Bringing technology into art education


Emma from Source Design is based in East Lothian, Scotland. She has an insatiable love of materials, be that paper, wood or shiny plastic. From graphic design, she moved to making papercuts, and has lots of different designs. You can find them at The Scottish Design Exchange in Ocean Terminal, Edinburgh, as well as online.

“I started making paper pictures about five years ago. At first, I started on a USB desktop bladed cutting machine called a Silhouette Cameo” says Emma. But being an experimenter, Emma moved to a laser cutter. “Since buying it, I can now cut the layers must faster and with less mistakes or wastage”.




A three stage process

To begin with Emma makes a rough sketch, this helps to understand the composition of the piece. Then she looks online for inspiration and forms that fit the design.




We suggest our low GSM paper for sketching, it’s both cost effective and takes pencil well. A3 works out at just 3p per sheet, ideal for departments on a budget. We also offer 140GSM and 160GSM paper, as well as a whole range of paper from A1 to A4.

Additionally, our Classmaster HB pencil bulk pack of 500 are robust, hardwearing and are easy to sharpen.

After the initial sketch stage, she draws images up in a design program like CorelDraw. The colour layers are then split up ready for cutting. There are limitations, explains Emma. “The maximum amount of layers I have had in a picture is 13. Any more and becomes very heavy and stands proud in the mount”.





You wouldn’t give a goat to a gardener

Turning a great idea into reality isn’t always straightforward. Students just don’t have the time in class, good tools make all the difference. We love CorelDraw Graphic Suite X8 because it’s simple to use, making best use of your creative time. It’s compatible back to Win 7, ideal for schools with older PCs. And it’s the best value design software on the market. 


The final stage is the cut. Emma’s top tip: stick the card layers together with foam pads; this gives the piece a floating feeling. 3mm Plastazote foam is perfect for the job, and low cost. It also comes in a variety of colours. We feel our bright card assortment would be ideal for the cut outs.




Pushing design to the limits


Emma soon wanted explore even more options, which led her to making jewellery on her laser cutter. Again, experimentation happened with rough sketches, which soon progressed to computer aided design.




This jewellery range uses mixed materials produced on a laser cutter. This project was Emma’s first experiment with transferring a pattern onto plywood. The result is a unique design, supported by a plaque of acrylic, with the patterned ply overlaid.




We’re the leading supplier of laser cutting materials to the UK education market. For laser cutting jobs like this, we suggest cast acrylic, it’s far more versatile than extruded. It handles heat better, and resists warping. Plus when engraving, it turns a smooth, frosty colour that looks great. You can find more about the process of acrylic here.   

Laser suitable ply is a high quality low resin grade. It cuts cleaner with less chance of burning the material. 

Browse our full range of materials to start your project.