Final Project: Paper Lantern Mobile

Design Statement:

For my project I wanted to explore using the laser cutter to manipulate paper. In addition, I liked how origami can be used to transform a flat, 2D piece of paper into a 3D form. I was able to combine these two ideas by changing traditional origami designs to include cut out designs created by the laser cutter. I found that many origami designs involved layers that overlap, so I decided to cut holes in the paper so you could see into the geometric shapes. I also wanted to cut out pieces from the paper I folded because I knew that it would create interesting shapes and create unique shadows when combined with light. In order to incorporate light into my project, I ultimately decided to produce a mobile that would hang from a paper lantern. By creating a mobile, I was able to try different heights and shapes, emphasizing how the light plays with the different forms. I also took my lantern further by taking a pre-made lantern and cutting it apart so that I could include my own laser cut paper sections. Overall, I was able to produce an aesthetically pleasing balance of laser cut origami shapes hung from a paper lantern because I was able to relate the lantern and origami by how they each manipulated light and how I cut similar shapes out of each object.


After finding origami patterns that I liked I recreated the folds in Illustrator and then added designs that I wanted to cut out using the laser cutter. I then imported my designs into Rhino, where I recolored the lines so that some lines were cut out and others were etched, where the creases were.

I used different colored light weight card stock as my origami paper. It was fast to laser cut and the etched crease lines made it a lot easier and more precise to fold.

I also modeled the forms I created in Rhino.

For the final iteration of my lantern I decided to alter a pre-made lantern and laser cut the paper sections. In Rhino, I took a sphere with the same dimensions as the pre-made lantern and unrolled it, producing eight sections on which I created a design to be laser cut. For the material of the lantern I found a light weight, semi transparent vellum. After laser cutting the eight sections I cut out the middle sections of the pre-made paper lantern and then glued my laser cut sections at the top and bottom. After gluing the lantern together, I used fishing line to hang my origami shapes to the lantern at varying heights and distances from each other.

Original Origami Designs:


Stellated Octahedron


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