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Tag Archives | Scrapbooking Software

Event | The Scrapbook Expo

Reported by Maria Del Pinto
The Scrapbook Expo has several shows across the country; each one features a fun crop event where folks get together and crop the day and night away.
For those who have never attended a crop, here is how some of the crops work.  Each person rents a table workspace and brings all of their supplies and pictures that they may need to work on their projects.  
The point of this type of event is to create the opportunity for an individual to work in a very creative atmosphere with other folks who share their enthusiasm to create memorable pages.  The shared creative ideas are a lot of fun, and people often make new friends at these types of events.
Each day of the crop part of the show has a different theme.  In the one I recently attended,  Friday was a fun “Old West Crop Party” theme.  There prizes for creativity, enthusiasm and more.  The show also offered attendees of the crop event some great equipment like die cut machines, paper trimmers, scrapbook software (compliments of Kodak), cricut machines, and more for croppers to use during the crop.
They even had pre-packaged scrapbooking kits that scrappers could order to make during the event.
The Expo also offered a broad selection of classes in digital scrapbooking and media.
On the show floor, there were many “Make & Take” opportunities for attendees to participate in. the projects were varied and had a wide range of appeal.
There were also plenty of free Technique Demonstrations to watch throughout the show, one of which was at the JudiKins booth.
Judy was on hand to demonstrate her technique of combining cool stamps with other products to create fun mini works of art. My favorite stamp was her new “Galaxy Spiral Stamp” which is from her retro collection.
For this project, she combined dye-based inks, glitters, and
Diamond Glaze to create a fun effect on glass and plastic.  The soda can lid (project on the right in the picture below) is stamped, then the color is heat set before adding the diamond glass (which is allowed to air dry).
The JudiKins booth featured a vast assortment of new rubber stamp images.  Here is a sampling of some of the new images 
and the sample card project.  She has more project ideas , directions, and instructional videos on her website.
The next booth to catch my eye was the Button Farm.  I just loved their wall of products, which included 7 Gypsies,Tim Holtz, and some very interesting curios. 
They also offered pre-packaged altered album kits.  All the supplies need to complete the project are in the kit.  They offered some fun designs.  I like the fact that I would not need to hunt out various unique products on my own to finish the kit like the one below.  For those who do not have time to plan a project, the complete step-by-step directions are always included in these kits.
My next stop was the Little Windows Brilliant Photo Jewelry booth.  Their display of photo jewelry just made you want to stop and look closer.  
Their fun jewelry making kit includes an epoxy resin that is not toxic and does not have the usual strong odor that most epoxies have.  Plus, it is created to work well with photo prints.
Here is a sampling of the different types of pieces you can make with this product using a variety of techniques.
Quick Quotes had a fun “Make & Take” that featured their flip flop shoe book.  This kit features a real pair of flip flops as the album cover.  Then the pages are attached in accordion style.  This is a very fun and cute kit.
They also had a fun display from their Club Q which offers crafters a choice of either a page kit or an altered art kit.
Technique Tuesday, featured ideas and kits that were geared towards toward the busy crafter.  They had page layout kits, chip board, clear stamps, and more.
Another booth that caught my eye was the Charity Wings.Org booth.  They were hosting a fund raiser “Make &Take”  event at the show, where they were making cute cards to raise money for charity.
Charity Wings is a non profit organization (California Non-Profit Org. 501(c)(3)) that empowers creative people who want to make a difference in other peoples lives and help raise funds for various charities and organizations (this show raised money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society).
I enjoyed the wide selection of “Make & Takes” mini workshops,
scrapbooking classes, and digital media imaging workshops.
This show offered an abundance of paper craft supplies.  The selection of embellishments was more tempting that you can imagine.  They also had basic rubber stamping supplies, chip board books, altered art supplies, stencils, embossing powders, glitters, adhesives, and incredible deals on patterned paper.
It turned out to be a great mix of altered art, stamping, and scrapbooking combined.  One of the things that really stood out at this show is that the “Tim Holtz” line is extremely popular and people are finding lots of creative ways to use the products.  I also noticed the pre-packaged scrapbooking and altered art kits were widely available.  No matter what your experience level is, there was a kit to suit your needs.   For more information on upcoming workshops, 2011 show schedule, discount coupons, or vendors,  I would recommend checking the Scrapbook Expo show website.

Have you attended any scrapbooking shows?  What was your favorite project or workshop? We would love to hear your thoughts on these type of shows?

