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Author Archive | Jenny Chesnick

Digital Stamping

Reported by Jenny Chesnick


So let’s be honest how many stamps do you own and never use? I am ashamed of my stash of stamps. I can truly count on two hands how many times I have used them. Recently I have been digital scrap-booking more and more. I stumbled across “digital stamping” from a friend and decided to do some detective work.

Digital stamps are black and white images you can download for free, or for purchase, from sites around the web. You use them just as you would traditional stamps. You can manipulate them, color them, flip them and print them over and over, without the bulk of storage! Once printed you can embellish them much as you would traditional stamps. Copic Markers are all the rage in stamping and can be used for these stamps as well! If you have any knowledge of PhotoShop or Microsoft word these stamps can be manipulated in layers to create one of a kind stamps.

I search high and low around the inter-web to find free stamps, software tips, videos and the like to share.

Free Digital Stamp sites:

Bird Cards
Free Digital Stamps
Dustin Pike
Two Scoops Rice Designs
A walk on the mild side
Pollycraft
Squigglefly
Craft Gossip
Master list complied by About.com lots of great links for free stamps!

Tutorials:

Sugarplum Paperie
Digital Scrapbook Place
Beginners Guide to Digital Stamping
Blisstree, How to make a digi stamp
Soft Pencil
Squigglefly, Tons of Videos!
Digital Scrapbooking Source

Pros:

  • Relatively cheap and or FREE!
  • Easy to store
  • Instant satisfaction of delivery plus no shipping!
  • Images can be manipulated and used over and over
  • No “stamp”

Cons:

  • You must be techno savvy
  • Limited in what you can print the images on
  • Techniques can be a challenge (you can’t really heat emboss a digital stamp)
  • You must pay attention to commercial licensing if you want to use for your own commercial use.
  • Cost of computer ink verse traditional stamping ink

So are you a digital scrapper or stamper? Link up your favorite FREE sites for everyone to enjoy!

Disclosure

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

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: Xyron Creatopia (article 5 of 6)

Reported by: Jenny Chesnick


I was thrilled to be asked to review this new product from Xyron, the Creatopia!
The Creatopia is an all in one crafting powerhouse. It is an interchangeable machine with distinctive inserts to suit your crafting needs. The Creatopia offers 4 Adhesive options: Permanent, Repositionable, Fabric and Two-sided Laminating. All cartridges apply even edge-to-edge adhesive onto items up to 12 wide and ½ thick. It also embosses and cuts straight or decorative edges on items up to 12 wide and creates die press shapes on paper up to 6 ½ wide. The Creatopia Overview video by Xyron shows you exactly what the Creatopia is all about!

I am going to focus on the Shapez, Cutz and Patternez inserts for the Creatopia. When I opened my box I was pleased to find it comes with the Permanent Adhesive cartridge already in the machine. The instructions on how to remove this insert were just a tad too vague for me. I went on the web and found some VERY good videos by Xyron. The refillz video will show you exactly how to change out your cartridges as you like. It also has some very helpful hints (which I needed!) on how to turn the handle when unlocking your machine etc. I could never do these videos justice by doing one of my own. They are extremely helpful.


So I quickly moved on to THIS video to show me how to put in my Shapez insert so I could get down to some die-cutting! I currently own an Epic 6 and a Sidekick. I was very interested to see how this machine compared to my current machines.

Shapez


A couple tips for inserting your Shapez. It is going to take some strength to get it into place. So put your arm into it and push. Be sure your wheels are lined up, if they are not you need to push the insert further. Also be sure to pull OUT the front paper tray BEFORE you insert the Shapez (I learned this the hard way) The Shapez insert has good heavy weight to it, and is smooth gliding. It comes with 4 plates for use. The main platform base and 3 interchangeable cutting mats, so the Creatopia will work with dies from any manufacturer. Simply read the instructions that come with the Shapez to figure out the configuration of cutting mats for your dies. It will also easily emboss with any embossing plates out there. The Shapez cuts paper up to 6 1/2 inches wide and 7 inches long. Now if you are like me and have dies that are 12 inches long, not to worry! I pulled out my base platform and cutting mat that came with my Epic 6 (which is 12 inches long) the Creatopia took my other machines platform and cutting mat without issue. You can also use your L Letterpress with this machine! (SWEET!) I would suggest shimming your Letterpress as you would with your Epic to get the impression you want on your papers.

Pros:

  • Will work with all Dies on the Market
  • As easy to use as any other machine you may already have
  • Price is comparable to other machines on the market
  • Will accept other manufacture platforms as well as the Letterpress

Cons:

  • Takes some strength to get the Shapez into the Creatopia
  • Does not cut dies over 7 inches long with included platform
  • Written instructions could be better for those without Internet access to few videos

Cutz



The next insert I played with was Cutz. The Cutz will cut paper, fabric and other thin materials up to 12.5 wide to size or into strips with a variety of straight or fancy blades. You can find the informational video by Xyron HERE. Again, watching the video was much more helpful for me then the instructions with the Cutz. They are tricky to insert into the Creatopia. I was excited to use the Scalloped Edges, by far my favorite cartridge. The Cutz will start cutting at 1inch in depth. You can easily re-create those Bazzill edges with it! The Cutz cartridges can be placed anywhere in the machine to give you that versatility. The biggest issue I had with the Cutz was keeping my paper straight. You receive a clear stabilizing bar, which in essence is a block of acrylic to weigh your paper down. Even with using this I had issues holding the machine, turning the handle and holding onto the stabilizing bar. Now if you are just cutting stripes out to use then this should not be a problem as you can cut them down straight once you are done. I think with more practice on my part this wouldn’t be a major issue.


You can see on this layout I used the Scalloped Cartridges to create my layered border. Again these were not cut straight, but didn’t really matter for my use.


