Author Archive | Colleen Schaan

Spellbinders Nestabilities

Review by Sharon Harnist

They are everywhere you look — in scrapbooking, cardmaking, rubberstamping, papercrafting of all types . . . scallops! At first, Marvy Uchida couldn’t keep up with the demand we papercrafters placed on their scalloped punches and were backordered for months.

Last spring (2006) when Ellen Hutson of Simple Dreams had a hard time keeping the punches in stock at her online store, she began brainstorming on a solution with Spellbinders Paper Arts Company owners, Jeff and Stacey Caron, whom she had met at the Winter CHA show a few months earlier.

Together, they’ve developed revolutionary plates that will emboss as well as die cut solid (straight) circles, ovals, squares and rectangles as well as scalloped versions of all those shapes!

And here’s the outcome they produced . . . (they say a picture is worth a thousand words! Photo courtesy of Ellen Hutson):

Look at that pile of punches that equals all the shapes you get from that small grouping of beautiful circle copper plates at the bottom center of the photo –- amazing, isn’t it?!! Consequently, you won’t have the storage issues with these dies that you do with regular punches . . . and what papercrafter doesn’t need more storage space?!! Here’s how I’m storing mine, in a CD case with strips of magnetic sheet (I got mine at Michael’s for $2.99 for a huge roll) adhered to each side of the case. Many thanks to Debbie Olson for this idea! One CD case holds two sets of shapes . . . that’s the equivalent to 10-14 punches per case!

Here are 16 sets of dies stored in the CD cases . . . they take up roughly the same space of two punches!

Here’s an example of the beautiful cutting and embossing these dies produce (sets of both large and small classic and scalloped circles):

The bonus is that the dies will work in most any die-cut machine you may already own. If you don’t already have a machine, Spellbinders has their own machine (also carried by Ellen), the Wizard universal embossing and die-cutting system. You can view a video at the Spellbinders site HERE on how their Wizard universal embossing and die-cutting system works with the dies. If you’ll be using a different machine, you will also need the Spellbinder Wizzard tan embossing mat, which can be purchased HERE thru Ellen’s online store.

Each set of dies come in either large or small, classic or scallop and range in size up to 4 inches — larger than any other punch currently produced. They are called Nestabilities, just for that reason . . . they nest in size, and each die in a given set is exactly 1/4″ larger then the previous die. Therefore, if you prefer a 1/8” later or mat, then both sets (large and small) will accommodate your needs. All of the individual “humps” of the scallops are spaced to align with one another when nesting one or more scalloped shapes together. Not only do the Nestabilities cut, they feature embossing capabilities as well!

Here’s a photo of a full set of both large and small sizes (photo courtesy of Ellen Hutson):

Each set (4 shown above) is also sold on its own — you save money when purchasing in sets. As shown in the photo above, the circles are the only current shape to also be offered in a tinier scallop (not smaller in overall cutting size, but rather the Petite Scallop Circle has a total of 37 humps on it whereas the Classic Scallop Circle only has 22 humps), for when you’d like a more “delicate” look for your project. If you make a comparison to other scalloped punches you may already own, you can determine which will better suit your style. Count the humps on your current scallops and then make your decision accordingly.

How do these dies work in a system you may already own? The Cuttlebug is the only die cutting machine I currently own, so I used the recipe shown below (written by Ellen Hutson) for my machine. Ellen compiled a list of many popular machines that she’s tested and the appropriate sandwich recipes HERE.

(Recipes are layered from the bottom, up):

Cuttlebug™ CUTTING Sandwich
1. A plate
2. C plate
3. Spellbinders™ die, blade side up
4. Paper or cardstock
5. B plate
6. Roll through Cuttlebug™

CUTTING Sandwich with Spellbinders™ Magnetic Placement Mat
1. A plate
2. B plate
3. Spellbinders™ White Spacer plate
4. Spellbinders™ Magnetic Placement Mat
5. Spellbinders™ die, blade side up
6. Paper or cardstock
7. B plate
8. Roll through Cuttlebug™

Cuttlebug™ EMBOSSING Sandwich
1. A plate
2. 2 sheets cardstock to act as shim. Add extra pieces if needed.
2. B plate
3. Spellbinders™ die, blade side up
4. Paper or cardstock
5. Spellbinders™ Tan Emboss Mat
6. B plate
7. Roll through Cuttlebug™

EMBOSSING Sandwich with Spellbinders™ Magnetic Placement Mat
1. A plate
2. B plate
3. Spellbinders™ Magnetic Placement Mat
4. Spellbinders™ die, blade side up
5. Paper or cardstock
6. Spellbinders™ Tan Emboss Pad
7. B plate
8. Roll through Cuttlebug™
*Shim with extra pieces of cardstock if needed.