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Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: Silhouette SD

Reported by Jessica Ripley

Of all the craft products that are on the market today, it seems to me the most difficult one to reach a decision on when it comes to what to purchase is a die cutting machine. Not only does there seem to be a version of every shape and size from capability to budget, choosing a die cutting machine is not really a “this one is the best” type of purchase. When reviewing all that is out there, we also have to take into account our personal feelings and needs, because in truth all those machines are “good,” it is just a matter of which one is “best” for us.

We are faced with questions such as:

  • Do we want excellent portability, or will the machine stay in one place on our craft rooms never to move?
  • Do we want the capability to cut our own designs or are we okay with strictly pre-made ones?
  • How computer-savvy do we need to be to use the thing?
  • At what point does the price (and future costs associated with) no longer equal a good investment?

I have asked myself all of these questions before, and that led me to originally choose a different die cutting machine for my needs. I won’t be comparing the two in this article, as again which machine we prefer can be just as much of a personal choice as anything, however I do feel like I should mention testing out and playing with the Silhouette SD has probably changed my mind on which machine I would recommend to a friend if they were faced with those same questions above. Here’s the lowdown that I’d share with them, which I hope you find helpful in your pursuit of the perfect machine for you too.

What you get

Out of the box the Silhouette SD comes complete with just about everything to get you up and running.

  • The Silhouette SD machine, which is lightweight and not overly bulky (a must for precious craft space).
  • An electrical cord and USB cord for computer connection.
  • 2 cutting mats (one for thick media, one for thin media).
  • 3 blade caps (you replace a cap on the blade for different cuts when it comes to the Silhouette SD rather than the blade itself, which I did like).
  • 1 installation CD (complete with 50 preloaded designs) and 1 detailed tutorial CD (Software for Windows XP/Vista/7 and Mac OS X 10.5.8 and higher).
  • A basic manual.
  • $10 download card for the Silhouette Online Store.

What else you need (or might need)

  • A computer, Mac or PC.
  • A longer USB cord. I found the cord which came with the machine too short for my particular set up, however an existing (much longer) cord from another machine I had on hand worked great.
  • Material to cut of course (paper from your stash, or anything from Silhouette’s line of other materials including heat transfers, temporary tattoo paper, vinyl, etc).
  • Basic computer skills.
  • An SD card to make the most of the Silhouette SD’s capability (it seems to me like they could have tossed one in the box, but most of us probably have one on hand).
  • Patience and time for the learning curve.

Set up

Initial set up of the Silhouette SD was quick and easy. The software installed on my Windows 7 PC in minutes (though do make sure all Windows updates have been applied to your computer first, as this did add to the total time for install on my end).

As far as physical space, the machine does not take up a lot of room. You do need space in front and behind it for the material to move while being cut. The machine cuts 8 1/2″ x 12″ size or smaller using a mat.

The technical side (software and online)

The paper manual which comes in the box is enough to get you up and cutting quickly, however the array of tools and options in the software does require you take some time to watch the tutorial CD and learn the basics. The tutorials are very well put together and easy to understand, especially if you are a visual learner like I am.


I liked the look of the software; it is slightly customizable in appearance (color and button size), and pretty easy to navigate. Here’s an image of the basic desktop you start off with for each new design.


I especially appreciated that hovering with the pointer over a particular tool brought up its name until I got the hang of what they all were. If you are familiar with photo editing or drawing programs, the software will seem very intuitive to you. If not, the tutorials (which are very specific) will give you a great handle on it quickly.

You are able to cut just about any design (pre-made, your own, or a traced scan) with the Silhouette SD. All True Type fonts installed on your computer can be cut, which opens up the flood gates for font possibilities in projects.

As mentioned above, the Silhouette SD software comes pre-loaded with 50 extremely usable designs:


Right at your finger tips is also a link to the online store with thousands of options to choose from (most are 99 cents each, though subscription programs are available which reduce the cost greatly), including designs from well-known companies like Hero Arts and Donna Downey. I quickly spent the $10 download card that comes with the machine while looking at all the great options!

Of course, possibilities are endless when you take into account designing your own images as well. Here’s a simple project made by creating my own design using standards fonts (Impact and Lucida Handwriting). The weld tool makes easy work of combining letters.

My design in the software:


And the finished project:

Performance

Though I only had opportunity to test the Silhouette SD on regular cardstock and paper for this review, it worked absolutely great. The machine is noisy when cutting, but does the job. I appreciate the 2 different cutting mats for different thicknesses of media, between which the only difference is the amount of adhesive (the lesser amount of adhesive meant for thinner materials).

As far as actual cutting, the Silhouette SD has more than just one option too. It also perforates. I love this option which makes super quick work of folded projects such as this pillow box (this template comes with the software).