Pros:

  • Lightweight design, much easy to insert
  • Variety of cartridges
  • Will cut fabric as well as cardstock
  • Cartridges are labeled with a photo and you can add written description
  • Price is comparable with punches that create the same look

Cons:

  • Instructions from the box could be more helpful
  • Keeping the paper straight as you cut
  • Cartridge storage, it would be useful to have something to store them in


Border Patternz & Embossing Patternz


The last of the inserts I played with was the Embossing Patternz and the Border Patternz. The Border Patternz will emboss 2.5 inch wide designs on paper and other thin materials. The Embossing Patternz will emboss designs on paper and other thin materials up to 12 inches wide. There is a variety of shapes and patterns to choose from. You can watch the Patternz video HERE. I was most excited to use this component of the Creatopia. I am not a big embosser so this was new territory for me. I used Patternz 12 inch rollers on 3 different types of cardstock to show the depth of the embossing.


As you can see the Kraft was by far the best weighted paper to use with the Patternz rollers. I was disappointed with the embossing on the Core’dinations paper. I ran the paper through with another piece of cardstock under it as well to see if I could get the depth of embossing to stand out more. Once the paper was sanded to show the color core all the raises circles were gone. I would not suggest using this paper if that it the effect you are looking for. The Bazzill cardstock had the same ill effect, I did not sand this paper so the depth still shows however, it’s not as good as the Kraft paper. I also ran through thin paper (like printer paper); the thinner the paper the better the emboss you are going to get with these rollers. The paper slides easily through the rollers and using the stabilizing bar was also helpful in keeping paper less than 12 inches wide straight through the rollers.

The Border Patternz are handy if you are looking for just a stripe of embossing or something on a small scale. I also got a much more defined emboss from the Border Patternz than the 12inch Patternz rollers. Again the Core’dinations paper did not stand up to the machine. The Kraft and Bazzill paper came out beautifully. I did not sand the Bazzill, but I think it would even hold up to some distressing since the emboss was much deeper. Kraft again by far was the best emboss of the three papers. Seems again the thinner the paper the much better the machine performs.

Pros:

  • Variety of patterns
  • 12inch embossing ability as well as border embossing
  • Easy to interchange rollers, I would still suggest watching the videos

Cons:

  • Instructions need to be more clear out of the box
  • Depth of embossing could be better
  • Storage could be an issue as the rollers are 12inches long

Overall the Creatopia was a dream to use. I will soon be getting rid of all other machines and using this one! I love that it can do so many things all in one. I am excited to see even more inserts come for this machine. It truly is an all in one machine that does what it says, it is user friendly and can be used with folks of all ages. Have I mentioned watching the videos enough? It is a must! Truly so helpful!

Creatopia Pros:

  • Lightweight and interchangeable design
  • Easy of use for everyone in the family
  • Variety of uses from paper to fabric and beyond
  • Informational website and videos
  • All-in-one machine (biggest PRO!)

Creatopia Cons:

  • Paper instructions were vague and needed to be more informational
  • Keeping paper straight can be difficult
  • Storage, a lot of changing parts that need to be stored
  • Cost of machine in total including parts can be spendy

MSRP:
Creatopia $149.99, adhesive and laminate refills $39.99, Cutz insert $44.99, Cutz cartridges $14.99, Patternz insert $24.99, 12″ Patternz rollers $24.99, 2 inch Patternz rollers $8.99

GIVEAWAY!

One of our lucky readers is going to win a Creatopia of their very own… tell us what whiz bang ideas you have for the Creatopia, and you’ll be entered to win! One comment per person, per Vendor Spotlight: Xyron Creatopia article (this is 5 of 6), please. Winner will be randomly chosen on Saturday, June 26th.

Disclosure

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

Clearsnap Smooch

Reported by Jenny Chesnick


Clearsnap Smooch Ink is a unique blend of color, and has a pearlized effect. It comes in a liquid eyeliner-style bottle, with a wand brush applicator. Use to color in stamped images like you would with colored pencils or markers, free hand draw or journal, or simply tip the edges of your papers or embellishments with these thick-body inks. Perfect for use on paper, vellum, fabric, wood, clay, and so much more. Smooch is an acid-free and archival pigment ink. Fast-drying and permanent on most surfaces. Smooch comes in 31 colors, including a pearl transparent top coat.

One of my favorite ways to use Smooch is to color alphabets. Never again be stuck with mismatched Thickers and Alphas that don’t match your project. Smooch is a perfect solution! As I stated above you can use smooch just as you would a marker, ink, pens, pencils etc. Your imagination is your only limitation for what the product can do.

On this layout I used Siren Smooch on the raw chipboard alphas and chipboard pieces from Maya Road. It dries quickly and soaks into the chipboard, yet leaves the shimmer behind.

On these two cards I used Snickerdoodle Smooch (my very fav!) to color in the Prima White Canvas Alphas, add shimmer, and change the color to fit my project.

Can you tell I love these Alphas?


On this house I used Smooch in Molasses to cover the 7gypsies corner frames. It took much longer to dry to the touch, so be wise on metals!


Pros:

  • Small in size, easy to store
  • Plenty of colors to chose from
  • Versatile and works on most surfaces
  • Just plain fun to play with!
  • Easy to find, even big box stores are starting to carry them

Cons:

  • Price for .30oz bottle MSRP is 4.50
  • They need to have replacement caps for the wands that wear out
  • I wish they had different “finishes” to their colors, maybe in the future.

Clearsnap Smooch Accent Ink .33 Ounce (9ml), Pearlized Moonlight is available at Amazon.com

Here is a quick video as well I found online that shows you more about Smooch. So have you used Smooch? Are you an addict like I am? Show us your projects!

Disclosure

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