I've included two basic shapes, called "Khyber" (on the left) and "Infinity" (on the right). There is a third design (called "Thra") available for download from my Etsy store (along with pre-cut crystal kits if you're in a hurry!). There are three sizes for each shape, a small, medium, and large. Each design has two pieces that connect together with locking tabs.
If you don't have a vinyl cutter you can still do this project. Just print the shapes out and use them as a template. The dotted lines are score lines and the solid lines are cut lines. Feel free to resize them -- just be sure the NeoPixel wires will fit through the rectangular wire holes.
Unroll your cellophane wrap and cut pieces that are the same size as or slightly smaller than your laminating pouches.
I use a rotary cutter for this and find it goes quickly and gives me nice clean straight edges.
I'm using 3 mil thickness laminating pouches. The 5 mil will also work, but the extra stiffness makes the cutting and folding a lot more difficult, so stick with 3 mil if you can.
Crumple up the cellophane and then flatten it out again to give your material some fun texture. Place the cellophane inside the laminating pouch so no edges are poking out.
Run it through your laminating machine. I find it helpful to smooth it gently as it comes out of the machine. The flatter and smoother you can get your sheets, the better they'll work with the cutting machine.
A Note about Laminating Machines
You can find these for very inexpensive prices (around $20) on Amazon or other online retailers. I started out with a slightly pricier Scotch brand machine, then replaced it with a less expensive Amazon brand one when it finally gave up the ghost (after faithfully laminating around 600 sheets, bless its heart).
I've had a lot of trouble with the new cheap machine jamming and crumpling up my materials. I came up with a fix, which I'll explain below.. but if I had it to do over again, I'd spend the extra $10 and get a good quality machine. Quality tools make for far fewer headaches.
If Your Machine Keeps Jamming
My sheets kept getting stuck and not emerging cleanly from the machine. I fixed this by adding a stiffener across the very top of each sheet. I took one sheet that had laminated successfully, and cut a narrow strip off one edge, then slipped this up inside the unlaminated pouch, against the sealed edge, before running it through the machine. This kept the top edge nice and stiff and really minimized the jamming.
Place your laminated cellophane sheet onto your vinyl cutter's sticky mat and press it down firmly. I use a wallpaper scraper for this -- they're almost free at the hardware store and I haven't found a tool I like better for the purpose. They also work great for cleaning the mats in between use.
Open the Cricut Design Space app and choose "New Project". Click "Upload" and upload the crystal design of your choice. Choose "Simple" on the next screen, then "Continue" on the next screen since there is no background to remove. On the third screen, select "Save as a Cut Image".
Import the uploaded image into your project. I like to make it a color other than black, so it's easier to see and work with. You'll need to resize it as well -- I've given you high resolution 300dpi images, since the Cricut software does a much better job with those, but that does mean you'll need to size each crystal down.
- gem_khyber_sm --> 4" high
- gem_khyber_med --> 5" high
- gem_khyber_lg --> 6" high
- gem_infinity_sm --> 4" high
- gem_infinity_med --> 6" high
- gem_infinity_lg --> 8" high
The Khyber Crystal style is the taller, skinnier style with straight sides, and the Infinity Crystals are wider across with angled sides.
Click the icon in the upper left and select Custom Materials. Scroll until you find "Stencil Film 0.4mm" and select it. Make sure the settings read:
- Fine Point Blade
- Off (single pass mode)
- Pressure should be around 325
Close out of the Custom Materials menu. Once you're happy with your sizing, click "Make It". You have an opportunity to change your layout here, so make sure your crystal will fit nicely on your material.
Set your Cricut dial to "Custom" and select the Stencil Film 0.4mm. Load your sticky mat into the machine and press Go.
Each crystal cuts in two pieces, with a rectangular hole for the NeoPixel strand wires to poke through.
Crease all the fold-lines and tabs. The edges with the NeoPixel wire hole are not scored, because I wanted to make them sturdier, but you'll need to fold those as well. Line up the tabs on either side of the hole segments and crease to the point of the crystal.
This is more easily shown in the video at the beginning of this guide, so take another look if you can't figure it out.
Insert the tabs from the outside in, so they end up on the interior of the crystal.
Crease all the folds on both pieces, then assemble, leaving the three tabs between the two light holes open for now. Cut and crumple a small piece of un-laminated cellophane and tuck it inside to create the illusory "occlusions" that catch the light and make this crystal so convincing.
Insert the light strand into the two holes, with a light centered inside the peak of the crystal facing downwards. Finish by buttoning up the last three tabs.
If you're just making indoor string lights, the tabs are sufficient to hold them with no glue.
If you're using these for cosplay or other applications where they'll need to stand up to wind or abuse, I recommend adding a dab of glue to a few of the tabs to make sure they stay put. Hot glue or a tiny drop of superglue work great.
Plug in your Circuit Playground Bluefruit and watch your crystals glow!