Every year it’s hard to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Last week, I shared some of my favorite Meekly Yours gifts for the holidays, but what if you want to make your own? Creating your own laser cut ornaments is great way to give small, unique, travel-friendly gifts from the heart.
“But wait! I’ve never made a wood ornament before. O.O I don’t know where to start.”
Hand lettering for ornaments is mostly the same process as any other hand lettering. Create your hand lettered design as you normally would & prep your file digitally using your favorite creative software. Then, comes the fun part—laser cutting. Although intimidating at first, laser cutting is easy to learn & expansive in it’s capabilities. Here are some of my laser cutting tips to help you create the perfect holiday ornament for you & yours.
To create a strong design for your ornaments, all aspects of the design must connect to another part of the design. If all aspect of the design don’t connect, the final piece will have unwanted gaps & unconnected portions. It can be difficult to create a design where all the letters & shapes connect, but it’s a great opportunity to include unique swooshes, embellishments & borders for a spectacular, sturdy design.
Color Outside the Lines.
Freeform lettering is fun, but to create a successful holiday ornament, it helps to have an overall shape to package your design & help it read as an ornament. Adding a border to your design is a great way to create an overall shape, places for your letters to connect & a stronger structure for your ornament. Using borders also allows you to expand your design beyond the traditional edges in a unique, interesting way.
Hand lettering comes in all shapes, sizes & styles. Some letterers naturally create thick, bold designs, while others—like myself—create delicate & intricate designs. Both styles have their own strengths, but super thin areas in your design can cause the wood to break easily or burn during laser cutting. Consider thickening the letters in your design by a fraction all around to make sure all the connection points between your letters is solid & nothing will get charred or broken.
If you are particularly concerned about you design, engraving is a great way to get all the nuances of your design without worrying that letters won’t connect sufficiently. Depending on your wood, engraving can also create unique, contrasting textures as beautifully featured in my “Good Will to Men” ornament (pictured above).
Find a Good Partner
Laser cutting & engraving is a great way to quickly create ornaments that are unique & consistent, but the equipment is big & costly. Thankfully, many collaborative spaces across the country are designed for makers to rent equipment in-house for a reasonable fee. Search online to find a “makerspace” or “fab lab” near you. Most spaces offer classes & instruction to help bring your vision to life.
If you’re in the Washington, DC area, Catylator Makerspace is a fantastic, cozy makerspace in Silver Spring, MD, with all the equipment & guidance to get you started.
Plan for Things to Go Sideways.
Despite the best design & planning, sometimes problem will arise. Don’t panic. In your planning, include additional time & materials to accommodate cutting extra ornaments in case something goes wrong. Plans going sideways happens to everyone, but the experience helps your learn—especially if you can plan for it to happen.
Does creating your own ornaments still sound overwhelming? Meekly Yours holiday ornaments feature original, hand drawn designs & are hand crafted to be truly unique. Find the perfect ornament for you loved ones in the shop.
“Hand Lettering 101” is an ongoing series that discusses various topics on hand lettering, including the tips, how to guides, creative process & behind the scenes.