Thursday, May 23, 2013

A DIY drawing projector for decorating cookies

... a potential alternative to a Kopykake projector
In this post, I would like to show you how to build a simple and inexpensive drawing projector, that can be used for decorating cookies (or for other drawing projects). To make the drawing projector, you'll need a flashlight, two boxes, a CD jewel case and some other stuff (like scissors and tape). Building this projector was fairly easy, and did not take much time.
When I recently started to read more about decorating cookies, I discovered that there are several techniques and tools for transferring an image onto a cookie. One of these tools is the Kopykake projector.  What a Kopykake projector is and how it works has been described in detail for example by Sweetopia or SweetSugarbelle. The principle is the following: The projector projects an image onto a cookie. You can trace the projected image with an edible color marker or a piping bag (filled with icing). Unfortunately, the Kopykake projector is rather expensive.
This do-it-yourself drawing projector might be a good alternative to a Kopykake projector. The costs for this DIY project were low: I spent 10 Euro (about 13 USD) for the flashlight. I found the two boxes needed for this project at my job. Here are the how-to Instructions:

A DIY drawing projector as a potential alternative to a Kopykake projector

What do we need for the DIY drawing projector?

The "critical" ingredients:
(Below you’ll find more detailed information about the flashlight and the boxes.)

... a potential alternative to a Kopykake projector
Final drawing projector for decorating cookies.
- Flashlight
(should evenly distribute the light; serves as the light source of the projector)

- Transparent CD jewel case
(the image will be transferred onto a piece of transparency film, and will be put on the CD jewel case)

- Box A
(should be rather high; Box A will hold the flashlight )

- Box B
(should be rather large, but not too high; Box B will hold the CD jewel case)


In addition, you'll need:

- box cutter or sharp knife
- cutting board
- scissors
- pen
- tape
- duct tape or other thick tape
- some adhesive film
- double-sided adhesive tape (e.g., PowerStrips)
- optional: packing tape
- optional: wrapping paper or decorative adhesive film (to "embellish" the DIY projector :-))

Some more information about the flashlight and the two boxes:


Flashlight
Not every flashlight will work for this project. Choosing the right one is critical. It is important, that the flashlight evenly distributes the light (like the right one in the picture below). I used an "adjustable focus flashlight" from "Wetelux", which I found here. The price was 10 Euro (about 13 USD). What I also like about this flashlight is, that the on-button and battery compartment are located outside of box A when the flashlight sticks in the box. You can find comparable flashlights (outside of Germany) by searching the web for "zoomable flashlight" or "adjustable focus flashlight".
When using a flashlight, that does not distribute the light evenly (like the ones on the left and middle pictures), the projected image can hardly be seen. But, these flashlights might be suitable as a light source, when their light shines on the sidewall of the box. Just experiment with it.

DIY drawing projector for decorating cookies, flashlight
The flashlight should evenly distribute the light (like the one on the right side).
























Box A
Box A will hold the flashlight, and will thus determine the distance between the light and the CD jewel case. One has to keep in mind, that the projected image is a bit larger than the image on the transparency film (and drawing very small images on the transparency film might become difficult). For example, for my drawing projector 4 cm / 1.6 in. on the transparency sheet correspond to about 6.5 cm / 2.6 in. on the cookie. Therefore, box A should be rather high for the following reason: The higher box A is, the smaller will be the difference between the size of the image on the transparency film and the projected image.
The box I used was 17.5 cm / 7 in. in width, 15 cm / 6 in. in depth, and 38.5 cm / 15 in. in height.
If you can't find a proper box, you could try to build a box or a cylinder with a large piece of cardboard.

Box B
Box B should be thick and stable. It will hold the CD jewel case, and will thus determine the distance between the CD jewel case and the cookie. Box B should be high enough to be able to comfortably work with your piping bag in the box. But it shouldn't be too high, because: the lower box B is, the smaller will be the difference between the size of the image on the transparency film and the projected image. In addition, box B should be wide enough, to offer enough space for your arms.
The box I used was 50 cm / 20 in. in width, 19 cm / 7.5 in. in depth, and 23.5 cm / 9.25 in. in height.

