A low-tech way to use your sentiment dies with printed text

I knew this idea was going to be one people liked and wanted to replicate. The probelm is the tools I use on my Mac are not ones everyone will have and I simply have no idea how to explain how to do the same process on a PC. So it has been keeping me up, considering how it might be possible to do this in a low-tech way, without any computer skills at all. It is pretty tedious, and the die I have is perhaps the most tedious of all, as the strips that will cut are not in any sort of alignment. The start spot for the text is in a totally different place every line.

The only way I can think you might be able to do this is to get out your ruler and measure. And it occurred to me that while the die has 22 spots, for ease, you could just make use of the horizontal bars only. That automatically makes the whole process a lot simpler. Taking my die as a sample, the area I would work with (starting with the first line) is 1 inch, 1/8 inch space, then 2 1/2 inches. The text can be no taller than 1/4 inch. So if I were to type a sentiment that was 1/4 inch tall and 3/4 inch long, left a 1/8 inch gap, then typed a 1/4 inch tall, 2 1/4 inch sentiment, I would have to use that as my baseline. Already I am loosing the will to live.

Now, if I look at just the easiest part of the die to deal with, I am looking at just this:

That leaves out all of the die that is problematic – the spots to fill can all be right justified (or left, if you rotate the die so the beginning is on the left) and the spots are pretty evenly spaced. So as a first try, with no real measurements beyond what I already know, I can type sentiments that are just under 1/4 inch tall to begin with, and I can group the boxes (loosely) into only a couple of sizes – the first four are close, between about 1.7 inches and 1.8, so if I aim to make four that are no longer than 1.6 I know they will fit. The next five are similar – the shortest is and the longest is 2.2 inches. If I make sentiments no longer than 2 inches they will all fit. That leaves the longest at 2.37, so I can sneak in one slightly longer sentiment of 2.2 inches. For the strip of 10 spots you need to create 10 sentiments

four lines 1.6 inches x .25 inches

five lines 2 inches x .25 inches

one line 2.2 inches x .25

This is a VERY simplified process, obviously, but it should work.

ANY text processing program will surely have the ability to size things. Once you find a font that seems to work – and for my sample I went with the bog-standard Helvetica Neue, which should be free on most computers, at 19 pt size. – type out your text and justify it. If you can create boxes, do that, but if not just create the text, using whatever tools you have in your word processing to check the sizes. Turning on the grid, if you have one, might make the process easier

If you can’t turn on a grid you either need to measure the area and work out the distance between the lines of text. My die looks to be about 1/8 inch between where I think the bottom of the text will fall and where the top of the NEXT line of text should fall, in order for it to be within the die-cut area. I spaced out my text with that gap between them. At some point the only thing you can do is to print and test it with your die!

Not quite right. But seeing the text within the spaces gives me a better idea of how to scoot the text up or down to get closer….

and finally to get it just about right.

Is it perfect? No, but then I don’t need to do it this way so I am happy to stop here, having given you an idea of how you might make something even without the program I have. I would say once you have the text placed where you want, save that file and when you want to make different ones, duplicate the file and edit the text, then test print and check you got things in line.

Sorry it isn’t easier – there is a lot of trial and error with this method (I printed 3 or 4 sample sheets before stopping where I was, and one or two more might have been needed – or much more detailed and accurate measuring and mapping to begin with) but maybe this concept will be enough for you to figure out a better way to do it for yourself!

Now, I heard the mail drop and I am betting it is the OTHER die I am waiting on…and THAT one might be more common. Watch this space.

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Just a little all over the place lately

Today I will be attending a hospital appointment with my daughter – the first time in about 18 months. As it is to do with the fit of her foot brace, it is best done in person. Being double-dosed I feel a little better about it but there is still that little bit of worry. Anyway, this weekend was a big one as well, with my daughter going back to both her disability social group (Hipp!!Bones) and her disability skating group AND we dropped by the local SCOPE shop, where she had volunteered for a few years, to let them know she was ready to come back. Not surprising then that I am a little all over the place, with all that happening in the space of three days after so long inside.

While I am not jumping big into cardmaking stuff, there are a couple of things I have been hankering after for a while. One is some sentiment dies. I mentioned the other day that my stash of even sentiment STAMPS is pretty appalling. I saw a set on Amazon and figured they would do the trick. I ordered them, had the order cancelled, immediately re-ordered them then got them the next day. So weird. This is what they look like:

The dies are shown actual size, so they are pretty small. And all loose. LOTS of potential to lose one.

I had to sort that out pretty quick! Luckily I had an idea that worked well. It was the packaging that gave me the idea. Al the tiny dies were stuck to the thin cardboard with strong double sided tape. I sorted the words into two groups

and stuck them to not super thick cardstock – more like 120gsm printer paper for graphics. I used very thin double-sided tape, trying to make sure there was a little exposed tape (ie not covered by the dies) as possible, so the cardstock I was cutting wouldn’t stick to it. I used my extended cutting plates and the Sidekick and it worked a treat!

