Measuring Success: Maker Crushes Kickstarter Goal By 2,087%

The Secret Behind The Elegant Instrument That Measures The Golden Ratio

Sir Edward Victor Appleton, 1947 Nobel Laureate in physics, said: “The golden ratio is the key to universal physics.” And for Scott Onstott, founder of SIPS Productions Inc., the golden ratio is the key to a Kickstarter campaign success story that had this maker crushing his initial goal to raise $1,618 by 2087%.

The Golden Ratio Is Everywhere (Even If You Don’t Know It)

From great works of art down to the credit card in your wallet, the golden ratio is everywhere. In mathematical terms, the ratio is 1:1.618. While these numbers may not hold much meaning to the casual observer, they have been studied by scholars for centuries.

“Some of the greatest mathematical minds of all ages, from Pythagoras and Euclid in ancient Greece, through the medieval Italian mathematician Leonardo of Pisa and the Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler, to present-day scientific figures such as Oxford physicist Roger Penrose, have spent endless hours over this simple ratio and its properties,” says Israeli astrophysicist Mario Livio. “But the fascination with the Golden Ratio is not confined just to mathematicians. Biologists, artists, musicians, historians, architects, psychologists and even mystics have pondered and debated the basis of its ubiquity and appeal. In fact, it is probably fair to say that the Golden Ratio has inspired thinkers of all disciplines like no other number in the history of mathematics.”

Kickstarting The Golden Ratio

Scott has followed the work of these thinkers in his use of the golden ratio. A graduate of University of California at Berkeley with a degree in architecture, he has written and self-published seven books about the Secrets In Plain Sight, a series that documents his ongoing research, unique discoveries and sacred geometry artwork. He has also produced a Secrets in Plain Sight film series profiling patterns found in art, architecture and the cosmos—which has now been viewed by millions.

“After having written two books on the golden ratio—the first an introductory illustrated book, and the second revealing how Leonardo Da Vinci used the golden ratio as the underlying structure of his paintings—I wanted a way for people to discover the golden ratio in the natural world, in human-made artifacts surrounding them, and to purposefully encode the golden ratio in the things people make,” Scott explains. “I created a unique set of golden ratio calipers, The Proportioner, which does exactly that.”

Due to its precise geometric design, the Proportioner’s middle pointer always proportionally indicates the golden ratio with respect to the width of the outer arms (aka, the whole).

Like many makers, Scott wanted to test the demand for his product before going into full production. So he started a Kickstarter campaign to bring the Proportioner to life.

Not knowing what to expect, he started with a modest goal—$1,618—a nod to the number that started it all. With a funding period of August 29 – October 1, 2016, Scott raised $33,772 from 543 backers in that brief 33 days—totally crushing the original goal by 2087%.

Building The Perfectly Proportioned Proportioner

While the Proportioner may seem like a simple tool, making this elegant instrument was far from easy.

Scott initially considered 3D printing, CNC or water-jet cutting to make his golden ratio calipers with a unique magnetic hinge, but none of these manufacturing options were as well suited as laser cutting for what he wanted to make.

“High quality laser cutting turns out dimensionally accurate parts every time,” Scott says. “My device has interference-t magnets where the tolerance is a few hundredths of an inch. The magnets must fit perfectly every time. There is no way to replicate this by hand or by using woodworking machines. Because of these extremely precise small-scale details, laser cutting was the obvious choice.”

And while he did try other laser cutting services before finding Ponoko, he made the switch because of the easy-to-use web interface and choice of materials. “None of the other laser cutting services had the right material for what I wanted to make,” Scott says. “I like the feel of wood rather than metal or acrylic in the hand, and Ponoko has the 3.5mm thick premium veneered MDF that suited my project perfectly.”

Scott determined that using the premium walnut veneer surrounding a medium density fiberboard core on top and bottom was the best option for his calipers. “This materials ‘sandwich’ is far stronger and dimensionally stable compared to Baltic birch and other plywoods,” he explains. “The hard veneer layers help the Proportioner arms slide smoothly and they are quite attractive. The MDF core doesn’t warp, bend or twist like plywood does, an important consideration for the long slender arms in my device.”

