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Some years ago I made a giant paper star. Usually these are called paper star lanterns, but mine was from thick paper and had no holes for light to shine through, so it was more of a paper star sculpture. It was fun to make, but also very time consuming (drawing and measuring the pattern by hand for each section) so even though I intended to make more and improved stars, that project languished in my “one day” pile.

Now that I have my Emblaser up and running, that has all changed! Stars galore!

For this Instructable, you'll need:

Laser Cutter

This instructable is based around the Emblaser, but you can adapt it to any laser cutter.

Materials

  • Sheets of A4 cardstock (I used 5 for this star, but this is dependent on what you want the finished size to be)
  • Glue
  • Tweezers (not neccessary, but useful)
  • Ribbon or string for hanging
  • Large needle for threading ribbon

Step 1: The Pattern

You can create your own pattern from scratch, or download the files attached below. I have attached it in both CRV and AI format, ready for use.

The CRV format is used by the software that comes with the Emblaser (Cut2D-Laser Desktop).

I created the pattern in Illustrator. The outline was drawn as per the pictures, and to create the detail I used free patterns I found online (Patternheads was the source for this) that I thought would work for laser cutting. This one was a particular success as it gives an amazing amount of intricate detail, but is also structurally strong.

Step 2: Laser Cutting

Open file in Cut2D Laser Desktop

You can move and scale file to be the size wanted, or copy the whole shape and rotate it so as to fit two onto the same page.

I also copied a section of the detail so I could do a test cut if I felt I needed. And I drew a box with two lines to use to test the scoring. I recommend doing this as every time I changed to a new paper it was necessary to adjust the power and/or speed of the scoring line. I usually found that the cutting line didn’t need adjusting.

I created 3 cutting paths for each of the shapes:

  • Scoring – for the lines that need to be folded, not cut
  • Detail Cutting – For the intricate cutting in the centre
  • Outline – The cutting that will release the shape from the page

I recommend cutting the file paths in this order as it will make it easier. Once the outline is cut the paper will probably move around and effect the accuracy of future cutting paths.

Step 3: Tidying Cut Shape

Once the shapes are cut, most of the cut-away bits will drop out. A sharp tap usually encourages most of the others to come loose. For the few that are left I use tweezers to knock loose or to gently lift off.

Step 4: Folding & Gluing

Fold along the scoring lines.

I prefer to lay the paper shape on a hard surface and firmly press down on one side of the fold line, while gently pushing the other side over.

Glue each star point into shape one at a time.

Once the glue has set, start attaching the points together. Glue the two facing flaps together, and hold firmly until set. You can slightly flatten the points as this will probably make gluing easier.

If you want to be able to fold the star away, then leave the last opening unglued.

Step 5: Finishing & Hanging

You have a few options for finishing your star depending on how you want to display it.

I left the last opening unglued so that I could fold it away. This way the ribbon that is threaded through the holes both holds the star closed and can be used for hanging. If you preferred you could glue the star closed either with or without a ribbon. You could also make holes for hanging at the tip of one of the points.

To thread the ribbon I used a wire with a hooked end. A large darning needle would be preferable if you have one.

Enjoy your star!

Step 6: Further Variations

There are many possible variations that I want to try out. Here are a few suggestions if you want to experiment:

  • Having the cut detail pattern on 2 or 4 sides of the point (be aware of flap placement for gluing with this!)
  • Hanging an LED lamp inside the star
  • Attaching transparent layer (tracing paper) to inside of shape to diffuse light from lamp, as well as giving additional structural strength to more delicate patterns
  • Multiple-pointed stars

Let me know if you have any other ideas or developments. I hope you find this tutorial helpful as a starting point for your own designs!

<p>Nice work! The lanterns look great. </p><p>I'd love to try making an illuminated lantern, like the one in the last picture. Would you be happy to share the design files for that one? (Sorry if I missed it somewhere else in the instructable; I only found Star1.ai).</p>
<p>Awesome work SammyLou.</p><p>We made some of these for hanging around the Lab.</p><p>Can't wait to see more of your creations.</p><p>The Darkly Labs Team</p>
<p>I'd like to see a photo of one with a light inside. Beautiful as is, though! </p>
<p>Thanks! I have added a photo of a more recent project that is lit up. This one has a lining of tracing paper glued to the inside of the star, which helps the light diffuse and looks better. I will try to take a picture of the original star with a light inside, so show how it looks without the tracing paper.</p>
<p>That's beautiful! Thanks for the update!</p>
By laser cutter you mean...X-acto knife lol.
<p>Awesome looking lantern. The level of detail is really impressive. </p>

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