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.

laser cut shapes for stop frame animation

Laser cut shapes for stop frame animation

Posted Posted in Artists, Paper

Dan Brown is working as  Digital Storyteller for Scottish Book Trust hosted by Fife Cultural Trust for seven months.

Currently, he’s working  on a project to celebrate the ‘new town’ of Glenrothes being 70 years old next year. He’s working with locals to help them tell their stories and capture them digitally whilst increasing their digital literacy and raising confidence. He needed some laser cut shapes to use in stop frame animation workshops with children to create an identity for the project and asked if I could help.

How to choose materials

Dan didn’t know what was possible, so I asked him round to the workshop. He got quite excited when I showed him samples of offcuts of complicated shapes and the materials I could work with from card to fabric, plywood, Perspex and mdf.

He was keen to keep costs down, so I suggested chosing materials that would be light but reasonably robust as children would be attending the workshops. Lighter materials would be faster to cut,  keeping production time down.

Dan took some material samples away to think about what he wanted. He could prepare artwork and think about the quantities he’d need.

Making the props

A couple of weeks later, Dan sent me artwork for hippos!

Hippos have become a symbol of  Glenrothes. In 1972, local artist Stanley Bonnar created the first group of hippos with the help of post-graduate students. Now, hippo sculptures are dotted about the town. Six have been arranged drinking from a paddling pool in Riverside Park.

Dan wanted card cutouts of hippos, some with ‘Glenrothes 70 Years On’ cut out of their bodies. They were to be cut from leftover mount board and would create solid shadows which would be intriguing with the cut outs.

He also wanted 2mm clear perspex cut into rectangles and engraved with ‘Glenrothes 70 Years On’. Raster and vector engraving highlighted the letters or backgrounds for different effects. Dan had liked the samples of engraved perspex and how they threw interesting shadows.

Dan wanted to be present when I made his order so he could watch the process and film parts of the process.


The short animationabove was created in an hour buy two children at Digi Day in Kirkcaldy Galleries.

Dan’s project will culminate in January when the resulting films will be available online and screened at a celebration event in Rothes Halls.

You can find more information about the project here.


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

tartan installation with Glenfiddich artist

Tartan installation with Glenfiddich artist

Posted Posted in Artists, Perspex

Jeehee Park is an artist in residence at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown, Aberdeenshire. She planned to create an art installation using Perspex to create an effect like tartan for an exhibition at the distillery, and she needed help with laser cutting and engraving them.

Maximum panel size

Jeehee had created pieces in a similar vein before, but wanted to experiment with her ideas further. She sent artwork for two large panels at 1200 x 800mm, the largest size that I could cut. Four smaller panels to create a box effect were also required, along with lots of small square spacers to help with assembling the piece.

Engraving clear Perspex

The Perspex for the panels was all clear and colourless. Jeehee wanted lots of parallel lines vector engraved across their widths. This effect works well on clear acrylic as the lines catch the light and look white, a subtle effect which becomes more pronounced the deeper the engrave is.

Jeehee wanted the engraved lines to be 2 – 3mm deep into the 10mm thick panels rather than just on the surface to catch the light in the way that she wanted. As I knew that I’d need to use a power equivalent to cutting 3mm perspex, I left the protective film on the engraved sides of the Perspex during production. It protects the surface from the heat of the laser which turns Perspex cloudy white around the engraved lines.

Test piece

Jeehee asked for a sample so that she could see exactly how the effect would work. Then she could make changes before I cut and engraved the large panels. She was very pleased and wondered whether to make the lines deeper, but was worried that the Perspex panels might bend under their weight if they were engraved too deeply. In the end, she decided to err on the safe side and asked me to proceed with 2 – 3mm depth as we had agreed.

Making the panels

I ordered sheets that were 1220 x 820mm to give a little margin without much wastage. First, I engraved the lines on the panels and then cut the rectangles to keep the edges as smooth as possible. If I had cut the rectangles first, the engraved lines would have made grooves on the cut edges.

My biggest challenge was finding a carrier to ship a parcel that was 1300 x 900mm and weighing 27kg. 10mm Perspex is very heavy in large sheets. Most couriers won’t take heavy parcels in such large dimensions.

The finished installation

Jeehee was delighted with the panels when they arrived at the distillery. After a few weeks of suspense while she assembled the piece,  I was blown away when she sent these photos taken by John Paul. I love the way the horizontal engraved and vertical colour elements work together.

The current exhibition featuring this work is open until Sunday 20th August.


