Etched in wood

Atlas Engraving

Photo of holly kraeber and jacob Olsen by Ashiah Scharaga

The concept for Atlas Engraving was born in Jacob Olsen’s dorm room at Chico State about two years ago. Olsen, a mechatronic engineering student, purchased a hobby-grade laser engraving machine. He then designed and created a map of Bucks Lake for his mother last Christmas. It was a hit. With the help of his fellow students-turned-business partners, Olsen launched Atlas Engraving about two months ago. Olsen, Holly Kraeber (his high school sweetheart and a recent graduate), Cameron Schindler and Cole Kraeber (Holly’s brother) all design and create Atlas Engraving’s products. Many of their offerings represent the group’s shared love of the outdoors and the North State, with maps of Chico, Paradise, Oroville and other cities, key chains with silhouetted pines and pitched tents, coasters with compasses and rowboats, and wooden earrings. The business also does custom orders. Next week, they’ll move their woodshop, which formed over time in the team’s basement (yep, they’re roommates, too) into a warehouse on Fifth Street. Atlas Engraving can be found at the Thursday Night Market or online at Holly Kraeber and Olsen chatted with the CN&R:

How would you describe your niche?

Kraeber: Our [products] are nice and affordable. You can still get into the higher prices depending on size and quality of wood, but we like to make it so that … college students and average people can still have a nice piece … [and are] not limiting their options for quality art.

How has business been?

Olsen: We surpassed over 100 orders in under a month. And we weren’t really expecting that.

Kraeber: It’s been 99 percent positive. [But] we appreciate the critiques, especially since we’re so new.

Can you explain your creative process?

Olsen: We design something using computer-based drawing software, like Photoshop or Illustrator, and then we can take that file and put it into our laser computer and put it right on [the wood]. Depending on the settings, we can get different results out of the laser … [that’s] what helps get the look that we have.

Kraeber: The design work and the finishing and the final touches are what’s done by hand, but the designs being engraved is always done by the machine. You can get so much more precision out of it, especially with those detailed maps!

What do you enjoy about the work?

Olsen: Seeing the feedback from the customers. If anyone buys a Paradise map, there’s usually a story behind it. They’re like, “Oh I used to live here.” Or we’ve had people come up and be like, “Oh, I was born and raised here.” It’s really nice to hear everyone’s story and how they’re able to share a little bit of that with us.

What’s next?

Kraeber: [We’re] doing something new and exciting and seeing where it takes us. Not everyone can say that they started a business at 24 years old and got their friends/roommates to join in and actually succeeded.