Tag Archives: Nintendo

82: Pop-Up Card

The card when closed. What could be inside?
The card when closed. What could be inside?

Whenever I see a papercraft project online that involves a lot of precise x-acto blade cutting, a part of my brain usually reserved for laying out SNES SimCity towns activates and taunts me, “Oooh, you could do this hour long cut in like one minute! You should totally make one of these!”

When you open it, the heart lifts up out of the chest.
When you open it, the heart lifts up out of the chest.

This totally happened again when I discovered this pixel heart paper pop-up card from a few years ago. I knew I wanted to do a Zelda heart, like many other crafty folks have done, but I opted for the SNES A Link to the Past entry over the NES original.

Thanks to the vector sleuthing work of those X-ACTO wielding warriors before me, setting up the cut and score lines was a much simpler task than if I had to figure the shape out myself. I spent much more time aligning two sides of the design to create an opening chest similar to “yetanothrs” neat Zelda project. When you open the card, the lid lifts up and the heart “rises up” out of the chest. It’s a subtle effect, but totally worth the extra time spent getting the alignment between the outside and the inside right.

What am I even doing this is so silly. #zelda #lasercut

A post shared by Ryan (@pixelaser) on

I then spent a silly amount of time figuring out how to time a quick Instagram video to a looped MP3 on a computer across the room. Silly, but the nostalgia still gets me!

A close-up of the laser cut pixel edges and the laser scored bendy bits.
A close-up of the laser cut pixel edges and the laser scored bendy bits.
The back of the card. One part brandy and two parts sappy.
The back of the card. One part brandy and two parts sappy.

71: Buttons!

Okay, this one has been on the list forever, and it was so easy it almost feels like a cop out. But the results are pretty adorable!

I am in love this this new anchor design etched into bamboo!
I am in love this this new anchor design etched into bamboo!  The buttons are 3/4″ or 30L.

Buttons have a history stretching back at least 5,000 years, and are as often decorative as functional. They can be made of nearly anything – wood, plastic, shell, leather or even metal. There are several ways of attaching buttons – the sew through method is the most popular, followed closely by shanked buttons (or buttons with the loop on the back.)

Sew through buttons are also called flat buttons, and are easily replicated with a laser cutter. So, to make this post, I basically had to pick my favorite designs, and decide where the holes would go! I found that in designing I preferred the 2 hole look, while Ryan had the four hole mindset. In doing a little research, apparently 4 hole buttons are used more regularly on menswear. I had no idea! Perhaps it’s assumed men are a bit more rough on their clothing and need a stronger button attachment.

Starman! Super Mario Brothers 3, for those who are curious and love Ryan's level of authenticity.
Starman! Super Mario Brothers 3, for those who are curious and love Ryan’s / Pixelaser’s level of authenticity.
The 4 hole set up is perfect for the Starman.  The threads make his eyes!
The 4 hole set up is perfect for the Starman. The threads make his eyes!

Buttons have a whole different measurement system, as any serious sewer or button collector would tell you.  Buttons are measured in “lignes“.  I decided to make my buttons medium sized, between 3/4″ and 1 1/4”, or 30-50L (lignes).  The holes are 2mm, which just seemed to fit rationally with the button surface area.

Glue on shanks are available in metal or plastic - I got mine from Rio Grande.
Glue on shanks are available in metal or plastic – I got mine from Rio Grande.

I’ve been wanting to try making buttons for years, so I had a package of glue on shanks ready for the occasion!  Find a strong enough glue, and virtually anything can be a button!  I recently made a vintage camper design for a swap, and it makes a perfect button.  Putting holes into it to make it a sew-through button would just mar the design.

Cute camper on the front, button shank on the back.
Cute camper on the front, button shank on the back.

Overall, I’m tickled with how they turned out.  My favorite are definitely the anchors (a new jewelry design) followed closely by the Moroccan inspired set and the Starmen.  Now I just need to learn to sew so I can have something to put them on!  Any of the Isette or Beadeux designs you’d like to see at buttons?


Buttons (12 of 13)

Holed vs. Shanked
Holed vs. Shanked

69: Shaped Magnets

The back magnet does the job, but it's hardly an optimal solution. Ignore the irrelevant pin.
The back magnet does the job, but it’s hardly an optimal solution. Ignore the irrelevant pin.

For most of the magnets I make for Pixelaser, I use a 1/2″ or 1″ wide roll of magnet cut down to a size that will fit easily on the back of the piece in question. The end result is a magnet that looks pretty awesome from the front but suffers from a significant lip on the back. It can also make preparing magnets for acrylic pieces of more complicated shapes pretty difficult.

The acrylic and the adhesive magnet layer before they're sealed together.
The acrylic and the adhesive magnet layer before they’re sealed together.

One of my laser material suppliers offers a magnet with a cap layer that you can engrave away, and since it’s laser safe you can cut whatever shape you’d like out of it. Unfortunately, the only color options offered are a brushed silver and brushed aluminum—great for some uses, but not great for the icons and dialog boxes I enjoy. But then I found some laser-safe, pre-adhesive magnet sheets that I could stick to the back of any of my acrylics. I knew I wanted to find a better magnet solution for one product I’ve been working on, and this seemed like the right direction, so I ordered some material and got to work!

The total thickness ends up being 2 mm.
The total thickness ends up being 2 mm.

Adhering the magnet to the back of the acrylic was no trouble, but I did have to pay attention to air bubbles and made use of Jennifer’s brayer to flatten the magnet down. In a few spots where air bubbles persisted, I used a razor to cut a tiny incision into the magnet, which made it much easier to squeeze the air out.

A stack of icons from Super Metroid. That's a Super Missile you see!
A stack of icons from Super Metroid. That’s a Super Missile you see!

I had a few different designs I wanted to test with this new magnet backing. One, a selection cursor from Final Fantasy VI, featured a varied edge and would be a good test of how well the magnet can deal with more complicated shapes. Another, a custom magnet design based on a user’s Miiverse posts, is a much simpler rounded rectangle but is much more of an eye-catcher, featuring example Miiverse posts by super artist Drew Wise! For fun’s sake, I also created icon magnets featuring weapons and tools from Super Metroid.

The magnet covers the entire back regardless of the shape.
The magnet covers the entire back regardless of the shape.

Engraving the material worked exactly as it always has, since the top layer is the same acrylic I’m used to working with.  I did have to adjust the depth to account for the new layer of magnet, though, and I had to increase the laser cutting power just a little to power through the magnet. The finished pieces come out pretty messy (nowhere near as dirty as laser rubber) but some isopropyl alcohol fixes that right up.

A new product featuring this new style of magnet is available at Pixelaser's Etsy shop!
A new product featuring this new style of magnet is available at Pixelaser’s Etsy shop!

Because this week’s project went so well, I’ve gone ahead and made a listing for the custom Miiverse post magnets. If you’ve made some kick-ass pixel art on the Nintendo 3DS or Wii U Miiverse, you can have it made into a physical magnet for only $12! Got a friend with that artistic knack? Send me their NNID instead and I’ll engrave a magnet you can present to them as an awesome personalized gift. Check the listing for more details.