 

Step by step instructions

Box A & flashlight
- Trace the contours of the flashlight on the bottom of box A (you'll get a circle that is about the diameter of the flashlight). Cut out the circle with a box cutter or sharp knife. As the bottom of my box was very thin, I stuck some packing tape on it to stabilize it (see middle picture).
- Optional: To make the projector look a little bit nicer, wrap the box up in wrapping paper or adhesive film.
- Stick the flashlight in the round hole, so that the light goes in the direction of the box opening. Make sure the light beam of the flashlight is maximally wide. To prevent the flashlight from sliding into the box,  wrap some thick tape (duct tape) around it (see right picture).
- As I wrapped box A up in wrapping paper, I stuck some adhesive film on the flaps of the box to be able to easily pull it off the double-sided tape (more on that later).

do it yourself drawing projector for decorating cookies, box A
Box A before and after. Box A was rather thin. To stabilize it, I stuck some packing tape on the box (middle picture).
To prevent the flashlight from sliding into the box,  I wrapped some thick tape (duct tape) around it (right picture). 

















CD jewel case
- The CD jewel case should be transparent. You only need one part of the CD jewel case. If the front and back are transparent, you can freely choose between both.
- Clean the CD jewel case before using it, to make sure there are no stains on it.

Box B
- Trace the contours of the CD jewel case on the top of box B. Draw another rectangle in the contours of the CD jewel case that is a little bit smaller. Cut out the smaller rectangle with a box cutter or sharp knife.
- Cut off the upper flap of the box (otherwise you might not be able to see your cookie while decorating).  
- Optional: To make the projector look a little bit nicer, wrap the box up in wrapping paper or adhesive film.
- Place the CD jewel case onto the rectangle hole, and stick it with tape.
- I stuck some adhesive film next to the left and right side of the CD jewel case to attach box A to box B with double-sided tape, and to be able to renew the tape from time to time (see right picture). Stick the double-sided tape to the left and right side of the CD jewel case (see right picture).
- I added some white adhesive film on the bottom of the box (see right picture). The cookie will be placed on this surface. With the adhesive film on it, you can clean the surface easily. Alternatively, you could also place the cookie on a plate.

DIY drawing projector for decorating cookies, box B
Box B before and after. I added the white adhesive film to be able to clean the surface the cookie will be placed on.
The double-sided adhesive tape attaches box A to box B.

















do it yourself drawing projector, projected image on a cookie
Cookie with projected image.
Now the drawing projector is ready to use! Place it on a table or a desk to work with it.

In the next post, I'll show you how to use the home-made drawing projector. Using this projector is in principle very similar to using the Kopykake projector. One key difference is, that you can't adjust the size of the projected image with this drawing projector once it is on the transparency film. The image on the transparency film needs to have the right size for your cookie.
The DIY projector might be less flexible than a Kopykake projector, but so far worked really fine for my needs. I think, it also has some advantages compared to a Kopykake projector: the home-made drawing projector is much cheaper, can be stored more easily (you can put box A into box B), doesn't produce any noise, and is light in weight, so that it can be carried around easily.

I hope, you'll have fun building the projector and decorating cookies!



8 comments:

  1. Thank you so very much for your wonderful tutorial, the directions are very clear and to the point. I am working on making one of these for decorating cookies as well. I don't have the funds for a Kopykake, they are pretty expensive here in the States. :( But thanks to you, I can make my own. Thank you so much again, you have saved me lots of time and money. I hope you have a great day.
    Rebeca

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  2. Hi Rebeca! Thank you very much for your lovely comment :-)! I'm delighted to hear you found the tutorial helpful. I hope, the projector will work fine for you. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.
    Best wishes, Anna

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  3. First and foremost I have to say, "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!" I am new to cookie decorating, and can't figure out if it is a phase or something I will be doing for years to come! With that being said I don't want to invest in a KopyKake projector just yet.I have been searching high and low for a DIY Projector, and low and behold yours is the only one that I found! I just made my version of a projector using your instructions! I will be trying it out this weekend.

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    1. Hi! Thanks for your feedback. Nice to hear, that you made your own projector! I would love to hear, whether it worked fine.

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    2. I used it last night for writing names and numbers on a jersey, and they came out perfect. There will be some tweaking with the design/font size, but that is the least of my worries! It works beautiful for what I need right now! Thank you again for taking the time to create the tutorial with pictures.

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  4. Oh Dear, you are one clever cookie!! I'm so excited to make myself one. Thank you so much for such a cool idea. Well done you & you're very kind to share this with everyone.

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  5. @ Little Spongey: Thank you so much. I hope you'll enjoy making a projector yourself.

    @ msnew007 (Crystal): I'm happy to hear that the projector worked fine for you :-)

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  6. Im printing the instructions out and hope to make my own fakekopykake...lol...THANK YOU FOR THIS!!!

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