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Edible Embossing

Reported by Anam Stubbington

All to often, craft supplies get relegated to the particular craft they are labelled for in the shop, but there are so many cross-over opportunities, not just in the paper craft work. We have yarn and paper crafts mixing with crocheted flowers on scrapbook layouts; oil pastels and watercolors for making your own paper backgrounds for cards; and fabrics used for texture in clay work.

Today I decided to use my ProvoCraft Cuttlebug Embossing folders for something new. I use and abuse my folders because they are just so versatile and easily cleaned – a big bonus in my book.

We have all done the inking trick with the embossing folders, used them on velvet to extend their usability and used them on fimo and clay to make jewelry pieces. I had made the traditional clay ornaments with them – perfect for the Christmas season – I gave them as party favours using handmade air drying clay to match the invites I made also using the embossing folders.

(don’t know why the purple one looks dirty but in real life its got a gold and silver sheen)

In making these, I thought that I would try and see if I could continue the theme onto the cupcakes using icing and chocolate. I have the basic standard embossing folders so all I added was a rolling pin.

Turns out the embossing folders are awesome for making edible decorations – and I cleaned mine by sticking them in the dishwasher afterwards.
I started with Ready-to-roll icing because I will admit that I suck at baking. It was super easy – decide what folder you want and if you want the image in relief or embossed into the icing – remember with text plates, the relief version is in reverse when you place it down on the icing.

If you have a steady hand, you could even color the embossed images with food coloring. Food coloring though does not stick to the folders so you cannot coat the folder and then emboss like you would with an inkpad (which admittedly was a disappointment for me).

Then cut out your shapes either by hand or use cookie cutters to make awesome cake toppers.


Imagine the fun you could have with the whole image embossing plates for the tops of cakes or as frame bases for cake flowers.

I then tried chocolate to see how much fun I could have with the folders. I tried a few ways to do it and found these two worked best.

  • Firstly melt your chocolate to a runny dough consistency – I would suggest you buy proper cake chocolate so the chocolate stays harder longer once it is solid as my very yummy milk chocolate melted in my regular kitchen temperatures.
  • Add a little oil or cake release to your folders – I used olive oil and no-one mentioned any taste issues.
  • Put the folders on a flat tray with some greaseproof paper underneath them.

Option 1 is to pour the melted chocolate on top of your folder and allow to harder. once hard you turn the folder over and peel the plate off the chocolate – it should come over very easily. You can then use a cookie cutter to cut out the shapes you want – I found it worked better with a metal cutter that was heated in some hot water first.

Option 2 is good when you only want a specific part of an embossing folder. Place your cookie cutter (slightly oiled) on the area you want as your image. Pour the chocolate into the cookie cutter and allow to harden. Once hard, you can remove the plate and then pop the chocolate shape out – this way seemed to give me thicker shapes.

I left them in the fridge for a few hours and then added them to the cupcakes just before I served them. That said, some of my guests decided they would have happily eaten the chocolate toppers on their own so maybe make them with dark chocolate and serve with coffee for adults?

Remember to leave the cut shapes for a little while to dry out if you want them to be used flat or standing. Making cupcake toppers with the folders was so easy and would be a great addition to anyone’s DIY arsenal of tricks for wedding or party cakes.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Lots of designs available
  • Easy to clean afterwards

Cons:

  • Not all designs work well
  • Have to work in small batches due to size of folder
  • Lots of chocolate left that needs to be eaten

I hope you also find uses for those crafting supplies in the kitchen!

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Vendor Spotlight and GIVEAWAY: Sizzix Big Shot

 

