During my senior year of college, I worked one day a week at an Interior Design Studio. While there, my primary job was working as the 'Material Librarian', organizing the Studio's material library and throwing out any outdated or duplicate samples. Despite getting rid of many samples, I held onto many that felt particularly drawn to. I started collecting old laminate samples, quickly filling the shelves in my tiny dorm room. As my collection grew, I knew I had to find something to do with the samples. Between my need to find a use for my collection and a new found love for Digital Fabrication, these colorful geometric necklaces were born!
This Instructable will show you how to create your own laser cut necklaces from recycled laminate samples by either creating a design of your own, or by using one of mine. Enjoy!
Step 1: Tools, Materials & Software
To complete this project, you should collect the following items:
-1 6mm Jump Rings
-2 6mm Split Rings
-Scrap material for template (such as thin wood or chip board)
Step 2: Create a Design
Using Adobe Illustrator, draw a design using the Pen Tool. Keep a clear border around the shapes in your design, indicating the cut line for the base piece of your necklace. Make sure that you also include a hole to later attach a jump ring to.
If you don't want to design your own necklace, you can download the Illustrator files I have created for my necklaces at the bottom of this step.
If you are creating a design that has a 3-dimensional look to it, it is useful to color your shapes in with different grey tones to help you visualize how your necklace pendant will look. This will help you greatly when selecting what colors of laminate to use for each shape. I generally like to use 4 colors of laminate: 1 for the base and 3 for the pieces on top.
Step 3: Prepare Files for Laser Cutting
Before you prepare your files, you will need to select the laminate samples that you are going to laser cut. Once you have made your selection, measure the laminate samples and create an Artboard in Adobe Illustrator approximately the same size as your laminate sample. Make sure draw any holes or block out space for any text that might be printed on the coated side of you laminate sample.
Next, copy and paste the shapes that you would like cut out onto the appropriate art boards. For your base piece, make sure that you include two of them and use the Reflect menu item on one of the shapes.
When you are done, save each Artboard as its own separate PDF.
*Note* If you are using my designs, still reflect the pieces even though they look symmetrical. They are not drawn perfectly, so you might run into issues with some of the designs if you skip this step.
Step 4: Laser Cut
Although laminate is thin, it is very difficult to laser cut through! Make sure you test a few settings before cutting. I recommend using a high power setting, low speed and multiple passes.
Step 5: Incase Your Laser Cutter Isn't Powerful Enough....
Because not all laser cutters are created equally, some lower power ones won't be able to cut through your laminate samples all of the way. Luckily, laminate cuts fairly easy with scissors and the laser cut lines provide a good guide for your scissors to follow. As a warning, the top coat chips extremely easily under the pressure of scissors so cut very carefully, especially around thin parts and sharp edges.
To cut out the hole in your necklace, an Awl works wonders!
Step 6: Sand Your Pieces
Right off of the laser cutter, your pieces will have extremely burnt edges. These edges will typically be so burnt that they will leave black lines on your sand paper as you sand them. Make sure you sand all of your edges until they can't leave any black lines on your sandpaper anymore.
Step 7: Glue Your Two Base Pieces Together
Apply a generous amount of Goop to one side of your base piece. Using a toothpick, spread the Goop around so that the entire surface of your pice has an even coating on it. Once the goop is applied, you can glue your other base piece on top. Make sure that all of your edges are lined up evenly.
Step 8: Using a Template
Use some scrap chip board or wood to laser cut a template for our necklace. This template is just the outline of your necklace with holes for all of the laminate shapes that sit on top of the base piece cut out. This template will help you maintain consistent alignment and even gaps between all of your pieces. Keep in mind that your template can be reused to make more necklace pendants.
Lay your template on top of your base piece, making sure all of your edges are lined up. Once you are ready, start applying glue to your cut out laminate pieces and place them in the appropriate holes on your template to attach them to the base piece. Once you have all of your pieces glued on, you can remove your template. Be careful not to accidentally remove any of your laminate pieces while removing the template. Let your necklace pendant dry overnight.
Step 9: Attach a Jump Ring
Take your jump ring, and open it up using a set of pliers and your split ring pliers. Once your jump ring is open, insert it into the hole on your necklace pendant. Use pliers to close your jump ring back together.
Step 10: Attach a Chain
Use a set of wire cutters to cut your chain to your desired length. Next, string your chain through the jump ring attached to your necklace.
To finish off your necklace, you will need to attach your split rings and a lobster clasp. Take a split ring and using your split ring pliers, open it up and attach it to one end of your chain. Repeat for the other side and also attach a lobster clasp to the chain.
Step 11: Wear Your Necklace!
Now that you're done with your necklace, the only thing left to do is show it off! Have fun wearing your new necklace!