Once he had made the materials decision, the next challenge for Scott was figuring out how to pack the maximum number of parts needed on the given sheet size to keep his costs in check. “The arms of the Proportioner are complex curves and optimally tiling them is non-trivial,” he says. “Having no automated way to do this, I did a lot of trial and error in AutoCAD until I ultimately was able to fit 25 Proportioners per sheet.”

In addition to creating the calipers, Scott designed a magnetic stand to hold them. The stand is assembled without tools, simply by pressing the finger joint together at a right angle. Micro bevels laser-cut into the finger joint ensure a snug fit. What’s cool about the stand is that it not only provides a convenient place to store the Proportioner, but it also converts the instrument into an attractive small sculpture when not in use.

Discovering The Golden Ratio In Your World

Open any art history book, and you’ll see that many old masters structured their compositions using the golden ratio, although this fact continues to largely go unrecognized.

See how Leonardo da Vinci used the golden ratio to create Bacchus (formerly Saint John The Baptist), while Michelangelo located the divine spark in The Creation Of Adam using the divine proportion.

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But the golden ratio isn’t limited to works of art; it can also be found in the more mundane. Just look at the structure of the ebony and ivory keys on the piano, or the configuration of vinyl records. Who knew making music had such beautiful mathematical proportions.

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Scott says the golden ratio is the most succinct mathematical expression of the Hermetic concept, “As above, so below.” And he hopes that Proportioner users will feel empowered to discover the golden ratio for themselves in the natural world and in human-made objects.

Robert Lawlor, author of Sacred Geometry: Philosophy & Practice, said: “The golden ratio is a reminder of the relatedness of the created world to the perfection of its source and of its potential future evolution.” With the Proportioner, that creation just got easier.

 

Maker Changes The World One Plant At A Time

By Combining Technology & Gardening, The Plant Doctor Is Shaping The Future Of Indoor & Outdoor Horticulture

plant-doctor-potAkin Yildiz has a mission: Change the world, one plant at a time. Through the Plant Doctor, a non-profit, open-source online research laboratory specializing in electronics and plants, Akin is shaping the future of indoor and outdoor horticulture.

But he didn’t always have such clarity in vision. In fact, after earning his degree in business management, Akin didn’t know what direction to take. He was working in a restaurant, teaching guitar and taking odd jobs. But gardening was on his mind.

“Gardening was a hobby, and I always wanted to teach people about gardening,” he says. “I wanted to make it so easy that anyone could just get up and do it without any hesitation. But I had no idea how to go about it.”

The Evolution Of A Maker (And A Movement)

The reason most people don’t garden, according to Akin, is that they either don’t have time or they are scared to fail. There’s also a broad segment of the population with no electronics or programing experience. He saw a need in the market and wanted to address it.

“Plants and electronics are two very important fields of human life, yet most of us know so little about them,” he says. “I believe to truly solve this problem, we need a game-like environment where the end user learns as they complete it.”

But there were no DIY kits that focused primarily on plants and electronics. Until he changed all that in 2014 with the Plant Doctor.

The Plant Doctor offers electronics kits that teach you how to build circuits, how to program computers and how to garden—a total beginners guide to the world of plants and electronics.

Akin says that most adults have little time to learn new skills like programming to pass onto their children, so he designed the educational kit to be easy to learn and suitable for any age group (non-toxic, solder free).

“Imagine receiving a box,” he explains. “Inside you have electronic components that can communicate with plants. You put together these color-coded components, like a puzzle. Once completed, you activate the computer and learn how to program it. You are now left with an instrument that can teach you how to garden.”

plant-doctor-grow-lightsSeveral kits are available from a simple plant pot that is completely mobile to serious systems with a box that can automate the watering and lights. He has even created a device that can be attached to an existing pot that monitors conditions and will email you when the plant needs, water, light or a temperature adjustment.

All Plant Doctor instruments are open source hardware and software, so anyone in the world can use them. No previous experience is necessary to assemble, program or garden—just plug and play. In just one weekend, you can learn how to program and build circuits that can implement this automation technology to your garden or home. Check out all the plans on Instructables.

plant-doctor-electronicsAkin’s vision to bring together nature and technology in a simple, non-harmful way is catching on. His Instructables page has garnered 600,000+ views and has thousands of followers. He has started a crowdfunding campaign to further develop this project and bring more awareness to smart plant technology around the world. And he’s also consulting and teaching.

