finding balance points of decorations

Finding balance points of decorations

Posted Posted in Artists, Wood

When creating hanging decorations, it’s really important to find their balance points. Medals, for instance, are usually symmetrical with holes cut out for the ribbon. They can be centrally located with confidence.

Other shapes are irregular and it’s hard to predict where to put the holes so they hang correctly. Here are two examples of how I made sure that customers’ new products hung perfectly before I began production. Imagine if I hadn’t checked and the decorations didn’t hang straight!

Jessica Taylor’s seahorses and bears

I recently helped Jessica Taylor to create her new bear and seahorse decorations from 3mm plywood.

Both shapes were very irregular, so as part of the artwork set up and prototyping process, I made a rough guess as to where the holes should be and made some prototypes to get them in the right places.

The seahorse only took a couple of attempts to get right, but the bear was more of a challenge. It’s very bottom heavy. It look about four attempts, nudging the tiny 1mm hole 3 to 4mm towards the tail before it hung straight. You can see my first attempt and the final hole location in the picture above.

InkPaintPaper's unicorn decorations

InkPaintPaper’s unicorn decorations

InkPaintPaper wanted a  smaller version of their unicorn door sign in 4mm ply. Gabs planned to handpaint and personalise them to tie onto cards or hang as decorations.

She sent me the artwork for the new unicorn with a hanging hole. To be on the safe side, I suggested that I made a prototype to make sure it was in the right place.

I laser cut one shape with the hole where Gabs had put it near the unicorn’s shoulder, but it was very front heavy and its head tipped forwards. It took about four or five iterations to shift the hole further into the unicorn’s neck before it hung straight. I must have nudged the hole 4 – 5mm mm until it was in the right place.


Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

mosaics made from LaserFlair offcuts

Mosaics made from LaserFlair offcuts

Posted Posted in Artists, Materials, Other

Marilyn Rattray is a local artist. She makes mosaics from all sorts of things from drawing pins to stone. She also makes stained glass brooches and leather bags. A talented lady!

When I posted some photos of some of my laser cutting offcuts on Instagram, she got in touch and asked if she could have some for her creative projects. I love it when creative people use my waste, and I find it fascinating seeing what they make from it.

’31 tesserae’

Marilyn’s just finished the piece show below. It’s her January ‘Fun a Day Dundee 2018‘ project, and it represents January’s calendar page. The first blank at the top left is Dec 31st and the last three move into February with the 31 individual mosaics in between for each day of January. Five of these are made using my offcuts. Can you spot them? They use mdf, ply, perspex and formica offcuts mounted in tinted tile adhesive.

Day 2’s piece is made from mdf offcuts. The pieces you can see fitted between shapes I cut for a project. Unfortunately I can’t remember which one.

Day 6 is made up of lots of cylinders of plywood, some of the dregs of my waste wood bin. Larger ones were probably from the insides of cogs and other shapes and the small ones were probably from medal and tag holes. They are different heights as the shapes were cut from 3, 4, 6 and 9mm plywood. Day 15 is similar, but made using oblongs rather than cylinders.

Day 16 used letters cut out from 5mm green Perspex. They were left over from making the trophies for the Ochil Ultra race last September. I couldn’t bear to throw out such nice letters, so I kept them for someone who might like them. Happily, they found a home.

Finally, day 30 shows two layers of formica offcuts left over from making Tom Pigeon’s shapes for their metal and formica jewellery. These circles were left over from the insides of bangles, and the small pieces inside were for earrings. Marilyn pressed the formica into the tile adhesive, making it bulge through the layered holes.

Order and chaos

Marilyn upended my waste wood bin into a box to take home! She created the letter mosaic below using the teeny weeny laser cut letters that she found there. They must have been there for a few years. Most are from laser ply and these survived intact as ply is robust, being made from laminated layers of birch wood.

Marilyn arranged the letters as she wanted in tinted tile adhesive and mounted the mosaic in an old frame. I love the elements of order and chaos and how they meet.

Looking for inspiration?

If you’re interested in using LaserFlair waste for creative projects of any sort, please contact us. I supply artists, art colleges, children’s art classes, students and community projects. You can make an appointment to visit the workshop and rake through my bins!


Here’s a blog about how two local artists, Marysia Lachowicz and Margot Hailey use formica and polypropylene offcuts for printing.

Extrusion dies for Frances Priest Studio

Extrusion dies for Frances Priest Studio

Posted Posted in Artists, Perspex

Frances Priest is a ceramic artist. She makes beautiful pieces with intricate patterns and bursts of colour in her Edinburgh studio.

A new exhibition

Last summer, Frances started work on pieces for ‘A Fine Line’, an exhibition that is currently on show at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre.

She wanted to create pieces of clay in particular shapes. If she could form clay ‘sausages’ in the shapes she wanted, she knew that she could cut them to the thickness she required to make uniform pieces. But how best to do this?

 Frances Priest clay sausages

Extrusion dies

Frances and I had been following each other on Instagram for several months. Then one day in August, she contacted me to ask if I could make some extrusion dies for her.

Frances Priest pieces

Frances needed the dies made out of a material that would be rigid and robust enough to cope with the pressure of clay being squeezed through them. She wanted them to be reuseable with damp materials and not become soggy and lose their shape. I suggested that perspex would work well as it’s washable. Plywood would warp and delaminate, and mdf would soften. 3mm and 5mm are widely available thicknesses of perspex and I had suitable offcuts in the workshop as the colour didn’t matter. Frances chose 5mm to be on the safe side.

