Rustic Picture Frame and Colorado Buffaloes Logo


When considering my upcycle project, I knew that I wanted to utilize recycled cardboard. I recycle a lot of Amazon boxes, and I was excited to put some cardboard to use in creating an artifact that I can display in my bedroom. Three years ago, during my freshman year of engineering school, I heavily utilized laser cutters for my school projects, and I absolutely loved it. I would prototype designs for the project by laser cutting recycled cardboard, and in light of the fact that I am graduating soon, I wanted to freshen up my laser cutting skills, and create an artifact that I would be proud of.

I chose rustic as the aesthetic for my upcycle project. The rustic aesthteic is characterized by natural wood and a western barn feel. I chose this aesthetic because I wanted to create an artifact that hangs on a wall, and I have always been a fan of rustic interior design. I have never owned a piece of rustic artwork or furniture, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to make one! Additionally, I looked 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.

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

Above are two examples of the rustic aesthetic which I hoped to imitate in the early stages of my upcycle project [1,2].

I had chosen my upcycle project aesthetic, but what would I make? Knowing that I will be making an interactive/moving artifact later on in the semester, I decided that I wanted to make a piece of art. I had recently been shopping for CU Boulder artwork, and so it hit me: I would be creating a picture frame, resembling a wooden frame, and within the frame would be a CU Boulder buffalo logo. The artifact would be made entirely of reused cardboard (from boxes), with the exception of a clear plastic and some glue.

Colorado Buffaloes - Wikipedia  Colorado Buffaloes Framed 15" x 17" Team Threads Collage







Above is the CU Boulder logo (left) and an example of the frame shape (right) that I planned to incorporate into my upcycle project [3,4].


I quickly moved into the design and prototyping phase of my project, as I acquired materials and did some preliminary sketching.

I collected the cardboard that would eventually be used to create the frame and logo. I used cardboard boxes to prototype with, and ended up using a pizza box as the upcycle material for the final version of my artifact.


Above are the amazon boxes (left) and pizza box (right) which I respectively laser cut prototypes and my final artifact from.

I began the prototyping process by sketching the shape of what I planned to make. I was sure to include the project scale (the frame’s outer dimensions will be 10″ x 7.5″ with a 1″ width all the way around) and a rough idea of what the wood-looking frame will look like after I laser cut it.

I realized designing the wood-like pattern on the cardboard would be a challenge, as I had not seen many examples of laser cut designs on cardboard, so I determined that worst case, I would end up hand drawing and/or painting the wood grain shape if laser engraving was not possible.

Above are two preliminary sketches and plans for my upycle project.

As I knew I would eventually be hanging this artifact on the wall of my bedroom, I also designed a simple mounting bracket for the backside of the frame, pictured above.

I created a 1:1 scale prototype of my upcycle project, using paper and tape. The prototype (above) was placed next to a pair of large scissors and a pen for reference.

Design and Manufacturing

The final design of the artifact incorporated 4 parts: the frame, the buffalo logo, the mounting bracket, and the plastic sheet to suspend the logo within the frame.

I began by designing the frame, which utilized a stock image of a wood grain pattern. Using a drawing software, I was able to turn the wood grain image into a frame shape, which I exported to CorelDraw, a laser cutting software. This frame image was engraved onto the cardboard to create the first part of my artifact.


Above, on the left, is the wood grain image [5] which I converted into the rustic frame image on the right.

Next, I created a 3D model of the frame (below) in SOLIDWORKS, which I exported to CorelDraw to cut out the engraved frame.

With the frame completed, I moved on to the most complicated part of the project: the buffalo logo. I used a similar method to the frame fabrication in order to engrave the buffalo logo onto the cardboard, but I had to get creative to laser cut the buffalo outline. First, I imported the logo to SOLIDWORKS as a sketch. Next, I removed all of the interior features, leaving the buffalo outline seen below.

With the outline finalized, I exported it to CorelDraw, placed it directly on top of the image for engraving, and engraved, then cut, the buffalo logo from the cardboard pizza box.

In similar fashion, I modeled and cut out the mounting bracket (CAD model above).

Lastly, I cut a rectangular piece out of a used, clear zip-lock bag, to connect the logo to the frame


To assemble the artifact, I used hot glue. Glue was slowly applied to the back of the frame as I pulled the plastic taut. Next, the buffalo was glued to the center of the plastic. Finally, the mounting bracket was glued to the rear of the frame, completing the project.


The final assembly of the artifact: rear (left) and front (right) views.

The final version of my upcycle project: The Rustic Picture Frame and Colorado Buffaloes Logo

Looking Back

As I look back on my inspiration and initial plans for this project, I am proud of the final result. I initially hoped to create a piece of art that would proudly hang on my wall for years to come, and I have successfully done that.

Artistically, I was able to create the rustic aesthetic using the engraved frame, but I think more can be done to emphasize the aesthetic. I plan to laser cut the edges of the frame into a more jagged, natural shape, further encouraging the illusion of a wooden material.

Overall, I was able to refresh my laser cutting skills, recycle some used cardboard, and create a piece of art for my room which features a much longer background than “Oh, I bought it”. I am excited to continue to look for upcycling opportunities, and I can’t wait to see what other opportunties the study of Aesthetics of Design brings me.



  1. CustomMade. Rustic Name Sign With Burned Edges. 2015. Custommade.Com, Accessed 31 Jan. 2024.
  2. Black Cherry Burl Rustic Furniture Set – Tables. WESCOVER,–PBkePK98x8. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.
  3. University of Colorado Athletics – Official Athletics Website. Colorado Buffalos Athletics, Accessed 31 Jan. 2024.
  4. Fanatics. Colorado Buffalos Frames 15″ x 17″ Team Threads Collage. 2024. Steinersports.Com, Accessed 21 Jan. 2024.
  5. Seamless wood pattern vector image. VectorStock, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.
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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi Michael! It’s nice to see that your cardboard isn’t stained… I got to talk to you about this in the critique so you already know most of what I’m going to say, but this was a really cool project and it’s great that you got to refresh your laser cutting skills. I also just now noticed the last-cut v-shaped thing for a nail to grab onto, which was a very nice bit of planning. One question (that I didn’t already ask in critique) I have is: have you asked the bookstore if they will sell these? You could make a killing.

    • Hi Josh,
      I have not pursued any sort of entrepreneurial approach to this project… maybe I’ll consider it though! Laser cut art is easy to mass produce!
      I have not contacted the bookstore, as in my opinion, the bookstore does not price their merchandise appropriately, but I think you might be onto something here!


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