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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

In The Garden Challenge

Hi there, I hope you're all in fine fettle and getting your individual craft on? Things have been a tad mish mash here at Warts n All Towers, I'll just say menopause pffft and leave it at that lol! I recently joined a rather fun group on Facebook via a new card making friend, they run weekly challenges and this was my entry for last week. I played with distress inks and some new cheap dies from China, I'm building up a good collection of them now and can't believe how brilliantly they cut. In all the ones I've bought so far, I've only had one that didn't cut very well and on closer inspection it wasn't finished correctly, but its not that noticeable and the other 3 dies in the set all work brilliantly.

Sadly the photo doesn't do the colours in the inky backgrounds justice, I was really pleased with the colours, the bird card was a blend of Wild Honey, Spiced Marmalade and Seedless Preserves one of my favourite colour combinations for making morning sky style backgrounds. The evening twilight cat card was a combination of Mermaid Lagoon, Blueprint Sketch and Wilted Violet with a spritz of homemade silvery shimmer.

I first die cut the cross stitched dome pieces first using one of my dies from China, I loved how the ink didn't go into the stitched edge which added to the panel I think. After adding the Distress Inks to the panels I then stamped them using a selection of stamps I've collected over the past few years that came free with magazines using My Favorite Things Hybrid Ink Pad in 'Black Licorice', I did stamp a few times to get a deeper intensity of colour as the first stamping sank in to the water colour paper. I used my new Tim Holtz Stamping Platform, which I love because it has a larger area to stamp in than the MISTI.

I wanted to keep these cards as flat as possible, so I glued the panel direct to the card blank, I was pleasantly surprised to discover when I added some clear sparkle pen to the inside of the butterflies on the twilight card, it had a lightening effect which made the butterflies stand out a little more. I stamped the sentiment from an Imagination Crafts set that I got at the NEC craft show last year and used Black Onyx Versafine ink, then added the die cuts, again both cheap China dies to the card on some 3D foam pads and then gave them a coat of shimmer using my clear sparkle pen again.

These were really quick to make and I loved the way the dies looked after they'd been cut, I plan on making lots more colour variations and to give them a variety of sentiments like 'Just A Note' and 'Thinking of You'. I also need to bolster my stash of birthday cards and congrats cards, so I need to get my thinking cap on.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Baby Die Cutting Machine

I'm really getting in to making ATC's and I'm finding that its a perfect thing to craft with scraps and things from my Maybe Someday Box late at night when I can't sleep, but my Big Shot takes up a lot of space on my craft desk and by using it I make noise as the floorboards that side of the room make a noise, which wakes the hubby up and makes him grumpy. So I wanted a smaller machine that I could use on my computer desk the other side of the room and a size specifically for making ATC's.

As I already have a Big Shot Plus and a Big Shot, my criteria for getting a new machine was it had to be universal. What I mean by that is it had to take any make of dies and embossing folders of the size that can be used to make ATC's. It had to fit on my computer desk, be light weight but sturdy and enable me to die cut shapes up to 3.5" and emboss folders up to 5" wide - the size of the majority of my most used embossing folders.

If it couldn't take those it required me to buy smaller folders and meant I couldn't use my favourite embossing folders late at night. If I had to buy smaller ones, it would be more expense and the mini machine starts to become a niche rather than universal machine. I asked people on a Facebook group I belong to what they thought of the top 2 best selling mini die-cutting machines and took their comments on board. I did some research myself and decided then to go along to Hobbycraft and get a feel for the machines on offer that were in my price range.

I ruled out the Tattered Lace 'Baby Blue' machine almost straight away, as soon as I encountered its flimsy plastic handle and when I realised that actually it wasn't wide enough for some of the dies I wanted to use and felt not very stable. I didn't appreciate how small it was to be honest and it just didn't fit my criteria. So I'm glad I went to check the machines out, I struggle with sizes, when something is described as being 3" for example, I don't always register how big it actually is until I see it and I'm often disappointed and moan that I expected it to be bigger/smaller.

Next I looked at the Spellbinders Prizm machine, a little sturdier than the Baby Blue but still a very narrow slot to run things through and my small embossing folders wouldn't fit. I didn't even seriously consider the Crafters Companion Diamond Press because, well it was just too damn small. It looks good for kiddies to make small shapes but not what I would pay £25 for, yes I know you can get it for around £15 in some places, but its still not something I want to play with.

