A Holiday Challenge

At the library Maker Lab I have been experimenting with paper cutting.

Before I show you my holiday card, browse Colossal or Instagram for examples of stunning paper craft. The projects I’ve started are modest in comparison, but as you can see, there are many possibilities.

With access to a library laser cutter and electronic cutter, I can cut acrylic, wood, vinyl, and cardstock. Cardstock is fast, easily replenished, and inexpensive. When you make a mistake in cardstock, it’s easy to try, try, try again. Cardstock can be layered for a pop of color or contrast.

Now, I usually nab holiday cards in the post-season sales and forgot to do that after Christmas 2016. I said so online, and was instantly challenged by my craftiest buddy to laser cut a card. (If you are familiar with Gretchin Rubin’s Four Tendencies, you may know this is the best way to get an Obliger to challenge themselves — by throwing them a gauntlet.)

So what’s involved with laser cutting your own card?

You need a design, then a digital file, which I create in Inkscape, and testing the concept. My decision tree was something like: folded versus not folded, if text then stencil or vinyl, if image then stencil or vinyl, laser cut versus ecutter.


At the end of the tree you see “laser cut: can’t use white” versus “e cutter: can use white,” and that is how I ended up using the e cutter, so I wouldn’t have to worry about smearing laser ash on snow white paper. And because I tape holiday cards onto a wall, a folded card seemed like a waste of space.

My first design employed pattern and vinyl. On the left is the digital design, and on the right is a simplified sample, after I realized how time-consuming peeling a contrasting chevron pattern would be. It was back to the drawing board.


After some thought about this Christmas, and buying my first tree, I sketched a Christmas tree. In white and bright blue, the tree also gives the impression of a ski slope. I liked the look of “happy holidays” and moved the inner circle of the letters A, P, O and D to create a stencil effect, and cut out round ornament silhouettes from the H, Y, and S. As a last touch, I added a few red vinyl sticker ornaments to create a tricolor card.


And below, what they looked like in paper and vinyl.


You’ll see there are some unique variations, like the spacing between the Ps where the e cutter slid, or the placement of the ornaments. I like to think of them as limited edition.

Now that these are complete, I can start working on 2018, which I’m sure will look very different from the pink and blue snowflake I started this week.




One thought on “A Holiday Challenge

  1. Pingback: Audio: A Holiday Challenge | A Prism

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