Archive for May, 2010

Easy and cheap custom embossing dies

I have been experimenting with the various ways to make my own embossing dies for the Cuttlebug for almost a year now.  I have watched all the videos and bought all the products. The results have been OK, but the processes were complicated with lots of room for error. The first thing I learned was that 2 piece folder-style dies did not work any better than one piece and the next thing I learned is that none of the home-brew methods work as good as a manufactured Cuttlebug folder, but you can get decent results that are useable and best of all, custom.

For one piece images, the easiest and cheapest method is to cut a shape from chipboard or stack several layers of cardstock and use that with an embossing mat (like the tan Spellbinders mat). I used that method in my earlier post and you can see a video on that here. But I’ve been trying to come up with an easy way to do a more complicated multipiece die and I think I have found it. Here’s how:

1. Get some self-adhesive magnetic sheets from the kids craft section at Walmart. Each pack contains 2 5 x 7 sheets and costs $1.97. It has to be self-adhesive with a backing sheet. (Cricut magnet sheets or inkjet magnet sheets will not work as is.)

2. Create your design to cut at 5 x 7 or smaller, load a magnetic sheet black side up on the mat and kiss-cut so that the magnet is cut through but not the backing. You may need to experiment first. I used a deep cut blade/housing at depth 4.5, pressure 4, speed 3 and multicut 2. I am pretty sure you can cut this with a regular blade and housing, though, as it is pretty thin and cuts easily.

3. Carefully remove all the magnet material from the areas of the design that you do not want to emboss with. If you are used to working with vinyl this “weeding” will be a familiar process. You can cut or tear the waste magnet material but be sure that all of your design positive remains in place on the backing. Once you get the hang of it you will find the magnet material really easy to work with.

4. Run your new custom die through the Cuttlebug with the “sandwich recipe” as follows: A plate, B plate, your new die with magnet side up, paper or cardstock to be embossed, embossing mat (such as tan Spellbinders mat), additional card stock shims as needed (I used 4 sheets of cardstock), and B plate. Enjoy the results. (Image on right is white core cardstock sanded after embossing.)

Download the Gypsy file and a few other Gypsy backgrounds for embossing here.

Download some CDS embossing backgrounds here.

May 29, 2010 at 5:03 pm 40 comments

Sharpie checklist

I love Sharpies, but I am not too impressed with the Sharpie web site. Oh, it’s cute, but a little thin on the info. For instance, there is not a list of colors. You can only see each individual color as you mouse over it <sigh>. So I moused all over the site, writing down each color as it was revealed and thought some of you might want to have a copy of my Sharpie Checklist, too. I made both a checkbox and a space for hand coloring in case you want to test colors you don’t own yet (Office Depot is a great place for this since they have a bunch of individual Sharpies with the colors labeled). The column on the far left is my attempt to match up the Sharpie colors with the Bic Mark-It colors using an untrained eye and the Sharpies I could get my hands on for side by side comparison. In general, the Sharpies write brighter than the Bics, so there aren’t as many close matches as you’d expect.

A big disadvantage to Sharpies is that the color name does not appear on the marker itself and sometimes not on the package either so it can be difficult to tell what color Sharpie you hold in your hand. My next step is to label my Sharpies with their color names. Hmmm, I wonder if you can write on a Sharpie with a Sharpie?

Oh, and if you are looking for a Bic Mark-It Color List along with cross reference to Copic and Prismacolor colors, you can get that from Lindsay over at The Frugal Crafter blog.

May 23, 2010 at 6:45 pm 16 comments

Scoring and “Stitching” in SCAL2

Combining layers with the line styles feature in SCAL2 gives you lots of options to work with whether using gel pens or a scoring tool of some kind. Details in the video tutorial below.

May 17, 2010 at 1:00 pm 17 comments

Cut, stamp and emboss the same image

I have had an idea rattling around in my head for a while and when I finally took time to try it out today I was amazed at how easy it was.

To cut, you will need a Cricut and a cartridge with a shadow feature.

To emboss you will need a Cuttlebug, Big Shot, Sizzix or similar machine, a piece of chipboard (cereal boxes are fine) and an embossing mat such as the tan Spellbinders or red plumbers rubber.

To stamp you will need some sort of cuttable stamp material. I could not get this image to cut with the clear silicone sheets like in the Cricut kit so I used the green rhinestone rubber material instead. You could also try 1/32 inch red rubber sheets or even fun foam.

Choose a simple image with stamping and embossing in mind. I chose a one piece image for the sake of simplification and I suggest you start with that. Cut as many blank shapes as you want from plain or (for embossing only) white core card stock using the shadow feature. Use the same dial size to cut the image itself once from chipboard and once from the stamp material. Make the stamp according to the instructions for the stamp material you are using.

Stamp the cutout with your custom made matching stamp, centering the image as much as possible and allow to dry.

Layer your cutout with the piece of chipboard, line up so that the chipboard is centered on the cutout and place them chipboard down on the B plate. Cover with embossing mat and shim as needed to get a nice emboss with your Cuttlebug.

That’s it, you now have a stamped, embossed cutout to apply to your layouts or cards!

Or if you skip the stamping you can just emboss. This one uses white core card stock and sanding so it shows up better for the photo.

May 13, 2010 at 2:41 pm 15 comments

Still more pre-filled gel pen fonts

All of these are available at As with the last post, each is rendered at the largest size that will still appear filled in. I’m only printing a few letters of each now for these samples so as to save time and preserve ink.

May 2, 2010 at 7:14 pm 3 comments

More filled in fonts

Another batch of pre-filled fonts for your gel pen enjoyment. Be sure to test a letter or two with the font, size and pen you want before committing to the long drawing process. Take this from someone who has run out one gel pen in the process so far. When you look at the regular printed version of the font, you will see how very different they look rendered with gel pens, and this will help you learn to spot good candidates yourself.

Where to get them:
Scanografia (my fave!), YoYo and Needle are available at (free registration required).
Debonair Inline
Aria Penci Roman

HV Stripe ExtraB

May 1, 2010 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment

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