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Customize Your Mini Heidi Swapp Lightbox!

As soon as I saw the new Heidi Swapp Mini Lightbox, I knew I had to have one for my studio! I love the larger original Heidi Swapp Lightbox – my daughter has one in her room – but didn’t have the space for it in my jam packed craft room. The mini Lightbox is the perfect solution!

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Mini Heidi Swapp Lightbox

If you aren’t familiar yet with the Heidi Swapp Mini Lightbox, here’s a photo for comparison of how it looks next to the larger original Heidi Swapp Lightbox:

Heidi Swapp Lightbox Comparison

The mini box is about 2/3 of the height of the original box, and has four tracks instead of three. The smaller size is great for desks at work, tabletop displays at parties, and a variety of other applications where space is at a premium!

Like the original Lightbox, there are alphabets, words, emojis and backgrounds available for the Heidi Swapp Mini Lightbox. But see that word “Create” on my Mini Lightbox? That is a custom piece that I created!

Thanks to the availability of the Blank Mini Word Strips for the Mini Lightbox, it is easy to create your own words or design elements.

Heidi Swapp Mini Lightbox Blanks

To make this project, you just need:

The available design area on the Mini Lightbox Blank Word Strips is 1″ by 6″. To make a design, just open a file (or type a word) in your machine’s design software, and resize it to less than 1″ by 6″. Then follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cutting the vinyl, and use the transfer tape to adhere it to one of the blank word strips.

Die Cut Vinyl for Heidi Swapp Lightbox Words

By combining your die cut machine with blank word strips for Mini Lightbox, the possibilities are endless for designs! Make quotes, decorative elements like swirls, use different colors for words, or different fonts.

What do you want to make for your lightbox?

Decorate Up a Halloween Pumpkin for Fall!

Fall is coming fast! That means it’s time to start thinking about falling leaves, and all things pumpkin spice. Since we don’t get too many traditional signs of fall outside here in Florida, I decided to bring some inside by decorating myself a Halloween pumpkin with some fall leaves and a bit of embellishment “pumpkin spice”.

[Disclosure: Some links in this article are affiliate links that pay a commission to this site when a purchase is made, but it will not affect the price you pay. Some products were provided to me as part of my professional relationships with Cricut and Buttons Galore, but this project is not a sponsored post.]

Halloween Pumpkin

Supplies:

This project will work on a real or plastic halloween pumpkin. I chose a plastic pumpkin so that I can use it the entire Halloween and Thanksgiving season this year and reuse it in future years.

To start my fall pumpkin, I opened Cricut Design Space on my iPad. I could have done this on my computer of course but I just love the Cricut Design Space interface on the iPad so I use it most of the time.

I selected a cut file called “Happy Fall” by JGoode Designs (the fabulous Jen Goode). The design comes with a leaf in it, which I hid since I was going to add my own silk ones. I sized the design at about 4″ wide to fit my pumpkin, but the size that will work for you will depend on the size of your pumpkin.

Cricut Design Space iPad Screen CaptureI chose a gold shade that worked with my leaves from the Cricut Metallic Vinyl Sampler and cut my design from the vinyl. Using transfer tape, I pressed the design into place on the pumpkin. It’s hard to get it pushed entirely down into place on a surface like the pumpkin. I found the scraper from my Cricut Explore tool set helped a lot. The vinyl has some “give” in it, and the scraper helped smooth and push it down into all of the crevices so it is adhered perfectly.

Next, I started adhering the leaves with my hot glue gun. I started with the ones on each end, and then filled in the two in the middle. I layered as I went, tucking them underneath each other where necessary.

Halloween Pumpkin close-upThe final step was to add on the embellishments from the 28 Lilac Lane “toasted graham” bottle to add a bit of bling to my pumpkin! I started with the large buttons. I chose brown because it gives the impression of acorns or fall nuts. It also reminds me of spices – like pumpkin spice! Then on the button closest to the title, I added a bit extra pop with small beads, a pearl, and a sequin.

Halloween Pumpkin decorated with vinyl and leaves | by Nancy Nally for CraftCritique.com

This quick and easy project only took me a few minutes, and used practically no tools besides my Cricut machine. I look forward to enjoying this halloween pumpkin as part of our autumn home decor for years to come!

Chalk A Storage Bin with Cricut Stencil Vinyl!

[Disclaimer: Although I work for Cricut as a demonstrator, this product was independently purchased for my own use on a personal project that I was working on. Provo Craft has no knowledge of or input into this article. Some links in this article may be affiliate links that support Craft Critique if you make a purchase after clicking.]

Love the look of decorative chalk but are hopeless at freehand drawing and writing (like I am)? Maybe stenciling is the answer!