Lately, it seems like every craft show I attend has someone demonstrating and/or using a Sizzix  “Big Shot” at their booth.  I have seen people use such a variety of materials with this machine that it never ceases to amaze me.  Even beyond that, is the projects people make with their die cut pieces.  This tool appears to be one of the “must haves” for an avid crafter and recycling junkie.
At the “Unique LA” show I attended recently, I watched my friend Stefanie Girard
 (author of Sweater Surgery), demonstrate how to use the big shot to cut shapes out recycled felted wool sweaters and make fun jewelry.  These were popular workshops and the folks in attendance just loved being able to use the “Big Shot” to cut up the sweaters to make cool jewelry pieces like the ring below.
Seeing all these cool demonstrations, has made me want to own a die cutting machine of my own.  I have a very limited crafting space so I had to do a little research to figure out which machine would do the most for the price, size, and cost.  The Big Shot retails for $99.00 on the Sizzix website.  I did a google search and found the price varied depending on the retailers and the specials they were holding on line.  Also, I have seen it sold with accessories in kit form at various scrapbooking and craft shows (ex:  beginners kit, advanced kit, etc.).  So the price can vary.  Needless to say, I was more than thrilled to get the the opportunity use and review the Big Shot.
The Big Shot itself comes with:
Big Shot Machine (14 1/4″ x 8 1/2″ x 6 1/2″)
Multi Purpose Platform
Directions imprinted right on the platform so you wont lose them (unless you misplace the platform)
Pair of standard Clear cutting pads
They also sent me:
A Suitcase die (#657124)
An extended length cutting pad set
A scallop Circle 3-D Pop-Up Die
Little Sizzles Mat Board Pack
My first question upon opening the box, was “what is this multi purpose platform for?”  It looked a bit odd so I did the smart thing and read the instructions.   I love the fact that the machine is so easy to set up.  The cool multi purpose platform itself has flaps called tabs.  Each tab gives the directions for using various dies, embossing and texture sheets printed right on it. The multi purpose platform is important because it shows many of the Sizzix products and how they are compatible with this machine. If you shop at the Sizzix website it has a button that leads you to all of their products that are compatible with the big shot.  Additionally, the platform allows you to use other company dies, embossing, and texture sheets with this machine.
The base of the big shot is sturdy which is helpful when trying to use the extra long dies like the “Suitcase” die (#657124).
Upon reading the directions, I realized that the Big Shot cuts and embosses a wide variety of materials.  Since I had a limited amount of dies to test out, I decided to take advantage of my local craft store sale on dies and pick up a few to help me test out the machine’s capabilities.  Once I was armed with enough dies, I had a field day running different materials through the machine and trying out the dies.
I tested an wide assortment of materials including, acetate, card board, corrugated card board, card stock,
  plastic, fabric, felt, foam, thin leather, hand made papers,tin, sticker paper, rubber,
and more using the Sizzix Dies.  I have listed below some of the different materials that I tested on the Big Shot.
Aluminum Cans
I started with some rinsed soda and energy drink cans then using an old pair of scissors, I cut up the cans.  I wore my leather gloves to protect me from the sharp edges that I was bound to encounter while cutting up the soda cans. This was a smart move, as I ended up with quite a few sharp edges.

I flatten out the piece of a aluminum and then ran through the “Big Shot” using my butterfly die (#654996 ).

The finished piece was very cool and since this die is a butterfly and I could fold up the wings to give it more dimension.
Burlap
I decided to test a nice orange burlap place mat that I had on hand.  I put a small piece through the big shot and used my Flowers Layer (#654982) die cut.   It did cut the burlap, but the burlap started to unraveled fairly quickly.  So I decided to try the old stand-by Modge Podge on the burlap.
I used the my favorite gloss-lustre because it gives everything a little bit of shine.  I applied it to both sides of the burlap (allowing it to dry between applications). Once the material had dried, I ran it through Big Shot machine.  This time it cut the burlap without any unraveling problems.  The dried Modge Podge also made it easier to shape the petals.  I added a bit of glitter to the petals,  then attached a pin back to make it into a flower pin.
Cork Board
I tried a round cork board drink coaster in the machine that was a little thicker than 1/8″.   I found that it was too thick to run through the machine.  So I decided to try a thinner piece of cork board (less than
1/8″) and then ran it through the Big Shot using my butterfly die (# 654996).  It worked just fine.

