It might not look it, but this was quite a tricky design to cut. The design involved having to leave just tiny links of paper in order to hold the actual physical piece of paper together. So the overall piece got very lacy and delicate towards the end.
I’d cut similar designs to this one earlier on in this project (i.e. even before starting this ‘100 days’ project), but I didn’t really like the results, before. However, now that I’m getting more proficient at cutting by hand (and also at adapting designs so that they can be cut out but still look fairly attractive), the end result is quite close to what I had imagined in the first place:
Plus, it’s another art nouveau-style design, so that quite appeals to me, and it also makes any mistakes less obvious because the curves and swirls in the design make it harder to spot.
William Morris alphabet birthday cards. Card toppers. Laser cutter ideas and inspiration.
William Morris Style Laser Cut Birthday Cards
This week I’ve been developing William Morris-style laser cut birthday cards.
After a couple of days’ tinkering, I ended up with some really nice filigree designs of card toppers:
Where to find images and inspiration for your laser cutter
For the letters shown above, I bought the extended licence from Dreamstime, which is a website where you can buy royalty-free photos and vector-based illustrations.
Here are the art nouveau alphabet images that I used. Alternatively, you can enter your own search terms in the box below, to look for specific resources. For example, type “Art nouveau”, or “William Morris alphabet” in the box, and then click the ‘search’ button.
Another great resource that I’ve found for royalty-free designs is Vectorstock.com. They seem to have forgotten to use an apostrophe in the link/banner below, but they still do a brilliant range of illustrations. And because their files are all vector-based graphics, that means that they are usually very straightforward to cut with a laser cutter:
And at the moment (April 2018) both sites are even more useful if you have your own laser cutting business, because they can provide a little bit of extra income on top of your actual laser-cut products. You can either upload some of your own original designs and allow people to buy licences to use them, or can sign up as an ‘affiliate’.
For example, with Vectorstock I uploaded my elephant design so that other people with laser cutters can use it in their own designs. Then every time someone purchases a licence for the elephant, I receive a few cents, but there is no extra cost to the purchaser. Win/win!
Similarly, with affiliate links and referral schemes, you can also receive small payments just for pointing people towards something that they are already interested in. As another example, if you include the banners/ads for these services (like the ones shown above) you could receive a small payment each time someone signs up and/or purchases a licence.
Hope you enjoyed this post. Don’t forget to say ‘hi’ via the contact us page, or to tweet me @LaserSister if you’ve tried any of the above ideas or if you’ve got comments or questions.
Tutorial on how to laser cut a child’s door plaque
This is a quick and easy way to make a personalised door plaque for children (or yourself!).
As mentioned previously in an earlier post, this is the start of an “A-Z” resource of laser-cutting business tips and information. We’re starting with ‘Alphabet’ because there are so many ways to personalise objects with a laser cutter, and this is a great way to start earning money with your laser machine.
If you’re interested in creating your own designs then Pinterest is great for picking up inspiration from the different types of door plaques …
… but in the meantime here is a quick project if you are looking for instant gratification 🙂
1) Download the free .pdf file below, of “Alphabet Door Plaque”. (If necessary, copy or import the designs into your blank file ready for cutting.)
2) Create your required (capital) letter of the alphabet in whichever font you prefer. (The “K” in the sample file happens to be in a Jasmine font, but please do experiment with your own; maybe the child you have in mind deserves a more delicate, refined-looking font, or perhaps they are more of a straightforward sans-serif person?)
3) Make sure the letter you just created has got a “hairline” width of outline, and preferably no colour filling (this is a lesson I’ve learned from accidentally etching a lot of items instead of just cutting them…)
4) Check that the initial letter will fit inside the frame of the plaque. (This is down to personal preference, really, but as a guide the inside of the frame on the .pdf design is 50mm wide, and the “K” example letter is 35mm wide so it fits nicely inside the frame.)
5) Decide how big you would like the whole plaque to be. The example in the .pdf sample file is 60mm across, but you might like a bigger or smaller version. (Remember to change the size of the backing piece as well as the frame piece, if you are making the design larger or smaller.)
6) Decide whether you would like to include a hole in the piece, for hanging it on the door. If so, then keep the red circles in the cutting design. Otherwise, remove the red circles before you cut the pieces out.
7) (Optional) Cut out the blue circle as a test piece, to make sure you have the correct settings for the laser.
8) Cut out the plaque pieces
9) Glue the frame and letter onto the backing.
10) Paint/spray/decorate/sell the plaque.
If you have found this useful (or if you’ve got any suggestions for making the resources better), or if you’ve created a door plaque yourself, please comment, tweet @LaserSister, or share your photos on instagram.
How to fix common laser cutting problems: Add sprues to your designs…
What is a “sprue”, and why should I use them with my lasercutting designs?
Sprues are most commonly seen in injection-moulded plastic toys. For a fuller description check out the Wikipedia definition, but briefly:
In the image below they are the little links that connect the plastic toy components. They are created as part of the moulding process, but the useful secondary function of sprues is that they hold the components securely in position within a plastic frame, until you twist or cut the components out. So in the image below, you can see that the actual toy pieces are held safely in place until the user needs them, rather than the pieces just rattling around in a box or falling on the floor and getting lost.
In laser cutting projects, you often need to cut small pieces out of a light material such as paper, card, plastic or wood. But if they are smaller than the holes in the cutting bed of the laser machine, the pieces often fall through the holes and are lost as soon as they have been cut. Similarly if the machine blows or sucks air as part of the cutting process then very small pieces can just fly away.
So we need a way to cut the pieces, but to stop them falling down or blowing away. One solution is to include sprues in the cutting designs. (Generally speaking, they will be useful if the piece to be cut is less than 1cm squared, or if anything is being cut from a piece of paper.)
Sprues can be created very quickly and easily in most vector-based drawing software (e.g. Photoshop or CorelDraw). I happen to use CorelDraw, but the principles are the same for most other apps/programs:
Step 1: Make sure that you can edit curves and manipulate/add nodes on the cutting path of the design. (In CorelDraw it is the “Shape Tool” that allows you to do this.)
Note: If you can’t see any nodes to edit, you may need to convert the shape to curves first (e.g. by right-clicking the mouse and selecting “Convert to Curves”):
Step 2: Zoom in really close to the object (e.g. so that a 3mm line fills the whole screen), then add two new nodes as close to an existing node as you can manage:
Step 3: Select the middle node of the three nodes that are very close together, and then break the path of the curve. (e.g. by right-clicking and choosing “Break Apart”):
Step 4: That middle node should have broken in two, so take one of the two resulting nodes and drag it about half a millimetre outside the curve. Then do the same for the other new node. This creates a small break in the cutting line, so that when you the cut piece it should now remain fixed in place until you are ready to push or tear it from the material you were cutting.
Step 5: Push or pull the object out of the sheet of material that it is fixed in.
(You may need a knife or scissors to help cut it free, and then a file or a knife to cut away any extra material that is not required.)
That’s it! I hope you liked this article. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to share them in the comments section, or via the contact form.