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

How to make a Pepper's Ghost installation

Pepper’s Ghost installation

Posted Posted in Artists, Perspex

Angus was a 6th Form student at St Leonard’s School in St Andrews. He created this project as part of his studio work for the IB Visual Arts course.

Victorian illusion

The Pepper’s Ghost technique has been used by magicians and illusionists since Victorian times. More recently, music festivals have used it to create interesting visual effects. That’s how Angus first became aware of it.

Creating the right artwork

Angus wanted to create each part of the illusion by laser cutting three panels of black acrylic. He wanted the first sheet cut with face details, the second sheet cut with stars and the third with cloud details. He chose 3mm acrylic as it was robust enough for the job. It was important that light wouldn’t pass through the body of the material to spoil the effect of light travelling through the holes in it.

In order to laser cut the black acrylic, I needed vector files. Shapes for each star and each cloud outline must be surrounded by a single hairline vector line that the laser can follow. Angus and the school Art Department had no previous experience of laser cutting, and none of their artwork packages were able to generate vector artwork, so there was a learning curve to climb until I had the files I needed. Sometimes artwork creation can be the trickiest stage of a project.

Creating the illusion using acrylic

To create the Pepper’s Ghost illusion, Angus laid each of the laser cut black panels flat on a light box. You can just make out all three sitting one behind the other in the picture. The clouds are at the front, the stars behind that and the face is at the back.

Light shone from the light box through the laser cut holes in the black acrylic. This light was reflected in the clear acrylic sheets set above the black panels at 45 degrees, facing the viewer. You can see the front clear acrylic panel easily.

The transparent image appearing at 90 degrees to the black acrylic sheets. It incorporates the reflections from the layers of light reflected by the clear acrylic. All three reflected images superimpose to create the illusion of Angus’ face floating in the night sky. It’s an impressive effect and Angus’ ambitious installation was a huge success.

Each year, the Art Department has a show of pupil’s artwork for different year groups.

how unicorns are made

How unicorns are made

Posted Posted in Artists, Designers, How to, Signage, Wood

InkPaintPaper is an artist and illustrator in Norfolk. She makes hand painted personalised plywood decorations and signs, all to her own design.

She had ideas for new products to add to her plywood signs line. One of her wrapping paper designs has a unicorn motif, the same one that she has on her logo, and she thought it would be a fun shape for bedroom door signs. So she got in touch with LaserFlair to discuss the feasibility of her plan.

Product development

InkPaintPaper and I have worked together for a few years now. She knows that we need vector artwork to cut out shapes and understands that chunky shapes are most robust. Her artwork was perfect first time with a single hairline line surrounding each unicorn. The most vulnerable point was where the unicorn’s tail meets its body, but at 10mm wide, it not a cause for concern, especially as she wanted to use 4mm laser ply. Being formed from laminated layers in birch, plywood is inherently strong and the unicorns would would be robust enough to send through the post.


This was a pretty straight forward product development project. InkPaintPaper knew exactly what she wanted, her artwork was good, the product robust and the material choice clear.

We laser cut some prototype unicorns for InkPaintPaper to decorate and test the market with. She hand painted them and got feedback via social media. It wasn’t long before she came back with an order for a production run of unicorns in the run up to Christmas!

community art project stencils

Community art project stencils

Posted Posted in Artists, Artwork, Mylar, Signage

Pat Bray, a local artist, won a commission for an art project for Letham Glen, a lovely park in Leven, Fife.

Pat designed 37 stencils with interesting facts about the park’s history. She included stories of local witches and ghosts, performing bears, and the local miners who built the swimming pool.

The stencils were to be used with chalk spray to create signs on the ground at points of interest around the park.

Choosing materials

First, we selected a material for the stencils. It was important that the stencils were easy to carry around the park for spraying. They also had to be waterproof so they could be used outdoors, placed on the ground for spraying and washed off without damaging them.

Pat chose mylar. It’s a light, flexible, waterproof plastic, and perfect for laser cutting. It’s very robust too, so the small pieces between letters are strong enough to withstand regular usage.

Choosing a font

Next, we had to choose a font for the text. Pat wanted the insides of letters like p to remain as part of the stencil, so we picked a stencil font. There are lots to choose from, so we selected a clear one that was easy to read. The stencils had to be legible when placed on the floor.

Finally, Pat decided to have two stencil sizes. Six of the stencils had more text than the others, so we created large and small stencils to make sure all the text was legible and the text on all the stencils was the same size.

Pat was delighted with the stencils. They have withstood the rigours of park life well! They’re robust enough to use again and again to entertain and inform visitors to the park.