“We have been offering in-person and online workshops to ages between 6 to 60+,” he says. “People who have never programmed or built circuits are now able to walk away from a two-hour-long class knowing enough to automate their homes, greenhouses, workshops—experiencing programming and circuit building first hand. “

The Bigger Picture Of Sustainable Food Production

Akin says his vision to teach the world how to program, build circuits and garden has gained attention over the last year and resulted in many conversations around the globe. Both experienced DIY greenhouse farmers and total beginners in plants or electronics are discussing the bigger implications of combining gardening with programming.

plant-doctor-future-vertical-garden“Imagine a giant building in the middle of the city, a building just for plants and to grow food vertically,” he says. “Vertical farms are the future of gardening. They require less resources, less space and yield higher crops than regular outdoor gardening methods. These buildings will become more common in the very near future.”

With smart plant technology getting more attention everyday, Akin says that automated food production will become more available to residential housing. “This technology will offer many new jobs in the near future,” he says. “This is why we offer our DIY kits so the next generation can grow up knowing how to program and control this technology. And by making it open source software and hardware, we are able to make it more accessible to a bigger population worldwide.”

The Plant Doctor educational tools are a glimpse to what the future holds. And what an interesting—and hopefully green—future it will be.

 

Maker Finds Success In $300 Billion Wedding Market

How THE little BLUE CHAIR Differentiates Itself By Branding Weddings

Weddings are big business. BIG. In fact, the global wedding industry is topping $300 billion (and growing every day), with U.S. spending contributing $58 billion of that. So how does a budding company differentiate its offerings and really standout in this crowded market? With some creativity—and great design.

Finding Passion In Printing

Hope Johnson, founder of THE little BLUE CHAIR (TLBC), has always been inspired by an old world, organic touch. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she incorporates her southern surroundings, organic textures and textiles into a suite of wedding products that includes semi-custom and full custom wedding favors, table numbers and stationery.

While Hope says she has a strong appreciation for the handmade, an unearthly attraction to the handwritten and an undeniable love for love, she didn’t set out to be a stationary designer. No, her initial major at Louisiana State University was something much less artistic: Business.

But after nearly failing freshman economics, she changed her major to Fine Arts, which evidently was not a surprise to her friends and family. She focused her course training in printmaking…and spent a lot of time in the basement of the LSU print lab. From silkscreen to lithography to intaglio to bookbinding and letterpress, a labor of love was born.

Bringing A Couple’s Story To Life

Fast forward, and Hope acquired a couple letterpress machines and built a studio where TLBC creations come to life. But designing wedding stationary is a highly competitive business. That’s why Hope takes a different approach (perhaps those business courses were beneficial after all). She thinks bigger, beyond providing the tangible invitation.

“Every day, I am faced with the task of bringing a couple’s story to life,” she says. “My clients are often creatives themselves, bombarded with inspiration from every angle—an overload even. My job is to dig deep to the roots of the couple’s story and put that on paper.”

If that sounds like a daunting task, it is. An endless amount of creative energy is put fourth for each project, fabricating inspiration from beginning to end.

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“I call myself a stationery designer, but really, and maybe not officially, I’m a wedding branding designer,” Hope explains. “I brand the wedding from start to finish with much more than just the invitation.”

Much more indeed. TLBC offers custom stationery design, specialty assembly, fine cotton papers, letterpress printing, “will you be my bridesmaid?” cards, wood etched address stamps, hand painted detailing, vintage stamps, silkscreen, wedding day gifts, vow prints, wedding party accessories—and all of the other things brides forget they need.

Hope says that couples often use aspects of what she has created to have other key pieces made for their big day. “I help curate a ‘collection’ of items to bring that brand, that story, to life,” she says. “I often bring a second layer of texture on top of the paper with specialty made wood-cuts. Those same familiar pieces may be found in and around the big day.”

What started with just paper has turned into a number of pieces—from cake toppers, wedding-day signage and reception décor—that help orchestrate a couple’s story from engagement through the big day. And that’s where Ponoko comes in.

