Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Author Archive

Paper Circuit Pop-Up Card

I was excited to come back to the Silhouette for this assignment to create a more polished card. I knew I wanted the focal point of my card to be something that lights up in the real world, so I chose a lighthouse and opted for exposed LED bulbs in the cut-out windows. Fortunately, I have prior circuit experience from the labs in my major, so I was confident in my ability to design a series circuit in a custom shape. I’m a big fan of the ability to create flat, flexible circuits; I see paper circuits as a very versatile art tool. 

If I was teaching paper circuits, I’d be sure to emphasize the importance of LED and battery polarity. Reversed terminals can be a common pitfall for those with no prior circuit experience. 

I began by using the Silhouette to cut my pieces out of thin construction paper. Even with a high blade setting and low speed, I had some snags and ragged lines, so if I were to repeat this project, I’d slow down the speed even more. Then I traced a circuit path onto the back of my paper shapes. I wasn’t sure the flimsy paper could sustain the weight of the LEDs and copper tape, but I really wanted the exposed bulb in the lighthouse window, so I gave it a shot. 

To achieve the design I wanted, some circuit elements had to be at ninety degree angles relative to each other. I taped the circuit flat initially, then folded up the lighthouse vertically. 

I ran into a lot of frustrations once the circuit was assembled with a proper switch. Although two yellow LEDs lit up perfectly fine with a single coin cell battery, the resistance of the copper tape in this circuit was too high. After connecting each LED to power individually to debug, I decided to add a second battery where the first switch originally was, and that worked perfectly! Special thanks to the fab lab employees for bouncing solutions around with me. 


With both LEDs lighting up perfectly, this project was finished. If I had more time to spend on this card, I would like to add more 3D elements and a message to the card, and also redesign the circuit so that the LEDs lit up upon opening the card. I’d love to spend more time on an elaborate, Silhouette-cut popup card. This project was fun to work on and I’m proud of the end result! 

Continue Reading

Silhouette Sticker Adventures

For my multi-layer sticker, I wanted to design a Block I that looked intricate and pretty while still being recognizable. The silhouette was able maintain good control over the delicate keyhole pattern I chose. After carefully pulling apart this layer, I put it on top of the orange vinyl to be cut as one unit. This was significantly easier and cleaner than trying to align two separately cut layers, and the silhouette had no problems cutting through the double thickness. 

I finished off the piece with a thin navy blue outline. The thin lines proved very difficult to align at right angles, even with the transfer paper. I would use a solid blue block I layer underneath the other layers, rather than over them, if I were to remake this project. 

I am a huge Harry Potter fan and knew I had to make a patronus sticker when I saw the holographic vinyl. The delicate script and thin antlers turned out to be a big issue, and I had to increase the size of my sticker several times. By the fourth attempt, the sticker had cut correctly. The transfer paper stuck a little too well to the small, unconnected stickers, but I was able to pry them off with the edge of my pencil and get them to stick onto my laptop case. The result looks awesome and I couldn’t be happier with the holographic effect!


The final patronus sticker was inspired by my first first sticker, a holographic griffin combining a unicorn and a narwhal. This was a great opportunity to learn about Inkscape’s difference and union tools. 

Continue Reading

Laser Name Tag – Christina Ernst

For my nametag project, I wanted to improve upon my original design, which was a simple donut made in the first lab. I really wanted to add color and make the shape more recognizable as a donut, so colored acrylic frosting seemed like the perfect choice. Since no tan acrylic was available, I decided on plywood “dough”, and I really like the texture differences in the finished product. 

There was a small gap between my first cut of plywood and acrylic, so I cut a wider plywood circle and mounted the other two pieces on top with wood glue. 

I also really wanted colored sprinkles on top of the frosting, so I painted over the rastered sprinkles with colored acrylic paint, and immediately wiped off the excess with a tissue. The result was not very vibrant, but stayed inside the edges of the etching very well. For more color vibrancy, I think glitter or several coats of paint would be a better option. The yellow paint on top of my etched name also turned out very pale, so black or blue would probably be a better choice if I were to remake this project. Below is the original iteration of my nametag from the first lab. The bright pink acrylic and colored sprinkles really add a lot to the final version!

Continue Reading