Frances Priest exhibition

The results

I laser cut the dies and sent them to Frances. They worked perfectly and in a few days, Frances had posted pictures on Instagram of the dies, the clay sausages, and how she chopped them up with a scalpel to create the pieces she wanted.  All the photos in this post were taken by Frances.

‘A Fine Line’ is open to the public at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre until 18th February 2018.


Have you got a project that you think we could help you with? Contact us or ask for a quote.

Wooden decorations for Pink Fish Shetland

Wooden decorations for Pink Fish Shetland

Posted Posted in Artists, Wood

Shona Anderson of Pink Fish Shetland paints charming brooches and decorations in the shape of ponies, puffins and many more animals, selling them locally in the Shetland Islands. She contacted me because she needed someone to laser cut her designs on a larger scale from plywood and mdf, and wondered if I could help.

Vector artwork

First, Shona sent me some artwork for her puffin decorations shown in the video below, and pony decorations which were similar but in a circle. All Shona’s artwork was perfect. She used hairline vector lines that completely surrounded the shapes to be cut out, and had no duplicate lines.

First order

Shona confirmed quantities of pony and puffin decorations and the sizes she wanted. She also wondered if the pony shapes could be resized and cut from 9mm mdf or laser plywood so they would stand up. This is fast and easy to do with vector artwork.

We decided that mdf would work better. 9mm plywood has so many layers that the probability of having knots in the wood increases significantly. Knots are more dense, making those areas harder to cut through, increasing the failure rate. Mdf doesn’t contain knots, so it gives more consisted results for small, detailed pieces, and it’s cheaper too.

Shona loved everything. She was excited to get the little star, pony and puffin offcuts too, knowing she could use them as brooches. When she posted pictures of the painted pieces on Instagram, I was amazed at the intricacy of her work on such small pieces. Puffins and ponies definitely suit Fairisle jumpers!

Shona liked the 9mm mdf ponies so much that she soon came back to ask for them in two more sizes.


Have you got a project that you think we could help you with? Contact us or ask for a quote.

plywood shapes for Hooperhart dioramas

Plywood shapes for Hooperhart’s dioramas

Posted Posted in Artists, Wood

I learned a new word last week – diorama. Dioramas are miniature three-dimensional scene in which models of figures are arranged against a background. They were used by Victorians as a theatre device and can be used in film animations.

Hooperhart creates magical little wooden worlds in boxes and pictures. Cal also makes jewellery, pop up kits and decorations, and embellishes them with hand painting and screen printing. She got in touch to ask if I could laser cut her miniature pieces from 3mm plywood.

Miniature pieces for miniature worlds

As Cal needs lots of small shapes for her scenes, she only needs one sheet of plywood shapes cut at a time. She sends new artwork depending on the shapes she wants, filling the sheet with little trees, deer, boats, clouds and mountains to get as many pieces as possible. Even the offcuts make me smile!

Stand up kits

Cal wanted a couple of stand up kits in her first order, so I needed to test the slots to make sure they would fit neatly. Plywood thicknesses are nominal, and the 3mm ply that I source is typically between 3.1 – 3.3mm thick. If the slots are created at 3mm, they are too tight and the kit doesn’t work!

Cal sent me two pieces of artwork to try. One was too tight and the other was spot on.

Fragile – handle with care!

Cal’s mountains, bears and moose are very robust as they’re chunky. Some of the trees, plants and deer are very fragile though. Look at the tree trunks in the picture at the top. Their trunks are only a few millimetres thick, so I pack them very carefully and they arrived with Cal in one piece.

Thankfully, plywood is inherently strong. 3mm ply typically has 3 layers of wood laminated together which helps, but it wouldn’t take much to break them.

Hooperhart knolling


Cal loves arranging her pieces in pleasing formations, known as knolling, another new word I’ve learned from her. She creates some of her pieces in this way, and her Instagram feed is a great place for her to play!

Have you got a project that you think we could help you with? Contact us or ask for a quote.

Creative uses of our waste

Creative uses of our waste

Posted Posted in Artists, Other

All sorts of waste is generated from LaserFlair projects. Sometimes, customers ask if they can take some for creative projects and I’m always delighted to help.

Print making

Marysia Lachowicz, a local artist, asked me to help her with a project to celebrate the Polish paratroopers stationed locally during World War 2. She spotted the formica offcut mountain in my workshop, leftovers from cutting shapes for Tom Pigeon’s Form jewellery range.

When Marysia asked if she could take some to experiment with, I told her to take as much as she wanted. She’s been back several times since. Last time, she brought Margot Hailey, another local artist, who makes prints with them. Marysia and Margot love all the cut out detail, and the sheets are perfect for printing with as they’re so thin. They also took some polypropylene sheets from cutting stars and baubles for Spandex Sign Systems. You can see the geometric shapes in the prints above and below. These ladies are some of my most regular bin rakers!

Margot Hailey print
One of Margot Hailey’s prints

Children’s art activities

Earlier this year, I engraved some signs for Jupiter Artland. Jasmine spotted my plywood sheet offcuts from making stars, moons and unicorns for InkPaintPaper. She said they’d be perfect for their Little Sparks art classes for small children. Jasmine sent a couple of photos of the children using the sheets as templates.

Jupiter Little Sparks
Jupiter Little Sparks at work

Art school students and teachers

A year ago, Eva Jack was a final year textiles student at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. Her final year project was to undertake some research into and produce a collection of new materials with a focus on functionality, experimental process and sustainability.

She wanted to make these new materials by using waste from existing manufacturing processes, and wondered if I had any she could have. So we had a chat on the phone about what I had, and she promptly got on the bus from Dundee and took as much as she could carry.


If this sounds just up your street and you’d like some offcuts for creative projects, please contact us. There’s always plenty to spare.