How to Use Patterns in Glowforge Designs (and more!)

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I love patterns and I love trying new projects with my Glowforge. When I can combine those two loves, it’s even better! Today I’m going to show you just how to use patterns in Glowforge designs created with the help of Silhouette Studio. But don’t stop reading just because you don’t own a laser cutter! Patterns can be used in a variety of ways in a multitude of projects. Ready to see what I have in store for you? Read on!

Line Color in Glowforge Designs

When creating designs for the Glowforge, it’s all about line color. It doesn’t matter what color the line(s) are, but using multiple colors in one design gives you much more flexibility in the Glowforge interface. Once the design is uploaded, a different action can be set for each individual color.

For this project, I want to use my Glowforge to create two different styles of earrings, all from one basic design. One style will be cut only and the other will use a combination of scoring and cutting.

First, let’s look at the components of the design. There are four distinct elements to this earring design:

  1. Outline
  2. Earwire hole
  3. Inner border
  4. Pattern

If each element is assigned the same line color, only one action can be specified in the Glowforge interface (“Cut” in this instance). By assigning each element a separate line color, I will be able to assign a different action to each part of the design and re-order the elements so the actions are performed in a specific order.

What You’ll Need

*When purchasing designs from the Silhouette Design Store to use with the Glowforge, be sure to select the SVG File Type.

Tips for Choosing a Pattern

Keep in mind that not all digital patterns will work for this project. If you plan to cut the entire earring design (as opposed to simply scoring the pattern), make sure that any sections you want to remain are anchored to the outline of the shape. Otherwise you’ll be left with a bunch of tiny pieces and only the outline of the earring will remain.

Ideally, your pattern will already be in vector form. If not, you’ll need to trace the image first in order to create a usable design.

The pattern I used in this tutorial is Chrysanthemum Lace by Jennifer Wambach, Silhouette Design Store ID 43020.

Create the Pattern Fill

Open the earring shape and the pattern in Silhouette Studio.

Screenshot of earring and pattern shape in Silhouette Studio

Right-click on the earring shape and release the compound path. Separate the earwire hole from the shape. Adjust the size of the earring shape as desired. (I made mine about 1.5 inches tall.)

Create an internal offset of the earring shape that is at least 0.125 inches. (The size is especially important for earrings made of wood. You need enough area around the earwire hole to maintain stability of the earring.)

Screenshot of earring shape plus offset in Silhouette Studio

Fill the offset shape with color and increase the transparency to approximately 50%.

Color Fill in Silhouette Studio

Move the original shape off to the side (into the grey holding area). Make a copy of the offset.

Earring shapes and pattern in Silhouette Studio.

Fill the pattern with color in order to see the details more clearly. Place the copy of the offset over the digital pattern. (Make sure the offset is in front of the pattern.) Resize the pattern to fit within the shape as desired. Try to fill as much of the shape as possible.

Pattern filled with color in Silhouette Studio

Select the shape and the pattern. Crop.

Screenshot of cropped pattern in Silhouette Studio

Look closely at the cropped pattern. Use the knife tool or point-editing to delete any areas that are too small to cut/score well. Group the remaining pieces together.

Proceed to Option 1 or 2.

Design Option 1: Cut Only

Align the earring shape, the internal offset, and the earwire hole. Make a compound path. This creates the outline of the earring.

Screenshot of earring shape with internal offset in Silhouette Studio

Align the pattern and the outline. Increase the size of the pattern slightly so that the edges extend beyond the inner border. Weld.

Screenshot of shape and pattern in Silhouette Studio
Screenshot of shape welded to pattern in Silhouette Studio

To delete any unwanted portions:

  1. Select the design and release the compound path.
  2. Select and delete any unwanted portions.
  3. Select the remainder of the design and make a compound path.
Screenshot of earring design in Silhouette Studio

Save the file as an SVG.

Design Option 2: Score and Cut

Assign a separate line color to each element of the design. (No fill colors needed.)

  • Color 1: Outline
  • Color 2: Earwire Hole
  • Color 3: Inner Border
  • Color 4: Pattern
Pattern file for Glowforge with separate line colors

Align all four elements and group them together.

Save the file as an SVG.

Note: With this design, the scored lines of the pattern and the inner border will overlap in a few areas. The earrings I have created look fine when made this way, but if you prefer that there be no overlap, edit the points of the pattern to create open spaces in the areas that overlap with the inner border.

Using the Design with Glowforge

Open the Glowforge app in your browser. Drag and drop the SVG file into the app to upload it. Place the design on your media and set Glowforge as desired.

Patterned earring design for Glowforge

To score and cut, arrange the design in the following order:

  1. Pattern – score
  2. Inner Border – score
  3. Earwire Hole – cut
  4. Outline – cut

Duplicate the design elements to create a pair.

Once the earrings are cut, add an earring hook and you are done!

The Finished Product

This project provides a lot of room for creativity. Experiment with different materials and settings to get the look you want.

Scoring with the Draft setting gave these wood earrings a “pen and ink” look.

Patterned earrings made on Glowforge

Using the High Quality setting to score created a more engraved appearance.

Engraved Patterned Earring made on Glowforge

Acrylic is also a great choice for earrings. In hindsight, I would probably mirror the image when scoring on clear or transparent acrylic and view the design from the opposite side.

Patterned acrylic earrings made on the Glowforge

Patterns Used:

Chrysanthemum Lace, Silhouette Design Store ID 43020
Daisy Lace, Silhouette Design Store ID 47926
Garden Lace, Silhouette Design Store ID 47927
Bubbles Placemat, Silhouette Design Store ID 65811
(all by Jennifer Wambach)

Flourished Lace, Silhouette Design Store ID 30671

(by Snapdragon Snippets)

Like what you see here? Share the image below to Pinterest!

Patterns are a great way to expand your creative possibilities, whether you use them in Glowforge projects or other designs. What are some ways you’ve used patterns? Leave a comment below or come share with me over in the Silhouette Crafters by Design Facebook group. I always love to see what you create!

Until next time,

P.S. If you haven’t yet invested in a Glowforge but are thinking about purchasing one, would you like to save a little money? When using my referral code, you’ll save $500 on the Pro, $250 on the Plus, or $100 on the Basic model. I’ll receive an equal amount as a referral bonus. Just click the link below and the discount will show up on your checkout page. Happy shopping!

Click here to order from Glowforge with my referral code.

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  1. I found it interesting when you said that when creating designs using Glowforge machines, you have to consider line colors in order to achieve more flexibility. With this in mind, I will be sure to keep reading blogs about the use of this type of machine because I would love to learn to use it well to create designs for my own jewelry sets. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Lycia:
    Thank you SO much! I learned several different ways to do things. I made earrings yesterday and I was having issues with the wires I bought. I see the kind you bought in the link and and they seem better. Do you ever use a ring in the earring hole then use a wire in the ring? I hope that makes sense. The wires I have are not big enough in the loop area for the larger earrings I am making. Thank you again! I always learn so many things from your blog and lessons!

    1. I have used jump rings and ear wires, but I can never get the jump rings to close up as neatly as I would like. I’m getting better with practice, but I still prefer the Double J hooks.

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