I was about to give up when a display caught my eye in the store, Hobbycraft do their own small Die Cutting Machine and it came with accessories, it was more than I wanted to pay at £50, but it was sturdy and ticked all my boxes, in actual fact I didn't buy it, hubby treated me to it, I know I'm a lucky girl :)

These are the specifications of the machine: -
  • Machine Size: 29 x 24.5 x 16 cm (11.4 x 9.6 x 6.3 inches).
  • Maximum Cutting width: 14.9 cm (5.9 inches).
  • Maximum Cutting GSM: 220 gsm.
  • Included in the box - Die-cutting machine, an A Base Plate and B & C Plates for embossing and die cutting, two 15 x 10.5cm embossing folders, six 5 x 5 cm dies, a pack of 9 15 x 10.5cm sheets of cardstock (3 x red, 3 x white and 3 x black) and instruction booklet.
  • The machine is compatible with X-cut, Cuttlebug and most other manufacturer's dies. In Fact I've tried lots of dies in it and so far I haven't encountered any it wouldn't cut, although some are harder to cut see below.
  • The machine cuts cardstock and paper, and will also cut fabric with the addition of a metal shim, although one isn't supplied and I haven't tried to cut fabric with my machine.
To sum up, I LOVE this little machine, I use it all the time now in place of both of my Big Shots, only using them if I want to work with a die or embossing folder that won't fit in the Hobbycraft machine. It cuts almost almost all the dies I have that fit the machine, there have been some problems with very intricate dies like lace borders, but I've found if you run the die through a few times and use a paper shim the die will cut. I've successfully cut paper, cardstock so far up to 280 gsm, craft foam and felt with it and also cut thicker card around 2mm thick.

I got this machine for ATC making purposes, but its now my go to machine for most things I do, I don't think I've used my Big Shot's since I got this machine. I'm happy with the way the machine embosses and cuts and the real bonus is its small enough to fit on my desk so I can work all in the same space without having to move everything to accommodate the larger machine.

The dies that come with the machine are rather jolly as well and are all perfect for ATC making as well as for adding to cards and projects. You can get replacement A & B plates from Hobbycraft, I would like to see them offer more accessories like a metal shim and maybe a crease plate in the future.

The machine is lovely and solid and has metal rollers and the handle is rather sturdy, not flimsy at all like the Baby Blue machines handle, on the whole for what you get in the box, its super value for money and would make a great beginners machine if you only want to start off making ATC's or cards up to 5" x 7".

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Father's Day Fishy Cards

Hello lovely blogger peeps, its past the middle of June already and I haven't blogged for over a month, I've still been crafting to keep me sane, but life things have happened and I kind of reverted in to my shell whilst I processed the events. I'm all processed now and have got over the hump so feel like I can embrace the world again, just avoid one little piece of it, lesson learned.

So time to get my happy on and check out what everyone else has been creating lately and to also  share a couple of projects I've made recently.If you've been following my blog for a while you may recall the "Just Keep Swimming" easel card I did last year using a stamp and die set by Hero Arts? No worries if not, I've linked to it above, I mention it because in that post I said I'd seen the Lawn Fawn "Fintastic Friends" stamp and die set and wanted to use it to make cards for my Dad for his birthday and father's day this year.

Well I bought the set and these are the resulting cards, I used some of the cheap dies from China to cut the white card bases, I stamped the images on to water colour card then coloured with my Zig Clean Color pens. After colouring I die cut the images out, then I layered up the elements, I decided to colour the edges of the die cut images to blend with the nearest colour background rather than leave then white and I think it looks better that way.

I stamped the sentiments, the DAD and happy Birthday came from freebie stamp sets and the fishy puns sentiments are part of the Fintastic Friends set. I stamped the images and sentiments with My Favorite Things 'Black Licorice' Hybrid Ink Pad, its perfect for using with Zig pens and doesn't bleed or smudge :) I used 3D foam pads to add the tanks to the white card bases when everything was layered up and then added some dabs of glossy accents to the bubbles and eyes to give some extra dimension to the cards. I added both of them to some Craft perfect Kraft card from Tonic Studios.

Both cards took me about 3 hours to make from start to finish, I did colour a couple of extra tanks and fishes for future use, developing that habit, if you have bits ready it makes having to make a card in double quick time infinitely easier . The cards I made for my Dad actually came out better than I thought they would, but they didn't look like I originally envisioned if that makes sense? Now I want to use the fish and elements to create an underwater scene card, although I think it would look kind of cute as a framed picture.