Plywood shapes for Hooperhart’s dioramas

plywood shapes for Hooperhart dioramas

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!

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