Learn to create beautiful, intricate laser-cut ornaments!
- Thick black marker (if designing by hand)
- Sheet of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) or sheet of laserable acrylic
- Gold spray paint
Step 1: Design Your Artwork
Take a look at these designs - three are abstract loopy designs, and the last says "Joy."
To make the abstract loopy ornament designs:
- Fold a sheet of paper into sixths and draw 1/6 of your design on that wedge. It's best to use a thick black marker to draw in your design (the thicker the line, the sturdier your ornament will be).
- Scan this into your favorite image editing program and flip the sixth-wedges around the central axis of the ornament.
To make text-based ornaments, like the "Joy" ornament:
- Type the word you want. Thicken the word as much as possible.
- Make sure all the letters are connected (a loopy font is good for this, or you can draw in connectors manually).
- Then rotate the word by 60 degrees around a central axis.
- Make other connections between free lines. In this case, you could connect the top of the "J," the bottom of the "y," and the bottom of the "o" together to make a sturdier ornament.
General design guidelines:
1. Clear contrast: make it black and white. If working from a drawing, maximize the contrast in the image. A black drawing on a white background works beautifully.
2. Clear details: Make sure details aren't too small. Lasers can do incredibly detailed, intricate work! However, it's good to have details that are at least 1mm across, so that the finished ornaments are beautiful and sturdy. Make sure the art isn't pixelated. If an image is blurry and pixelated, then the software that converts them to vector form will get confused, and your design won't turn out as nicely.
3. No "floating bits." If you wanted to carve the letter "Q" in a jack-o-lantern, you couldn't just cut it out without some supporting material connecting the inside of the letter to the outside of the letter, or you'd have a hole! Similarly, ensure you have a bit of material to hold "floating bits," so you don't have holes in your design.
4. Don't forget to design a loop at the top for the ribbon to go through!
Step 2: Prepare It for the Laser, Scale It to Size, and Laser-cut It Out
Use Inkscape to convert your .png file to a vector, and save it as a .dxf file.
Then, import this into your laser-cutting software. You'll be able to link up the vector lines for a smooth cut.
IMPORTANT: Be sure to scale your image up enough such that the skinniest line in the design is at least 1mm thick! Otherwise, you'll find that thin, free lines will either not laser properly, or will easily snap off.
Step 3: Paint It
Regular metallic spray paint works beautifully on laser-cut ornaments.
If you used the MDF, you can leave them unpainted for a rustic woodcut look. If you like the nice toasty burn marks on the sides (which gives a good contrast), you can lightly dust both sides in gold, leaving the sides darker.
If you used acrylic, be sure to peel off any protective membranes on either sides. If you used a clear or colored acrylic, you can leave them as-is without any coloring. (The blue and red ornaments shown at the beginning of this Instructable were made of unpainted acrylic.) You can also paint them gold. The benefit of gold-painted acrylic is that the smooth, non-porous surface will yield ornaments that look like they are made of solid metal - but are much lighter.
Step 4: Add a Ribbon, and You're Done!
Once painted and dry, tie a loop of ribbon through the tops ornaments, and enjoy!