Reported by Jessica Ripley
I was first introduced to the Epiphany Crafts Button Studio and Shape Studio at Summer CHA 2010 (where it went on to be named one of Craft Critique’s Best of 2010), and was able to watch a demo to see exactly what these tools that seemed to take paper punching to a new level could do. As something that creates custom embellishments, they pretty much had me at hello, but still I wasn’t sure I needed yet another tool to add to my already overflowing allotted craft space. Still, I was excited to try them and see what they could bring to my crafting process.
Epiphany has created a variety of custom shapes to work with when it comes to choosing a shape or button tool. For each tool, there is a corresponding clear epoxy shape with an adhesive back which fits that particular tool exactly, and is ultimately the key to creating your own unique embellishment.
These shapes must be purchased separately. This may seem like a deterrent to some that you must continue to buy product once you purchase a button or shape tool in order to use it (which honestly was my first thought), however upon further consideration, the number of epoxy shapes which can so easily be customized in each packet is quite generous when compared to similar pre-made embellishments that we buy. Buttons of course usually come in much larger quantities than what Epiphany provides per pack, however the value of being able to coordinate them to fit any project is definitely a plus.
As I am primarily a paper crafter, what excited me most about these tools was the sheer ability to match embellishments to any project using patterned paper. The slot to place the material to be punched is about the same width as a paper punch, and strength of the “punch through” similar as well. Therefore, it seems you are limited to using paper with the tools. I tested thick cardstock which worked just fine. I also tried a thin fabric just for grins, but to no avail (not the manufacturer’s fault at all, just testing in the name of crafts).
Using the easy to understand instructions on the back of the package, I was creating my own shapes and buttons in no time. There are 4 easy steps:
1. Insert paper (I found small detail patterns work best) and line up using the see through view finder. I love punches that you are able to see exactly what you are punching out, so find this part of the Epiphany design is just excellent.
2. Place the appropriate epoxy shape on top of the area of paper to be punched. (This was a little tricky for me at first. The epoxy shape is a tight fit and needs to be worked into that opening, and the flower button shape had to be positioned just so, but I quickly got the hang of it.)
3. Place the plastic insert on top of the epoxy shape then close the lid and press down. You must press fairly firmly, but not necessarily any harder than you would normally do with a press down paper punch. The rounded lid is also easy on the palm of your hand.
4. Lift the lid and remove your finished customized embellishment.
Epiphany also has a line of products which enhance the pieces even further, such as felt flowers and settings.
I created the layout below using the Round Shape Tool and the Vintage Settings.
So, if you are like me, my first thought was “gee that’s neat. But couldn’t I do the same thing by using a paper punch I already have and then using a 3D gel medium to create that “epoxy” look?” Well, yes probably, but one of the most valuable resources I ever consider in my crafting is time. This little gadget saves time, and in a big way. Not only in drying time if I were to go the gel medium route, but also in cases of mass production, I just couldn’t beat it. Plus honestly it is just plain fun, and a little addicting once you start. Suddenly my scrap pile was looking full of possibilities!
As mentioned above, another time saver Epiphany Crafts offers are felt embellishments that can add your customized piece to. In a matter of minutes and with a little hot glue I had whipped up these pins to add to one of my favorite purses (that always needed just a little extra something).
And they of course work great on paper projects too like in this card.
I even whipped up a pair of post earrings.
Speaking of jewelry, Epiphany Crafts has thought of time savers in that area as well. Rings and Charm Settings that can be attached to necklaces or bracelets which hold one of the round customized shapes perfectly are shown in their 2011 catalog. I was not able to find these yet online, however look forward to their arrival in stores. What a great way to create a custom gift these will be.
The projects above all use a Shape Tool, however the buttons are just (if not more) versatile. Buttons will never go out of style, and being able to add customized looks to sewing projects is so wonderful.
The Button Tool works in the same way the Shape Tool does, but has prongs on the insert that you place through the button holes before punching.
Creating several buttons takes only minutes, especially once I had the hang of the process. A minor issue, I did notice that though the punch has two little prongs to poke through the button holes, they don’t quite go all the way through the paper cleanly when punched. Because I planned to sew the buttons, this didn’t bother me as I knew a needle would just poke through, so I don’t feel it that big of a problem.
I just love that I can sew these onto projects! I made the pillow below and added several as a decorative touch.
After having a chance to try these out for myself, I have to say that I foresee myself reaching for both the Epiphany Shape Tool and the Button Tool many times. I’ve seen them listed for sale anywhere from $15 to $25 depending on the retailer’s price, and the corresponding epoxy shapes around $5 per pack. Though this is a little more expensive than say a paper punch would be, I will be adding another 1 or 2 to my stash. I just love the possibilities with them, and at their relatively small size, my fear of not finding a place for them in my craft area is completely gone. I know right where they’ll be actually, front and center on my desk ready to be used again and again.
- A unique tool that is fun to use, small in size, but big on possibility.
- Create custom embellishments and buttons for all sorts of craft projects using patterns and colors you love.
- A precious time saver, using the tool is quick and easy.
- You must continue to purchase the corresponding epoxy shapes to use the tools.
- The highest price I found of $25 seems a little pricey, but I did find it for less also (and with a coupon, would be a bargain).
- The use of the tool is limited to paper (or photos).
The great folks at Epiphany are giving away this amazing prize package to one lucky reader. Just answer the any of the following questions in the comment section of this article on this blog to be entered: