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Laser cut paper necklace

Updated on January 28, 2013

Laser cut A4 paper necklace

There is nothing quite so universally accessible as a sheet of flat A4 paper. Yet, this can be transformed into something extraordinary with a crisp cut, a sleek slice or tentative tear. Paper-cutting is an ancient craft, popular throughout the world. It requires only simple tools and a great deal of time and patience.

Paper-cutting has moved on from a craft base to being technology-led. For many jewellery designers, the use of repetition is often central to a design and can also be visually appealing. Stacked layers may be employed to achieve mass and fulfill the function of movement within a piece of wearable jewelry. Lasers provide an ever developing method for precision cutting of paper. The direction, speed and intensity of the laser beam are controlled by digital files read by a computer.


Materials you'll need

Paper of your choice ( in this project the paper used is 270gsm heavyweight paper).


Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw software.

1. Document size set-up

The size of your document and the layout of the artwork on your material will be specified by the supplier according to the dimensions of their laser bed. Use File > Document Properties , then select the 'Page' tab and enter the custom height and width, ensuring that the correct unit of measurement is selected. Tip: When cutting paper by hand, use a scalpel or craft knife with a 30 degrees angled blade.

2. Drawing a design and importing images

The core of the design will be the shapes that you want to have cut out. Inkscape, along with other vector design programs, provides a toolbar. This helps you to generate versatile shapes which can easily be moved, scaled and rotated. The freehand and Bezier tools, with their inbuilt nodes, allow the drawing of arbitrary and regular paths. The more practiced you become, the more advanced your designs can be.

TIP: It is also possible to use hand-drawn sketches. These can be scanned and imported into the artwork. The scanned images can then be converted into vector format by using the trace bitmap tool.

3. Line thickness set-up

The drawing line needs to be a certain thickness in order for it to interpreted as a laser-cutting line. Select your design. Use Object > Fill and Stroke , then set the 'Stroke Style' tab, entering a custom stroke width and ensuring the correct unit of measurement is selected.

TIP: You can use Vellum- mammal skin prepared for writing or printing on, it has a paper like and fragile appearance.

4. Line color set-up

The drawing line needs to be a certain color in order for it to be interpreted as laser-cutting line. Select your design. Use Object > Fill and Stroke , then set the ' Stroke Paint' tab and enter the custom RGBA values.

TIP: It is also possible for a laser to engrave, or raster, the surface of a material. This requires a different color for the cutting line. If this is something you would like to explore, ask the supplier for the set-up presets.

5. Repeating your design

The beauty of laser-cutting is that you can replicate the same design over and over again and get a perfect repeat, which is advantageous when making stackable jewellery. It is also ideal when using the same design, but at a different scale, for varying types of jewellery, for example a necklace and earring set. It is easy to duplicate, scale down a design and distribute it across the document. Select your design. Use Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste , then move the duplicate as required.

TIP: Your supplier may have a preference for your artwork layout. They may even have specialist nesting software to help distribute the design in the most efficient manner. Ensure that you clarify this before laying out your designs in the document.

6. Optimising your design

One of the most common mistakes that suppliers find when they receive a file is the presence of double cutting lines. It is important to delete double shapes to prevent the laser from cutting the material twice. You should be able to see doubles quite plainly as being darker color than other cutting lines. Select your design. Use Edit > Delete .

TIP: To optimise your design and reduce production costs you can make objects share cutting lines. If you have two or more objects with parallel lines, you can lay them side by side and remove one of the now-overlapping lines. This means that you are effectively cutting out two pieces at once.

7. Trialling a design

To save time and money, I suggest that you check the design thoroughly before sending it to the supplier. Print out the design on paper as an instant first prototype. Before you print, adjust the width of the stroke lines to stimulate the actual thickness that the laser will burn away. This will help you to identify any areas that are too finely detailed and give you a general feel for the final result.

TIP: A laser cuts at different speed, depending on the thickness of the material. The burning on the edge of the paper is also more apparent on thick materials than thinner ones. Your supplier may be able to offer a solution to minimise the burning if this is important for your outcome.

8. Save and send the file

When you are confident that the design is correct, save the file and send it. The supplier will specify the file format and method of delivery. Use File > Save as , input your chosen file name, then select the format from the ' Save as Type' drop-down menu. Click ' Save ' .

TIP: It is unlikely that you will create a perfect piece of jewellery on your first attempt. It usually takes a prototype or two to get a design right. With this in mind, we suggest starting small before committing to a bigger project.

Monologue Necklace by Myung Urso - Korean mulberry paper, oriental ink.

Monologue Necklace by Myung Urso - Korean mulberry paper, oriental ink.
Monologue Necklace by Myung Urso - Korean mulberry paper, oriental ink.

Paper necklaces in images

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Laser-cut paper necklace sign in book

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    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 

      6 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      I've never seen anything quite like this, but it's amazing how such intricate designs can be made from paper and worn as fashion. Very interesting!

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      6 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      These are beautiful and ... unusual. I honestly can say, I've never heard of laser cut paper necklaces before. You learn something new every day, especially here on Squidoo!


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