Making laser-cut snowflake ornaments

This is the first in hopefully a number of posts about various crafty things I’ve made and will make. I’ve mostly been someone who just thinks and writes in my life, i.e., a boring academic. Minus the music playing, of course. But high school and college were filled with the reading of books and sometimes-intriguing, often dulling research papers. Sure I performed experiments, which are a craft of their own, as any STS researcher can tell you. But they didn’t, couldn’t, involve the creativity that shows itself when you try to make things on your own.

Of course I’m making a caricature of myself here, but it’ll have to do.

Anyway, on to the SNOWFLAKES!

I wanted to make something a little bit different for presents this past holiday. Gift cards are no good if you want to get something thoughtful. And being a poor grad student left me with little dough to be able to spend on some things people really wanted. So I decided to make something, to create an item that could be useful for just about anyone: a christmas tree ornament.

I love the snow, and I love snowflakes. Especially when they gather together into piles and piles and feet of snow, covering the trees with white fluff (or slush, depending on the temperature). Snowflakes seemed to be the obvious thing to make, especially since I wanted to use…

A LASER CUTTER !

These things are awesome. They fulfill my childhood dreams of a hyper-, mega-, super- future, filled with lasers that do all of our bidding. And these things exist! I got to use them when I was at the Media Lab, and I still have the ability to cut things with them when I’m in town.

Now is not a good time to get into how much stuff a laser cutter could cut if a laser cutter could cut stuff. But can also be quite green, as you can cut plywood, instead of non-biodegradable items such as plastics and acrylics. You first need to create an outline of what you want to cut. Not being the best drafter in the world, but knowing how to trace, I found some snowflakes online, and using the pen tool in Illustrator, and the selection tool in photoshop, I created some pretty interesting outlines. I like how my unsteady hand, and the imperfections of the selection tool made outlines that aren’t perfect, that have a little wave, non-perfect corners, and asymmetries.

ornament one

ornament two

ornament three

ornament four

I then cut the ornaments out from 1/8” thick plywood and strung them up with some thread. I painted them with winter-appropriate blue acrylic paint on both sides…and I think the colors turned out well! Connected two or three of them together, through the holes of one of the snowflakes, is a good way to make a mobile-like ornament as well.

ornament

ornament

ornament

ornament

ornament

Here are the pdf files for the ornaments: ornament one, ornament two, ornament three, ornament four. I’ve decided to license these designs under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license, which basically means you can use them free of charge for non-commercial purposes, and make changes to them and share them, as long as you use the same license. The ornaments should print out at a good size without any scaling, but since it’s all vector art, feel free to change the size to whatever you might want.

Definitely let me know if you like what you see, or if you end up using them in your own projects!

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