Aluminum Can and Cork Project:
I combined the aluminum can pieces that I had cut earlier with the cork board pieces to make some fun butterflies.
Then my girls mounted them onto some plant sticks for one of many teacher’s aide gifts that we have been working on.  My daughter added some sequins onto the butterflies to catch the light and make it fun.
I love that my girls can join me in using the things we die cut from this machine, as well as its applicability to kids crafts.
Felt Craft Sheets – Self Adhesive
I wanted to use one of my “Hello Kitty” dies that I had on hand, so I decided that one of those self adhesive felt craft sheets would be fun to test the “Big Shot” on.  I tried a single thickness and it worked very well.
Hello Kitty Die Cut in Felt
I decided to try a double thickness and it did not cut as cleanly as the single thickness did…so I think I will stick to a single layer of the felt for future reference.
Second Project – Hello Kitty Tote
Since the felt is flexible, I decided it would be a great accent on a tote bag for one of my girls.
Hello Kitty Tote Bag
Foam Sheets
I received a really cute suitcase die cut that I was curious to try out and see if it would work with the foam sheets you can find at the craft store.  The suitcase die is very long and requires using the longer clear pads to run it through the Big Shot.  The felt sheets were a little less than 1/8″ thickness.  I cut the sheet to fit the die and ran it through the machine.  Needless to say, it worked great and the thickness of the foam made the suitcase a little bit sturdier than if I had cut it out from card stock paper.   Note: the felt did not fold as easily as paper and it did need to be worked a bit to stay in the suitcase shape. It was worth the little bit of extra effort.
Foam Suitcase
Plastic 1 liter bottles
I washed out the bottle, then using very sharp scissors I cut the top and bottom from the bottle.  Then I cut down the center and laid it under some heavy books to flatten it out.  Once it was flat enough, I cut the plastic to fit the die.  I ran the die through the machine and it cut it out quite nicely.
It was very sheer so I decided to paint the petals before I put them together to create the flower in layers.  I used the Plaid Enamels to paint the plastic and they worked really well together.  Once the paint dried, I shaped the petals by pinching the ends and then put the flower together.  Since it was  plastic, I realized it would be great to use to decorate a pin wheel for the garden.
Plastic Bottle flower attached to pinwheel
Plastic Place mat
I had a plastic place mat made from a harder plastic than the 1 liter bottles.  The animal print just screamed to be used in some type of fun flower.
I cut the plastic to fit the Flowers Layer die cut (#654982) and put it through the “Big Shot” using the extra long clear plastic pads.  I was glad to see that it worked well cutting out the petals without leaving any sharp edges.
Third Project – Animal Print Flowers
Using the plastic flowers I cut out from the animal print place mat, I took the pad from my pergamano set so I could use a stylus to give the petals some shape.
I glued the pieces together, added a brad in the center, and then glue them to pin backs so they could be used as pins.
The animal print flowers were so cute that I decided to add them to a gift bag to decorate it and for  the receiver of the gift to be able to use the wearable pins later on.
I also made some cute barrettes from some of the many flowers we had cut from the placement (it was a very large place mat).
Rubber Shelf liner
I picked up some the non-slip rubber shelf liner and put it through the machine using my Flowers Layer (#654982) die.  I was able to run 2 sheets at a time with out any problems.  It probably would have done 4 but I only needed a few flowers for this test.  It did cut the through the rubber without any problems.  I tried putting the petals together to make a flower but the rubber was too thin to hold its shape well.  So I decided to coat the rubber with the Modge Podge and glitter to see what would happen.  I let it dry overnight and it stiffened it up the petals so I could attach them to some flip flops to make them a little more decorative.  They came out cute!
Self Adhesive Plastic Shelf Liner
This is a little thicker than most shelf liners, however,  it cut without any problems.
The girls used the cut outs to decorate journal pages and an old tag I had left from a trade show.
decorated tag
Competitor Dies
According to the information on the tabs, you can use the wafer thin die and other competitors dies on this machine.  So I decided to give it a try. I had a set of the “Spellbinder Nestabilities” frames in my craft box to try out. These are so versatile and it would be fabulous if I could use them with the Big Shot.
I placed one of the clear pads on top of Tab Number 2 (which means both tabs are under the pad).  Since the Spellbinder frame die is considered to be fairly thin, I followed the directions on the tabs for wafer thin dies.
Then I placed the die face up on the pad.  I put a piece of paper stock on top of the die followed by a piece of foam and the second clear pad.  It cut clean without any problems.
Using the impression part of the die, was a little trickier.  I put Tab Number 2 through the machine first to hold the platform in place.  Then, I placed the Spellbinder Nestibilities die face up directly on top of Tab Number 1.  Then placed the paper.  I covered the die with some pieces of foam, and the clear pad I ran it through slowly.
When I removed the pads, the die had left an impression perfectly,
however it did leave some cuts on one of the pieces of foam.
I checked the Sizzix website and found that this problem is easily fixed by using the sizzix silicone pad and by following the directions on that packaging.  However, for now at least I know it works with what I have on hand.
Next I tried the Sizzix die “Shells & Starfish” (1/8″ thickness).  This is a fun little die with a summer beach theme.  The shells and starfish on this little die are so cute!
I put it through the big shot and using card stock and it cut through cleanly.
I decided to try to cut another piece of soda can tin and I was surprised to see that it cut through the tin cleanly.
Texture and Embossing
The tabs on the multi-purpose platform indicated that you can use texture sheets and embossing tools with the Big Shot.  I do not own any embossing tools, so testing those were out.   However, I did have some texture and embossing sheets to test.  I decided to try one of the Cuttlebug embossing folders (Provo Craft) out in the Big Shot.  I used a piece of
aluminum can that I had cut from an energy drink.  Using the enclosed platform, I made sure that tab
number 2 went through the machine first.  I placed the clear cutting pad with the “Cuttlebug Emboss Sheet”
(Victoria) sandwiched between the top and bottom pad.  I laid them on top of Tab number 1.  I ran it through the machine.
I carefully removed the aluminum from the embossing sheet.  The design embossed beautifully and looked great on both sides of the aluminum piece.
I then tried one of the “Makin’s Clay Plastic Texture Sheet” and a Shade-Tex rubbing plate (Scratch Art) which are significantly thinner.  I put a piece of foam down onto the platform, then I placed the texture sheet on it.  I put a piece of parchment paper on it and then a piece of foam followed by the top pad.  I ran it through the machine.  The texture sheets are not made of the same material as the Cuttlebug sheet and they did not work well on this machine.  Both did leave a slight impression on the paper but it was not much of one.  I think the texture sheets you use on this machine need to be made of sturdy materials to work well, instead of the more flexible plastic or rubber.
For the money, this machine is a great investment because of its versatility and portability.  My friends and I enjoy having outdoor crafting parties and often there is no electricity available.  The Big Shot offers a tremendous potential for both my crafting needs and my upcycling projects.  The fact I can use it too cut so many different types of materials is a real plus.  I often switch between fabric projects and paper projects; to be able to use the machine for both is a not only a space saver but a money saver too!  Also, having seen some my favorite recycling gurus out there utilizing this machine to create some really cool art is inspiring as well. I would highly recommend this machine, for its many great qualities and affordable price.
Tips:
  • Always use the right platform or cutting pad board with the appropriate die.
  • Carefully place die or texture plate facing the correct direction (according to manufacturers directions).  If you are new to using these types of machine, just know that the clear plastic pads will get scratched and cut over time.  The die cutting process does leave its mark behind on those, so try to remember to rotate and flip the clear pads to get even wear on them.
  • Local craft stores do not have a large selection of these dies in stock, they are trending toward the electric die cut machines, which I think is a mistake.  There is a need for both types, especially if you want to take your die cutting machine with you somewhere where there is not electricity readily available. Anyway, you can find a great selection of dies online.
  • The Big Shot comes wrapped in a huge plastic container.  If you cut it carefully, you can use that same plastic and run it through your big shot to die cut it and use it for craft projects or mini books.
Pros:
  • Comes with a very helpful multipurpose platform that has pre-printed instructions on how to use other company dies (tab 2) and texture plates (tab 1) with the Big Shot.
  • You can use other companies dies with the Big Shot which is helpful on the budget.
  • The instructions are easy to follow.
  • Since the Big Shot does not need electricity, you can take it with you to use it anywhere.
  • The Big Shot does not take up much space in my limited craft area.
  • The dies are very affordable, especially if you wait for them to go on sale at various craft and scrapbooking stores.
  • The machine is well made and a time saver when making multiple projects.
Cons:
  • The longer dies are harder to crank through the machine, but have patience and it will go through.  If you put a rubber anti-slip mat under the big shot while using those longer dies it helps keep it from moving.
  • It is heavy, however, I think the portability more than makes up for it.
  • Make space, you may find yourself buying too many dies.  It is easy to get excited with all the cool dies being sold today.
GIVEAWAY!
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 have a Big Shot?  If so, tell us how you feel about it!  If you don’t, which features make you want to buy it?

