I also like to cut stuff out using my scroll saw - though cutting lots of the same item sucks and would be MUCH easier with a laser cutter (pardon me while I wipe the drool off my chin thinking about an Epilog laser cutter :-).
This instructable describes how I made a set of cat puzzle pieces as a gift for my daughter's teacher. I made cats that interlocked, in a space filling, repeating pattern, called a tessellation. Good examples of tessellation can be found in the works of M.C. Escher - http://www.mcescher.com/
My daughter and her friends decorated lots of cats, which were then given to her teacher. We had a bunch of extra cats, which family members decorated and are pictured here. (Too bad I forgot to take a picture of ALL the cats that were given away - this was several years ago and the teacher has since retired).
Tessellations are wonderful for group projects because each person can decorate the tiles in a unique fashion, but they can also all be combined to make a larger focal piece. And, since all the pieces interlock, they can be assembled and reassembled in numerous variations.
Cat tessellations can also be hung together for a window/wall decoration, or, with added magnets, be fun fridge or white-board decorations. It might be fun to make a set of cat pieces for Halloween decorations.
Step 1: Select Base Tile Shape
1. I used a square base shape.
2. I modified the square using the technique of TRANSLATION - removing a part from one side of the base shape, and SLIDING over to the opposite side. I drew cat ears on the bottom and SLID the ear shapes up to the top of the square = TRANSLATION.
3. I wanted to have two different kinds of cats, so I drew one set of ears 'upside down' and SLID it down to the bottom of the square. The second set of ears will become a skinny cat.
Note: Here is where you have to decide on the goal of the project:
1- Have recognizeable cats, no matter how they are decorated or
2 - Give the decorators more options in decoration. You can make a tessellating piece that is very abstract and let participants draw whatever shapes they can fit on their tile.
The teacher for whom this gift was made was very fond of cats, so I wanted each piece to be recognizeable as a cat.
I've done abstract tessellation tiles for
Step 2: Shaping the Sides of the Cat
1. Draw one side of the fat cat head and SLIDE or translate it to the other side of the square, where it will become the leg of the upside-down skinny cat.
2. Draw the side of the fat cat, and SLIDE it over to become the side of the skinny cat head
Step 3: Finish the Cat Shapes
2. Close of the bottom of the cat front paws.
3. Cut cat shapes out of desired material.
I used heavy book board (like really thick cereal boxes) which I stack cut on my scroll saw. I cut stacks of 5 or 6 and made about 30 of each type of cat. Thin plywood would also work fine. If you want to use acrylic sheet, you will need to use a laser cutter - it is very hard to cut plastics on a scroll saw without the plastic melting from the heat of friction as the blade moves up and down.
.pdf file for those who want to print out a larger copy of the pattern
Step 4: Decorate the Cats
Step 5: Alternate Method for Tesselation
I digitally re-drew the all the steps to make it easier to follow the process that I used to create the tessellating cats.