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Author Archive | Sara McKenzie

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: Quick Snippers (2 of 3)

Reported by Sara McKenzie

Quick Snippers are a new product manufactured and sold by LIMIRI LLC. They are touted as an “innovative new product that transforms and combines 6 popular design scissors into one tool….”. 

This tool is the brain child of two women in Illinois, with the first names of Lisa and Miriam. (Hence, LIMIRI). I don’t know this for a fact, but one can guess that they are two crafty ladies who had both a great idea and the gumption to go out there and make it happen. For that I say: “You go girls!!”

Quick Snippers are designed along the concept of the Swiss Army knife. When everything is collapsed, it is a handy shape with no sharp edges or points, and could be thrown in a traveling bag without fear. Each scissor design can be pulled out pretty easily, one at a time, for use.


Quick Snippers with three scissors out.

It is 5 inches long, 1 inch wide, and 1-1/2 inches thick. It feels substantial in your hand, and weighs in at a hefty 10 ounces (i.e. more than half a pound). I could handle it with ease, but I am bigger than the average woman at 5’8″ tall, with a glove size of 8. I think women with hands smaller than mine might not find this tool very comfortable or easy to use.


This view shows three scissors, collapsed into the tool. This side is 1-1/2″ wide.

In principal, Quick Snippers really are a clever idea. You can throw it in your craft tote, not worry about poking or tearing anything with it, and have 6 different cutting edges at your disposal. But the biggest problem with it? It doesn’t cut well.


Quick Snippers result on scrapbook paper. See how ragged the top, straight edge is?
That is from the straight blade. And it is easily visible without looking at a close-up camera shot.
In fact, I could feel that it was not cleanly cutting the paper.

The blade on each scissor design is only 1-5/8″ long. So to cut anything for a scrapbook layout or a card, you have to keep cutting and cutting and cutting…. Just to get one edge done. Plus, on some of the blade, I found that the scissors would not even close all the way to the tip while I was trying to cut plain paper- so this made the effective cutting length about 1-3/8″. And when I tried it on cardstock and did try to cut all the way to the end of the blade, it sometimes tore the cardstock at the end instead of cutting it.

Above: Scallop scissor and the “lightening bolt”scissor on cardstock.
The lightening bolt is the only one that seemed to give a clean cut.

Below: Victorian scissor, and the Zig Zag scissor. Neither one cut cleanly,
and the Victorian scissor had a tendency to tear the cardstock at the end of the cut.

Manufacturers suggested retail price is $19.99.  They are available on the Quick Snippers website or Amazon.

Pros:

  • 6 scissors in one tool
  • collapses completely so that you don’t have to worry about damaging any other tools or supplies in your craft tote
  • Can be used by righties or lefties.

Cons:

  • The blades don’t cut cleanly, even the straight edge.
  • The cutting blade is very short.
  • It is relatively heavy and bulky; women with small hands may not find it comfortable to use.

GIVEAWAY!
Want to win this great product? Our friends at Limiri, LLC. are giving away a pair of Quick Snippers to one lucky reader. To win, just leave a comment on this blog answering any or all of these questions, we love to hear your opinions!

What do you think about the Quick Snippers? What do you love or dislike about this new product?

You have until Monday, February 21st at 6pm CST to comment.

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

Vendor Spotlight: Jacquard Tie Dye Kits

Reported by Sara McKenzie

I’ll give you the punch line right up front: These kits made me feel like a teenager again – and it was the great part of being a teenager!

Given the opportunity, I volunteered to review a handful of Jacquard products because I have been impressed with their lines of paint & inks (specifically, Lumiere acrylics and Pinata alcohol inks). Recently, Jacquard came out with a new line of kits for tie dye, and these are the ones that I experimented with.

I had a chance to try out the Jewel Tone Tie Dye and Indigo Dye kits, so I invited over two gal pals: my best friend, and her 16 year old daughter, to play with me.

The Jewel Tone Tie Dye Kits come with the following:

  • two applicator bottles with powdered dye (you add the water) in two different colors that complement each other
  • Soda ash (sodium bicarbonate – which makes the dye grab onto the fabric)
  • gloves
  • rubber bands
  • instructions, including tie dye patterns to try out

The packaging indicates that it is sufficient dye for two T-shirts. You also need something to hold 2 gallons of water plus your fabric or T-shirts.

The process was pretty much as I remembered it, with the exception that you soak your fabric to be dyed in a solution of soda ash for 20 minutes before applying dye. This is a definite improvement over my old Rit dye attempts, as the soda ash prepares the fibers to hold onto the dye. After soaking, you wring out the excess water, and then use the rubber bands to tie up the fabric or garment. Also different is the application of dye with plastic bottles – I liked this part, and the control it provided.

After applying color, you put your piece in a plastic bag, and let it rest for 12-24 hours. Then you rinse, wash, dry and wear (or craft!).