Other features

The Silhouette has a Print and Cut feature which for me was the tipping point on why I’d now lean towards recommending this machine to a friend. I am a very big fan of cutting elements out of patterned paper for projects, and this option is quick, easy, and works great.

As an example, these 3D flowers were available in the online store.


First I printed them with the necessary registration marks so the Silhouette knows where to cut (this is covered in the tutorials) and then simply loaded into the machine for cutting. Here’s a peek of the Silhouette SD in action with the lid raised.


And the result:


Here’s a card using the finished flowers (which would have been about $2.99 in a pre-made pack).


The card template and sentiment also come preloaded with the software, and the dress form is from the online store.

To make the Print and Cut feature even more appealing, the software also includes a trace tool for tracing scanned images you wish to cut out. The trace tool takes a little getting used to, but once I practiced a bit I was able to make a near perfect replica of this vintage doily in a few easy steps. First I scanned the doily into Photoshop Elements and saved the image as a bitmap, then opened the bitmap image in Silhouette SD Studio and followed the steps to trace it, and finally proceeded just like I would with a print and cut image:



Finally, the Silhouette SD has portability thanks to the SD card slot located on the machine.


Designs are able to be loaded onto an SD card and then retrieved by the machine for cutting while not connected to a computer.

To sum up, let’s revisit those primary questions above when purchasing a die cutting machine.

  • Do we want excellent portability or will the machine stay in one place on our craft rooms never to move?

You don’t have to necessarily choose with the Silhouette SD. Thanks to the SD card slot, you are able to pre-load designs to be cut onto an SD card (not included), unplug the machine from your computer, and take it with you to a crop or anywhere else. You must, of course, take the time to load up the SD card with images first, however if you do so with ones you use often that can become very handy. I myself don’t crop out of the home much, but traveling from my craft area (where my husband is playing a loud video game) to the dining room table (where I don’t have to hear “watch your back!” every few minutes) is a nice option.

  • Do we want the capability to cut our own designs or are we OK with strictly pre-made ones?

Again no choice necessary here. Countless designs are available online, many great ones come with the machine preloaded in the software, and designing our own is a piece of cake once you get the hang of the software. And, no need to buy many designs we don’t care for either just to get a few that we do.

  • How computer savvy do we need to be to use the thing?

Basics are definitely needed, and knowledge of working with other drawing type programs would put you that much further ahead of the learning curve, however the tutorials are very good at explaining each and every tool. So there should not be any intimidation about the computer needs as long as you are willing to take the time to learn.

  • And of course at what point does the price (and future costs associated with) no longer equal a good investment?

There is certainly more freedom in how we can answer this question with the Silhouette SD versus other machines currently on the market. For one, designs can be purchased separately for 99 cents, however if you become good at it you can also design your own for free (or download the weekly freebies from the online store to build your collection also). If you find you are constantly wanting to use new images, you can choose one of the subscription plans available which roll over from month to month if you do not use them up. Also there is no third party software to purchase in order to increase the capability of the machine, it simply comes with the flexibility we wish they all had.

Pros:

  • The Silhouette SD can cut just about any image, increasing its value potential over other machines.
  • The software and online store are user friendly and fairly easy to navigate after a bit of learning time.
  • Many options are available from cutting style (straight line or perforated), cutting mat (thin or thicker media), to material which can be cut (Silhouette also offers vinyl, heat transfer material, flocked paper, and even temporary tattoo paper).

Cons:

  • Initial purchase price of around $200 is expensive and may not fit your budget, no matter what the possibilities for use could be.
  • The Silhouette cuts a smaller size overall than other die cutting machines (8 1/2″ x 12″ vs 12″ x 12″ or larger), and if you have large 12″ x 12″ stash you will be trimming a lot before cutting is possible.
  • Like other machines, eventually the blade and mats will need to be replaced which will be an added cost.

Good DEALS…
Our friends at Silhouette are providing our readers with some fabulous offers… from now until June 29, 2011, you can get…

1 Silhouette SD 
2 Packages Temporary Tattoo Paper 
for $199 (U.S. only) (that’s a $120 savings!)

Also, (wait for it…)

25% off all other products in the Silhouette shop (excluding gift cards and download codes). So if you already own the machine but want to get some of that cool Tattoo Paper or Heat Transfer material, now is the time.

To partake in this amazing offer, head on over to Silhouette and use Promo Code CRITIQUE. Offer ends June 29, 2011.
 
AND A GIVEAWAY!