Then I had to sort out how to wrangle all those small words – I didn’t want to store them in a jumble and have to hunt out the one I wanted every time and as there are over 40 of them I don’t have a container appropriate for sorting them into. I had the idea to stick them to contact paper then stick that inside one of the 1000s of 3-ring binder sleeves for US letter paper (not much use in the UK)

and again, that worked a treat. At some point I might try to organize the words better, but at least this way I can read them so finding the ones I want should be easy.

Still on the fence about the whole Junk Journal idea, and still looking for use-your-12×12 ideas every day. Nothing is really sparking me off. Usually I see an idea and I GO, at speed. But I am just not feeling anything to that degree at the moment. Maybe I’ll just drag out my yarn-dyeing stuff and dye some paper and delay a decision for a bit…


Sunday-right-here, again (Cutting Die D-Lites)

Well, my idea had been to do a Sunday-someplace-else post, and collect up all the blogs and sites that had info and pointers about cutting the new Spellbinder Die D-lites.  But I went through 6 pages of Google results and the only blog that had any actual info (ie was not a retail site) was my own. DOH!  Not what I had planned.  I acknowledge this could be the Google “filter bubble” in effect, with it highlighting my OWN blog because it is me doing the searching, but hey, ho, nothing I can do about that except travel away from my ISP and try again.  No time to do THAT, but I may ask DH to do so from his computer at the office and see what happens.  Which left me with a bit of a dilemma as to what to do to for my post.  I missed out yesterday as I was at a crop (three layouts so woo hoo! Great warm-up for the UKS Cyber crop) and hate to miss a day out – the thin edge of the wedge and all that- so I decided I would just wrap up with my best tips for these dies.

One caveat – I have a Grand Calibur.  When my original one broke and I got no help out of Spellbinders on getting it fixed (and I am not going to re-hash that AGAIN) I swore I would not get another one.  But to be honest C&C had a great deal on it and I caved in.  While the Cheery Lynn folk make a metal shim for the CuttleBug (called the CuttleHUG) and a plate for the Big Shot, they clearly say this stainless steel cutting helper is specifically NOT recommended for the GC.  Grr.  So I came up with my own solution – and I am well aware that not everyone has access to the resources I do (ie DH’s mate who is a metal worker) but I do have a sort-of replacement idea for that.

1. Get some dryer sheets (like BOUNCE) and rub this HARD over the cardstock you want to cut.

Now, my helpful commenter Julia said she used these and scrubbed HARD on the die, and on the card.  I’ve now had time to experiment with it, and I find I get very good result FOR RELEASING THE CARD FROM THE DIE just by scrubbing over the card.  This doe not help with the CUTTING, per se, just getting the cut card out of the die without ripping it. (Ignore the fact you see Baby Wipes in the shot – DRYER SHEETS is what you want, honest!)

As an alternative you can add waxed paper between the die and the card, every time you cut.  The waxed paper die-cut is very pretty and it does help with the release.
2. Get a metal shim of some kind. 

If you are using a Cuttlebug or a Big shot, get the shim.  Honestly.  It really helps with the CUTTING.

For my GC I got DH’s mate to cut a chunk of thin stainless steel, a scrap, to fit the plate (not exactly, but it was a scrap) then smooth the edges so they weren’t lethally sharp. I took my plates in to his workshop so I could match the thickness of the plates as best I could. I erred on the side of caution, so I use the metal shim + embossing plate UNDER the die (cutting edge towards the plate) and add a cardstock shim if I need to.  Mostly I don’t.

IF you have a Grand Calibur, and IF do not have access to a metalworking mate, try getting a piece of craft metal.  I used thick, yet still pliable, Art Emboss metal.  Mine says MEDIUM on the tube, but honestly I have had this stuff for 10+ years and I have NO IDEA if it actually is medium or if it just got stored in the packaging. It is the thickness of a piece of reasonable weight cardstock (say maybe 190 gsm) and works pretty well as a substitute for the stainless steel plate.  Mine is well marked, you can see, but that has not made a difference to the cutting.  This is thin enough that you should not damage your machine, but as ever, with this sort of “non-official” advice, if you start rolling the cutting sandwich through and your machine protests in ANY WAY, stop. Frankly, this is thinner than one of the metal embossing plates, which they do say can be used in the GC, so I cannot imagine it would be a problem, but be cautious anyway.

3. Place the die at the side of the cutting plate.

I see in many places comments that the middle of the plate is actually the area of the plate where the pressure from the rollers is the least, making it not the best place for the best cut.  I often try the middle first (and some dies cut fine there) then remove the outside bit and shift the die to the sides for a 2nd pass.  That almost always does the trick.

And now,  just to show a sample of last week’s technique again:

I cut the pretty die-cut from yellow cardstock.  With the Bounce/Metal Plate/Side of plate it cut like a dream and just fell out of the die. Then I EMBOSSED ONLY the same die – used fairly thin scrapbooking paper, and added a scrap of cardstock between the paper and the die so the embossing wouldn’t tear the paper.  Then I trimmed away all but the bits I wanted to highlight – I wanted only the big negative-space areas, the ones that were quite “puffy.”

I placed the embossed bit behind the die-cut and….

