When considering my upcycle project, I knew that I wanted to use cardboard and laser cutting. This is because three years ago, my freshman year, I heavily utilized cardboard laser cutting for my school projects, and I absolutely loved it. Now that I am graduating soon, I would like to freshen up my laser cutting skills, and create an artifact that I am proud of.

The aesthetic which I have chosen for my upcycle project is rustic. I chose the rustic aesthetic because I want to create an artifact that hangs on a wall, and I have always been a fan of rustic interior design. Additionally, I look forward to laser cutting naturalistic features into the cardboard to resemble tree bark, emphasizing the rustic look which often leans heavily on the usage of wood.

My upcycle project will be made entirely of reused cardboard (from boxes), with the exception of some sort of clear plastic, and some glue. I will be creating a picture frame which resembles a wooden frame, and within the frame will be a CU Boulder buffalo logo.

Colorado Buffaloes - Wikipedia

Colorado Buffaloes Framed 15" x 17" Team Threads Collage









Above is the CU Boulder logo [1] and an exmaple of the frame and logo shape [2] that I wish to incorperate into my upcycle project.

To achieve the rustic aesthetic, I will need to transform blank, brown cardboard into imitation wood, using carefully planned laser cut lines. Also, I plan to allow the laser cutter to burn the edges of the cardboard pieces, emphasizing the rustic aesthetic.

Buy Hand Made Rustic Name Sign With Burned Edges, made to order from That Family Shop | CustomMade.com

Above is an example of burnt edges of a material, emphasizing its rustic aesthetic [3].

A challenge that I will face in designing and building my upcycle project will be to place the buffs logo in the center of the frame. This will be difficult, as there will be nothing for it to attach to without some sort of extra suspension design. In order to place the cardboard logo in the center of the frame, I plan to use some sort of paper as a background. This background will span the full length and width of the frame, and I will attach the rear of the logo to the background, allowing it to exist at the center of the frame without an obvious or bulky connection to the frame. It is important that I hide any glue or tape used for material connections, as these materials will not promote the rustic aesthetic.

Overall, I am excited to pursue the rustic aesthetic, however I am somewhat nervous regarding the laser cutting of cardboard. I have done it in the past for prototyping in school projects, but never in an effort to convey a visual aesthetic.



  1. University of Colorado Athletics – Official Athletics Website. Colorado Buffalos Athletics, https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fcubuffs.com%2F&psig=AOvVaw2rG3KRowRjtu3BJ2W_warJ&ust=1706856271244000&source=images&cd=vfe&opi=89978449&ved=0CBUQjhxqFwoTCPCC2J_FiYQDFQAAAAAdAAAAABAI. Accessed 31 Jan. 2024.
  2. Fanatics. Colorado Buffalos Frames 15″ x 17″ Team Threads Collage. 2024. Steinersports.Com, https://www.steinersports.com/college-sports/colorado-buffaloes/colorado-buffaloes-framed-15-x-17-team-threads-collage/o-38+t-01373664+p-816294512170+z-9-2762039189. Accessed 31 Jan. 2024.
  3. CustomMade. Rustic Name Sign With Burned Edges. 2015. Custommade.Com, https://www.custommade.com/rustic-name-sign-with-burned-edges/by/thatfamilyshop/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2024.
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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi Michael, I like the looks of your design and aesthetic. I like your idea of using cardboard to mimic rustic would, and it’s interesting that you can purposely burn the edges of the cardboard with the laser cutter to resemble charred wood. I also like your foresight that you don’t want any glue or tape visible, as it would take away from the rustic aesthetic. Do you have a plan to mimic the grain pattern of wood on the cardboard? I’m excited to see how your project turns out.

    • Hi Duncan,
      I do plan to mimic the grain pattery of wood on the cardboard. I hope to do this by using a very light laser to burn the dark lines into the cardboard, and only cutting out small sections to resemble worn, cracked, wood.

  • Brandon Phillips
    February 4, 2024 10:50 am

    Hey Michael,
    This design sounds like a lot of fun and i’m looking forward to seeing what the imitation wood looks like! I’ve done some laser cutting as well and definitely singed a few edges on accident. do you have a strategy to create those rustic burnt edges without lighting the cardboard on fire, or is it more of a trial end error process?

    • Hi Brandon,
      Burning the edges will defenitely be a trial and error process! I have much to learn (or re-learn) when it comes to laser cutting. My current plan is to use a light laser to cut the cardboard, even running over it multiple times (to cut through but not light it on fire). I will assess the burnt edges, and likely use a lighter or matches to increase the effect if needed!


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