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.

Templates for Valorose Tutus and Textiles

Templates for Valorose Tutus and Textiles

Posted Posted in Other, Polypropylene

Susanne Perry of Valorose Tutus and Textiles makes the most amazing tutus and supplies materials for others to make their own.

She contacted me because she wanted to create templates for cutting the edges of tutu netting into zig zag or scallop shapes. They were for her to use in her workshops aswell as selling to customers online.

Suzanne had experimented with acrylic, but had found it unsuitable because it’s inflexible and can shatter when dropped. She decided that she needed a material with some flexibility. It would need to bend with the netting during cutting and be tough enough to survive snipping damage.

Selecting the right material

Finding a robust and flexible material thin enough that could be laser cut was a puzzle.

Any thickness of acrylic would have the same problems, especially if 2mm thick or thinner.

Plywood and mdf’s brown laser cut edges could discolour fabric, and thin mdf could possibly be damaged by snipping.

0.8mm polypropylene would just be too thin and floppy for the purpose, and formica is brittle and could snap easily.

After further research, I came across a different polypropylene 2mm thick. It’s not very pretty, but it’s tough, flexible and marketed as being almost indestructable.  Perfect. Colour range was very restricted, but this wasn’t a problem. Suzanne was happy if it laser cut well and functioned as she wanted.

valorose template

Designing the templates

Suzanne wanted two template sizes and sent me pictures with dimensions for the details. Both templates were similar in size, but one had four and the other had five scallops and triangles on each side. She wanted the scallops to be semicircular rather than shallower curves and the zig zags had to keep their shape in the netting.

I made up artwork and Suzanne approved the proofs. Black 2mm polypropylene gave nice results. It comes with a protective film on one side to protect the surface from the heat of the laser, and when it’s been peeled off, the surface and the edges look great.


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

pink scalloped tutu

Did you know that LaserFlair has entered the UK Blog Awards 2018?

Public voting is open until 22nd December. If you enjoy my blog and would like to vote for me, you can do so here. Thanks!

plastic surgery for Funbox funsters

Plastic surgery for Funbox funsters

Posted Posted in Other, Perspex

Acrylic is a versatile material that comes in many colours and thicknesses, so it was perfect for this ‘plastic surgery’ project.

Funbox is the show of Anya, Gary and Kevin, the stars of The Singing Kettle. It’s all about silly songs and family fun. Their show features Bonzo the dog and the funsters Flossie and Fluffy (pictured) who live in the Funbox. They tour around Scotland dressed up as mermaids and fish, pirates and princesses and kinds of things.

Wardrobe emergency!

Kevin contacted LaserFlair because they needed help with certain parts of Fluffy and Flossie’s costumes. They’d made Fluffy’s yale key eyes, Flossie’s padlock nose and both sets of skeleton key teeth from a material that clearly wasn’t up to the rigours of touring. After only two shows, they were drooping, curling and delaminating, not a good look! They hoped to make replacements out of 5mm acrylic which would be tough, rigid and colourful with a much longer life.

Plastic surgery for Funbox funster
Fluffy the Funbox funster with laser cut yale key eyes and skeleton key teeth

Acrylic eyes, teeth and noses

Kevin found artwork for key and padlock shapes that they liked for the eyes and nose, and other skeleton key shapes that he wanted to base the teeth shapes on. He also sourced the acrylic for the eyes and noses because he wanted to use particular colours. He brought everything to the LaserFlair workshop and together we edited the artwork to make everything the right size. We also created holes in convenient places so the parts could be stitched onto the costumes. Acrylic is a great material to laser cut, so we soon had a colourful pile of eyes, noses and teeth.

Unfortunately, acrylic don’t last forever. So eighteen months on, LaserFlair performed laser eye surgery for Flossie who needed new green yale key eyes. She needs to look at her very best as she tours the country keeping the nation’s kids entertained!


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.

Branding fishing rods

Branding fishing rods

Posted Posted in Anodised aluminium, Other

When I was engraving fly fishing reels for Simon Barnes of Simba Rods, he asked if I could try branding fishing rods with his logo too.

He showed me some fishing rod butt ends, the metal discs that fit over the handle ends. They were made from anodised aluminium in silver and black, just like the fishing reels that engraved so well. Being flat and smooth, they would probably engrave well. It was worth a try! And if it worked, he told me he had more that he could post down to me.

Test engraving a fishing rod end

While Simon was visiting my the workshop, we decided to test engrave one of them. They’re only about 15mm in diameter, so the engravings would be very small.

First, I resized the logo to fit the diameter of the but ends. I did this in vector format to ensure that the quality of the artwork would remain high. Pixellation in small logos engraved on metal looks terrible.

The next challenge was to hold the butt ends in place whilst engraving them. They are so small that they have to be secured to make sure they don’t move during engraving.

BluTac is a wonderful thing. I put a lump on a slate piece and pushed the butt end in gently until it was secure. Then I lined it up with the laser and pressed the start button with my fingers crossed!

It worked first time. Although small, the logo came out perfectly. Simon was delighted. He’d wanted to find a way to brand his rods as well as the reels, and now he had a way.

Simba rod end

First production run

When Simon got home, he packaged up the sixty butt ends in his workshop and posted them to me. There was a mixture of black and silver anodised aluminium pieces like the one I test engraved, and some other domed metal ones.

All the 49 anodised aluminium ones engraved well. You can see one of the black ones after engraving in the picture above.

Unfortunately, the other metal parts didn’t take the engraving at all, with or without Thermark metal marking paste, so they were returned unmarked and undamaged by the attempts. Metals are very sensitive and can behave differently due to their composition and impurity profiles, but it’s always worth a try just in case.

I sent the ends back to Simon within a day. He had some rods that he was about to post to customers abroad and he wanted to put his new butt ends on them.


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

Medals for Blackhouse Watersports

Medals for Blackhouse Watersports

Posted Posted in Other, Wood

Tiree Surf Club and Blackhouse Watersports hosted the 2017 Gathering of Clans surf competition in September this year. Iona from Blackhouse Watersports asked if I could make some medals from plywood for the winners.

Medal design

Iona wanted the medals to be 50mm in diameter with their logo in the middle. ‘The Gathering of the Clans surf competition, Tiree, 2017’ was to be engraved around it, and a hole made for the ribbon.

Blackhouse Watersports sent me their logo for engraving some signs earlier this year. I set up the artwork so that the logo was 30mm wide in the centre of a 50mm circle. As the small text at the bottom of the logo (cold water surf Hebridees) was too small to engrave clearly, Iona agreed that it was to be expected when reproducing the logo at such a small size and said that it wouldn’t be a problem.

Holes for the ribbons had to be at the top of the medals, so I arranged the text with a space at the top of the medal that was a perfect fit for the ribbon hole which I made at 10 x 4mm. My artwork software allows me to fit text to chosen pathways, so I used the diameter of the medal. Text point size was chosen to make it the right size for a good fit. Then I centred it so the text was symmetrical.

Gathering of the Clans winners

Making the medals

Iona approved the artwork proof I sent to her, and we agreed that 3mm plywood would work well. The most vulnerable part of the design was the ribbon holes. Plywood is so good so work with because it’s so strong as it contains laminated layers of wood, so I knew that they would be robust enough with 3mm between the holes and the circumference.

Once I had the go ahead, I made 40 medals and sent them to Tiree. The competition was a huge success, the weather was great, and everyone had a fun day!


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