Expanding Product Offerings With Laser Cutting

Adding customization makes TLBC products standout among the hundreds of other wedding stationery suppliers, and Hope’s creativity plus unique sense of style needed the right supplier match.

“Texture plays a large role for my inspiration,” she says. “I have a very organic feel to most of my work paired with a natural color pallet. I often find a suitable need to bring in wood aspects to achieve a certain level of emotion and to get that natural, textural feel many of my brides opt for.”

To attain this authentic aesthetic, she knew mass-produced, off-the-shelf wedding items wouldn’t work for her clientele: Couples that have impeccable taste, appreciate a nicely hosted gathering, and have a vision and story to tell.

With a quick internet search, she found Ponoko. After discovering the streamlined making process, Hope could easily navigate her work into a space where she can see, quote and order in a timely manner.

“These solutions have allowed me to easily and affordably introduce custom products as opposed to the mass-produced options that scour the internet,” she says. “Since finding Ponoko, I’ve been able to introduce a new line of options for my clients, from wood cut assembly details, cake toppers, wedding signage and more. I can easily reorder, alter materials and see what works best for the job.”

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To see more of Hope’s creations, check out the collection of custom work, DIY projects, etiquette help and wedding planning tips at thelittlebluechair.com.

Setting A Foundation For Years Of Happiness

So what does a blue chair have to do with weddings? More than you think.

It began as an actual little blue chair sat on to unwrap Christmas gifts. The sentiment of unveiling and the surprise element of the package became the foundation of the business.

Hope continues to aim for the simplicity in her work, with an appreciation for imperfections. Between illustration, organic typefaces and letterpress, that goal seems to be accomplished again and again.

Her clear direction and design aesthetic have created a solid base for her business to continue growing. Here’s to living happily ever after.

 

 

Laser Cut Toys For The Big Boys

Serious Fun With Drones And Robots

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What is it about building robots that is so much fun? If you ask a kid, you will likely get a meaningful answer… however when it comes to grown men the wide-eyed fascination of youth has developed into a serious pursuit of quirky techno-novelty. In recent years, drones have joined the venerable robot as one of the top projects for big boys to tinker away at.

Through laser cutting, the design process for both drones and robots is streamlined and fully functional prototypes are just a mouse click away.       (more…)

Capture The Kids’ Market With These Toys For Girls

When Laser Cutting Gets Cute

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For a market that is all about playtime, the toy industry is a serious business indeed. In the US, spending on dolls alone tops $2.6 billion each year, and sales are on the increase. Through the Ponoko Personal Factory we’ve got one of the most accessible ways to make unique fashion items and toys at our fingertips, and this means you too can laser cut yourself a slice of the toy industry pie.

In this article we are taking a look at how designers and makers are using laser cutting to tap into the ‘toys for girls’ market. First up is a heart-shaped box from Just Add Sharks (pictured above). Ideal for storing keepsakes and sweet whimsies, it is the feature of an Instructables post that shows how you don’t need a multi-million dollar factory to produce desirable products that are just right for this discerning market segment.

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Customization is one of the reasons entrepreneurs and designers turn to laser cutting. As we can see with Isabella’s name plaque by Woodums (above), the laser cut and etched ply brings added depth and vibrance to an already playful font.

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Knock on Isabella’s door, and chances are high there will be a fantastical land filled with princesses and fairies inside. Etsy seller FoxyFunk knows that every princess needs her crown (above, left). Wearing an actual tiara may not be the fashion-forward statement some young girls are looking to make, but the mirror acrylic crown brooch will sit right with almost any outfit. Fairies are certainly not forgotten and this necklace from CataCakeCreations (above, right) also taps into the huge costume jewellery market.

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Perfect for use as pendants, jewellery or even suspended in a mobile, laser cut silhouettes are a fantastic way to engage with these eager consumers. The Alice in Wonderland themed cutouts from EasyCutPrintPD (above, left) are offered as a digital file that can be incorporated into a broader laser cut design or simply sent straight to Ponoko for production in your favorite material. Other silhouettes and figures can be purchased already cut, as with this set of playful characters from Joann (above, right).

