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Vendor Spotlight & Giveaway: Sizzix Vagabond By Tim Holtz



Reported by Taylor Usry

I am still counting my lucky stars to have been given the chance to review the amazing Tim Holtz Vagabond die-cutting machine by Sizzix.  I’ve been swooning over this beauty since it hit the market!



The folks at Sizzix were kind enough to include several other goodies with my Vagabond. I received a butterfly die, a set of Sizzlets, and a Little Sizzles mat board pack.  I was all set to get crafty!

Inside the Vagabond package is:

  • the machine itself
  • a set of stickers to decorate it with
  • a pair of standard cutting pads
  • one solo platform
  • one solo shim
I let my daughter help me decorate the Vagabond, which might have been the most exciting thing we’ve ever done.  What a fun little extra to include; it’s a great way to personalize the machine and make it your own.  The actual box that the machine comes in is quite sturdy and looks like a well-traveled suitcase (as the Vagabond is designed to).  The bonus to that?  My daughter now thinks it is her very own authentic explorer’s suitcase.  I’m good with that!

The Solo Shim is a thin piece of plastic that fits securely on top of the Solo Platform.  They both measure about 6 1/4″ x 13″ and are to be used when cutting a Sizzlet, embossing with a Texture Folder, or using other-brand dies (i.e. Spellbinders Nestabilities).  One thing that I immediately loved about the shim and platform was that it clearly stated right on it when you should use the Solo Shim (with thin materials), and when you should use the platform alone (when cutting folded card stock or materials thicker than card stock such as chipboard, Grungeboard, etc).  There was no fumbling around for the instruction booklet or racking my brain to remember what I should or shouldn’t do!

The Solo Shim attaches to the Solo Platform in two spots on either end with metal clips.  The plastic tabs on the Solo Shim slide right in and out very easily.

On either side of the handle at the top are burnished brass buttons.  One side’s buttons are just for decoration, the other side has a motor button and a forward/reverse switch.  Now, this won’t work unless you get out the power cord and plug it in.  Where is the power cord?  Tucked into a nifty side compartment for storage!  That is one of my pet peeves about some other electronic machines I have – there is no cord storage.  The Vagabond corrected that oversight and included a compartment with a slide-down switch that will house the power cord when not in use.

The machine opens with the slide of a button as well (it is located in the center of the top of the machine, just under the handle).  The “flaps” easily lower themselves with just the push of this button.  The rollers located inside the machine are serious business – check them out!

The very first thing I tested was some foam. I sandwiched, from the bottom up, one cutting pad, the big die (foam side up), my foam, and another cutting pad.  I made sure the forward/reverse switch was set to the proper direction and pushed my sandwich into the roller opening as far as it would go.  Following the instructions, I gently pressed the guide flaps (the brown sides that stick up) inward until they made contact with the sandwich.  I pushed and held down on the motor switch until the sandwich came out on the other side.

I was instantly floored by how easily the sandwich went through the machine.  And my husband commented that the motor made a “cool” sound – so it appeals to the guys, too!

The Vagabond cut through foam like, well, butter.  Seriously.  No fraying, no nothing!



It made a beautiful butterfly for my daughter, who is hounding me for more.

Next up I cut some vellum, using the Sizzlets.  I put all four Sizzlets through at once (my sandwich looked like this, from the bottom up: Solo Platform, Solo Shim, one cutting pad, Sizzlets foam side up, vellum, other cutting pad) and repeated the same alignment process I used with the big die.  There is a note on the Solo Shim that more than six Sizzlets should not be put through at a time, or damage to the machine could occur.  The vellum cut fairly well; you can see above that some of the edges were a bit frayed.  I’m fairly sure I was using vellum from Stampin’ Up (which seems to me to have a medium thickness).  Overall, the larger, less detailed pieces came out better than the more intricate pieces.

The word Tweet looked like it cut through just fine, however, when I started trying to remove the word from the paper, I realized it did not cut all the way through.  The wrinkles evident on the vellum is proof of how much pressure those rollers put on the sandwich, though.

I know this isn’t the greatest picture, but it is another illustration of how much pressure the rollers place on the dies and materials being cut.  After one pass through, the Sizzlets left these impressions on a cutting pad – and the sentiment didn’t even cut all the way through the vellum!

I tried a Tim Holtz Texture Fade folder next, with another piece of vellum.  Just look at that deep impression!  It was so deep that in places the paper actually had some holes in it.