I haven’t had any issues yet with my metal dies shifting when moving thru my machine, but if you experience this, Spellbinders has already solved the problem with a magnetic pad!

Some tips I’ve discovered: When working with rubber stamped images, I find it easier to first stamp the image on cardstock and then place the appropriate die size I need on top of it:

Then, I gently press the die (not so hard as to cut your finger!) into the paper/cardstock, to help “hold” it in place. Then flip the two over so the die is facing up when it runs thru the machine. Sometimes I’ve experienced static cling with my B plate when placing it over the die/cardstock but a sweep of the Embossing Buddy on the B plate usually solves this issue.

The complete set of 24 dies (that’s large and small, classic and scalloped) shown above is priced at $79.99 retail — that is just $3.33 for each die! Individual sets are priced at $24.99 retail — still a very affordable $4.17 per die.

Retailers selling the Nestabilities:
Ellen Hutson, LLC
PaperTrey Ink

Here’s a recent project I completed using the Nestabilities:

I couldn’t wait to try out these fantastic new dies and definitely was NOT disappointed! They give such a professional look to your projects and I found them very easy to use. Ellen tells us that Spellbinders will be using their patented technology to continue to bring you more of the shapes that you desire and I can’t wait to try them!

Have you tried the Nestabilities dies yet? Make sure and leave us a comment telling us what you thought of this new die cutting system.

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

Punch It Easy!

Reported By: Gina Krupsky

It’s like buying a computer. You buy it and then two weeks later, the new model comes out and it’s so much better! Frustrating? Yes. But when it comes to punches, there’s help.

Marvy Uchida makes some of the best punches on the market. The new Clever Lever design makes it easy to punch even the thickest card stock!

But what if you bought your punches two weeks before these babies came out? Then you have the old button style punch.

Actually, the button style punches are still widely available and come in all the same cool shapes as the Clever Lever version. They cost less but the downside is that they can be harder to punch. In fact, if you suffer from arthritis or carpel tunnel syndrome, it can be almost impossible!

So what do you do? Well, don’t think you have to buy all new punches! Marvy has a tool that will make it easy as can be!

The Marvy Craft Punch Mate makes punching any button style punch a breeze! And for only about $20.00, all of your button style punches become as easy to use as Clever Lever punches!

The inside plate is set up to match the shape of the different sizes of button style punches.

All you have to do is place your punch on the plate.

Slip your cardstock into your punch and press down on the handle!

You won’t believe how easy your punch will cut through even the thickest cardstock with ease!

So pick up a Marvy Craft Punch Mate and blow the dust off of all your button style punches today! For more information, check out

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

Tim Holtz Paper Distresser by Tonic Studios

Reported By: Tami Bayer

I picked up this cute, little paper distresser at my local scrapbook store last month.

If you look at my blog, you can spy lots of distressed edges in the last month as I have had a blast using this! I never had any type of distressing tool before except the ones at the ends of my fingers…my fingernails. This little tool retails for less than $6, and it does the job beautifully.

Here is a sample of before and after using it on some cardstock tags. You can see that the second tag had much softer edges.

If you have a distressing tool that works for you, then this isn’t anything extra special. But, if you need something to distress the edges of your cardstock, then this is a great choice. It has a soft indented red spot in the middle where you hold the tool. All of the little openings have a sharp edge to run your paper through and rough it up. While it makes a little mess when you use it (because it really takes off some of the paper) it is very easy to clean up. The only problem with this tool is that the paper sometimes bends a bit while distressing. (You can see a couple of little creases in my tag. I think it adds to the distress charm.) If this is happening to you, you can try using a bit less pressure while distressing.

It is the top quality product that I have come to expect from Tim Holtz. It’s a great little tool to add to your collection and doesn’t take up much room in the tool box.

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