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Author Archive | Dana Vitek

Xyron 9" Creative Station

Reported by Christian Tamez

Laminating has always been one of those mysterious crafting entities that I have always admired, but stayed away from. Mainly because most of the laminating machines I came across were fairly expensive and did only one thing, laminate. That is until the Xyron 9” Creative Station came into my possession.

 What I immediately liked about this machine was that it needs no electricity to run, which means you can use this machine anywhere, anytime and did I mention that it’s quiet? A simple turning crank on the side of the machine, (yes there is an arrow so you don’t get confused which direction to turn), and you can use this little machine with all of its different refills. Another bonus: with 9 inches of laminating width you can laminate a complete piece of 8″ x 11.5″ piece of paper! 

Refills are the different cartridges that you can use with the Creative Station. Five different options, including three different acid-free adhesives, two-sided laminate, and a magnet material. The machine comes with a Permanent Adhesive cartridge already installed, so I picked up the two-sided laminate and the magnet refills to go with my machine.

So the first thing I wanted to do was laminate, and preserve some of the memories I collected when I tagged along with Craft Critique to go see Martha Stewart. I printed some of my pictures, and to keep them from getting all smudgy from being touched, laminated them. You just put your item to be run through the machine on the little platform, press it gently against the rollers and turn the handle, simple, fast and easy. I made a quick video overview of the Xyron 9” Creative Station, take a look!

The second cartridge I purchased and was so excited to use was the magnet refill. I love magnets and love making them even more. I took one of my favorite pictures from that trip to Martha and turned it into a magnet so every time I go to the fridge, I get to see me with Martha. I also took some pictures and turned them into magnets for my family so they could think of me always. For my sister, I took a picture of her little baby girl, slapped some text on it, ran it through my Xyron, and like magic, an adorable magnet! 

Each refill cartridge was easy to trim; I was a little hesitant about using the removable trimmer for the magnet material but it did just fine and cut through cleanly on the first swipe. Scissors, craft knives, rotary cutters all easily trim away any excess Xyron material, leaving you with fun personalized crafty goodness. There’s a score mark on the removable cutter that lets you know where the blade will cut, very important so you don’t accidentally cut right through what you were laminating! 

All in all I would say the Xyron is a great tool to use. I had a great time decorating my fridge with all of my projects!

Pros:

  • Extremely easy to use
  • Multiple uses for the machine – I love that this does not exclusively laminate.

Cons:

  • Removable trimmer occasionally comes out of the machine
  • The magnet material could be a stronger magnet
  • Small items tend to use excess material, that cannot be reused

Do you have a favorite laminator? Do you have the Xyron 9″ Creative Station and love it? What about other Xyron products that you love?

Disclosure

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

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY!: Spellbinder Grand Calibur (Day 2 of 2)

Reported by Dana Vitek

I’ve been a Spellbinders customer since the beginning of time. I have one of the original Wizards; it says “Patent Pending” on it. I’ve been collecting the Spellbinders dies since before the Nestibilities came out. As such, I have amassed quite the collection:

I may or may not have a problem.

So when the time came to test out the Spellbinders Grand Calibur, I was the obvious choice.  Kandi did such a great job yesterday describing the contents of the box and such, I’ll just get right down to the business of showing off.

The first thing I wanted to cut and emboss has been hanging out in my craft room for years:

This is Craft-a-Board, developed by Ellen Hutson for use with the Spellbinder Nestabilities. It’s a sturdy board, like chipboard, but nicer. I could never get the Nestabilities to cut cleanly through it with the original Wizard, so I was excited to try it with the Grand Calibur.

I laid out all the dies I wanted to cut. The largest scalloped square there is the very biggest of the Grand Scalloped Squares. I also threw some scalloped paisleys on there because I had SO MUCH ROOM on the cutting platform.

Here they are after one pass through the Grand Calibur:

One piece didn’t cut cleanly all the way through, but a quick pass of the craft knife, and it was ready to go.

Compared to the trouble I had with this stuff using the original Wizard, I was thrilled!
While I had the Craft-a-Board out, I decided to make a puzzle for my daughter, using the Spellbinders Jigsaw Puzzle Die. I traced out the size of the die in pencil, and then went to town stamping and coloring the Craft-a-Board:

I centered the die over the design, and ran it through the Grand Calibur:

One pass through… 

and here it is in pieces:

Most of the pieces came apart with a little back and forth wiggling; I think I had to cut 2 or 3 pieces with the craft knife, and it literally only took seconds to do that. A quick, personalized 20-piece puzzle for my kid. These would be great as birthday party favors!