I bought this lovely tin basket at my local Michaels store, from their Make Market home decor collection, that is perfect for storing my oversized cards that I’ve made until they get used. But it had a (very trendy) chalkboard panel on the side.

If you know me at all, you know that doing freehand chalk work is absolutely not in my skill set! So how did I get such lovely looking chalking?

Make Market binI found the answer in a roll of the new Cricut Stencil Vinyl! The Cricut Stencil Vinyl is clear, and designed to be reusable. You can cut a stencil with your Cricut machine, stencil with it, and then save it to use again! Continue Reading →

CHA Summer 2011 | ProvoCraft Cricut Mini and More

The newest member of the Cricut family is the Cricut Mini. Provocraft’s Cricut Mini is a small, lightweight, ultra-portable way to make almost anything you want – out of many different types of materials, including thick and thin paper, fabric, vinyl, magnetic material, craft foil, and lots more. With Cricut Mini, it’s easier than ever to make projects and be more creative!

This small, portable, and lightweight machine is a great space saver. It works with any computer PC or Mac with a standard wireless or wired Internet connection. Simply plug it in, turn it on, connect to Cricut Craft Room – the online design tool where you can see and design with every Cricut cartridge – and start making projects. It cuts up to 8.5” x 12” paper and other materials. Cut small shapes and fonts from ¼” to larger cuts up to 11½”.
Here’s a little video walk through of this hot new little machine…

Also in the Provocraft booth at the show was Jinger leading attendees through Cricut classes right on the showroom floor.

There are also plenty of new cartridges for your Cricut machines, like these boxes. Extremely cute!

Plus, there are cupcake inserts. Anything that is cupcake compatible is good in my book.

Plus cool new flower cartridges.

And a really cute new cartridge for the Cricut Imagine that will please your little pirates:

And if you are a fan of space (and who isn’t?!), you’re in luck with robots, space ships, and planets in this new cartridge.

And a gorgeous frame cartridge that is sophisticated and delicate.

So, what do you think of what ProvoCraft has in store for you? What do you think of the new Cricut Mini? What cartridges do you hope they come out with next?

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Vendor Spotlight & Giveaway: Crafters Companion (2 of 4)

Reported by Jessica Ripley

I was first introduced to Crafters Companion products when a review of their Rock-A-Blocks Stamp Mounting System right here on Craft Critique intrigued me. I thought, it was an innovative idea. So it certainly didn’t surprise me at all to see their booth at CHA Summer 2010 full of exciting products that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on to try.

Something that immediately had my attention was the Stick Away and Stick and Spray duo.


As a Cricut Expression owner, the promise that together they could extend the life of my cutting mats sounded almost too good to be true. I go through so many mats, and that cost certainly adds up! Not to mention after a while, even if they still do the job of holding down the paper while cutting, they just get kind of nasty.


It may be a bit hard to see in the above photo, but fellow Cricut owners can probably attest that the adhesive on the mat gets gunked up (technical term) after so many uses. And, the little bits of paper, dust, etc that can get stuck in that gunk (and cat hair too, I’ll admit it). So, I was very anxious to try the first step of cleaning off the mat with the Stick Away spray.

The entire process is a simple three steps, unless repeating the first two is necessary to really remove all that old adhesive residue (I only had to do it once). All that is needed are the two sprays, Stick Away and Stick and Spray, as well as an old credit card or something similar to scrape away the residue.

Something to note, these instructions to renew your cutting mats aren’t actually on the products themselves. You must go to the Crafters Companion website to find them, however once you do, you will also find a wealth of other fun how-tos, videos, and project ideas that make that step worthwhile.

After spraying the mat with Stick Away, allow it to set for about 30 seconds or so to penetrate all that old adhesive. Then simply scrape away using an old card. Just look at all this stuff that comes off!

Immediately I could see how clean my mat now was. No more gunk (or… cat hair).

Next, it’s a good idea to tape the edges of the mat before applying what will make it tacky again, the Stick and Spray. This is partially to protect your work surface, but also to be sure that any part of the mat which wasn’t sticky before doesn’t have adhesive on it when going into the machine.

Again after about 30 seconds the product had done its job, and my mat felt tacky and ready to test. It was clean, and aside from the deep cut marks of a few past projects, seemed almost like new! I say “almost”, as it wasn’t quite as sticky as when I first took it out of the package, but then again, I actually think when they are brand new the mats are slightly too sticky and it is difficult to remove the first few die cuts I make with them.

This was not the case at all after I used the Stick Away and Stick and Spray. The mat worked wonderfully, and though I had to use the spatula to loosen them a bit, the die cuts came off beautifully. And the mat was tacky enough to use again.

