Ambrotypes were often displayed in cases or boxes, and since starting to work with the wet collodion process I’ve aspired to present a few images in this way. Unfortunately I don’t have the necessary skill to do fine woodwork (or, in fact, any woodwork at all; I can’t saw straight and frequently crush my fingers with hammer blows). Imagine my delight, then, when I discovered a laser cutting service that will carve out intricate designs from 3mm plywood, and even engrave it for you. The design is laid out in software such as Adobe Illustrator and delivered as a Lego-like kit of bits that you just have to glue together. That I can do.
So, here is my first attempt at a boxed ambrotype. In retrospect I would make some tweaks to the design, and make more of the possibilities for laser engraving. However, I like the simplicity of this. The design is roughly based on Japanese “kiri” ambrotype boxes which have a straightforward but very effective construction. One nice feature is that the laser cut front panel fits so closely that there was no need to glue it, so if necessary the ambrotype could be removed at a later date without damaging it.
The laser cutting service that I used was Razorlab in the UK (www.razorlab.co.uk). They have a nice web site with lots of useful tips, quality was good and they turned it around reasonably quickly (about 10 days).