Now then, I have letterpress on the brain because I just finished up a some letterpress projects, and the packaging of the Spellbinders Impressibilities caught my eye. It says it can be used for letterpressing. Don’t mind if I do!

I pulled out my letterpress paper and ink, and inked up the Paisley Impressibility:

I laid it on top of the paper on the ‘A’ plate. I ran it through the machine using the “embossing sandwich” but there wasn’t enough pressure, and I didn’t get a good deboss.

So I tried it again with the regular cutting sandwich (‘A’ plate, paper, Impressibility, ‘C’ plate), and voila! It looks fabulous!

I was really impressed! Pun intended!

Moving on to one of my favorite media: shrink plastic! I love making little charms for cards and jewelry, and I wanted to see if the Grand Calibur generated enough pressure to cut plastic with the low-profile Nestibilities.

Test subject:

I ran it through the Grand Calibur, and the plastic cut with no trouble at all! I set my old-school Old Milwaukee heat-gun to work, and came up with this cute little dragonfly:

Here’s a fun little card for a coworker’s new baby girl, using the letterpressed paper, the dragonfly charm, and some cut paisleys:

I figured that since it could cut shrink plastic, it could probably cut thicker plastic too, like the ubiquitous clamshell packaging. I swear, I have saved every plastic package since the late ’90s. Really. I refuse to let it go to a landfill, but I’ve never really figured out what to do with it. Well, now I know!

This is actually the packaging from the Grand Scalloped Square Nestabilities
again, one pass through, no problem…

all sanded up and ready to go!

I’ll bet you’re wondering what I made with all this stuff… okay, I’ll show you.

While I was cutting paisleys, I cut a bunch of them, and made a scrapbook layout featuring my kid wearing a dinosaur hat:

this was a happy little accident… 2 paisleys=a heart!
this kid knows what’s up.

I decided my layout needed some rub-ons, but didn’t have the energy to use that Popsicle stick doohicky, so I placed the rub-on where I wanted it, and ran it through the Grand Calibur, just to see if the pressure would transfer the rub-on.

It totally did! What a time-saver!

And here’s the finished layout. This uses the largest (8″) Scalloped Square that I cut from the Craft-a-Board; the smaller scalloped square, also from the Craft-a-Board; that sanded plastic piece that I cut from the packaging, and the Paisley heart: 

Please be gentle… I am not a scrapbooker!

I put the Grand Calibur through its paces, and am happy to report that I never found anything it couldn’t do. EXCEPT. Except it is just not quite big enough to use the regular Sizzix dies. I was so hoping that I could whittle down my die-cutting machine collection to just the Grand Calibur, but I have way too much $$$ invested in regular Sizzix dies, so the Big Shot stays.

Pros:

  • Wide-format opening allows for 8″ dies to be used.
  • Grand Nestabilities match the smaller Nestabilities, and allow for layering.
  • Easy-to-turn handle, no shooting the sandwich stack across the room like with the original Wizard.
  • Can cut lots of media, not just cardstock.
  • It’s pink. Ish. Kind of a raspberry, really, but I’m down with that.

Cons:

  • Opening is not quite big enough to allow a regular Sizzix die through.
  • The crank handle takes many revolutions; seems like the gear ratio should be reset.
  • That’s all I’ve got. Really.

GIVEAWAY!
Our friends at Spellbinders have given us a set of Grand Scalloped Squares AND a set of Grand Squares (which coordinate) to give to one lucky reader (that’s a $100 value!). Just leave a comment on this blog post answering this question:

Knowing now what different media you can cut with the Grand Calibur and the Nestabilities, what would you try to cut?

One comment per person, please. Winner will be selected on Friday, April 29, 2011.

Disclosure

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

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY!: Spellbinders Grand Calibur (continued)

Reported by Kandi Phillips
I’ve always loved shaped cards and couldn’t wait for the chance to create my very own scalloped card! One the amazing things the Grand Calibur does is to emboss all in one cut when using Nestabilities! I placed my cardstock fold in half over the die and then ran it through the machine.

I was left with a fun scallop shape complete with embossed edges.

Using some of my previously cut dies I created this quick shaped card.

When using the oval Grand Nestabilities in conjunction with the coordinating scallop dies, you can create a precise layer that will fit perfectly on your die-cut shape.

Using my sewing pattern flower I dressed up the front of the shaped card and added some felt petals also cut out with a die.