I also tried a piece of folded card stock (taking care to remove the Solo Platform, as advised) and it turned out well, too.  The card stock that was in the embossing folder actually came out of the machine with a slight curve to it, and was noticeably flimsier than the backside of the card, which had not gone through inside the folder.

While I was working on embossing, I also tried out a transparency sheet (the kind you’d use on an overhead projector – remember those?) and an embossing folder from Cuttlebug.  Worked like a charm!

Next I wanted to test out acetate, but my stash was mysteriously missing.  Not one to be deterred, I cut up the packaging from the Texture Fade folders and used that!  Paired with a big die, the acetate cut beautifully – crisp edges, clean cuts.  Makes a beautiful butterfly, doesn’t it? (I won’t mention how much glitter ended up on the floor from doing the edges like that – I’m still cleaning it up!)

I saved the thing I was most excited about for last….testing out my collection of Spellbinders Nestabilities in the Vagabond.  Sizzix manufactures a Wafer-thin Die Adapter made specifically for using competitor’s dies with this machine.  Unfortunately, it didn’t come in my package, so I decided to see what I could do to get it to work.  I did a bit of online research, and tried a sandwich of (from the bottom up): Solo Platform and Shim, two cardboard mat pads (I used thinner cardboard, cut from the back of a legal pad), one cutting pad, the die (face up), card stock, and the other clear pad.  I crossed my fingers, held my breath, and sent the sandwich through the machine.  It worked!!  I ran the whole sandwich back through with the tan mat I always use to emboss my Nestabilities in my Cuttlebug, and it left a stunning embossed edge on my card stock.  I won’t share the video of me doing the happy dance, but I did.  It is such a bonus to be able to use this machine and not waste the money I’ve invested in other dies and embossing folders! 
While I had the Nestabilities out, I tried using them to cut some photographs.  Once again, the Vagabond did not disappoint.  Perfect, clean edges, no fraying. Yay!
I also dug out an old original Sizzix die that made oval tags, and ran that through the machine with some Grungeboard.  After I cut them out (which worked great) I ran them through again inside a texture Fade folder. I added a Grungeboard die-cut butterfly, and made a little gift tag. 
Lastly, I thought I’d run a few of those 4″x4″ chipboard coasters through.  I might never deplete my stash of those things.  These are pretty thick little coasters, so I wasn’t sure how well it would do. The Vagabond did not disappoint! I was actually able to roll the whole coaster into a tube after it came out of the machine – it was that flexible.  I used the coasters I ran through the machine and have started a “Little Love Book” for my husband for Father’s Day. 
Overall, I am absolutely in love with the Vagabond.  IN LOVE.  Everything I tried in it either cut or embossed wonderfully.  I didn’t experience a single hiccup or problem with it other than the vellum sentiment not cutting all the way through.  I think everyone should own a Vagabond!
The Vagabond retails for about $250 and is available online.  It is completely compatible with Sizzix products, and has a wide range of accessories to make it compatible with competitor’s products. 
Pros:
  • easy to follow instructions
  • great design
  • cuts through and embosses all types of materials
Cons:
  • hefty price tag
  • very heavy machine
  • I wish the adapter for competitor’s products came with the machine (although I understand why it doesn’t)

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 Vagabond?  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!

Tim Holtz Grungeboard

Reported by Taylor Usry

Have you ever tried Tim Holtz’s Grungeboard? If so, you are probably addicted (like me). If you haven’t, prepare to have some fun! Grungeboard, according to Tim Holtz, is made of recycled paper. Here is an excellent You Tube tutorial video by him, that tells more about what it is, and how to use it!Pictured above is how a package of Grungeboard comes. This one happens to be plain texture; there are several other textures it is available (harlequinn, swirls, etc). The outside of the package will always have a small sample of the texture in the corner, so you can feel it!


This is the first thing I made. I got a Grungebook and decided to just dive right in. I painted it with Tim Holz’s Distress Crackle Paint in brushed pewter. Mine never did crack, but of course Tim’s does in the video! It did stay an awesomely cool metallic shade, though. The only thing I adhered to it was that gigantic flourish from the swirls collection. I rubbed it with mahogany ink (Distress Ink, Tim Holtz line) and then used a blender tool to give an all over color. I’ve never seen a flourish so big before, and thought this would be a great way to start off my book!