How long will one application last? I’ve used the mat at least three more times since this original application and don’t yet feel the need to reapply. But when I do, I have the generously sized 5.9 oz. cans of Stick Away and Stick and Spray ready to use again rather than having to run to the store for another mat. Also at a cost of about $15.00 for the duo, they are much friendlier on the wallet as well when I add up how much I’ve spent on mat after mat. Have you used this combo for even longer before having to reapply? Let us know in the comments.

Both products are meant to have multiple uses as well. The Stick Away Spray is, at its base, an adhesive remover. It can be used to remove gum, tar, labels, and even residue on rubber stamps. The Stick and Spray is a repositionable adhesive which can be used to place stencils and adhere rubber stamps to acrylic blocks. You can even use it to turn any piece of paper into a “sticky-note”. It also needs to be mentioned that both products are acid-free, so there is no fear of anything the products come in contact with touching your precious photos.

The Stick and Spray as mentioned above is meant also to be used to apply unmounted rubber stamps to an acrylic block. Crafters Companion line of S.W.A.L.K Stamps are a good example of how this process would work.

All of these stamps are adorably designed, and even though as I’m sure I have mentioned in past reviews, I am not that much of a stamper, I found this one to be a very cute addition to the few that I do have.

Too large for any acrylic block I had on hand, I did need to trim the stamp down to fit. However this was easily done. The rubber was thin and flexible. After spraying just a bit of Stick and Spray on the back and adhering to an acrylic block, I created the card below:


You can see many beautifully done cards using the S.W.A.L.K collection at Crafters Companion‘s website gallery. They certainly make me consider adding one or two more to my collection.

Last but certainly not least, I had an opportunity to play with the time and mess saving product called Spray and Sparkle. This is going to be a must for all those upcoming holiday crafts, when glittering projects with abandon is deemed perfectly acceptable.

Essentially a varnish, each of the four available colors also contains a very fine glitter within that adds as little or as much sparkle to your project as you desire. From just a touch of shine, to a full on glitter covered piece, the spray is extremely easy to use. Using the gold, I covered one of the die cuts I had made above in only a few seconds:

After I let it dry for the recommended 30 minutes, I then made the easy holiday card below. I also sprayed the entire card just once with the gold glitter spray for a touch of shine:



The Spray and Sparkle is also quite easy to use when it comes to covering a variety of surfaces in glitter. It takes away the worry of coating something with too much or too little glue as it combines the adhesive and glitter into one step. I tested the Multicolor Spray and Sparkle on a glass holiday ornament, and achieved the below results:

A nice touch, it almost appears silver. The flecks of color in the Multicolor spray are subdued but there. In fact I would describe the Multicolor as more of a Silver with flecks of color, and it honestly isn’t my favorite, I prefer the gold.

Also, I have to mention the odor of the Spray and Sparkle. It is very strong (remember it is essentially a varnish). Even though it is non-toxic and also acid-free, this is not a product you should work with without an open window or even outside. It does cut down on a normal glittery mess, but is a spray, therefore just as you would with spray paint you must take steps to protect your work surface and area as appropriate. Finally, it is a little expensive at $8.95 per can, however I can see one can lasting a very long time.

In summary, do I think these products are a good addition to my crafty stash? Yes, definitely. For all their other uses the Stick Away and Stick and Spray will become a huge asset when it comes to both saving time and money from cutting down on the need for buying brand new cutting mats. And the Spray and Sparkle will be one of those products that I’m sure I’ll find myself reaching for again and again, just to add that special touch.

Pros:

  • The combination of Stick Away and Stick and Spray can extend the life of cutting mats exponentially and will be both a money and a time saver.
  • Both products have other uses as well, such as adhering rubber stamps to acrylic blocks, or even many household uses, increasing their value.
  • Spray and Sparkle cuts down on mess and time, and is just plain fun to use on projects.

Cons:

  • The magic combination of Stick Away and Stick and Spray won’t be as handy if you don’t own a die cut machine with a mat.
  • Odor for all products is strong, and though the Stick Away has a perfumed scent, working near an open window is a must.
  • Sprays are a little messy even if easy to use, protect your work area well.

Giveaway! 
The kind folks at Crafter’s Companion have provided us with a set of Stick Away and Stick and Spray
for one of our lucky readers. Just leave a comment on either of today’s articles, and answer this question:

What stuff you need to stick, or unstick, around your house?

