Category Archives: Media Lab

Using the Vinyl Cutter

The Vinyl Cutter in the media lab can be used to make simple and complex decals that can be affixed to most surfaces!

Before using the cutter, you’ll want to make sure of a few things:
1. Make sure that the vinyl is not too taut: it should look something like this

2. Make sure the vinyl is sticking out past the cutting area a few inches. This can be achieved by manipulating the blue POSITION arrows on the cutter

Now, you are ready to prepare your image using Adobe Illustrator
1. Open Adobe Illustrator and create your image.
If you want to use an already-made image,┬áselect the image and click on “Image Trace” in the top bar. After clicking Image Trace, the button will change to “Expand”. Click on Expand.
After creating your image, go to File > Cutting Master 2 > Cut/PlotImage

2. Then, this window will pop up. If your graphic isn’t already in the lower right corner, place it there by clicking and dragging in the preview area. Cutting Master 2 is able to detect the size of the vinyl as well as the placement of the cutters, so you generally don’t need to adjust the size and settings options

3. When you’re ready to cut, press Send.
4. When the vinyl is cut, you have to use a razor or scissors to cut the vinyl away from the cutter.
5. Remove the vinyl surrounding your cut image.
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6. Get tape (ask a Media Lab monitor for tape) and place the adhesive side onto the color side of the vinyl. Rub it down vigorously, especially over your cut area!! You can use a card to really press down on the tape. This is important!
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7. Remove the tape slowly. It helps to pull straight up rather than at an angle
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8. Now, you’re ready to affix it onto a surface!
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Place it on, vigorously rub, and slowly remove.

Remember, you can always ask a Media Lab Monitor for help!


Apple Blossoms Emerge

It took until mid-May this year for the crab apple tree outside the Media Lab to blossom, and our time lapse camera was ready. This video shows two-hour windows of time from subsequent days, racing forward from winter to spring, before lingering for several days as the tree finally blooms. Watch for the limbs to droop at 1:33 as a passing shower weighs them down.

About to Bloom

We’ve been watching the crab apple tree outside the window of the Media Lab for months now and it’s finally putting out some buds! In past years this tree has bloomed in mid-April, but the cold spring has delayed it. When it (finally) blooms we’ll post the time lapse video.


The Mount Holyoke College Media Lab is an interdisciplinary space for technology exploration. Students from across campus come together here to study and work on creative projects in new media.

Inspired by similar endeavors and by a post on temporary architecture, we decided to create a “pop up” Media Lab on a shoestring budget. The adaptive reuse of the old slide library was such a success that in 2012 the Media Lab was made permanent.

Today the Media Lab hosts classes on digital art and architecture, student group meetings, research instruction sessions, and more. Students can use the large format printers, scanners, vinyl cutter, copy stand, video conversion deck, and film splicing equipment at all hours through keycard access.

The Lab is staffed by 8-10 students from diverse backgrounds and majors, including Art, Computer Science, Physics, Architecture, and Neuroscience. Supervised by a LITS Liaison, these students maintain the lab, assist other students, and participate in projects to explore uses of new technologies for teaching and learning.

The purpose of this blog is to share the results of some of these technology explorations, and to build a body of knowledge around low-cost, low-threshold tools for teaching and working with cutting-edge technology.

We hope you’ll join us!