Kirsty Baynham Q & A

Close up of laser engraved Bear clock

Kirsty Baynham - Interview

Kirsty is a customer who has been using our services for the last 3 or so years.  We love her designs!  We decided to ask her a few questions about her work and inspirations.

Kirsty is based in Glasgow and sells on Etsy and Not On The High Street.  Also her work is available through various galleries, including Edinburgh Printmakers, where we were pleased to see her lovely items for sale when we recently worked with them.​

Prism of Starlings was founded after I graduated from art school with a degree in illustration.

I arrived at art school without really knowing what kind of art I wanted to specialise in, and ended up studying Illustration. I liked the scale I was able to work at in this discipline. After this, I naturally progressed into designing illustrated paper products and established my own brand, which was eventually named Prism of Starlings. It started out 100% paper, then I added fabric, wood, (and soon to work with metal too). I love what I’m doing right now, but I see myself being gradually less of an artisan/maker and more of a designer in the future. This is the part I enjoy the most, and spend most time on.

Animals are the focus of my work. I’m inspired by many things in the natural world, but when I think about the one thing that I would specifically document/photograph to remember, it tends to be repetitive pattern work – just anything that stands out to me, be it old, vintage furniture fabrics, stained glass windows, graffiti murals, sketchbook doodles or architectural structures...

I had never thought about bringing laser cutting into my design work until I started working on a project where I wanted to combine foil and plywood, and after it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be possible to produce a clean result with foil, I looked into etching instead of foil blocking on the wood. It really opened the door to a new environment of design, as before I’d been working almost solely with paper products, so the idea of working with a product that’s machine made, and much more permanent and tactile than a disposable sheet of wrapping paper or card, felt like a leap. I was soon designing jewellery, coasters, pocket mirrors, clocks, decorations etc. and taking advantage of the more versatile and durable nature of wood. I think designs can look more stunning on a material like wood than on paper. Print is everywhere these days, flyers and magazines and junk mail, and it’s very expendable, but a design that’s etched into wood seems more timeless and lasting. I think people can be quite puritanical about “hand-made”, but I personally love the combination of both hand-crafted and machine-produced design. Both have their advantages. I usually add to the laser cut pieces with paints and finishing touches. I replaced my original idea of foil blocking with instead using metallic leaf paints to highlight the etched patterns, and assemble and solder my painted necklaces myself. I think this combination of machine and hand is important for any artist who wishes to take full advantage of technology.

I mostly work with Photoshop, but I find Illustrator’s vector conversion tool very useful as I rarely work with vector lines in any other part of my day-to-day design routine; I’m more of a painter than a digital artist. I’ve become a bit more practised with Illustrator because of the need to use vector for laser so this has affected my practice somewhat.

I think the only thing I find frustrating about the process is the limitation in using very fine detail for etching, because usually I like to work with extremely intricate patterns, and on the scale that I work, they have to be simplified for laser or the pieces just fall apart (which has happened on several occasions when I’ve needed to rework something too fragile.)

I used to mostly cite painters and illustrators as examples of artists whom I am inspired by, but having spent the past five years immersed in stationery design, I’ve become just as interested in brands and makers like Mina Perhonen (fashion), Klaus Haapaniemi (interiors) and Rifle Paper Co (paper goods), as I am inspired by painters and illustrators like Mirko Hanák (watercolour) and Karolin Schnoor (graphic and print). There are so many people using print and pattern in so many different ways that it’s hard to narrow it down. I love Perhonen’s print as I don’t think it necessarily follows the trends, so her designs seem bold and have a very unique edge, and her work is a good example of art which is printed onto everyday products, but is first and foremost art. Hanák is a long-term obsession of mine really. The composition of his watercolours and the skill in the way he uses watercolour is something that I think only years of experience can amount to.