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

CHA- Tools: Provocraft Cricut Imagine

So here she is folks, the newest addition to the Cricut family, the Cricut Imagine by Provocraft:

And here’s a demo with Christy from Provocraft that will show you all the cool features of this new machine that cuts and prints:

This machine will allow consumers to create their own unique embellishments and projects with the press of a button.  You can choose your colors and patterns from the ones provided on cartridges, or you can enter the RGB code of your favorite color.

Here’s a look at some of the projects created with the Cricut Imagine:

This machine uses two ink cartridges, one black (MSRP $34.99 ) and one tricolor (MSRP $39.99).  But you can print on your own paper, cardstock or even vinyl.  The MSRP on the machine is $599 and will debut on HSN on September 14th.

What do you think about the new Cricut Imagine?  Will it be making its way on to your Christmas list this year?

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Provo Craft Transfer Tape

Reported by Jessica Ripley

Every so often I run across something in a craft store that I didn’t realize I needed until I saw it. For quite awhile now, I had a supply of Provo Craft Adhesive Vinyl just waiting to be played with, but I was a little intimidated about using it. Though it came with adhesive already on the back, I wasn’t quite sure how to go about applying it to a project in the best way. Then, while perusing new vinyl colors I happened across something I hadn’t noticed before, Provo Craft’s Vinyl Transfer Tape. After a short “Ah-ha!” moment I left the store with my new find in hand.

I am so glad I did. After using it with the adhesive vinyl I’m not sure the two should ever not be used together. The instructions that come with the adhesive vinyl in fact recommend it, and there is a “For Best Results” disclaimer about using the transfer tape on the vinyl packaging, I just hadn’t noticed.

The following is my experience with using it for a wall project that I’ve long been wanting to tackle.

Step one is to simply cut the vinyl using a Cricut machine. Though I’m not reviewing the vinyl in particular I have to mention that it is very easy to work with. It comes in 12″x 24″ sheets, in an array of eye-pleasing colors that will go with just about any home decor.

Once my design was cut, I set about using the transfer tape. Like the vinyl, the transfer tape comes in 12″x 24″sheets. There are 4 sheets to a package, and they are easily trimmed using a regular paper trimmer or scissors to fit your project.

Each sheet has a grid style backing which I thought would be very helpful, until I discovered that the part of the tape you actually use doesn’t have these grid lines. I found that a little odd. I wished that the helpful grid was actually on the tape itself so I could utilize it when laying out my design. Instead the instructions say “For best results use a ruler to make sure image is straight.”

I also found it difficult to use in large pieces. When it is peeled away from its backing, it tends to curl in on itself and become stuck. Due to this I trimmed it down to a more manageable size and that worked fine, but if you wished to create one large design at once (like they show in the example photo at Provo Craft’s Website here) it might be a little tricky.


Here’s an example of how it curls in a bit, even on a smaller piece.


That aside however, the tape worked wonderfully at allowing me to arrange my vinyl pieces. If a letter was a little crooked, I could easily peel and place it again until it was just right. Without the tape, I probably would have gone through a few ruined letters by having to remove them from the wall and start again.


Once the vinyl letters were applied, the backing to their adhesive is removed. And then the design can be placed on your project (in my case a wall in our hallway).

Using the tape made it easy to move my design around until it was the way I wanted it. The sticky side doesn’t lose any adhesive as it’s being moved around, and there is no worry about damage to the paint either. It is a very gentle adhesive when stuck to a hard smooth surface like a wall or glass (but it would not work on paper, it would stay stuck!).


Once the design is finalized, you must burnish the letters onto the wall with something like a rub-on tool (one actually comes with the package of vinyl). And then the tape peels very easily away to reveal the finished project. I had no issues with the letters staying stuck to the tape instead of the wall.


The completed design:


When all was said and done I was so happy I ran across Provo Craft’s Transfer Tape in the Cricut aisle at the craft store. Could you use the adhesive vinyl without it? Well, yes, but I would highly recommend using the two together. At a MSRP of around $10.00 for 4 sheets, it’s a wise purchase in order to use the vinyl you have in the best possible way.

Pros:

  • Facilitates using adhesive vinyl in your design placement, there is less of a chance of ruining a letter and having to cut it again.
  • Doesn’t harm the project it is applied to, adhesive is just strong enough but easily removed.
  • Stays tacky after use, could probably be reused at least once, stretching your dollar even further.

Cons:

  • Large pieces can be difficult to work with. If it gets stuck to itself, it’s almost impossible to un-stick without needing a new piece.
  • I wish the grid-lines were on the actual tape, this would be very helpful in placing a design. Instead you must use a ruler to make sure your design is straight.
  • You might not know you need it until you’ve started a vinyl project! I’m hoping you read this review first.

What about you? Have you used this tape in any of your vinyl projects? Or are you now inspired to do so? Let us know what you think!

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!