Introduction: Make an Acrylic Snowflake

The holidays are a time decorate the house with wintry things and to start new traditions. My wife, for example, makes a new ornament every year (just one, mind) and down through the years she can point to more than a dozen.

This instructable will show you how to make a beautiful ornament that looks like a real snowflake. I found some images of snoweflakes, real pictures that someone must have taken in a freezing cold room. I did a bit of processing (which I will go over at the very end). Then I broke it up into two images, one that's the outline to cut and one that's the way the snowflake looked to etch. 

This time, I'm going to explain how to make these specific 4 snowflakes that I've already prepared because there isn't much time to make your own. Basically, I'm going to do this backwards: first the CorelDraw file and instructions for making it, then the graphics files if you want to do something different with them and, finally, how to got the graphic files.

A Laser
.06" clear acrylic

I made it at Techshop!

Step 1: How to Make It

Making the snowflake is pretty easy. Put the acrylic into the laser, focus the laser and load the file into CorelDraw (this is a coreldraw 6 file, since the cmx file is too big, if you have 5 you'll have to follow the instructions on the next step).

Each of the 4 snowflakes is on a different layer so you can prevent any of them from printing if you don't like them all, or you can print the whole set.

The various lasers at Techshop (and other places, I'm sure) have different settings but I used 100/55 for rastering and 90/10 for cutting. You might want to turn that up or down a bit depending on the laser; I found it hard to get the snowflakes out which might be helped by cutting a little more slowly.

When you've cut them out, take out the acrylic and very carefully remove the snowflakes from the sheet. It may take a bit of negotiating, bending back and forth, gentle pressure and so forth. I had a lot of trouble with this and, in fact, broke a lot of the snowflakes.

The snowflakes have holes in them. I put a very thin silver thread through the hole to hang them.

Step 2: How to Create a CorelDraw 5 Version

If you don't have CorelDraw 6 you will need to use these jpg files to generate your own CorelDraw 5. Sorry about that.

Each snowflake has two parts: a white and black etchable part and a black mask. Run the mask through "quick trace" (see my tutorial: to get an outline and make that hairline. Then align it carefully with the black and white part.

The white and black will etch, the outline will cut and there you are!

Step 3: How to Create Your Own Snowflakes

If you want to make your own snowflakes from scratch, here's how.

Find a snowflake on the internet. For example:

Load it into your favorite graphic editing program (I'm a fan of Gimp but there are many others that are much more expensive). Now remove the black background.

I tried to use the magic wand tool (all the paint programs have these) and if that works for you, great. But it didn't for me (because my image wasn't very clear) so I carefully drew around the entire snowflake in WHITE, trying to stay inside the snowflake. The idea is to isolate any black part INSIDE the snowflake from the background. THEN I used the magic wand tool.

Remove the back ground and save just the foreground. Then select just the foreground and make it all black. This is how I got the masks.

Using this technique you should be able to get a cool snowflake from pretty much any image you can find.