Tag Archives | Big Shot

Review | Mepxy Brush Markers

Reported by Maria del Pinto

Mepxy markers are manufactured by a family owned business in Seoul, Korea and are now being sold in the United States.  These alcohol ink markers give Anime artists, calligraphy artists, and crafters more choices in alcohol ink markers with their growing product line.  They even have blog dedicated to artists with a fun gallery and ideas for using the markers.  I first learned about these from watching one of Linda Peterson’s “YouTube” video on how to transfer images onto plastic.  She is a well known multi media artist who makes some really fun “how to” videos that you can learn various techniques from.

Anyway, the Mepxy 12 colors basic alcohol marker set contained:

  • B06 Peacock Blue
  • L07 Natural Green
  • 006 Cadmium Orange
  • V06 Iris Purple
  • C05 Cyan
  • M09 Magenta
  • P04 Lavender
  • W07 Light Mahogany
  • G07 Vivid Green
  • N18 Sepia
  • R08 Vermilion
  • Y06 Bright Yellow

and separately, I got:

  • 00 Colorless Blending Pen
  • Marker Blending Palette
There are many different configurations of the sets available at the retail store.  This is just a review of the set that I have and my findings after testing this product on a variety of surfaces.  First of all, the colors are high pigment that makes for a very rich color.  I made a color chart so you could see how they look on ivory card stock.
The inks are also translucent which makes blending the inks very easy to accomplish.  I did a sample blending using  two of the colored ink markers and the colorless blending brush.
They all worked very well together and I was quite pleased. The dots pattern on the dress was done with the colorless blender pen.
 The colorless blender pen is used to remove excess ink from the image or to blend colors.
Like the other quality alcohol ink markers in the market place, these markers come with two tips.  The marker has a fine brush tip on one side
and a wide chisel tip on the other.
I read that the ink is toner friendly and won’t react to it nor would it remove images from it.  So I did my own test on this.  I used five colors and none of them lifted the image from the paper.
The ink did, however, leak through to the back side of the paper.  I think I can attribute this to the fact that the paper is the least expensive printer paper that I could find and it is very thin.
Next I decided to test them on a rubber surface, so I picked up my favorite stamp and tried putting the ink directly onto the stamp.  I tried the chisel tip first,
as you can see that did not work out well.
Then I tried the fine brush tip,
which gave a far better result.  You should know that depending on the surface, the ink dries quickly, so plan accordingly.  A friend of mine who is an avid stamper suggest that I blow on the inked stamp surface to keep it moist a little longer.  It worked and the result is below.
This process is not recommended by the manufacturer.  I just wanted to see if I could use them that way for future reference.
For my first project, I stamped a design onto one of those flame less candles that are so popular today.  I  filled in the color with the Mepxy markers.  They are so translucent that I could still enjoy the flame effect without the design blocking it.
I tried them on different surfaces to see how they looked.  I started by testing them on wire hooks.  I used the markers to color the wire and it worked perfectly.
Then I tried it on a cut up piece of aluminum soda can that I had run through my big shot machine.  This also worked really well.
So I decide to try test them on some plain cloth flowers.  I took apart the flowers and used the yellow color to paint the center of the petals.  I let them dry for about a half hour. Then I proceeded to wet the outer surface of the petals (one at a time) with the colorless blender pen which was immediately followed by inking the surface with the orange marker.
The finished flowers looked great.  I liked the vibrancy of the colors and I think the colored flowers are much cuter than the original plain flower.
Then I decided to see how these would work on canvas that has been prepped with gesso.  I wanted to see if I could get a paint brush look with these markers.  I covered the canvas with a very thick coat of gesso using a small flat brush so that the strokes would show after the gesso dried.  Once it was dried I used the markers to paint the gesso and add color to the canvas.
Then I used some clear alcohol (in this case it was some vodka that was left over from a different craft project) to see how that would affect the ink.  The alcohol helped blend the inks on the gesso which is good to know if I run out of ink in the blender pen in the middle of a project.
The alcohol also seemed to give the ink a sheen which looks pretty cool.
My second project was to combine some the tested elements to make a fun wall hanging for my daughter who really wants to go to Paris.
For my third project, I tested the markers out some wood domino pieces.  I stamped the image on the wood piece.  Then I used a heat gun to make sure the ink was dry before I colored in the design with the Mepxy alcohol markers.
I added some beads and used metal mesh to make it into a fun necklace.  For more fun ideas and inspiration that can be applied to working with alcohol ink markers, check out my article on “Altered Art Circus” and “Fine Art Weekend Event“.  For rubber stamping we have some amazing articles on Craft Critique that provide some additional inspiration.  Just use our handy search box and enter the words “rubber stamping” and you will see some great links to past articles.
As for the Mepxy markers, I found that they also work great on shrink plastic, air dry clay, epoxy clay pieces, lace, assorted papers, various metals, and more.  I enjoyed the versatility of these markers and the intensity of the pigmented alcohol inks.  They are very easy to work with, however, I can not stress enough that once the ink is applied to a surface, it will dry quickly.   Make sure to plan your project with this in mind.  Personally, I love that it dries quickly because it lets me move on to the next project phase.
The markers are also sold individually at around $5.99 (but I found them for less) which makes it easy to collect the colors you like.  The sets retail for $71.88 but again, a google search listed them at several retailers for around $49.99 and up.  These markers would be great for the professional artist, art students, journaling, or crafters.  My kids love them for doing anime drawings because of the smooth flow of the ink and the double ended tip.
  • The colors are rich and the markers are refillable.
  • The ink goes onto surfaces very smoothly and blend beautifully.
  • Love the double tips on these, they are very handy and replaceable.
  • The chisel end has sharper tips than some of the other brands that I have tried which makes it easier to use the edges for special effects.
  • The color name & number is marked on both tips, so you can always find the color and match the cap back to the marker.
  • The basic set does not have a traditional selection of primary colors.  That would be nice to have to begin building a collection.  I did a search and found them for sale by individual colors which would make it easier to create a personalized collection of colors that meets my personal needs.
  • The ink is not compatible with StāzOn ink so plan your project accordingly (it is common knowledge that one should not use alcohol inks with solvent inks but I think it is helpful to remind readers).
  • These are rich colors and will seep through cheaper quality paper, so take that into consideration when planning your projects.