I really, really like the fact the backing bit is puffed up – it just does not look the same as backing the die with flat paper or card.  I think it COULD look very cool if you were to emboss, say, at the edge of a card, then simply add the die-cut over it, and will certainly experiment with that, but at this point I feel like I have done all the experimenting I need to on getting a good cut, have a process that works for me (and some tips that might help others) so I am moving on….

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Cutting D-lites addendum!

Oh I love my commenters.  Clever, they are.

mckysminni commented on my last post and mentioned a metal shim that they have in the USA for cutting (the Craft Barn carries one) and I had the idea of trying tin  (or ah-LU-min e um, if you insist) foil and it did help! First I did 160 gsm card – it was ok but the card is so thin pulling it out distorted it a bit.

Then I did the heavy weight card.

The sandwich I used that worked best was cutting plate, tin foil, cardstock, waxed paper, die, cutting edge down, shim (from the packaging) base plate on top.  Thru the GC, forward, back, forward back.  The one blinkin’ bit did not cut (right hand gate between the 2nd and 3rd railing) and I had to run my pokey tool over it to detach the last little thread of card, but the end result looks pretty good!

Temporary only, to be true, but it works when you need something RIGHT NOW.  And the shim I saw here was 8 x 5.5 and £10.  Ouch.  On top of the cost of the dies. {sigh}

Final Update:  Had a bit of Art Emboss metal, too thick to CUT thru and the pattern of the die embosses into it, so still not the solution.  But what I can tell from that experiment is that the metal shim is going to work (well except for that SAME railing area!) Now if only Spellbinders would send everyone who ordered these dies one……


Cutting the New Spellbinders D-Lites

After the comment yesterday by Julia (no, not THAT Julia, another one) about her struggles with the D-Lites, we carried on an email conversation – I suggested things, she said she had tried them, I suggested other things, but she had tried them too.  I decided to work with what I considered to be the most intricate die, the garden gate one (which I had not yet cut) to see what I could discover.
Here’s the deal – it’s hard to get a good clean cut.  I was using pretty heavy card, not sure of the weight as the package was one I got the Newbury Stamp Show, but def. greater than 160 gsm

What I tried, using my Grand Calibur (a new one).

I tried cutting as is – rubbish.  The gate tore all over the place.

I tried cutting with true waxed paper between the die and the paper.  I tried pulling out the cardstock only, with not a lot of success. The die-cut piece was very distorted and tore a bit.

I tried freezer paper and waxed paper in combo.  Whichever way you cut (die up on the base plate or down on the cutting plate) the order is die blades, waxed paper, freezer paper (with the plastic side towards the waxed paper) then cardstock.  My thoughts on this were that the freezer paper would add more body, and if I peeled away between the freezer paper and the waxed paper, the freezer paper would support the actual die cut.  It worked pretty well, after a fashion.  Some bits were not cut at all – although not anywhere near all the bits you see still in place here were not cut :

At this point I *thought* that the trio of papers was too much for the die to contend with, so I tried using JUST waxed paper again, but instead of trying to peel away the top layer of cardstock, as I first did, I flicked the corner of the die and peeled off from the waxed paper layer (ie both waxed paper AND cardstock in one go.)

That worked the best of all but there were still areas that did not cut – I felt, from my experiments, that was down to the die – maybe it was not as high in that area?

But I think you can see the die-cut is quite flat, not distorted, and looks good in the other areas.

So then I used a bit of the packaging to stick a shim to the back of the die:

With just the waxed paper between the die and the cardstock, with the shim added, and peeling away the waxed paper layer (so the cardstock on top comes with it) flicking the back of the die got rid of virtually all the bits, except ONE area that is STILL not cut.  That has to be down to the die!

I see I forgot to peel away the waxed paper on that one, but the only part that didn’t virtually fall out was the one bit on the right side gate.

DH is a bit of a geek and we always say that it’s best to wait a while when some new bit of technology comes out to give them time to iron out the wrinkles – cutting edge of technology is fine, but bleeding edge, not so much.  That never seems to stop me in my CRAFTING life, however, when the lure of the NEW is strong! I am also a bit of a cynic and it did occur to me (as I said to Julia) that releasing the dies in the UK first, as an exclusive, might have been quite a calculated strategy on the part of Spellbinders    It gave them a large pool of people (but from their POV a “secondary market”) to try out the first release so they could weigh the issues and complaints so the 2nd run, released in the USA, I’m sure, would be less … flawed. They can collect feedback and tweak the product.  we get them first, but the second batch could be better quality.

Am I happy with my purchase? I have to say, that for the most part the medallions cut perfectly with very little effort (although the waxed paper is needed so technically that ever so slightly increases the cost of the dies) but the really detailed ones, like this gate, are a struggle.  Unfortunately I cut my packaging (how else do you get in to them??) and ripped some of the inserts (that they were stuck to) so not entirely sure I could return them if I wanted to – not entirely sure I want to return them.  I love them all in principle and want to use them, darn it. So I have a few more ideas to try and want to try other machines and slightly lighter weight card, and we will see what happens.  I’ll share if I find out anything else.
Oh, and to correct my total brain fade yesterday…..