On the Bay

High-Tech Crafting in Bristol

Artist JJ Strong uses laser cutting to recreate his favorite Rhode Island scenes

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When tourists come to Rhode Island they enjoy visiting our coastal landmarks, but they often leave with just a memory and some photos. In Bristol, a young artist turned his laser-etching hobby into a successful business and a way for visitors to take a little piece of their stay home with them.

JJ Strong started Photon Fabrications to create unique, handmade gifts using a high tech technique. He makes items called Matchbox Miniatures – which are the size of a matchbox – that capture huge memories, like Newport’s mansions or the Hog Island Light in Mount Hope Bay. He also creates unique, coastal inspired gifts, like clocks and coasters. The purpose of these items, JJ says, is to “Remember the memory that you made in that particular place.”

JJ’s business was born out of his love of travel, the memories that come along with seeing new places and his desire to create something concrete from a memory. He started by making “pragmatic pieces with purpose,” adding, “I love having something that represents [what] you imagine the place looking like.”

Working with storeowners across New England, JJ creates small, custom gift orders, allowing customers to leave a place with more than just a memory. “They are three dimensional which makes them more interesting than a picture,” JJ says. “You can get a perspective that you might not get from a photo.”