Drawing inspiration from Disney classics introduces familiar characters that can be laser cut in the dazzling array of acrylic material options. The Mermaid Pendant from imyourpresent on Etsy (below, left) uses opaque, mirror, pearl and laser etched acrylic to define the form. The precision of laser cutting means that combining materials can be achieved with very neat results. Add a little surface finishing to the process, and you’ve got a recipe for success as YouMakeMeDesign know. Check out their cute 2D Roly Poly Dolls (below, right).

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We can’t really talk about toys for girls (and boys too, really) without taking a look at doll houses. A universal favorite, the dolls house captures imaginations and opens the door to immersive worlds of pretend play.  Laser cutting allows for doll houses of every imaginable shape and size; we have collected a few here to show just how diverse they can be.

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Starting elegantly simple, the flat-pack design from Katherine Belsey can very quickly become populated with all you need for a home sweet home. Out of the box (above, left) the house is a classic laser cut raw canvas, and with a little paint and doll house furniture (above, right) it really comes to life.

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Doll house furniture can also take form through laser cutting. Karen Benson Miniatures (above) have refined this to a fine art, with a range that covers period pieces, modern designs and others that are just plain fun. As with the doll houses themselves, the combination of laser cutting and laser etching will allow for a high level of detail and customization in the form, the surface features and the construction methods used for miniature furniture pieces.

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Parents with an eye for particular design eras will often encourage their kids to follow the same aesthetic sensibility. The retro-modern curves of 3StarStudioArts’ laser cut doll house (above) are continued through to the included furniture, and the whole set becomes a vibrant and stylish pad once bright colors are applied.

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In an excellent example of how laser cutting can accurately replicate almost any design style, the period houses from Laser Dollhouses feature an attention to detail (above) that makes for a serious showpiece. This dedication to architectural authenticity is also a feature of the clear acrylic house from Made By Hidden (below, left) that is not actually a toy, but would certainly be loads of fun to play with. In contrast to the geometric rigidity of architectural miniatures, Cartonus’ Fairy Doll House (below, right) invites imaginative play with its smooth curves and large openings.

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Doll houses are usually set at a scale to allow for other toys to fit inside, which integrates well with existing collections of toys and figures. Through laser cutting, it can also be a lot of fun to go much, much smaller… the colorful buildings from Moe Miniatures (below, left) have a charm all of their own, and whole dioramas can emerge when you include miniature critters like Megan Baehr’s cute little laser cut lion (below, right).

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Make-believe and pretend play is an important part of a child’s daily activities, and whether it’s through miniatures, doll houses or character jewellery; laser cutting gives designers and makers direct access to this lucrative market. By utilising the strengths of laser cutting such as ease of customization, accuracy and diverse material range small companies and independent sellers on Etsy are able to mix it up with the big guys. The added benefits of low cost and rapid design to manufacture process that laser cutting is famous for enables clever makers to move and flow with design trends, further integrating them into the commercial arena.

Are you a toy designer making products for girls? What cool laser cut toy ideas for girls have you seen? Let us know in the comments below!

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #46

Be There From 9 To 5 With Customized Laser Cut Office Desktop Items

9to5 laser cut perpetual calendar

A personalized workspace makes for happy workers, and laser cutting is a fantastic way to provide clients with customized products that they will want to keep and use as a part of their daily grind. While different working environments have their own specific needs, there are a few products that will be familiar whether your office is at the top of a skyscraper or down in the basement.

Laser Cut Desktop Calendars

Keeping track of dates, schedules and all those important calendar entries is something best left to your digital devices; however the utility of having a physical calendar within eyeshot still runs true no matter how fancy the latest App download promises to be. Laser Cut Desktop Calendars become not only an interesting focal point for the office space, they also provide key information about the past and the future that keeps the productivity flowing.

Pictured above, the elegantly simple perpetual calendar made available on Laser Cut Plans by Renan Rozante lends itself well to custom laser etched details. This design would work just as nicely laser cut from acrylic, with the wide number of options available in the Ponoko Materials Library.

We can see a good use of both acrylic and post-processed laser etched details with the colorful calendar (below, left) from Be That Design. In order to make sure the laser etched text really pops, they filled the etched areas with paint to create a crisp, high-contrast visual. Taking a different approach to numerical display, the wooden flip calendar by Qaaim Goodwin (below, right) is simple but effective with numbers cut from the ply rather than etched on the surface.