Although it says it in the directions, I did not realize that each kit comes with two bottles of different colors of dye. The bottles look exactly alike, including the markings on the front, and the color of the cap. So even though the instructions talked about using a complementary color, I thought that meant you had to use a second kit! Consequently, we only ended up using one bottle of dye from the “Ruby” kit and one bottle from the “Emerald” kit.


Our work space: wet and wild!


Wringing out excess soda ash before tying and dying.


Making rosettes.


Applying Jewel Tone Dye from “Ruby” kit.

Dyed and ready to rest for 12-24 hours.

Finished fabric: 1/2 yard, 100% cotton- Using accordion pleat pattern.

Close-up of accordion pleated fabric in “Ruby” and “Emerald”.

The Indigo Dye kit is a little bit different: it uses the natural dye that has been used for ages by cultures around the world and is still used to dye blue jeans. This kit includes:

  • 20 grams of pre-reduced powdered indigo dye
  • 250 grams of reducing agent (a mixture of 60% soda ash and 40% thiourea dioxide- this latter chemical makes the mix smell faintly of ammonia)
  • gloves
  • rubber bands
  • 2 wood blocks
  • Quick Start Instructions
  • Instructions that include dye patterns and a historical look at indigo

The amount of indigo dye provided is supposed to be enough for 15 yards or 5 pounds of fabric, or 15 T-shirts.

This procedure is a little different, in that the dye itself has to be chemically prepared prior to use. You are instructed to prepare a full 4 gallons of indigo dye, using the entire bottle of dye and the entire package of reducing agent. I imagine that you might be able to use only 1/2 of the package, but I don’t know that for certain. (Make sure you locate your 5 gallon pail before you start. I had to make a quick run to the local hardware store at the last minute!! You also have to provide a long stir stick that reaches to the bottom of your pail.)

If you are interested in the chemistry: indigo dye is only soluble in water when it is in a particular chemical state (“reduced”). You have to mix the dry powder dye with the reducing agent, and keep it covered, for 30-60 minutes prior to using it. Once reduced, and kept covered, you can keep the vat for a couple of weeks if you use it and store it carefully. As soon as the dye is exposed to a lot of air, the chemical state changes (it “oxidizes”) and this makes the indigo dye molecules bind to the fibers of your fabric.

If you want a REALLY deep indigo blue, you can “dip” your fabric multiple times until you have the color you like. Each dip only takes about 5 minutes, but then you have to let your piece “rest”, exposed to air, until the color changes from a deep blue-green to indigo. It is an obvious color change!!


The indigo dye vat. Yes, you definitely need gloves.


Dyed piece, resting, so the color can “oxidize”.


Untying the bundle.

Finished T-shirt (50-50 cotton/polyester)- still wet- rosettes tied down one side.

100% cotton fabric tied in random patterns.

T-shirt tied in spiral pattern.

We had a really good time, and accomplished a lot in just a few hours. My 16-year-old friend is anxious to wear her new T-shirt to her gymnastics club!

Pros:

  • As always, kits make things easy. In both types of kits, there was plenty of dye to play with.
    • Including gloves and rubber bands in the kits was a huge plus. You don’t have to hoard rubber bands for weeks in advance (or heaven forbid, buy them!).
    • The instructions are well-written, and the diagrams for tying different patterns are really helpful.
    • The Jewel Tone colors are really beautiful and vibrant. And the indigo is, well, indigo!
    • Kids can definitely enjoy this, under adult supervision.
    • The Indigo Dye Kit retails for $11.99 and each Jewel Tone kit lists for $7.99. Very reasonable prices for what you can create with them.

      Cons:

      • Four gallons of Indigo dye?!? Even if I wanted to, I don’t know where I would have stored it in my house to use it again. I’d suggest a smaller package size. Or instructions for how to make 1/2 the amount.
      • The Jewel Tone kits contain two different complementary colors. Although this is clearly written in the instructions, it is not written anywhere on the dye bottles themselves. So be more conscious of this than I was!!

        Have you done any tie dying lately? Did this make you want to? Leave us a comment and let us know.

        Disclosure

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

        Vendor Spolight: Sculpey Keepsake Clay Kits

        Reported by Sara McKenzie

        I was happy to review one of the “Keepsake Kits” from Polyform, the maker of one of the leading polymer clays, Sculpey. Although I am a bit of a novice, I love working with polymer clay and seeing what can be achieved with it. The kit for a “Family Tree” intrigued me upon its arrival; it’s not something that I would have picked off the shelf for myself. But I am happy to say that I am delighted with the final product.

        The kit comes complete with everything you need to make the Family Tree:

        • Silver-colored metal tree. Comes in pieces, but is easily assembled. Finished, it stands about 14″ tall, and is 14″ at its widest point.
        • Enough green Sculpey to make the ornaments shown (3 oz).
        • Cookie cutter, to cut the scalloped oval shape of the ornaments.
        • A small texture mat, and a plastic roller to help make an even impression in the clay.
        • Ribbon, a large-eyed plastic needle, craft glue, and a photo template.

