Intro: Laser Cut Spooky Lantern With Emblaser
This is something I originally designed as a Halloween decoration to hang on my front porch when trick and treaters come round. It took a little bit of trial and error to get the design to look how I wanted, but I'm pretty happy with the end result, and I thought I would share it.
Step 1: Gather the Materials
For the size of lamp I made you will need:
- A laser cutter such as the Emblaser
- 2 Sheets of Black Card or Stiff Paper
- 2 Sheets of Tracing Paper
- Glue suitable for card
- Wire for the handle
- An LED light (I bought this from Ebay where it was called a "balloon lamp")
- Ribbon or thread to hang the light
Pliers and tweezers may be useful also.
I used a spray adhesive to glue the tracing paper to the back of the black frame, and then the PVA to actually glue the lamp into shape, but you can just use what you have to hand or are familiar with.
Step 2: Laser Cutting the Shapes
You can download the design project files.They work with 'Cut2D-Laser', the software that comes with the Emblaser.
I imported the Adobe Illustrator (.ai) file into Cut2D-Laser.. From there I selected the appropriate vectors and assigned a cutting or scoring path to them, depending on what was needed.
Test Cutting Paths
I always do some cutting path tests to determine the correct power and speed for the laser with the paper I was using. If you are using the Cut2D-Laser .crv files you will see the test paths in the corner. I use the square to test the cutting and the diagonals to test the scoring. You want to be able to pick the square up out of the card and fold it without it splitting.
Cutting Tracing Paper
If you are using my .crv files, the toolpaths for the tracing paper are under "Clear Folds" and "Clear Outline". If you are picking the toolpaths yourself, you just want a simple outline (no folding tabs) and the inner fold-lines. See image above. The tracing paper I used was 120gsm and I found that it cuts very inconsistently. It can help to place the tracing paper on a black base. As it is a very simple shape, I just use scissors to cut any remaining bits away.
Cutting the Black Frames
The card I used was 210gsm. It can take a while to cut all the detail, so you might want to test cutting just one pentagon face first to confirm that the laser settings are correct. Once you are ready to cut I recommend cutting first the fold lines, then the detail. If you think a section needs it you can always give just one area a second pass. Finally I cut the pentagon out of what will be the top, followed by the outline.
As I beta tested for Darkly Labs I was lucky enough to test out the latest version of Cut2D-Laser Desktop 8. Apart from some handy new tool additions it now comes with vTransfer, which allows the software to directly control the machine, eliminating the need for other streaming software.
Step 3: Gluing the Tracing Paper to the Card
Once you have all your parts cut out you can start the gluing.
I used a spray adhesive to glue the tracing paper to the back of the black frame, and then the PVA to actually glue the lamp into shape, but you could get away with just using one. However, be aware that your tracing paper may buckle and distort if there is too much PVA on it. Be sparing!
First, clean up the cut-out panels to remove any bits that don't just fall out. I usually find that tweezers help with this.
Then do a test-fit of the tracing paper on the frame panels so that you know exactly how they should go before you start gluing. Make sure that the score lines are facing down-wards on both pieces so that it is easy to fold once they are glued together. It might help to pre-fold the tracing paper.
When ready, place the first frame panel on newspaper and spray lightly with the adhesive. (If using PVA, put sparingly around frame edges). Line up the tracing paper on the frame and press down. Lift the frame away from the newspaper so the newspaper doesn't also get stuck to the shape!
Repeat with the second frame panel and tracing paper.
Step 4: Folding and Gluing Into Shape
Fold up all the edge tabs, and then fold up each panel. I find it best to rest the shape on the table and then gently press each tab over.
When you have pre-creased every fold, start gluing together. I use PVA which I squeeze onto a piece of scrap paper, and then apply with a paint-brush or skewer.
I find that it is usually easiest to glue the tab to the next face, and resting that face on the table, apply gentle pressure until the glue holds. Sometimes I use a skewer angled through the shape to press down on the surface being glued, particularly once you get to the stage of gluing the two halves together. I didn't take photo's of this part, unfortunately - I must have been concentrating on not getting glue everywhere.
Once you have each half glued, check that all the tabs are pre-folded and do a test-fit so you know how they go together. (the skull and bat are "upright"). Glue halves together.
Step 5: Adding the Handle and Light
To make the handle I cut a length of wire and bent it into shape. I found it easiest to try to straighten it first just by running my finger and thumb along it, and then gently curving it from the middle out. I used pliers to bend the ends in and to make the dent in the middle so that the ribbon holding the light would stay in the middle.
I think that there are many other ways of making the handle, so feel free to experiment. I'd be interested to know what works for you. I went with the wire because I had it to hand.
The light attachment would also change depending on what sort of light you have or can find. You could make the bottom panel of the lantern solid and sit an LED candle on it. (Blu-tac would be a quick fix). I found these lights on Ebay and they're super useful for these projects because they hang and come in lots of colours. They're also cheap, but that does mean that they can be variable quality and the batteries they come with tend to fade very quickly.
Enjoy your Halloween Lantern!