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Silhouettes are a hallmark of laser cut products, and calendars can also make good use of this visually arresting visual technique. A treat for Star Wars fans, PurnaProject’s desktop calendar (below, left) will have workers daydreaming of a galaxy far, far away. Another interesting approach is demonstrated in the Urban Calendars (below, right) from Robert Feyereisen. Referencing iconic 20th Century skyscrapers, an entire year is laser etched onto basswood veneer, with each date in its own little pop-out window.

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Laser Cut Table Clocks

Keeping time is an important part of any work day, and it is handy to have a dedicated clock to let you know at a glance how your day is tracking. Laser cutting has long provided designers and makers with interesting possibilities for custom timepieces, whether through material usage or the addition of laser etched details to enhance the clock mechanism.

Pictured below is a retro-styled desk clock by RolphLaserCreations, that makes neat use of traditional laser cut assembly methods while still holding true to a mid-century design aesthetic. Alongside on the right is a castle-themed desk organiser clock from OlaDiClock that has the same tabbed construction, this time incorporating the material junctions as a graphic feature of the castle design.

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The ubiquitous nature of dials and numbers means that it can be quite refreshing to visualise clocks in a different way from time to time. The Word Clock (below, left) is perhaps one of the most notable examples of this, and the clever concept has undergone a steady refinement by Doug Jackson. Laser cut precision gives the illuminated text a commanding presence on the display, with a refined finish that an engineer would be proud of. Another unconventional clock from All15Designs (below, right) uses laser cut steel to display the numbers along a separate plane to the face of the rotary mechanism in the centre.

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Laser Cut Picture Frames

The smiling faces of families and loved ones adorn many workers’ desks, and it can add a lot of personality to do more with the choice of frame than the standard shiny rectangle. Laser cutting allows designers to explore their playful creativity with the form of the frame, as can be seen with the nostalgic tv frame design (below, left) from Phings and the specially designed Ultrasound Frame (below, right) from Gravi Art.

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Frames aren’t only for pictures; displaying certificates, invitations and awards is also a big part of the office environment. The custom invitations from The Redd Press Shop (below) show how laser etched details are further enhanced by layering materials to add contrast and impact to the laser cut timber and card.

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The workplace is an area where calendars, clocks and framed objects can create interest and personal connections. By designing these products for laser cutting and incorporating laser etched personalization, your brand can become a part of the daily grind in a positive, functional way.

Have you seen other clever laser cut office desktop products? Let us know in the comments below, and for more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

Successful Seller Spotlight: Laser Cut Baking Products

Etsy Sellers Baking Up A Laser Cut Storm

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Food cooked with love has a certain magic to it, and one way that keeps the glow in the heart of the kitchen is when chefs have a collection of baking products they love to use. Laser cutting and laser etching open up an exciting world of customized, personal, fun and quirky kitchen related products. Let’s take a look at a few laser cut baking product highlights from successful Etsy stores.

Pictured above is a dino-themed laser etched rolling pin from Humble Elephant. For those baking cookies with a more sophisticated crowd in mind, there is the ornately decorated rolling pin (below, left), one of many variations on this theme from Algis Crafts. Laser cut stencils are another great way to add personality to baked goods, as we can see with the laser cut acrylic Pan stencil (below, right) from the aptly named Laser Stencils. These can be used to dust icing sugar or cocoa onto cookies, and they also make great additions to the barrista’s kitchen toolkit.

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When baking cupcakes, muffins and sweet doughy treats it can be fun to further accessorise and decorate before serving to your guests. Laser cut text from Just Lovett Design makes the cupcakes even more enticing (below, bottom-left) and another approach to little signs from Marked Moments (below, top-left) uses laser etched wood toppers, which look great as a collection across the table. Try for a hint of romance with the hot pink cupcake toppers by Funky Laser (below, center) or send kids on a prehistoric sugar high with dino doughnut toppers from Creative Muster (below, right).

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Cupcakes patties and wrappers are also well suited to laser cutting… and the best thing is that they can be made from paper or thin card, which means they are super-cheap to produce. Featured below we have a Princess crown from Liv Desi, and an elegant lace wrapper that is quite at home amongst the fine china from Mystique Weddings. A more modern version with a botanical theme comes next from Gift Paper, and a spider’s web wrapper that would be a hit on Halloween is one of many fun ideas from Miniature Sweet.

