Don’t you just love it when there’s a new way to use a product you already have? Most paper crafters already own a die-cutting machine that will cut out shapes and dry-emboss.
Some die-cuts also serve as stencils for coloring your shapes with chalks or inks.
There is an exciting array of new die-cuts, embossing folders and letterpress adaptations, and most manufacturers will even give you the formula for making them work with whatever machine you own.
While the investment in one of these machines is fairly substantial, some craft stores will let you use your coupons to purchase them. Check with each store as to their policy. Most of the electronic die-cutting machines (Silhouette, Cricut, etc.) are exempt from purchase with a coupon.
Letterpress is the hot buzzword right now, probably because Fiskars has released a new product that will emboss, die-cut and letterpress with one machine.
Letterpress is an old way of printing that is rarely used for commercial printing anymore, but is still used by some printing companies for short runs, such as wedding invitations or business cards.
Essentially, it works much like a rubber stamp. The ink is applied to only the high portions; the recessed portions do not print. Then it is pressed (usually by pressure from rollers) onto the paper to make an impression.
A letterpress uses hard plates so that, when it is rolled through, the plate makes an embossed and inked impression.
This new machine will perform die cutting, embossing (in which the pattern is pressed so that the paper is dimensional) and letterpress — all at the same time or individually.
Several companies have recently created some really great stamp/die combination products. These have both the die-cut shape and the clear stamp to accompany it. So instead of cutting out 15 cowboy impressions for your son’s birthday invitations by hand, you die-cut the 15 cowboys and then stamp them with the accompanying clear stamp. Pretty slick!
New three-dimensional die-cuts are also being introduced as quickly, it seems, as the idea of “wouldn’t it be great if …” pops into someone’s head. Miniature bags, fast-food containers and milk carton dies can be assembled for party favors. Labels, tags and boxes can be used when marketing your other craft products or for gift-giving with a personalized flair.
Tim Holtz, stamping guru supreme, has designed some beautiful dies for borders, cards and journaling or scrapbooking with imaginative ways to use them with chipboard, balsa wood, cork and, yes, paper.
He has also designed his own die-cutting and embossing machine that folds up like a small suitcase, and it, like so many other machines, can accommodate a wide variety of other dies and embossing products from other manufacturers.
Dies are also being used for cutting out designs from fabric and using them for quilting projects. Some experimentation might be needed to find the combination of shims (cutting pads) and die-cuts that will work with the thickness of your material.
This month’s pictures will show you some possibilities using these new products. Sizzix has come out with a plate that will allow you to put various inserts into it to create different pop-up cards easily. I’m particularly excited about this one, as I found cutting my own slits and figuring out where to fold for pop-ups confusing and tedious.
The plate is magnetic and allows you to exchange the pop-up design. You run the paper through and it cuts and scores the areas that are to be folded.
After the initial investment for the plate, the inserts are fairly affordable. (I find that most stores will allow you to use coupons for die-cuts, too.) My Cuttlebug embosser/die-cutter wouldn’t allow the Sizzix cutting pads to go through (too wide), but Cuttlebug makes a longer cutting plate to accommodate some of these new dies and is available online.
With all of these great tools and accessories, shaping up your paper crafts (AND cutting out those shapes) has never been easier.
If you have questions or need clarification, add a comment online at www.hersutah.com.