One of the most delicate commissions I’ve had was for wedding invitations.
A mother of the groom approached me for help. As a graphic designer, she had created artwork for the invitations and she wanted them laser cut from paper. It was absolutely beautiful, showing an Edinburgh skyline and the happy couple’s beloved cats.
Judith’s artwork was perfectly produced for laser cutting. All the lines were hairlines and they all joined beautifully within the vector files.
But the design was highly detailed, and this presented a challenge. This meant that the paper cuts would be very fragile. Spires and flagpoles on the buildings were thin and unsupported, text was tall and thin, and the book titles at the bottom were so small at the scale required that it would be too thin to hold together.
Designing in strength
Usually, I suggest to customers that they make the thinnest parts of their design 2 – 3mm mm wide to make them robust. Weak points can make products very vulnerable to damage, even if they’re made of thicker and stronger materials. All it takes is for a ring to catch or a little pressure in the wrong place and a whole piece can be destroyed.
If this can happen with 9mm mdf or 10mm Perspex, you can imagine much more vulnerable a design in paper or card would be. In this case, the paper designs were to be glued onto cards which would give them support and some protection, but cards still get handled fairly roughly.
Robust paper cuts
I suggested to Judith that we should remove some of the finest detail from the text at the bottom. When I cut a sample of the ‘Harry Potter’ area, the card struggled to hold together. We tweaked the spires and text to make them a little wider, and simplified the flower bowl, buns and teacups. If the design had been cut at a much larger size, none of this would have been a problem, but the invitations had to fit on A5 sized cards.
Testing a sample
When we had finished, I produced a sample and it came out well. Many areas of the design were 1-2mm wide, but it worked and Judith understood that gentle handling would be required. She was delighted and asked me to cut 50 pieces from the dark charcoal paper that she’s provided. Each piece took 6 minutes to laser cut because there was so much laser cut detail.