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One thing all bakers know is that cupcakes don’t come in ones or twos; when you’re baking, you’d better bake by the dozen to make sure no-one misses out. Laser cut acrylic cupcake stands are an effective way to display cakes at events, in stores, at a market stall or even just at home on the kitchen counter.

The versatility that laser cutting provides means you can get quite creative without compromising on structural integrity, as we can see in the examples below. On the left, the multi-level pink acrylic stand from Hot Spot Tooling LTD boasts four levels of display space. Similar in size but this time using clear acrylic, the fully loaded multi-tier stand from North American Shop lets the colors of the cakes do the talking. Forms can also easily be produced from 2D laser cut materials that draw inspiration from traditional furniture, such as the Simply Stunning Event laser cut acrylic cake stand (below, right).

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Cooking utensils, particularly those made from bamboo and engineered ply, are well suited to laser cutting and the addition of laser etched details. This is an opportunity to show a little personality and humor, as we can see with the immortalisation of Mom’s Apple Pie recipe from Marcella’s Engravables and the Breaking Bad themed spatula by Wooden Maden.

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Cooking with tools and utensils that you love is a whole lot more fun, and adding finishing touches with personality and spark will make for an eye-catching spread on the table. Using laser cutting and laser etching, these creative opportunities become within reach for even the smallest of baking ventures. Let us know in the comments below if you have other fun ideas of how to use laser cutting and laser etching for baking products.

 

 

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #45

In The Right Frame Of Mind – Using Customized Picture Frames as a Marketing Toolcustom-laser-cut-frames-collage9

People love to have their favorite pictures on display, and laser cutting offers a fantastic potential for creative customized picture frame solutions. By incorporating laser cutting into your design process, custom picture frames can be a valuable marketing tool for your brand.

How to use laser cutting for picture frames

There are a number of different approaches you can take, from material selection to cut path complexity and adding laser etched details. The example above from Picture It Creations shows one way to use laser cut text, this time cut from colored matte board.

Let’s take a look at a few more approaches to laser cut customized picture frames.

Incorporating silhouettes

The perimeter of the photograph can be manipulated to fit within a chosen graphic theme, creating dynamic points of interest for the eye to follow. This can be seen with the banyan trees and the Seattle skyline frames from Elise Koncsek.
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Familiar laser cut and etched details

Building a box frame using the iconic laser cut tabbed construction as demonstrated here by Lasercutouts (below, left) can be a neat way to enhance the physical presence of the frame. Another familiar visual element is the use of laser etched details, as shown in the soccer team frame by R Keepsakes.

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Stylized objects and forms

Laser cutting enables a playful creativity that can open up new directions to explore, as with the nostalgic tv frame design (below, left) from Phings and the specially designed Ultrasound Frame (below, right) from Gravi Art.

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Ornate borders

Replicating traditional carved frames from different historic periods and artistic genres, The Wood Shape Store has some interesting approaches to using laser cutting for custom picture frames. Included in the mix below are two baroque/gothic style frames, as well as a deco geometric example (below, left) that consists of discrete elements to be mounted or installed onto an additional support structure.

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Delicate details

Laser cutting can be quite delicate, as we can see in the repetitive pattern design from Swirlydoos (below, left). Merging the traditional with contemporary techniques and materials, acrylic brooch frames from Emi Ko Supplies (below, right) look light-hearted and fun, thanks to the juxtaposition of playful materials and the ornate design.

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Both laser cutting and laser etching feature in the numerous frame designs from HMCrafters (below). By choosing to use laser etched details, the tone, grain and surface singed wood becomes a distinctive feature that is iconic and readily identifiable to laser cutting.

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With the custom wedding invitations from The Redd Press Shop (below) the use of laser etched details is further enhanced by layering materials to add contrast and impact to the laser cutting.