We would love to hear from our readers if they use alcohol markers in their crafting projects and if they have any tips for using them? Also, what are your favorite multi-media products?

CHA Summer 2011: Sizzix

Reported by Simone Collins

Sizzix is always on the cutting edge of the craft industry (yes, pun intended). With the popularity of their Big Shot machine, the new Vagabond and eClips machines, consumers are constantly awaiting new dies and cartridges. The new Framelits are the answer for stampers who don’t enjoy cutting out all those images. These sets include cling stamps and matching dies which can be used in the Big Shot or Vagabond machines.

The new Deco Emboss dies are going to be a huge hit with jewelry makers.

The new Ink-Its Letterpress dies make debossing with ink, simple and elegant.

And let’s not forget a peek at the new Alteration dies from Tim Holtz.

Here’s a look at some of the other amazing projects from Sizzix.

So what do you think? Which dies do you like the most? Are you a Sizzix user?

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY!: Sizzix Big Shot

Reported by Susie Ziegler

I was pleased to have the chance to test out the traditional die cutter, Big Shot by Sizzix and some of the Westminster Fabric dies which are specially designed for fabric and quilting. There is nothing that compares to a die cutter when one needs to dependably cut a large amount of shapes that are exactly sized and shaped.

I received the Big Shot Machine, which will cut with dies up to 6 inches wide. The package includes two clear Standard Cutting Pads, and the Multipurpose Platform which is used to accommodate various specialty dies like Sizzix Texturz, Embosslits, Clearlits, and Textured Impressions, or any product offered by Sizzix. The Big Shot is sturdy and with the crank on the side (instead of a lever that swings across the top) the Big Shot stores easily. The handle makes it convenient to move around to various workstations.

I also received three Westminster Fibers Dies: 2 1/2 Inch Hexagons, Plain Leaves, and 5 Inch Half-Square Triangles. Dies are most useful for fabric when they are simple shapes with gentle angles and curves. Anyone who is going to be sewing with their die cut shapes will need to quickly make a large pile of cutouts. The best tool for this job is a die cutting machine.

The 2 1/2 Inch Hexagons die cuts four hexagons at a time. The first thing I thought to try with this die was English Paper Piecing which is a hand sewing technique that stabilizes fabric around a paper template. Generally, one has to purchase the paper templates from quilt shops or other sources. With my own die, I can cut piles and piles of them and maybe even achieve my very own handsewn Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt.

Holy Moley! I can’t wait! Okay, before I get ahead of myself, I’ll just try making one flower. I die cut a pile of 2 1/2 inch hexagons, and in the Big Shot, I was able to cut several layers of paper at a time. Next I used scissors to cut fabric pieces about 1/4 inch larger than the paper template and pinned the paper to the center of the fabric piece:

Now I baste the fabric around the paper. You really only need a few stitches to hold it together. I’ll need seven basted hexagons to achieve one flower. When they are all basted, I whip stitch the hexagons right sides together:

I forgot how much I love handstitching! In just a short time, I stitched a whole flower and a border around it. This is the underside before I finished the whole block. When a hexagon is totally surrounded, you can remove the basting and use the paper for another fabric hexagon. I started die cutting any scrap paper that entered my house, especially my daughter’s finished and graded school papers.

I’m telling you, I really got addicted to this and I started making calculations for a whole queen-sized bed quilt. My friends in my craft club recommended I try die cutting freezer paper hexagons and skip the basting altogether. Freezer paper worked great! I made about 45 hexagon flowers before I realized I was going to have to set this aside and try out the other Westminster Fiber dies. I know I never would have tried out this traditional technique if I didn’t have this terrific die from Sizzix.