        All you have to do is supply the photos, and an oven in which to bake your clay. (CAUTION: You should only bake clay in an oven dedicated to crafting. Food should not come into contact with unbaked clay. Bake in a well-ventilated area per the clay manufacturer’s directions.)

        Personally, I did not like the silver color of the tree. The tree is not finely crafted, meaning that the seams on the sides of the trunk had gaps, and the leaves were not all attached exactly as they should have been. So I decided to try my hand with a faux rust kit, to change the color and texture to something more “tree-like”, and to hide some of the imperfections. Please keep in mind that this was my own personal taste driving this; the original finish is perfectly fine.

        Above: The tree, in pieces. It is easily assembled, needing only two screws.
        Below: a close up of one of the branches.

        I followed the faux-rust manufacturer’s directions to create a rusted finish on the tree, so that it ended up looking like this:

        Above and below: A “rusted” finish on the tree, and a close-up of the tree trunk.
        I like it better already!

        The ornaments are SUPER simple to make- in fact, this would be a great kit for a beginner in polymer clay. I used my pasta machine to condition the clay, but you could also knead it with your hands, and roll it out with the plastic roller provided. When it is soft enough to work with, and rolled to about 1/8″ thick, you apply the small photo template, then the texture plate, and roll again. The final ornament is then cut out with the oval cutter provided.

        Above: Green ornament, ready to bake. The photo template is a mere 1-3/16″ x 7/8″.
        You will likely have to resize all of your photos electronically to make them work. (Apologies for the background- it’s the granite in my kitchen!!)

        Above: I added some additional color
        with colored mica powder (like Perfect Pearls or PearlEx Powder).

        Above: I did not want to make an acutal family tree. Instead, I used a photo transfer
        (from Lisa Pavelka), and finished the whole ornament with a glossy enamel meant for polymer clay.

        Here’s how my diva looks hanging from the tree.


        I chose not to make more ornaments with pictures on them, and instead I made some other kinds of polymer clay “charms” to hang from the tree. To do this, I used a stamping wheel and the “StamPress” from Clearsnap. (You can see my review of the StamPress on Craft Critique by clicking here). The green clay was already conditioned, so I used it together with a wheel that created fall-themed squares of leaves, pumpkins, apples and corn on the cob. I colored these also with mica powders, and finished them with the same glossy finish as my diva (above).

        Above: One of the completed charms: a nice delicious apple!

        Above: A full view of the tree with the green charms.

        And I couldn’t stop there…. I made some additional charms with another stamping wheel and the StamPress, on white clay. After baking, I cut out the images, and painted with Jacquard Lumiere Paints. These I finished with a coat of “Armor All”.

        Above: A close-up of one of the white ornaments.


        Above: The tree decorated with white ornaments.

        Unfortunately, I did not make enough of either type of ornament, so I am going to have to go back to the pasta machine and make more of each! I’m thinking that my tree can be a seasonal decoration: the green charms are perfect for Autumn, and the white ones for Summer. I only need to create some for Winter and Spring, and I’ll be all set. And I’ll happily do so!

        Above: The finished tree, decorated with a mix of ornaments. I’ll get back into my
        studio to make more of each kind, and some to use for the winter holidays!

        Sculpey Keepsake Clay not only comes as the “Family Tree” but also in the following kits:

        • Baby hand print ornament (retail $6.99-9.99)
        • A dog pawprint ornament (retail $6.99-9.99)
        • Picture frames, in pink, blue, or white (retail $13.95-19.99)
        • Children’s growth chart (retail $10.99)

        The “Family Tree” kit has a retail price of $22.99-28.99.

        Pros

        • It’s a good kit for polymer clay beginners. It has everything you need (except the oven), and uses a few different techniques to introduce you to the medium.
        • The directions are clear, complete and concise.
        • The process for making the ornaments is simple enough that you could update your Family Tree as the kids grow!
        • You can easily dress up your tree with other types of ornaments and decorations. The “branches” are pretty sturdy, and can hold some weight.

        Cons

        • This may be personal preference: I wasn’t crazy about the silver color of the tree, and the less than exacting construction. I did like it MUCH better once I rusted it – the darker color and added texture hide some of the ills.
        • I also did not like the particular green color clay supplied. Again, this is personal preference. Maybe they chose something relatively dull so that it would not compete with your chosen photos?
        • The kits do not appear to be readily available. Some can be had on Amazon, but you’ll have to do a careful search to find them all.
        • Price point? I’m still deciding on that one. If you can find it closer to $20 than to $28, I think it is more of a value.

        GIVEAWAY
        Polyform is generously giving away one of these great Keepsake Clay kits to a lucky reader!

          To Enter
          Leave a comment on this post or any Vendor Spotlight: Sculpey Keepsake Clay Kits and answer one or all of these questions…

          What do you think? Ready to give it a try? Let us know if you’ve used any of the other kits, and what you thought about those.

          You have until Sunday, October 11th 6pm CST to enter. One entry per person, please.

          Disclosure

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