Westward Ho Origamic Architecture Pop Up Card

Westward Ho Origamic Architecture Pop Up Card by Andrew Crawford

There have been a lot of changes in downtown Phoenix in the last few years. A lot of history remains. I thought it would be fun to make a pop up design of a local building or two. So, I had a go at the Westward Ho.

The Westward Ho is a landmark of downtown Phoenix. The hotel with office space and restaurants was built in 1928 and, remained the tallest building in Arizona until 1960. The steel tower and antenna were added in 1949 to broadcast the first television station in Phoenix. The building was converted to housing for the elderly and mobility-impaired in 1980.

Westward Ho Origamic Architecture Pop Up Card by Andrew Crawford
Westward Ho Origamic Architecture Pop Up Card by Andrew Crawford

Keyboard.io Logo Twisted Crest Pop Up Card

Keyboard.io Logo Crest OA

Another one of the twisted-crest style origamic architecture pop up cards I did early last year. This is modeled on the logo for Keyboard.io, which makes a really great heirloom-grade ergonomic keyboard (the Model 01). This one was done on the new Glowforge, which made some of the finer details a lot easier.

Keyboard.io Logo Crest OA
Keyboard.io logo 180-degree open twisted crest origamic architecture pop up card.
Keyboard.io Logo Crest OA
Keyboard.io logo 180-degree open twisted crest origamic architecture pop up card.

Make a 180º Open Twisted Crest OA/Kirigami Pop UP Card

Flower 180º Open Twisted Crest Pop Up Card
Flower 108º Open Twisted Crest Pop Up Card
Flower 108º Open Twisted Crest Pop Up Card

I have been having fun making these 180º open twisted crest style origamic architecture pop up cards. This is a clever technique and, I wanted to invite you to join in the fun.  This post includes patterns for my new Flower Crest design, suitable for production on a laser cutter, a craft CNC cutter or, by hand.

Most people will have to actually make one of these cards or watch the folding video to get how it works.  I originally spotted this technique used for several patterns in Keiko Nakazawa’s 2006 book 3D Pop-Up Greeting Cards (link in the resources section below) and, abstracted it to make my own designs. Rather than gluing to backing cards, I prefer to develop other approaches like what I have done here.

Flower Crest OA Backing Card Pattern
Flower Crest OA Backing Card Pattern

Flower Crest OA Card Pattern
Flower Crest OA Card Pattern

Machine Settings

Settings for your cutting machine, whether CNC or laser, will vary depending on your machine, the specific paper stock you are using and other factors.

The paper I used for my cards was 0.014″ thick 105lb cover stock.

On the Glowforge, I used a speed of 500 and power of 72 for the cut lines and a power of 18 for the mountain fold lines.  I scored the valley fold lines on the back by hand with a craft knife.  If you are a Glowforge user, you likely have some experience dialing in settings for a particular material. I color-coded the file so that the GFUI will separate and order the operations on import.

27 July 2019 update: I’m seeing less smoke deposition with lower power and slower speed.  I have switched to using 250 speed and 36 power.

My settings for each operation for the Gazelle cutter are in the MTC file as layer descriptions (D is depth setting on my adjustable blade holder, V is velocity and F is force). Those will probably be mostly useless unless you are also using a Gazelle cutter with an adjustable blade holder.  If you are a craft cutter user, you are likely used to sorting out settings for a given stock.  The layers are in the order you should cut them.  The last two layers are the backing card (one score and the cuts).

Pattern Files

Important: These files are for personal, non-commercial use only.  If you want to produce these to sell or for other business use, please contact me to arrange for licensing terms.

Attribution-Creative Commons NonCommercial-ShareAlike

Flower Crest Pop Up Card PNG (for cutting by hand)

Flower Crest Backing Card PNG (for cutting by hand)

Flower Crest Pop Up Card SVG (optimized for Glowforge)

Flower Crest Backing Card SVG

Flower Crest Pop Up Card MTC (for craft cutters)


MT Washi Masking Tapes, Set of 20, Bright & Cool Colors

(Also available in bright and cool half sets.)

Lil Chizler scraping tool

3D Pop Up Greeting Cards by Keiko Nakazawa

Glowforge Laser Cutter

Amazon referral links support a local arts organization. Glowforge referral link helps defray my costs of running the studio.

Viking Longship Origamic Architecture Card

Viking Longship Origamic Architecture Pop Up Card

This Viking longship OA/kirigami pop up card was some time in the making. I’m quite happy with it, especially the dragon head.

I made four custom rubber stamps for imprinting the sails (two dragons and two spirals, one for each orientation). The metallic ink takes a long time to dry (like a month). So, I embossed them with clear embossing powder and a heat gun. The tongue is painted red. Lots of fragile bits on these. So, they required careful handling.

No-Sew Felt Tray

Laser-Cut No-Sew Felt Tray

I wanted to make something to contain my work hold-down pins for the laser cutter. I had seen some simple felt trays that were formed from squares with the corners pinched and sewn together. It seemed like a no-sew technique might work well for that and, it did!

For assembly, I push a pair of small 5″ needle-nose pliers through the slit and, pull the mushroom-shaped tabs through.  If you want more guidance, I made a quick video showing production and assembly.


Update: I made another felt tray in “peacock” blue.  The edges did not char evenly, which looked a little odd.  Light application of a fine sanding sponge removed most of the edge char.


