Archive for March, 2009
I’m heavy into the technicalities these days, but some of you may actually be interested in making things. Easter is right around the corner (or is that, just down the bunny trail) and I want to give you a link to some couldn’t-be-easier files as well as some awesome inspiration on decorating your cutouts.
ScrappingTable.com has updated her site with a bevy of free svg baskets like this one. (It’s a 3D basket like her Valentine ones, this is just the front view.)
update: these are no longer free
I often visit Capadia Designs for the clever tips over there, but the wonderful designs always catch my attention, too. Pick up a free .cut file as well as detailed instructions for embellishing these adorable bunny baskets/candy holders.
Edit: here’s another nice Easter basket freebie
Disclaimer: This post does not imply an endorsement of the Easter Bunny. Let me know if you find some faith-based files I should check out.
Using transfer tape makes aligning the cut pieces of a vinyl image simple. (If you have no idea what I am talking about you may want to watch the video on this page.) It would be wonderful to use the same technique for paper-based projects, but the trouble is that commercial transfer tape, Cont-Tact paper or painters tape tear up the surface of your cardstock cutouts when it is removed.
In my quest for a solution, I tried Press-n-Seal first. I love Press-n-Seal, it has literally saved my son’s skin during cancer treatments, but it was not the solution to this problem. Like tape, it didn’t want to let go of the cardstock without a (destructive) fight.
In poking around my boxes of never-used supplies looking for sticky things, I found some Magic Mesh, and it fit the bill perfectly. (If you don’t know what Magic Mesh is click here.) You can also use the much cheaper and easier to find self-adhesive mesh drywall tape from a hardware store. Follow the steps below to use Magic Mesh/drywall tape to easily transfer your cutouts from mat to page:
1. Make your cuts, then remove the part of the cardstock you don’t want, while carefully keeping the parts you do want stuck down and in position on the mat (called weeding in the vinyl world). For cuts that are not clean, use an exacto knife to help you punch out the pieces and keep them in position.
2. Loosen the pieces from the mat a little, while keeping them in position. I do this by holding down one end with my finger or a toothpick and lifting the other end with the spatula tool. You only need to loosen one end of each piece to “break the bond” with the mat. The results will look something like the photo below. Notice how on each individual piece, one end is stuck in position and the other end is “free.”
3. Put a piece of Magic Mesh/drywall tape over the image adhesive side down and press down firmly over each piece of your cutout.
4. Remove the mesh from the mat and your pieces will come with it! Now would be a good time to do a trial positioning on your page or card. If something is a little off, the Magic Mesh/drywall tape is repositionable so it’s easy to scoot things around if you need to.
5. Turn over the mesh and apply your adhesive to the pieces of cardstock. Try not to get adhesive on the mesh.
6. Position the mesh with your glue-loaded pieces over your page and press into place.
7. Wait for the glue to dry and then remove the mesh, which can be reused. Or, if you are impatient like me, go ahead and remove the mesh before the glue dries, using the spatula if necessary to assist in the process. You could also try holding the pieces down with a toothpick through the open area of the mesh.
This is really a lot easier to do than to explain. You will get a feel for it pretty quickly and be able to adjust according to the stickiness of your mat and mesh, and the surface characteristics of your cardstock. This technique should be very helpful for paper piecing (without a Cricut, line up your handcut pieces over a printed guide, then transfer with Magic Mesh), for placing lettering (with or without a Cricut, use the grid on the Magic Mesh/drywall tape to line up individual letters), and especially for text in a circle or other complicated images that need to be positioned precisely. I’d love to hear how it’s working for you.
It seems that stick people are all the rage these days, at least for those of us on the minvan/SUV circuit. I have seen lots of questions about where to get stick people graphics to cut in vinyl on a Cricut, so I decided to do a little snooping about the stick family world.
