Zentangle in Nesties

So yesterday when I was cleaning and packing, I had the TV on with one of the Craft Channels wittering away in the background.  I happened to see a bit of a show with someone named (I think) Mel and Zentangle.  She was doing the doodling within a stencil, which I thought was actually a pretty cool idea.  I had not seen that before, but she was right, it totally breaks down the area to doodle in into small, manageable chunks.  I don’t own any of the metal stencils, and was not keen to splash the cash on them, because I am pretty sure I would use them pretty minimally and I have enough stuff in my stash that I use minimally, I don’t need more! But I did like the idea, and have not Zentangled since I did DH his iPad cover….or maybe it was one of the BIG CARDS, can’t remember.

Anyway, the point is I had a think about stuff I had in my stash that might do similar to the stencils, and I immediately thought of my Nestie.  The presenter mentioned that yo could emboss the tangled shape with the metal stencil after doodling, and that made me think Well, what about cutting it out? So I grabbed a couple and had a bit of a play this morning (anything to take my mind off DD and her trip and her being gone for the whole of the week! Missing her already….)

A couple of issues.  I laid the shape on the paper and taped it down with a smidge of tape. When tracing inside the Nestie, you may find, as I did, that the dies has some little burrs on the edges.  You either need to skip them and fill in, skip them and connect the lines, or skip them and rotate the die to a no-burr area to complete the line.



Then I doodled.  Remember, it’s been maybe a year since I’ve done this, and I was never an expert at it.  BIG issue, for me anyway.  Cut me some slack {grin}



I simply used the bumps to divide up the shape and did a different doodle in each area.

Then I cut out the shape with the die – I like that tracing the shape inside the die means that you get a thin white border when you cut it.  Of course putting that cut shapes on white card probably doesn’t help you see that.



I did another one, again using the bumps in the die but doodled the entire area with a single pattern.  I was also experimenting with the pencil shading, but no idea where I’ve stashed my blending stump – I may have a better chance of locating my blending pencil.  I did that one on very thin card, and am not mad-keen on it, but I’ll share it so you get the idea.  Either way, small areas of an overall pattern, it works. Like quilting, after a long time away you kinds need to “warm up” with some throw-away samples to regain your flow.

Cut a black circle, then pop-dotted it on a dotty embossed card blank.  I added a couple of thin strips of silver Washi tape along the edges, since the folder isn’t wide enough to cover the whole front.



It’s not the most stunning card ever, and by no means the best doodling either, but I liked it well enough to complete something and tuck it into my emergency card stash. And more to the point, I think it gives you an idea for something fun you can do with stuff you may already have.  I think I may have to have a bash with my plastic stencils too, and see how they work,  although there would be no way to cut it out without the dies.  It might work to trace the die, then overlay a stencil and trace that within the shape, then doodle and cut, but will it be worth it in the end?  Not sure.  I do know I have a lot of simple shape Nesties and there is plenty of room for experimentation here.  So I guess that’s what I’ll be doing…..


Ornament and more

I have been unable to get to the store to source the final bits for my WOYWW project from last week!  Shocking, I know, but it’s just been very busy here at Chez Walters. I’m going to share the progress and hope I can get it finished this week!

The project is a little trio of letters, built on an old set of display stands I have had from when UKS would attend shows.  They are from Staples and just clear, so you can slip a flyer inside then stand it up on a table.  I stumbled across one while tidying up and as I looked at it the idea of building on its native properties (ie it STANDS and it’s CLEAR) sent me off in the obvious direction.  I simply slipped a bit of glittered vellum in the frame, added some SCAL cut letters to the front, then sealed the edges with some decorative Washi tape.  I also used the Washi tape to decorate the internal bits of the letters (the font is called Itsadoke and cuts in distinct sections.  I used the outer frame, removed the next layer, and decorated the inner layer) so it all matched – the Washi tape is from Lovely Tapes and I am quite fond of it.  It looks like a Bokeh and comes this colourway as well as a more blue and purple and green version.

I seemed to have a selection of these stands, not all exactly the same size, but they all work well enough.  I planned to add some clear baubles to the bottom lip (hot glue, I expect) and then they can sit on the mantle, perhaps with some greenery woven between them.  I thought tinting the inside of the clear baubles by dripping in a bit of Alcohol Ink and swirling it around to coat would be a good option, more so than opaque coloured baubles.  Why, you ask?  Well the plan was to add some votives behind for THIS sort of effect!

