To better understand how to work with shapes in Gravit, I highly recommend working through 

John's short tutorials clearly describe the basics of Gravit, including working with compound shapes and with paths. 

In my  next tutorial I'll add show you how to expand your choice of fonts when using a laser cutter. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

From GRAVIT to Lasercut Design for the GlowForge - Getting Started

 The following is the third in a series of posts that I started to increase possibilities for students and teachers using makerspaces in their schools.   The first few blog posts in this series included

1) From Google Drawing to Lasercut Designs for the Glowforge - Getting Started
2) From Google Drawing to Lasercut Design for the Glowforge - Next Steps

3) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Gravit for the Glow Forge -- a Cloud based Vector App -

Getting Started with Gravit using Primitive Shapes
Getting Started - Finding Joy Project
Getting Started with Gravit Importing SVG graphics

4) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Gravit Next Steps -- Working with Text

And for a wonderful set of short intro video tutorials to Gravit, check out John Umekubo's series here starting with his BASICS tutorial below

5) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Inkscape - Getting Started

6) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Inkscape - Next Steps

Inkscape Tutorial for Laser Cutter from Washco Utah Library Makerspace

While is is possible to use Google Drawing to create ornaments or badges like these,  it does require some hacks or work-around to get an SVG file that your laser cutter can cut. 

The ideal way to approach this tasks is to use software that was designed to created vector graphics and that  can export your creation as an SVG file.    Two of the most popular software tools for designing for laser cutters are Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw.  If you have access to these, you will find lots of tutorials online that can help you use these tools in your maker-space. 
A free alternative to Adobe and Corel's tools for creating vector graphics is the open source program, Inkscape.   The beginning of this Inkscape tutorial does a great job helping you understand vector graphics as well as introduce you to Inkscape. 

However, none of these tools work on a Chromebook. After much research, I have concluded that the best tools for students using Chromebooks to design their own vector files  for laser cutters  (or vinyl cutters) is GRAVIT.  Gravit is a COREL product and  has a FREE and Pro Version.  The Free version is accessible to students on Chromebooks.   Students can even easily sign in with their Google Accounts. Because it is cloud-based, it  also has the benefit of allowing a student to start a project at school and easily finish it anywhere - anytime.   

Note: Your school should  get parental permission to be COPPA compliant when using Gravit with students.  As of this writing,  I have not been able to find a signed student data privacy agreement for Gravit. You can find updated privacy information for this product here.

The first part of  this tutorial will introduce you to some basic features of Gravit that you need to create aa simple badge, ornament, or sun-catcher. 

Start by creating a free account at   I sign in with my Google  account.

This 30 minute tutorial -- Creating a simple ornament or badge will provide an easy project based introduction to Gravit where each of your students can cut a personalized name badge using simple shapes. 


Coming next in this series - Ornament Part 2 - Adding more personalized graphics and fonts to our ornament.

For a great resource on using Gravit with kids, check out John UmeKubo's Gravit tutorials.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Mathematical Mindset during Design Thinking

 This week, I continue working on improving my STEM/STEAM facilitation skills through the MMSA ACRES program.  Our current assignment asks us to reflect on how to add more opportunities for students to develop a mathematical mindset using purposeful questions.  I chose to review some photos and video clips from a maker experience I lead last year with a small team of students where we used Design Thinking to design wind tunnels. 

The design thinking framework from the Stanford is the problem solving process I most frequently use in maker activities that I plan and lead.  When using design thinking students spend quite a bit of time thinking about WHO they are designing for and DEFINING the problem specifically to meet the needs of WHO they are designing for.  After some wild brainstorming during the IDEATE phase, they build a PROTOTYPE to communicate one of their ideas and TEST it. 

During today's reflection I spent quite a bit of time digging deeper into my understanding of the Common Core mathematical practices 

I proceeded to take a close look at the photos and videos I had collected during our design thinking maker experience and consider which purposeful questions would have created more opportunity for these students to develop a mathematical mindset. 

Here's a 9 minute video demonstrating how mathematical practices could be strengthened  during this design thinking maker event using more purposeful questions.