You can also use the Grand Nestabilities to cut photos! Since you’ll always place your media face down on the die (with the die edges facing up toward the cutting plate) you can get an embossed edge even on your pictures. I centered the die over my photo and then taped the edges outside of the cutting area.

Flip it over on your plate and then pass through your machine to result in an embossed and quickly cut picture.

Using the dies and the previously cut scallop I created a scrapbook layout inspired by the ovals as eggs.

For my next test I wanted to take things to the next level. How many of you have extra scraps of ribbon that you think you need to hang onto “just in case” and then never use on a project? I gathered up some of my strips and secured them onto a scrap of white cardstock.

I placed the smaller oval die on the back side of the ribbon. I knew I didn’t need to have an embossed edge on this one and I wasn’t sure if it might damage the ribbon so I used the opposite side instead. I secured the sides with tape in case of accidental shifting before it was placed in the machine.

When I removed it from the back of the machine I found it hadn’t cut all the way through the ribbon, but that was quickly fixed by trimming around the edges.

I dressed up the oval with some flowers and can’t wait to use this cute Easter egg on another layout or card!

Finally I took the plunge into cutting fabric! The first pass through didn’t yield the expected results and I was a little dismayed.

After doing some research on the Spellbinders website it recommended using a shim in the form of regular printer paper to bring the die closer to the fabric. I ran it through and again and still wasn’t able to get the even results I was hoping for.

Thinking I need to use more printer paper, or actual cardstock, I created a thick sandwich of cardstock and layered my fabric over the dies. It was amazingly difficult to crank the handle with such a thick sandwich and after hearing a large pop I was worried I had completely broken the machine. I reversed the handle and luckily everything was still in working order, and even better I had some fabric cuts!

Now, I’m still going to go back and try to find the perfect sandwich and mix for cutting fabric, but if you’re thinking of trying this, it may vary depending on the fabric you’re using, or how thick your cardstock is. If you’ve got a recipe for success I’d love to hear about it!

After spending so much time cutting I knew I needed to focus on the embossing side of things. I already knew I couldn’t emboss with my Sizzix® Impression Plates, and I needed the W-025 Raspberry Spacer before using my Cuttlebug ® folders, so I went in a different direction. I wanted to try and use various items in my craft supplies to create unique embossed backgrounds. I used embroidery floss, chipboard butterfly cuts and buttons.

Unfortunately the buttons were too thick so I couldn’t get it all the way through and had to reverse. The chipboard almost cut through the cardstock, but the floss created a really cool effect.

I tried another set of chipboard die cuts that were a little thinner, but still it almost cut through the cardstock from the deep pressure of the machine.

Lastly, I wanted to use a brass stencil to test out the embossing feature.

In comparison you can’t see too much difference from the Big Shot Express® example on the left to the Grand Calibur example on the right.

I added some distressing ink and although it’s not very visible in the photo, the image from the Grand Calibur is slightly deeper and a little crisper.

Overall, I am in love with the Grand Calibur and what it can do. Although I am disappointed at my results with fabric, and the fact that I can’t use my Bigz® dies, I am incredibly pleased at being able to use other dies I’d almost given up on. Combined with the fact that I can use extra-large Grand Nestabilities that coordinate with the smaller scale Nestabilities, and the amazing crispness of the cuts, I know I’ll always turn to the Grand Calibur for die-cutting outside of Sizzix® dies.

The Grand Calibur retails for $129.99 and replacement cutting plates can be purchased separately for $24.99. Additionally, the Grand Nestabilities can be purchased for $49.99, and as mentioned coordinate with the smaller versions of Nestabilities seamlessly.

Pros:
  • Wide cutting plates let you cut with the super-sized Grand Nestabilities dies and also cut multiple dies at once
  • Amazing crispness and deep embossing when cutting through most mediums
  • Compatible with most dies on the marketBuilt in handle that you can hold onto while turning the crank handle
  • Stability base works well and keeps the machine in place

Cons:
  • Crank handle requires at least 30 revolutions to complete one pass
  • Isn’t compatible with Sizzix Bigz® dies and requires a spacer plate for use with Sizzlets®, Fiskars® plates and Cuttlebug® folders
GIVEAWAY!
Our friends at Spellbinders have given us a set of Grand Scalloped Circles AND a set of Large Format Circles (which coordinate) to give to one lucky reader (that’s a $100 value!). Just leave a comment on either of today’s blog posts answering this question:

Have you used the Spellbinders Grand Calibur before? What do you use your Grand Calibur the most for, or what would you use it for?

One comment per person, per article, please. Winner will be selected on Friday, April 29, 2011.

Disclosure

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