One comment, per person, per Sizzix article, please. Winners will be selected on Saturday, July 16, 2011.
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

More Quilled Flowers – Cuttlebug by Provo Craft

With 3-D flowers such a hot ticket in the card-making and paper world, and paper quilling making its way to cards and paper crafts, here’s some fairly new products that I had to investigate. Cuttlebug Quilling Kits!

There’s three styles that Cuttlebug currently offers that I discovered… daisy, rose/carnation and chrysanthemum (as shown below, left to right).

Each kits include: 1 quilling pen, 4 cutting dies, 10 floral wires, a laminated instruction sheet and even a flower sample.  For my review, I focused on the daisy kit.

To make the flowers using this kit, you would need a Cuttlebug, Big Shot, or some other similar embossing machine and embossing plates.
In the photo below, the blue plate is the cutting plate and petals were cut from the peach paper using this plate.
 Simply stack the different pieces of cut petals…
Then wind together tightly using the quilling tool. Add a bit of craft glue to the bottom of the quilled flower to secure.
Cut leaves using the leaf embossing plate and add to the flower.
These make great embellishments for card-making and paper projects..

For those of you who are quilling enthusiasts…what a great addition to your craft supplies! For those who haven’t ventured into quilling yet, this is definitely worth trying.

Pros:

  • Custom make flowers and foliage to match card stock and designer papers to your handmade projects.
  • A fast alternative to making hand-cut pieces to create your own type of flowers.
  • In my opinion, adds more than a silk flower to paper projects.
  • Available at local scrapbook stores. I haven’t seen these in large craft hobby shops yet.

Cons:

  • Instructions aren’t very clear about the number of strips to cut and use to create the petal portion of the flower.
  • Instructions should explain the need to stagger the petals before rolling.
  • One of the dies is almost the exact size of a piece of cardstock at 8 7/16″ making it hard to fit the paper. You could use a 12″x12″ piece of paper, though.
  • Retails for $24.99 for each set – a little pricey in my opinion.
  • To cut through cardstock, I had to add several cardboard shims to cut through the paper.

  • Must be used in conjunction with an embossing machine.

Give it a try… it’s a fun tool to work with!