Isn’t that pebble-dash wall just SO special?  LOL! Anyway, I just need to get out to some store or another for baubles and I can finish it off!

Another thing I’ve been meaning to add is the ornament I made this year.  As you may recall , if you read Scrapbook Inspirations, while it was publishing, we always add a new heart-shaped ornament to our tree in memory of our first son, who lived only a few days. Here is the old layout with a selection of past hearts:

It looks like they are actual ornaments on the layout but they were photographed, cut, and pop-dotted.  I’ve bought one for this year , but I also thought I would make one as well.

Using the D-lites stamps I made, I stamped one medallion 5 times and embossed it with glitter embossing powder.  I cut them out using just the frame part of the die:

I scored the symmetrical die-cuts and folded them, then did the usual sticking half-to-half to create the 3D effect.  I added a dangling heart on a wire (with a loop at the top for a hanger) and added some of the Baker’s twine I got from Rope-Source (it’s lovely and thick, not super fine like a lot of the twine I have) and some holly leaves.

I could have done 3 or 4 more of the medallions, but this version is flat at the back and fewer units makes the stamping show up much better, IMHO. Trust me, the little loop for the hanger is there, it’s just hidden at this angle!

So that’s it for now – dithering whether or not to clear off my desk or push it to the side and craft, or focus on some requests for calendars via blog comments.  Or something totally different that I am itching to share, a project someone sent me that they made from one of my calendar posts.  It’s very unlike my usual style but believe me when I say it is seriously stunning…… however, it would be rude to share mine before she shares hers LOL!


D-lites stamps

OK, so based on the comments I’ve gotten an emails received, I am not the only person who is struggling to cut some of the Spellbinders D-Lites dies.  So this post is likely going to come out of left field, but trust me when I say that I had less trouble making these stamps with Fun Foam than I did cutting the D-Lites out of cardstock!

There is nothing I had to do to accomplish this – standard sandwich of base plate and cutting plate, no shim,  Grand Calibur.  Now, NORMALLY I would cut the sticky backed fun foam but a. I didn’t have any on hand and b. as it is paper-backed, I feared I would have the SAME problem I had with cutting cardstock.  The un-sticky foam has issues but I’ll try to address them.

1. Just cut the die as normal out of Fun Foam

2. Once you have the motif, sort of flex it.  You will see some of the bigger bits pop up – just flick them out.

3. Any last tiny or tricky bits you can poke out with a pokey tool – on this one it was just that small circle of tiny bits…

…but they came out easy for a prefect final piece. I used glue to stick it to a mount.

Usually I would use clear acrylic packaging for the mounts of my home-made stamps, as it is see-thru, but I seem to have run out!  I think your options for sticking are:

  1. glue – messy, and it will ooze up unless you get a really thin coating (plus brushing it on can distort the die cut, if you are too vigorous
  2. Xyron – if I would have had a full cartridge for the machine large enough to take the dies, this would have been my choice
  3. Letratac sticky dots – not the first choice, but what I had on hand

Let me give you an overview of the ones I have done:

The trickiest part was getting the long one straight, but this helped

No matter what you use to mount them, these are never going to stand up to the vigorous cleaning you may be used to, but my method works for most inks, with some caveats! I’ll explain as I show the various ink results.

1. Distress ink

Now, to clean it.  Lay a baby wipe over the top and brayer over it!  Easy peasy.

Totally clean!

You will need to do this pretty sharpish – I don’t know how clean it will be if you let the ink dry on the stamp for some of the inks.  And as the stamp will then be damp, you will need to either put a paper towel over and brayer again to dry it, or let it dry before re-inking.

2. Adirondack Ink – also cleans up totally

3. Chalk ink – also cleans up totally

4. Pigment ink – also cleans up totally and you can emboss with powders!

5. Clearly Better (and I assume Memento or Versafine too) – does NOT clean perfectly

6. Finally, Distress Stain and Twinkling h2Os – cleans totally, but the h2Os lose their twinkle

And finally, because your stamp is made from the die, you can cut the stamped image out using the frame part of the die!  Nice.

So there you go.  If I can find some sticky backed fun foam I’ll give that a go, but am not optimistic about it working.

I have 90% finished both my WOYWW project AND my Stampotique Designer’s Challenge but got so sidetracked by THIS I set them aside momentarily.  It was actually the SDC challenge of using paint that sparked the idea for these stamps, but in the end I didnt;t actually ise them for the challenge!  I’ll get back to them today and hopefully finish both.


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….

1 Comment

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…..