Kirsty Baynham
Prism of Starlings

  • Laser engraved dachsund keyring
    Laser engraved dachsund keyring

Kirsty Baynham – laser engraved wood art


Kirsty Baynham - Delicate Wildlife and Intricate Geometry

Prism of Starlings was founded after I graduated from art school with a degree in illustration.

My lifelong love of decorative stationery products, my obsession with pattern and symmetry, and my fondness of animals together manifested into a collection of brightly patterned paper goods and homewares.​

My work is largely pattern-based, with an emphasis on the process of intricate patternmaking. I am inspired by tessellations, overlapping shapes observed in the natural world, and local, foreign and mythical wildlife. My illustrated products explore the personalities hidden in delicate, woodland creatures and the fascinating worlds created by the interwoven shapes and scenery.

I am constantly striving to create new and innovative designs, combining paper cuts, a variety of different papers and various print processes to keep my work fresh and perpetually evolving

Laser cut acrylic necklaces (and how to care for acrylic jewellery)

laser cut necklace

Laser cut acrylic jewellery

This is named “ZEBRA necklace” and is apparently fabricated using a 3D printer.  Although to me it looks more like it was made using a laser cutter and some flat black acrylic.  But what do I know?!  I know people seem to confuse the idea of 3D printing and laser cutting all the time.  I’m sure the makers know what they were doing though 🙂

So it’s clever.  The series of strips gives flexibility to the necklace (like a variant on the Snij hinge), and connects with magnets, apparently.  I’d be a bit worried about how delicate it is, as thin acrylic can snap, especially where you ask it to take stress like at 90 or even 180 degree bends.  The clever thing here is any stress will be distributed over several points, so no one point will ever get overloaded.  That said, it’s maybe best to treat it with care.

Caring for acrylic jewellery

Generally speaking, acrylic jewellery is as low maintenance as it gets.  A quick wipe with a soft dry cloth will get rid of smears and smudges.  A tiny drop of washing up liquid on a damp cloth will help if anything stubborn has got on there.

Long term wear of your favourite piece of jewellery may end up with it being damaged through scuffing or scraping.  Worst case scenario, it ends up broken.  Most likely it’s joints that snap.  Anywhere where there’s a weak point is a potential candidate for breaking.

Repairing acrylic jewellery

If you did have to fix your broken acrylic jewellery, you’d be advised to use an acrylic cement such as Tensol 12 or Tensol 70.  Tensol 12 is quite viscous and fills gaps well without running (alternatives would be WeldOn 16 and Acryfix 192).

Tensol 70 on the other hand is a water-thin catalyst cement which is better for larger areas which need a stronger bond than Tensol 12.  It comes unmixed in two parts, which you mix together and apply through a fine syringe (if you ever wanted to play Doctor, now’s your chance).  So the surfaces to be joined must be smooth and clean so the cement flows evenly between them.  Capillary action is a term I don’t use very often, but it’s what’s going on here – the water-thin cement is drawn into the cracks and literally melts the acrylic it touches, creating a new layer of acrylic where there was a gap.  Tensol 70 is completely clear in colour and evaporates faster than you can say “that was quick”, so it’s pointless trying to wipe away any spills. Just get it right the first time.  Oh, and use a syringe with a non-rubber plunger as the solvent makes the rubber swell.

So, magnets are cool.  Laser cut acrylic necklaces are cool.  Mending acrylic jewellery is easy with some handy Tensol, but wear gloves and don’t breathe the fumes, kids.

We didn’t make it at mekkit, but we wish we did…

Source: ZEBRA necklace by Rentaro on Etsy


lazer engraved beaker earrings
Laser engraved beaker earrings

Ideal for your chemistry teacher as a leaving present from school.  Or maybe to give to a keen chemist?  Or just someone who’s a bit geeky!

These are called quite simply “chemistry beaker earrings” which is, you know, pretty descriptive.  From Etsy seller Laser Addiction, they’re laser cut and engraved from fluorescent orange acrylic.