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While many of the laser cut frames featured in this post are specifically targeted to the consumer, it is not too much of a leap to see how a similar approach can be applied to promotional products for an event, conference or particular marketing theme. Let us know if you’ve seen other great ideas for laser cut customized picture frames in the comments below; and for more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

 

Customized Laser Cutting for Tech Geeks

Designing Your Own Enclosures for Electronics Projects

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Laser cutting has long been the chosen solution for many DIY electronics project enclosures, and with good reason. By building a custom case using laser cutting, you are able to protect components, give precise access to interface elements, and also add laser etched details that communicate function and branding.

We’ve previously taken a look at how to make a laser cut enclosure using Box Maker and similar plugins for laser cutter-friendly software programs. Another neat browser-based option is MakerCase (screenshot below) where it is easier than ever to enter design constraints, interact with a 3D model of the enclosure and then save a file that is ready for laser cutting.

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These fantastic tools and software solutions go a long way in making laser cut enclosure design accessible for projects large and small. While a laser cut enclosure can be quite simple, the thorough breakdown by Phillip Burgess on Adafruit covers a number of key considerations and comes strongly recommended indeed. The eye-catching rainbow Raspberry Pi case pictured at the top of this post is a prime example of the way that the strengths of laser cutting can be leveraged to produce unique, desirable outcomes.

Personal projects get a serious boost from laser cut enclosures, and the next step is often to produce and sell products that look both professional and highly resolved. A notable example of how custom laser cut enclosures have helped turn personal projects into Kickstarter success stories is the Game Frame (pictured below) from Jeremy Williams.

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So whether you’ve baked yourself a techno treat with the Raspberry Pi, or created new possibilities using the latest boards from Arduino; those electronic projects can get such a boost when a custom laser cut enclosure is added to the mix.

In short, laser cutting enables customization and full control over the following design and interface elements:

Protect components: Boards, screens and connectors can all be housed securely.
Location of openings: Plugs, connectors, lights and vents can all be positioned in exactly the right spot.
Communication: Adding custom branding, labels to ports, and a bit of personal flair.

Be sure to read through the Adafruit Laser Cut Enclosure Design Overview and fire up your Ponoko Personal Factory to get the prototyping process started right away. Let us know in the comments below if you know of any other handy tips and resources for making laser cut electronics enclosures.

 

Cashing In on the Wedding Industry: Laser Cut Centerpieces

How Others are Finding Success Making and Selling Table Numbers and Centerpieces

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Wedding guests have their first taste of things to come with custom laser cut invitations, and we’ve seen how fun and playful laser cut photo booth props entertain and delight. The all-important wedding cake has also had a romantic laser cut makeover, and today we are turning our attention to laser cut solutions for tables and guest seating.

With over 2.5 million weddings in the US annually, clever Etsy sellers are tapping into a niche market that has an eye for custom centerpiece design. From table numbers to decorative center features, laser cutting enables designers to explore creative themes that enhance the magic of the wedding day.

Pictured above is a three-panel centerpiece from Personalised Favours. Across the different panels there are laser etched details featuring the table number and also the menu, putting all the important table information into one neat package. Other popular Etsy offerings are freestanding table numbers such as the neat script from Foote and Flame (below, left) and a romance-themed numbered heart from PinkSwann (below, right).

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Also from Personalised Favours, the ornate script of these staked numbers (below) make great use of the complex contours that are enabled by laser cutting. Rather than have an attached base for the numbers to stand on their own, these can be inserted into an existing centerpiece for more height and greater presence on the table.

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Acrylic, another favorite material for laser cutters, also lends itself well to the wedding table. Pictured below is a bold laser cut table number set with integrated heat-formed base from ZCreateDesign. Options for these table numbers include black, transparent, silver or gold mirror acrylic.

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Further creative outcomes can be achieved when combining laser cut table numbers with other functional table elements. We saw the laser etched menu earlier, and the following examples from Foote and Flame also demonstrate ways to merge concepts together. The laser cut text becomes a romantic illuminated feature when a tealight candle is inserted into the assembly, and a laser etched coaster identifies seating arrangements and also becomes a personalised keepsake for the lucky guest to take home.

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Wedding decorations are an opportunity to express personality and explore the inspired creativity that fits so naturally when love is in the air. Through clever use of laser cutting, centerpieces and table numbers can easily become a part of the happy couple’s unique expression on the big day. Let us know in the comments below how you would use Ponoko’s Personal Factory to create some truly inspirational laser cut table features.