Laguna Beach High School art students have a new tool in their arsenal that grants them access to a deeper level of complexity in their work.
Since fall, students in Kerry Pellow's graphic arts and design class have used the Epilog Laser to etch and carve into wood, acrylic and fabric.
The machine connects to a computer and recreates the on-screen design on the chosen medium.
Grants from SchoolPower and the Festival of Arts Foundation funded the laser, which looks like a copy machine with a glass door that offers a view of the laser beam in action.
The beam moved back and forth Tuesday as Bryson Elghanayan, 16, watched it cut out designs of dollar bills.
"It gives us a whole different media to work with, and allows us to produce complex images," he said.
Traditionally students have cut out their designs by hand.
The laser adds another level of intricacy and speed, Pellow said.
In the past few weeks, students have redesigned the logo for the South Coast Regional Occupational Program, which offers career and technical classes in the Laguna and Capistrano school districts, and will soon create logos for Laguna High's athletic training room.
Students' work is displayed around campus, and the school's sports teams have even sought out the design class.
Track team members brought circular medals for Bryson to engrave their mile times and names. Students also engraved relay participants' names on batons for last weekend's Laguna Beach Trophy Invitational.
"The best part is seeing your work throughout the school," said Kirra Nash, 17. It's nice to have a lasting impact."
Students have also designed programs and posters for school plays and musicals.
Nash said she is comfortable with computer design, so the laser provides the next logical progression.
Students need to meet certain criteria before they are allowed to use the laser. Pellow said because the instrument gives kids another outlet it's something for them to look forward to.
The elective class counts toward fine arts credit, said Kirra, who wants to major in graphic design and is interested in the production and advertising industries.