Sizzix sells Bigz Hexagon dies in 4 different sizes, so if these are too large for you, there are several other options.

I got so excited about those hexagons, I forgot to show you how to actually use the Big Shot with Bigz dies. Bigz dies are 6 inches wide. You can use any other Sizzix product in the Big Shot, as long as it is not wider than 6 inches. When die cutting with the Big Shot and a Bigz die, sandwich the die and your fabric, paper, felt, or other material, face up between the two sheets of plexiglass.

I’m using 2 layers of felt here and the Plain Leaves die which cuts 8 simple leaves of various sizes. The largest leaf is about 3.5 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. The smallest is the same proportion at just 1.5 inches long. With the Big Shot, you can cut several layers of material at a time. If you pack in too much, you will not be able to pass it through the Big Shot.
With a die cutting machine you can get large piles of perfect shapes in a flash. I cut a nice selection of felt leaves. There is very little waste of my precious wool blend felt using this die.

Felt is awesome and the Big Shot cuts it just like butter. For my project, I’m going to also cut some leaves from fabric and iron-on fusible webbing. Lickety-split, I have a pretty pile of fabric leaves exactly the same size as the felt I just cut.

I ironed fusible web backed fabric leaves to felt with floral wire between to make this leafy fabric sprig. I can make a lot of these and make them into a wreath, or this would make a nice bow for a special wrapped package

Bigz dies can also cut aluminum cans!

I backed my tin with sticky foam to soften the edges and make it easier to craft with.

My daughter loves her new hairclip made with a plain leaf and some circles from another Sizzix Originals die I already own. Don’t fret! My Sizzix dies still work like a charm on felt and fabric even after cutting paper or aluminum.

People who already own a Big Shot and are ready to try quilting will want to try out the 5 Inch Half Square Triangle die. The 5 inch measurement is unfinished. Your sewn square will measure 4 1/8 inches in a finished quilt block, depending on the size of your seam allowance and how aggressively you iron your block open.

I cut strips of fabric about 6 inches wide. I’m going to stick with reds and whites in this project, so each time I made a cut, I layered a red strip right sides together with a white strip so the units would all be matched up and ready for the sewing machine.

I was able to cut about 6 to 8 layers of fabric at a time, but if I loaded too much, bits of fabric and fuzz stuck in the corners of the die. Occasionally, there were threads along the outside that didn’t cut, but this was not a problem as I was able to cut them quickly with my seam ripper.

I settled into a rhythm of 4 layers at a time. With the long strips of fabric, I could conserve by making my cut, then sliding the die to the next area and cutting again. I had very little waste.

So many triangles! My grandma would be pleased to see me using the fabric she bequeathed me from her sizable stash. Be careful handling these triangles because the diagonal edge is the stretchy bias and you don’t want to end up sewing a bunch of wonky squares. The other method of cutting half square triangles would be with a rotary cutter, mat, and ruler. I am not sure if this method is faster, but it certainly is more precise.

Crafters with a Big Shot who want to dabble in quilting can make a whole quilt with just this die and no investment in a rotary cutter, mat, and ruler. You don’t even need a good pair of fabric scissors if you use these quilting dies.

Just stitch up the diagonal of each set keeping an accurate 1/4 inch seam.

There are so many pleasing possibilities with Half Square Triangle units!

I settled on this setting which measures about 33 inches square and uses 64 Half Square Triangle units. You may keep a slightly different 1/4 inch seam allowance than I do so your finished top may have a slightly different measurement.

  • Portable, durable, dependable, affordable.
  • Doesn’t require electricity, sticky mats that lose their stickiness, or computer programming.
  • Cuts a wide variety of materials interchangeably. Obviously, use discretion when choosing what to cut and don’t overload the dies. If a material doesn’t cut with scissors, it isn’t likely to cut with the Big Shot.
  • Useful selection of dies available for quilt making, felt craft, and fabric.
  • Westminster Fiber dies are well designed to make effective use of a fabric supply with little wasted fabric.
  • Nothing compares to a traditional die cutter like this when a large supply of shaped cutouts is desired.
  • New quilters can design a whole quilt using just one of the Westminster Fiber Bigz dies with no investment in many of the traditionally necessary tools for quilt making.
  • Shapes are not customizable
  • Bigz dies are thick, so a collection of them will take up space in the craft closet.
  • Dies are labeled on the side. It would be helpful if they also had an image of the shape on the top of the die.
  • It is not necessarily quicker to cut all the pieces of a quilt with the Big Shot, but the accuracy and precision cannot be beat.


It’s Sizzix Week at Craft Critique! Our friends at Sizzix have graciously provided some of their products for us to giveaway to our very lucky readers. We have a Big Shot and an eClips to give away, both of which you can read about in upcoming reviews. Just answer the following question to be entered in the giveaway:Do you own a die cutting machine? Which one(s)? What crafts would you use the Big Shot for?

One comment, per person, per Sizzix article, please. Winners will be selected on Saturday, July 16, 2011.