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Hand cutting paper has become a popular craft lately particularly amongst illustrators. Whilst methods vary, details are generally cut into sheets of paper using a pair of scissors or a scalpel. Hand drawings can be easily duplicated to form templates for cutting. Some of the designs that we have seen are so mind blowingingly intricate it comes at quite a shock when you hear that they have been hand crafted. Hina Aoyama’s beautiful work springs to mind. She describes the process of creating these delicate pieces as “stress relieving.” Whilst we admire the dedication and persistence of this craft, laser cutting your paper designs is a timesaving alternative.

There’s been quite a trend recently for self build laser cutters. Fuelled mainly by Instructables laser cutter contest run back in late 2010, where participants were invited to build a laser machine from scratch with the pick of the bunch winning an Epilog Zing. The contest is rumoured to be given a second wind this year, so keep a look out!

The basic components required (such as a tube, basic plotter and optics) are also much more accessible these days and the costs are dropping year on year. Of course, these self build machines don’t really compare to the professional laser manufacturers market in terms of precision and quality, nevertheless they are interesting from a concept point of view. None more so than the Sun Cutter by Markus Kayser, a low tech, low energy laser cutter that harnesses sunlight as a laser source.

Preparing drawings to laser cut wood veneer for marquetry inlays requires more consideration than a standard laser job. You need to pay a little more attention to your dimensioning in particular the kerf made by the laser when cutting, (more on this later.)

One of our recent clients Richard Whitehead came to us with a project that demonstrates the technique perfectly and he was kind enough to share this guide which documents the process involved. See how the design unfolded from a hand drawing to a beautiful marquetry plaque.

Chameleon clock

Chameleon clock

Diginate offer a print on demand service which enables you to order completely bespoke stickers and posters. They’re quite unique in that their minimum order is only one unit! Quite rare for printers. Tim and Jon from Diginate recently got in touch excited about the possibility of combining our services.

VIVID MEMORIES (Making of) from Shotopop on Vimeo.

Shotopop creative agency recently teamed up with Ogilvy & Mather in Düsseldorf to create an Alzheimers awareness campaign. The campaign won a Silver Award at the 2012 European Design Awards in Helsinki! They also made this video to document the process of the laser cutting at CLC and the additional preparation required for the 9mm MDF brain panels. Have a look!

More on the project in the showcase section

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