Introduction: Laser Cut Paper Concertina Streamer

My parents have had the same Christmas decorations for my entire life, some gold & silver foil streamers that concertina across the ceilings through-out the house, but pack down to almost nothing in a rather pleasing manner.

I was wondering if there was anything I could make with my laser-cutter last Christmas, and it suddenly occurred to me that I could re-create some of my childhood Christmas (a hard thing when you live in a different hemisphere and have traded snow for scorching sunshine) and festoon the house with stretchy streamers.

I figured that these would be a pretty common thing, but no-one I described them to seemed to know what I was talking about. That could just be my poor ability to describe without pictures, but even once they were made no-one here had seen anything like them before. I took to Google, and still had very little luck, although i was a bit stuck to know what to call them when I was looking.

Eventually I tracked down a picture that looked familiar, and turned out to be from a listing for "vintage 70's Christmas decorations".

So if any-one else if feeling nostalgic for some "vintage" decorations, here's my tutorial on how to make them.

Step 1: Gather the Materials

Items needed:

  • Laser cutter such as the Emblaser
  • Paper or Light Card
  • Glue
  • String/Strong thread

The amount of paper you need will depend upon the size (width) of the streamer you want, as well as how long it is. I made mine quite thin, so I could cut three pairs of shapes on each A4 sheet. The nice thing about these is that you can keep adding more to the end at any stage if you decide to make it longer.

Mine held up pretty well, but I assume that the if you made it too long, the paper would probably tear under its own weight. Even my parents foil ones gained little sellotape sections over the years.

Step 2: Cutting

Cut the file.
I am using my Emblaser to laser cut the design out of paper.

My project and cutting files have been included with this instructable. You can open the project file in Cut2D-Laser Desktop 8 and send it directly to the Emblaser for cutting.

Cut2D-Laser Desktop 8 Project file: Link

Emblaser Toolpath file: Link

If you plan to use a different laser machine I have included the vector file as well.

Vector File: Link

Step 3: Gluing in Pairs

Sort your cut out shapes into pairs. Two of the pairs should each have a shape with holes in the center for attaching the hanging loops to. These will be the end pieces.

You want to glue the pairs together at the corners of the outer section. You need to be careful not to also glue together the inner sections.

Put a dab of glue in one of the corners on the edge-most section, line the two squares up and firmly squeeze to glue together. Put a dab of glue in each of the other three corners and glue together.

While the glue is still wet, check if any unwanted parts have been glued together,

Step 4: Joining Together

One you have your shapes glued together into pairs, you can start gluing the pairs together to form the streamer.

Simply dab some glue into the center section, line up the shapes and glue together. Keep attaching pairs in this way until you reach the length of streamer you want.

The ends of the streamer should have the sections with the holes for tying the hanging loops to. If these parts end up being using in the middle of the streamer, that is no problem, although you will have to check glue hasn't got anywhere unwanted. While the glue is still wet, gently check that the streamer will stretch out as wanted.

Step 5: Attach Thread

Once you have the streamer at the desired length, you can attach some thread or string to make the hanging loops. I used a strong thread and a needle to thread it through the holes. Tie the ends together to leave a loop, and your streamer is all ready to go!

Step 6: Variations

There are many different variations that you can make. You can have streamers of different lengths & sizes, use different paper and have multicoloured streamers, or experiment with different shapes.

After making the square streamer I tried making a streamer with circular shapes that I think worked really well. I have attached the file for this in this section. I struggled to glue it together at the right edge points reliably, so in the file I decided to make an etched dot to show the best point to put the glue.

I also worked out that it is possible to do a "double layer" streamer by nesting a smaller size pair inside a larger pair.

I would love to see if there are any other variations that you can create!