Iridescent Acrylic Tests

I tested out the quality of the cut on the iridescent acrylic off-cuts. Since it is double sided, it doesn’t matter which side faces up in the laser cutter itself, and the iridescent film doesn’t deteriorate as much as I had feared that it would. Thermoforming posed a little bit of a problem, as overheating it causes the film to shrink and melt, and then when it is bent the film wrinkles and bunches. The way I found to counter this problem was to heat the outer side, rather than the inner side, so that the film was not as soft on the inner curve, and therefore didn’t visibly warp.

I tried thermoforming a small piece of my design, using the pliers to get a tight spiral shape. The thinner edges show the iridescent quality far better than I had thought, and the different angles of the leaves catch the light in different ways. I had worried that the thinner parts of the design would be more susceptible to damage, but as long as I keep the heatgun on the first setting, and to a temperature of 250-280*C then it doesn’t burn.

The smaller size of this piece allowed for a multitude of reinterpretations. I could attach a pin on the back, and make it into a brooch, for example, or a necklace pendant. If I were to continue making these, then I would utilise the extra space on the sheet to make more of these smaller shapes.

Heat Moulding Acetate


I used a heat gun and a former to mould the acetate into a domed shape. The thinner parts of theĀ  acetate shrank a little, and the edges curled in on each other, but I like the way that this made the form a little more rigid. I really like the circular form that is created this way. However, due to the limitations of the material, I think it will be too difficult to create a perfect globe shape; instead, I will create an almost-globe with a longer strip of acetate, which curves in at the bottom, but has a hole.

Acetate Tests

Using the Chinese lantern plants as a reference point, I hand-cut a vein-pattern into some thin acetate. I would like to use this type of texture as a middle layer, between the acrylic and the Angelina fibre to add a level of delicateness that emulates the skeleton veins.

When combined with and LED, I really enjoyed the shadows that they cast on the walls with the directed light. The subtle glow from the acetate diffusing the light along its edges is really pretty as well. Unfortunately, if the LED is too bright, or bright enough to cast shadows, then the colour of the Angelina fibre casing will wash out. I will need to find a balance of brightness that will give me the best of both worlds, or at least a good compromise between the two.

Forming Angelina Fibre


Commissioned a friend to lathe a former for me to use out of wood.

Used the heat gun to form the angelina fibre around the domed end of the wooden former. The iridescent quality of the material doesn’t show up very well on camera, and is best viewed when there is some amount of movement, either object or viewer, so that the tiny ridges are able to catch the light. I tried using varying thicknesses of the material, but it is still uneven in places; I think this creates an interesting effect, however.

The shapes are fairly flexible, and spring back into shape if you bend them. Because of the friction of removing them from the former, the interior end up a little fuzzy, so I may have to sand it down to a finer grain, so that the roughness stops disturbing it.

I prefer the way that the coloured ones turned out initially, as the white iridescent fibre doesn’t stand out very much, and loses a bit of the pearlescence as it is heat-formed. More colours show up in the pink especially, and I really like the fresh colour of the green. The white may be too delicate of a colour to use in my lights.

The way each colour looks with the lighting is slightly different: the white has the most drastic change. The way the fibres are arranged make create circular patterns with the way they catch the light. The way that the fibre is illuminated when not directly between the LED and the viewer is important however, as I would like for the colours to affect the surroundings a little more than they do.