You can always draw your own stick figures in Inkscape with the pen tool (use brush settings), but maybe you want to borrow some inspiration. I was amazed at the variety in styles I encountered online. Here are a few sites that are great for idea shopping:
- Upper Case Living My Family (heads only)
- The Personal Note
- Optimistic Stick People These are my favorite because they are very flattering to Mrs. Stick.
The next 4 sites have interactive stick family generators where you can play all day:
As far as downloadable files, precious few freebies seem to be available.
I did find a nice set of faces in .png format at CuddlyBuddly.
Update: And this great set of stick figures in eps and ai format from Dezignus
In the early days, if you wanted to buy designs in SVG format there was only one choice and that was a package from MyVinylDesigner.com.
Update: Since this original post, svgcuts.com has made a set of svg stick people available as well as a free sample.
Another update:Vinyl-Ready Designs also has a nice set of stick people in svg format.
Yet another update: Here is an incredibly detailed tutorial on drawing stick people with Inkscape. Be aware that this does not use all closed paths so you will need to convert strokes to paths when you are done to get a cuttable file.
A much more comprehensive package is available from unleash.com. It features, standard stick families, as well as angels, Disney fans, ATV-ers and more. It is vector format, but not SVG, so you will have to convert the images. Likewise with this Stick People Clipart package.
Lindsay Weirich has a set of digistamps and SVGs here.
And finally, Stick Family! A blog from a stick family stalker.
With graduation time approaching I thought I’d share a tip that saved me some cash last year. If you go though Walgreens, Walmart, etc., and order wallet sized photos, they will print them 4 to a sheet that is smaller than 4 x 6 inches total, but charge you .59-.99 versus .09-.19 for a 4 x 6 print. Fortunately, all you have to do to get around that is prepare your file “4-up” before you upload it to them and order 4 x 6s of that.
How you do this depends on the software you use. I use Photoshop, open my photo and crop it to 2 x 3″ (300dpi). Then I open a new file at 4 x 6″ (also 300dpi) and paste in the 2 x 3″ photo and then duplicate it 3 more times. You could do the same thing with multiple photos and any sizes that will fit within a 4 x 6″ document. Basically, you are making a simple collage and then cutting them apart after printing. The 4 x 6″ prints are the best value so it makes sense to do it this way, even if you have white space left over. The guy at the Walgreens photo counter may look at you funny when you pick them up, though :)
Update: Windows users may find the free utility Photosheet handy for this.
Hands down this is my favorite Cricut project yet. Styrofoam, spray paint and cut out numbers are all you need to produce a great looking 3D sign.
The idea and detailed instructions came from this Instructable.
Update 6/10. This sign is still mounted on the side of a building and holding up well.
You may have noticed that sometimes you want to use the negative space on your die cuts on a layout, craft or as a stencil for painting, embossing, screen printing, etc. Unfortunately, those pesky little trapped spaces like the triangle in the uppercase A (called counters) cause problems for negative space applications. You may also have noticed that most of the stencil fonts currently available scream military/industrial complex. Recently, I’ve run across a couple of posts that are addressing this problem, as well as giving instructions on how to mod any font you like for stencil use.
Michael Mandino and Patrick Davidson have a stencil version of Zapfino they call Stencilano available for download here.
Update: Melissa over at Silhouette School has a tutorial on how to modify fonts in Silhouette Studio
Finding art that is legal to use can be frustrating, but here’s a tool for images you can know are OK for just about any purpose. The Open Clipart Library is a repository of SVG files started by the folks that develop Inkscape. It is a growing source for public domain artwork. If you have created original art in SVG format, you might consider uploading it to the open source community there. Some versions of Inkscape have an openclipart import/export feature in the file menu, making it even easier to download or upload images. The disadvantage of the OCL has been the lack of thumbnails and inefficient search tools. But now another site, clker.com has made the contents of the OCL available with thumbnails. The search function is still kinda quirky, but at least you can scan visually to find images that might be cut-friendly.