If you would like to make your own no-sew felt tray, you can use the pattern linked below. I am releasing this under a Creative Commons license.  You are free to use and modify this pattern for non-commercial purposes.  If you make changes to the pattern, you are encouraged to release your changes back to the community.

If you want to do something else with it (like make and sell felt trays), please contact me for separate licensing terms.


Glowforge Pulse

I have been working with the new Glowforge laser cutter for several weeks now and, thought it was a good time to post about it.

Glowforge Pulse
The Glowforge pulses slowly to indicate a job is ready to start!

I first learned about the Glowforge project in July of 2015.  A lower-cost laser cutter developed with a focus on usability sounded fantastic and, their early prototypes looked great.  I have worked with a number of other laser cutters over the years, including units from Universal and Epilog (and, of course, the Blacktooth, which still needs a follow-up post).  They remained impractical for studio use for various reasons.

My main concern about the Glowforge was their intent to use cloud-based software for operating it.  If you have talked to me much or, read other things I have written, you may be aware that I am not a big fan of that sort of thing.  Thanks to XOXO, I was able to talk to the developers and, they allayed my fear on that count somewhat.  There are now also developers working on custom firmware for the machines at the OpenGlow project.

With shipping expected with a few months, I finally pre-ordered a Glowforge on the very last day of their campaign.  In the great tradition of ambitious startups, it ended up taking a bit longer for them to actually ship production units …

So far, my Glowforge has proven worth the wait.  It is easy to use and, I was up and running within an hour of its arrival.  While I have found the learning curve so far fairly shallow, be aware that I already had quite a bit of experience with vector graphics, CNC, cutting machines, other laser cutters and, technology in general.  The most common challenges I see people facing in the user forums are conceptual issues like not being familiar with creating vector images.

Origamic Architecture on the Glowforge

If you have browsed this site or seen my work elsewhere, you may be aware that I like to design origamic architecture pop up cards. The Glowforge has been great for quick prototyping experiments and, is even more suitable for small-scale production than I had hoped. Very granular control over the speed and power applied have allowed me to adjust for different types of paper stock to get both score lines and cuts without excessive charring or smoke damage.

Unlike CNC cutting machines, the laser doesn’t put any physical pressure on the paper. So, it is easier to work with finer details without as much risk of tearing.

Other Paper Art

Looking to experiment some with the level of detail possible when cutting paper with the Glowforge, I re-worked and adapted an old Celtic keypattern design I did long ago and, created a new Celtic spiral triskelion design. I wanted to do something useful with those. So, I turned them into kirigami bookmarks.

Some Limits

The Glowforge does not entirely obsolete CNC “craft” cutting machines like the Gazelle.  There are still cases where that will continue to be the best choice, particularly for the paper art projects.  I will likely post more about that at some point.  One good example was an attempt to cut one of my Helical Heart cards.  I use a stock with a particularly sumptuous finish for those.  While the Glowforge did a fantastic job cutting the design, the heat of the laser bruised the stock along each cut – note the particularly pronounced damage on the inner point of the outermost heart.  This stock has a particularly fragile finish, though and, I haven’t run into this with any other stock, yet.


Laser Melted Finish
The stock I use for the Helical Heart cards is not really suitable for laser cutting as the finish melts a bit.


Acrylic Window Panel for Venting the Glowforge
Acrylic Window Panel for Venting the Glowforge


[Updated] I pre-ordered my Glowforge with a filter unit that is intended to allow it to operate indoors without venting to the outside. Filtering laser exhaust is difficult and important to get right.  At this point (May 2018), the filter units are still not shipping.  In order to use my Glowforge, I built an acrylic panel with a vent hose connection that slots into the studio window.


Working with Paper

Very early on, I discovered the Seklema mat from Johnson Plastics, which has helped quite a bit with holding down paper cutting work.  A piece of wood or mat coated with repositionable adhesive also works in a pinch.  The Celtic keypattern and triskeleon bookmarks I produced are excellent examples of the mat’s utility.  Without it, small pieces would have been moved around during cutting by the Glowforge’s air assist, interfering with some of the cuts.  With the mat, it goes without a hitch.

Neodymium magnets, wrapped in gaf tape flags for easier lifting, are also useful for holding down substrates to be cut or etched in the Glowforge.  They attach easily to the steel grid tray.

Engraving Experiments

The 40-watt CO2 laser in the Glowforge is capable of cutting more than paper, of course and, I would be hard-pressed to resist using it for other projects.  In addition to a few things I am not ready yet to share, I produced a rubber stamp of one of my Celtic spiral patterns and, engraved some anodized aluminum flash drives.  I am sure there will be much more of that sort of thing to come!

Get Your Own Glowforge!

Glowforge has finally caught up on its domestic (U.S.A.) production and distribution.  In fact, they have a number of their Pro units ready to ship immediately.  They are offering a special deal on that limited number of units.  If you are quick, you can score a $1500 discount while supporting me a little, too. Please use this link to order your own Glowforge Pro!

Abstract Origamic Architecture Experiment on the New Glowforge

Abstract Origamic Architecture Experiment

This week saw the arrival of the long-anticipated Glowforge laser cutting machine at the Stud.io. I had it up and running in a couple hours, dialed in some settings for cutting some standard stock last night and, produced this quickie abstract origamic architecture / kirigami this afternoon.  I am super excited to have an easy-to-use laser available!