Primary Tools & Materials:
paper, die cutting machine
Additional Tools & Materials: ruler, xacto knife, camera
For this combination of digital cutting and paper, I wanted to build something with some depth to it. Inspired by the goofy cardboard taxidermy that's been so popular in the last few years, I thought a slotted paper letter would be a fun thing to try. Originally, I had hoped (and expected!) to find a website out there somewhere that would allow you to create a downloadable template for any shape you liked. But I was mistaken. Luckily, this didn't require any complicated math or 3D modeling; I basically eyeballed it.
Using my Silhouette Cameo die cutting machine, I cut out six versions of this lowercase U, and several additional strips of card stock measuring the same width as this U's vertical strokes. I wasn't sure how far apart I wanted to space my vertical layers, but I knew I wanted the horizontal layers to be the same width. Then I measured where I wanted cuts to be and began to assemble my letter. At first, the letter didn't want to stay straight because the joints were too tight, as you can see in image 2. I had carefully cut slits, half the width of the paper, where each joint would be, but I soon realized that in order to loosen the joints, I'd need to increase the depth of my cuts. So I took the whole thing apart and cut my slits a little wider (see image 3). That seemed to do the trick, and I was able to assemble the rest of the letter with no trouble. The only part that looks a bit out of place is the horizontal layer that cuts through the curved bottom of the U. I wasn't quite sure how to be consistent with the rest of the letter without slicing off the bottom of the U. This was a bit of a compromise. I wish I had made that layer longer, or spaced the horizontal layers differently so I wouldn't need one there.
Creating this letter made me think about its structure and how best to support it. I deliberately chose a lowercase U instead of uppercase because I knew I wanted it to be able to stand on its own, and I thought an uppercase U would tip over too easily. I also had to think about what made sense for the placement of the horizontal layers that slice through the letter. The resulting letter looks very architectural to me, especially when it's placed flat on its back. It makes the contrast between the curves and straight lines stand out, while adding a layer of dimensionality and light contrast. To build out a whole font, I think the biggest challenge would be to come up with a grid for the horizontal layers that would look well spaced and proportional on each letter; and especially how to make it feel realistic as a support structure for any letters that curve where they sit on the baseline.