Prototyping perspex brooches

Prototyping perspex brooches

Posted Posted in Perspex, Prototyping

Rosemary wanted to design a range of perspex brooches, but she needed to find someone to help her laser cut them. This is our journey together to create her first new product and the role that prototypes played in perfecting the design.

All prototyping starts with the artwork

There are two things to decide at the beginning of a laser cutting project. Artwork is a very important element to get right, so I pointed Rosemary to Artwork website page and my blog about designing artwork for laser cutting. These pages summarise what I would need to cut her products. Rosemary knew she wanted to work with perspex and I suggested that 3mm was robust enough.

Within a couple of weeks, Rosemary was in touch with her Frankie Frog design.

Initial design

Frankie Frog was in two layers. There was a yellow base layer with an external cut out shape and an engraved eye that Rose wanted fill in engraved, and a green top layer. The external shape matched the yellow layer, but there were three cut out body panels to show the yellow underneath. An eye was cut out and there were some lines to vector engrave showing leg and back outlines.

As a reality check, I found some leftover green and yellow perspex and cut one of each shape. It was a promising start, but seeing the shapes in my hand showed flagged up some areas for improvement.

Frankie’s toes were quite thin and I worried that even when the two layers of the brooches were glued together, they could break easily. Also, the cut out areas in the green later for the nose, throat and tummy left thin edge strips that weren’t very strong. The engraved eye didn’t show up well on the yellow, and the engraved lines on the green were so close to the cut outs that they got lost.

At the top of the post you can see the first prototype on the left.

Dolly Dimple Designs
Frankie Frog from initial sketch to final product

Second brooch prototype

I recommendations to Rose were that the following actions could improve the product.

  1. the toes should be made sturdier and more robust
  2. the cut out panels could be moved away from the body outline to make the narrow strips thicker
  3. the cut out panels should also be reshaped to move them away from the vector engraved lines for definition
  4. move the nose further away from the edge
  5. the yellow eye detail should be cut out instead of engraved

When she saw the picture of the first prototype, she agreed, made some changes and sent new files. You can see the second prototype on the right in the picture at the top. The changes worked and we had a final design after only two iterations. Very efficient!

When the perspex arrived, I made Rose’s first order. Within a few weeks, I had helped Rose take her initial designs through to a new product that she was really happy with.

Dolly Dimple’s new Etsy shop

Rose assembled her frog pieces and finished everything to her liking. Now Frankie Frog is up for sale in her shiny new Etsy shop and she’s working away on some new designs!


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

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.

Bonzo's new dog tag for Funbox

Bonzo’s new dog tag for Funbox

Posted Posted in Exhibitions, Perspex

Last Christmas, Kevin from Funbox got in touch with a new idea. Previously, I’d helped Funbox with Perspex yale key eyes for Flossie the funster, a padlock nose for Fluffy the other funster, and skeleton key teeth for them both.

This time, Kevin wanted a new collar tag for Bonzo the Funbox dog laser cut from Perspex. His old one was black and white and made from a material that was curling and delaminating. With the Christmas shows just around the corner, the Funbox team thought that it was high time that Bonzo got a fabulous new collar.

Hot new look

Kevin wanted to keep the style of collar the same. A giant paw print was fun and looked great, but he wanted to spice it up to make it festive.

Ideally, he wanted the tag to have two layers, using different colours with cut outs on one layer to show off the colour underneath. I agreed that this was possible and that having two layers would help with the longevity of the tag. These parts of the Funbox costumes have to put up with a lot of packing and unpacking as well as costume changes during each show.

Kevin sent me artwork for the paw shape he wanted. I was able to trace it to create a vector file for laser cutting, and I added a hanging loop at the top so it could be attached to Bonzo’s collar.

Bonzo's new collar

Layering it up

Kevin bought pieces of 3mm silver glitter and 3mm translucent red Perspex to the workshop. He wanted red paw pads to be revealed through the silver paw outline.

To do this, I had to cut out the overall shape of the paw in the red. Then I did the same with the silver and cut out the pad shapes to create five windows.

This is how the pieces looked after they’d been cut and laid on top of each other.

Like a dog with a new collar

Bonzo was delighted with his new collar. It’s perfect for Christmas and looks very smart all year round.


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


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!

road safety buzzwire games

Road safety buzzwire games

Posted Posted in Exhibitions, Perspex

FifeX make interactive exhibits, and they were commissioned to create two road safety buzzwire games by Nottinghamshire County Council. They wanted them to use in their road safety workshops.   It was important for the games to be portable and battery powered so they could be used in a range of environments.

Designing the boards

FifeX decided to create the boards out of 5mm Perspex and got in touch to ask if I could laser cut the components for them. They wanted the boards to consist of two layers as you can see in the picture. An upper layer consisting of various shapes was to be secured to the back board in such a way that gaps of a certain width were created between the panels.

Ken and Paul planned to stick metal contact strips to these edges of these separate panels to create the buzzwire element of the game. They chose 5mm Perspex so that the edges of the pieces would have the right thickness to attach the contact strips securely.

Creating the buzzwire games

Paul sent me the artwork for the panels. I cut all the shapes, including holes for the stand offs that would connect the boards. When they were ready, Ken and Paul removed the film on the Perspex pieces. Film protects Perspex from getting scratched during shipping and from the heat of the laser cutting process. Then they added the electronic components and the printed cartoon style scenes showing hazards.

How to play

Users move a ‘car’ or ‘bike’ around the road shaped path through the game. They have to stay in the middle of the road or risk hitting the edges and buzzing! As players progress around the board, the hazards act as points of discussion during the workshops.

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


LaserFlair has entered the UK Blog Awards 2018. Public voting is open until 22nd December. If you’d 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.

Ochil Ultra trophies

Ochil Ultra trophies

Posted Posted in Other, Perspex

Ben, the Race Director of the Ochil Ultra, got in touch in August. He wondered if I could make bespoke trophies for the race which was to be held on 30th September 2017.

The Long Ochil Ultra is a gruelling 50 mile cross country race that follows the Core Path Network from Stirling to central Perth. At 30 miles long, the Short Ochil Ultra starts 20 miles into the 50 mile race at Glen Devon and ends with the Long race in central Perth. Keep It Simple, the company that Ben runs with his dad to deliver chip timing services to running, cycling and triathlon events, organises the race.

Ochil Ultra artwork

Designing the trophies

Ben wanted the trophies to be based on the Ochil Ultra race logo. He liked the idea of using green Perspex to match the shade of the logo and he wanted them to be free standing.

Ben sent an artwork file of the logo and a drawing showing where he’d like 1st, 2nd and 3rd to appear. As the bottom of the logo is curved, he added that he wanted the trophy bottoms to be flattened off so that they’d sit well and not rock.

Initially, we looked at using 10mm green Perspex as it’s the thickest I can cut. We wanted the trophies would be wide enough to sit on their edges. Unfortunately, it was hard to find 10mm green Perspex. There were lots of shades to choose from in 3 and 5mm instead. Ben chose a green shade in 5mm and I designed a slot system to function as a stand.

Ochil Ultra picture

Final artwork checks

I created a proof for the artwork. It showed all the cut lines for the trophy outlines, text and stand arrangement for Ben to approve. Once the Perspex arrived, I checked its thickness to make sure that the slots would fit accurately. Then I cut all the trophies.

Ben wanted five of each of 1st, 2nd and 3rd. He also asked for six blank trophies as souvenirs for the veteran categories.


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