They’ve also given us a Silhouette SD and two packages of their Tattoo Paper to give away to one of our very lucky readers. First enter by leaving a comment below answering the following question(s):

Do you own a Silhouette SD or are you considering purchasing one? What are your thoughts on how this machine can do versus other machines you know of? 

We can’t wait to hear from you on this one! This will give you one entry but wait, there’s more…

Optional Bonus Entries
Earn additional entry for each of the following:

■ Tweet about the giveaway! (example): WIN a Free Silhouette on @CraftCritique from @silhouetteam and read the Reviews. http://is.gd/QxOcYB

Like Silhouette America on Facebook and let them know you saw them on Craft Critique!

■ Link to the giveaway on Facebook!

Please enter one comment per entry. So, once you have done any of the additional entries remember to come back and comment to let us know. Contest closes at midnight. Good Luck!

Disclosure

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

Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 & GIVEAWAY!

Reported by Deja Jetmir

Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 (DSA2) by Serif makes it easy to create scrapbooks, cards, and many other projects using just your computer. Instead of the mess and hassle of traditional scrapbooking, Serif has created a wonderful interface that takes the sometimes overwhelming options and makes them doable.

I received the DGA2 and Daisytrail Digikit Collection 4, and easily loaded them on my Windows 7 computer. DSA2 includes five full kits of content that includes fonts, embellishments, backgrounds, materials, brushes and layouts. Plus the actual program has tools like scissors with different edges to create texture in your project, pre-made stencils (and an option to create your own), paintbrush effects, and much more that would cost hundreds of dollars if you bought each of these items from a scrapbook store.

Being an extreme novice scrapbooker, I was excited to begin working with it. I decided to jump right in to the experience by adding a picture to a pre-made layout just to get a feel for the user friendly ability. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy and fun it was to create pages of creative and cute memories.

I quickly made a finished page in less than five minutes with a pre-made layout and easy photo cropping tools. I was now confident, and ready to get more creative.

Free Halloween Layout from Daisytrail

I wanted to get a feel for all of the amazing tools DSA2 had to offer, so I pulled up Serif’s helpful YouTube tutorials and learned how to use the stencils, scissors, photo editing, and many of the other tools included. I also took advantage of the free kits Serif offers on its website. Unfortunately, downloading them is sort of a pain because you can only download one at a time, but once on my computer they automatically showed up on my software and worked seamlessly with the program.

The next page I created was using a Playground layout I downloaded for free on the Daisytrail website. Then I personalized it by making a few adjustments to test my new skills.

Original Playground Layout
Personalized Playground Layout

Now that I was really rolling, time to try some from scratch projects. Seeing as I have no experience creating my own scrapbooks, I thought my finished products weren’t half bad, and I’m sure I will only get better with time.

Made from the Indie Chick Kit included in DSA2
Made from the Haberdashery Kit from the Digikit Collection 4

I also wanted to try making a design I could use as a holiday card (another project I’ve never attempted before), and again, within minutes, I had created a beautiful product I can’t wait to give out this winter.

Made from Paper Town Kit from Digikit Collection 4

As a person who used to stare dumbfounded at the massive scrapbook departments at my local craft stores, I found DSA2 to be a user friendly, fun solution that is perfect for someone like me. I find this product easy to use, and love the finished products. I can see that traditional scrapbookers may be wary about the lack of 3D texture they normally achieve with layering their materials. However, I think they can get around this by using DSA2 for the base of their project and then build from there with traditional scrapbook supplies. For me, I love it just the way it is and like the fact it is not bulky, which means when I print out the finished product I can fit more pages in each scrapbook I create.

Serif has created a unique product that allows even the most inexperienced crafter a way to create a beautiful product. Yet, it is sophisticated enough that pro scrapbookers will love the vast array of tools and designs Serif includes to create truly unique masterpieces.

Pros:

  • Great for people who want an all-in-one solution
  • User friendly software and website
  • Tons of features
  • Helpful tutorials
  • Lots of free kits

Cons:

  • Downloading kits from website could be easier
  • Lack of the 3D texture of traditional scrapbooking
  • Not Mac compatible

DSA2 Cost: $49.99 (free compact version available for download)
Digikit Collection 4 Cost (includes 10 full kits): $39.99
Single Digikit Cost Range: $1.60 to $6.49

GIVEAWAY!
Daisy Trail is giving one lucky reader a free copy of the Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 Software. Leave a comment on this post telling us if you have tried DSA2? Or any other scrapbooking software? We’d love to hear what you think about them. One comment per person, per Vendor Spotlight: Digital Scrapbook Artisit 2 article, please. Winner will be selected Wednesday, April 28th at 6pm CST.

Disclosure

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