Back to basics.





Here’s a new design. This uses a hinge I experimented with a few months ago, but have left behind whilst I developed the other styles. This box plays on earlier ideas I had to incorporate lighting with storage solutions, as can be seen in a previous visit to the photography studio.


Initially I wanted the hinges to move within the box on elastic or a runner, but this seemed hard to achieve due to the nature of laser cutting. As  the pieces are cut in one direction it is difficult to achieve movement in another, the hinges do not flow easily. But instead, create a curved shadow effect, like the one in the image above. The hinge is also interesting when not clipped into the end pieces and hangs naturally.

The front panel of the final design simply clips onto a middle support section, I felt that gluing it to the box would limit the movement. By not permanently attaching this piece it also allows more versatility of the design. It can be removed if desired and could also aid cleaning.

This design can be developed further through increasing the size of the box and also by adding more hinge panels. The next steps for this object are to oil the parts, as I have begun in the third image, and to begin to cut false back panels to gild.

Developing the self supporting hinges.





I have built a light box to experiment with the living hinges that support one another and light.

There are a few issues with this design, firstly the material is too flexible, the hinges have been cut too large for the thickness of the material and I feel that the overall size of this is too large. The design needs to be shorter in length as it does not have enough stability.

For this design I have used perspex at a distance from the wood, I feel this needs to be closer to add support to the material when it is standing. I have used the waste material from the hinge in the perspex, so that the pieces line up. I plan to cut this in a thicker material and for this waste to be put into perspex that is thinner. The overhang of this material will add support to the hinge when it is laid flat to the box as it will interlock, it will also allow less light to be seen.

The lighting I plan to use within this box would be a strip of LEDs or a tube bulb as it is more eco friendly and generates less heat than florescent or halogen bulbs.

Experiments with light.




These images explore the use of light in a design that incorporates a light box and a shelving unit.

This concept came about through increasing the scale of ideas and moving away from simply creating decorative lighting. This idea can function both as a storage unit with an adjustable front to accommodate larger objects as well as a source of light that can be controlled through the movement of the hinges.

The use of steel wire or elastic cord would allow the hinges to run independently of one another and to easily slide back and forth within the design.

More experiments with light need to be done to play with objects within the box creating shadow and blocking the light source. These objects could create pattern and more interest in the shadows created by the light.

Experimenting with new materials.




I have acquired a sample piece of Valchromat, which is a wood fiber board, similar to MDF, that is coloured with organic dyes and bonded using resin to create a material that is strong in colour. It is available in a variety of thicknesses, beginning at 8mm, which is what I plan to use.


I have had problems laser cutting this because there is not a laser cutter with enough power to cut through the material, but I have created files for the CNC cutting machines in the Soft Modelling workshop to test the flexibility of the material. The issue is that I am not used to creating files for this machine, so have only managed to create samples that are not flexible enough or with cuts that are too large. This has given me insight into how I need to cut the material for a successful cut, so it has been a helpful exercise.

I am planning to outsource laser cutting to experiment further with this material and to see if it is viable to use it instead of birch ply for the degree show.

Keeping form.

IMG_2287 IMG_2286

Some more experiments into the control of form. The first images use wire, which I find less effective than the other material I have experimented in. Perhaps a more flexible aluminium wire would be more suitable than the steel wire I have used here as it would allow for more flexibility. What I have been trying to achieve is to put a strip of wire through the hinge to allow it to be bent into different forms that will be supported by the wire.

I have also had a play with clipping smaller hinge parts into larger pieces, this has happened completely by accident and I need to experiment further to see if it can be further developed.

Controlling Form.







Experimenting with components to control the shape and bend of hinges whilst still allowing the design to be fully adjustable and easy to manipulate.


The use of string or rope can allow for many other components to become involved in a design for an object. Rope or string can be manipulated the most and also threaded through the hinge design as well as simply through certain parts to really limit the movement. String allows for a pulley system to be involved which means the hinge design can be controlled using cleats, ties and weights.

Elastic bands are also a successful way to control the hinges but only in one direction unless a frame is used to increase support of the hinge.

New Hinge Experiments.




I have been experimenting with the spacing of the cuts of the hinges and the pattern they can create. The top image is of a cross pattern which has limited flexibility but is not as successful as the more simple rectangular and square cut designs.

The second image is an experimentation in spacing of one of the original hinge designs. It is apparent that it is not the simply the size of the cut that affects the flexibility, it is more about the negative space in relation to the amount of material that is left around it.

There is also the possibility to cut more rounded shapes to create hinges, but I prefer the look of the straight line and the way they work with light and shadow.

Form Building.







I have taken a break from laser cutting and have decided to play with strips of cardboard instead to get a feel for what these lights could look like.

The first design is quite simple, created with two pieces alternately cut and slotted together, this design has potential, but a “kiss” cut using a loser cutter would also be needed. This type of cut does not cut all the way through the material, but comes close. It would allow more bendability of the material.

The second involves a fluorescent (or LED) tube fitted through the middle. The bends in the wood could be made using the living hinge designs that I have created, or through a method of cutting wood called “kerf” cutting, where a cut is made using a circular saw that can be adjusted so it does not cut all of the way through the wood. I am yet to experiment with this method.

The third simply employs the use of a living hinge but is tapered at the top. This design could use individual LEDs that are slotted into the gaps at the bottom (it would also aid the tapering of the material). It would also be interesting to see how this would work with the use of conductive ink, eliminating the need for wiring but adding the difficulty of concealing a power source.

My fourth design could also benefit from the use of conductive ink and LED bulbs. I want to further explore the idea of creating layers of the laser cut material and the possibility of allowing these layers to be moved up and down with the use of a threaded rod. Adding this to the design of a hinge could prove difficult, so a method of slotting each hinge into another piece that could wind around the thread would need to be employed. The design could also be turned ninety degrees to allow for a design that could move from left to right. It would be a useful light to have above a workbench as the lighting source can be adjusted to different sections of the bench.

The fifth design is relatively simple and allows for any number of parts to be added on. This would need to have conductive ink to allow for the design to work, as wiring would compromise the concept I have created and limit the possibilities of an infinite number of parts. Again, barely power could become an issue as one battery would be needed to power a small number of these loops.

I think some of these designs allow the potential to create a variety of kits that allow the consumer the choice of purchasing a kit that is simple to put together or can become quite skilled and complex.

Living Hinge Experimentation.





I have been researching methods of making wood bend, and have come across the concept of living hinges. Many open source options are available on sites such as Obrary ( which are quite successful, but I have chosen to design my own patterns to see what light patterns I can create whilst maintaining the characteristics of being a workable and bendable material.

These are my three most successful “hinges,” there are other trials that did not bend or broke under stress. (Looking that the top image) The hinge on top one is my favourite, perhaps because it is more intricate. It also bends a little bit more than the one below. The design below is not as pleasing to the eye as there is a lot of material still left, although it is more sturdy than the first. The bottom design is the most bendy, but is unable to hold its own form, which could become a problem with some design concepts. It is, however, fun to play with and the perfect stress release because of the pattern created through play. I feel that this would be better applied to the creation of jewellery or small objects to form a game.


I have many more ideas planned, but with the constraints of using the laser cutter (which is in high demand) I am working slower than I would like to be at the moment.