Making of the Garden Lantern Electronic Pop Up Card

Garden Lantern Origamic Architecture / Kirigami with integrated electronics

The Garden Lantern Electronic Pop Up Card I made in 2017 was one of the first big projects where I shot video documenting the build. There was a lot of footage and, I wasn’t very comfortable with editing videos at that point. The raw video just sat in a folder for a few years. I have done a bunch of build videos since then and, it occurred to me that I could probably manage to pull the old video clips together into a build narrative. I have been slowly putting that together in the last few weeks and, it is finally done!

As I noted in my original post about this project, this was inspired by and based on work done by Jie Qi and Natalie Freed. The Chibitronics Circuit Stickers project made everything a lot easier.

180-Degree-Open Pop Up Snowflakes

180-Degree Snowflakes Pop Up Card (2020)

I played with several variations of this snowflake design back around 2002. There were a couple 180-degree-open card variants that I liked. They were both designed to be cut as four panels that folded together to produce a card with an integrated backing. I had some limited access to a laser cutter for a couple hours to produce the cards. I ended up going with the simpler of the two designs for the production run. That one was less sensitive to smoke deposition and, less fragile.

I always wanted to play with the other design a little more and, in 2020, I finally did a run of those on my own laser.

Smoke deposition was still a challenge, especially on a stock with a pearlescent finish and a little tooth. There is almost always some trade-off with that sort of thing and expedient production. I chose not to apply all of the full repertoire of techniques for these, opting to reduce wear and tear on expensive work-holding mats and, to make production faster.

I made a short production video featuring the jig-in-place technique, dry transfer adhesive and removing stray glue.

Let Glue Dry Pop Up Card

Let Glue Dry Pop Up Card (Laura Kampf Edition)
Let Glue Dry Pop Up Card (Laura Kampf Edition)
Let Glue Dry Pop Up Card (Laura Kampf Edition)

Someone made a paper craft version of the “Let Glue Dry” block Laura Kampf uses in her shop awhile back. I immediately thought of making a pop up card version that could be stored flat. I did one with a simple block font but, later, made another version where I reproduced the hand lettering from a photo of Laura’s block.

I sent one of these to Laura back in March. I am going to assume that it’s okay to share these unless I hear otherwise.

Although I cut my cards on the laser, you could do this entirely by hand with a craft knife. You can even skip the white stickers. The letters could be cut from white paper and glued on. The letters could be colored in with an opaque white marker or paint.

There are two version of each design. The regular one has everything aligned in one image. That is, the score lines for the back show aligned where they should be on the front like a standard OA pattern. The jig-in-place version has the score lines for the reverse flipped for production on a sign or laser cutter.

I made my cards using the jig-in-place technique. In brief, I:

  1. Stuck the black stock down to an adhesive mat in the Glowforge.
  2. Disabled all operations except the score lines for the reverse side and the card outline.
  3. Ran those two operations.
  4. Flipped the card over in place, aligning it with the hole from which it was cut.
  5. Placed a strip of white polyester sticker over the face of the card where the white letter would be.
  6. Disabled the reverse scores and outline cut. Enabled the other operations
  7. Ran the operations.
  8. Removed the card and weeded the white polyester stickers.
  9. Folded the finished card!

I started to make a video of the jig-in-place technique but, it is not super clear on the black stock. I will likely do a video showing how this is done when I have another design on a lighter-colored stock to run.

Let Glue Dry Pop Up Card (Block Font)
Let Glue Dry Pop Up Card (Block Font)

Files to Make Your Own

These files are for personal, non-commercial use only.  Note that, by referencing these, you are agreeing to release any variations you create under identical terms.

Attribution-Creative Commons NonCommercial-ShareAlikeLK Let Glue Dry Pop Up Card (Standard version)

LK Let Glue Dry Pop Up Card (Jig-in-Place version)

Block Font Let Glue Dry Pop Up Card (Standard version)

Block Font Let Glue Dry Pop Up Card (Jig-in-Place version)

180° Degree Spirals Pop Up Card

180° Degree Spirals Pop Up Card

In keeping with tradition, I present my 2019 holiday card: a 180° degree opening Celtic spirals abstract origamic architecture / kirigami-style pop up.

Laser-Scoring Both Sides of a Card

Laser-scoring both sides of a card

I have had several people ask me about this. So, I made a video showing how to score both sides of a piece of paper or card stock with precision alignment using the laser.

After cutting and scoring the front of the card, I cut an outline of the reversed card and, set up a simple right-angle jig to make it easy to put the cut cards in the same spot in the machine. I discuss several methods for work hold-down and, how to adjust for minor errors in the setup.

I am consistently able to get hair-line alignment using this approach.

While I am using a Glowforge here, this technique is essentially the same in other laser cutters.


2019 XOXO card

Glowforge Boot (for reducing tray movement)

Acrylic Square / Fiducial Alignment Ruler

(While this incorporates fiducial markings for a beta alignment feature you may not have (Snapmarks), we are NOT using that here. We just need a right angle piece that will stay put and, let us consistently put our cards in the same spot in the machine.)

Spray Adhesive

Seklema work hold-down mat

Amazon referral links for some parts and incidentals defray IT and hosting costs for a local arts organization (Arizona Aikido).