This is the second page I made. I decided to see how Grungeboard would hold up to spray adhesive and thicker designer paper. So I sprayed the whole thing after I inked the tab, and adhered this piece of designer paper. True to its description, it stayed flexible! I sanded all of the edges – Grungeboard sands like a dream – and then got to work on my main piece. I again rubbed the aged mahogany ink on the heart and blended it. I painted the wings and crown with Angel Wings and Coffee Shimmerz, respectively. I popped the heart up on dimensionals, and left this one alone! I’m planning to go back and add some journaling later

For my third page, I went in a direction that is so not me – but I figured I’d stretch myself a bit! I covered the whole piece with aged mahogany ink, and stamped a map background in the middle, with Memento Tuxedo Black ink. I rubbed on frayed burlap ink around the edges until I reached the map, and painted a swirled skull in the bottom right corner with Coffee Shimmerz. I got some plain letters out, and painted them with Royal Red Shimmerz. What do you think about how this one turned out??

The very last thing I did was make a tag. Grunge Paper is 12″x12″ sheets that comes in packages of 3. I cut out my tag, ran some faded jeans ink over it, and then used a blending tool to makes it even. My flowers are from the Grungeboard pack called “Nature” – fun aren’t they? To color the stems I used Memento Bamboo Leaves ink. The flowers themselves are aged mahogany. I sprayed the whole tag with adhesive, and added the flowers. I made my sentiment piece (it says “the earth laughs in flowers” and is from the Lizzie Anne Designs set ‘In the Meadow‘) and adhered it over the flowers. After it all set a bit, I coated it with Krystal Crystal Clear acrylic coating. It did make the sentiment panel hard to read, but I like the overall vintage feel it gave the tag.

*All inks used were from Tim Holtz’s Distress line, unless otherwise noted.

Ok, let’s break it down:

Pros:

  • Easy-to-use
  • Multi-purpose
  • Comes in amazing shapes, for every need

Cons (and this is a reach for me):

  • The 12″x 12″ paper pack only has 3 sheets in it
  • I’d like to see more variety of books
  • No third con for me – I love Grungeboard!!!
Where to buy:

Have you tried Grungeboard? What do you do with it? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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

Grungeboard

Reported by Tami Bayer

Have you tried Grungeboard yet? Well, I finally rolled up my sleeves and really played with it. This is a fairly new product from Tim Holtz Idea-ology that was first shown at Summer 2007 CHA. It comes in various embossed designs such as stripes, dots, swirls, and harlequin or you can buy it plain. It is available as basic sheets or diecut into a variety of shapes, numbers, or alphas. I played with two different types -the set you see on the left is the stripes elements and I also played with a couple of swirls basic sheets a friend sent to me. I purchased a set of elements which is 8 sheets of die cut shapes for about $8.00 at a craft show I went to earlier this year. I think it’s a fair price for the 94 pieces I received in this package.

When I opened the package the very first thing I noticed is that it smells like leather. It even feels a little like leather. It’s so bendy and flexible. I emailed Tim to ask him what it’s made from. He answered my question right away saying that it’s “paper based”. Hmmm, I’m sure there are other things in there, but what they are is not public knowlege. He has a video link on his website with a demo he did of this product.

I decided to try it out with some products that don’t have Tim’s name on them. I know all of his products work with the Grungeboard, but I wanted to see what else works with it. I was surprised to find that all 9 of the inks and paints I put on it worked. You can see that each one is labeled above the swirl with the name of the product I used on it. You may have to click on the pic to see it large enough to read them. I love that it works with sparkly products. This really gives a greater range to the Grungeboard, because the distress look doesn’t work on all my projects. It dried quickly on all of these and I found that it took very little time to get color on them. It is easier to color the grungeboard if you use a little glue dot to hold it in place while painting. I found it easy to apply the juicier inkpads direct to grungeboard, but needed a piece of cut and dry foam for some of the ink application. I used a sponge brush with the paints.

The next thing I tried was cutting the basic sheet. I had mixed results with this. It cut beautifully with a regular thick Sizzix die. With a Cuttlebug die I had to run it through twice. It would not cut through on a Sizzlets die no matter how many times I ran it through. I don’t have any other brand of dies to try on it, but I’d love to hear if any of you have had success or failures with other diecuts. I found it cut easily with my Fiskars and Kai scissors. The Crop-a-dile punches through it like a dream. I was unsuccessful in punching any shapes with regular paper punches.

I adore products that are versatile. I don’t want to purchase a zillion things to make something work. This one worked with nearly everything I threw at it, and I hope it works with supplies you have on hand. I’d love to hear about the ways you have used Grungeboard in your projects and any successes or failures you’ve had with it.

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