Tag Archives | Jenny Barnett Rohrs

X-Acto Swivel Designer Series Craft Blade

Reported by Jenny Barnett Rohrs

I have a love/hate relationship with craft blades. Every crafter needs one- or a few- but sometimes they are tricky to work with. Either they are uncomfortable to hold, or it’s difficult to change the blade without nicking yourself, or they are just unwieldy it’s hard to make delicate cuts. And I have to admit, the only swivel blade I’ve ever owned is languishing in the bottom of a drawer, unused and unloved.

So I needed to be really “sold” on the X-Acto Swivel Craft Knife (Designer Series). And I think I was!

First impressions out of the package is that the handle is really large- maybe overly so- but as I began to experiment with it, I found that the handle is very ergonomic and really an integral part of the tool. Because the blade swivels, you have to keep a really good grip on the handle, and the Designer Series version enables you to do this without excessive hand fatigue. So far, so good!

For my cutting tests, I decided to use a heart shape. This shape incorporates some interior points, some exterior points, and curves; good to really test drive the blade. I also used an old self-healing cutting mat underneath (that probably goes without saying, but just to be clear).

First up- old sheet music. It’s so old it’s a little brittle.

Result? Smooth as butter. No tearing at all in the inside or outside points. Nice.

Next up: Copy-weight paper.

Also worked well. Good maneuverability in the interior and exterior points. No tearing or drag.
So next I moved up to cardstock:

It was a little harder to control the blade on this one- I found I had to grip the handle more firmly and let the blade to the work, which it did. I had to fight the urge to twist the handle the way I do with a straight blade. Some drag in the points, but the cut is still clean.

The next example I just tried wavy lines on lightweight paper. Not surprisingly, large waves were the easiest, small waves more challenging…and zig-zags were tough. Not recommended for that!

So then I got the bright idea to try fabric. I prepped the fabric with some paper-backed iron-on webbing.
And then I cut a heart & a scalloped frame. The X-Acto Designer Series Swivel Blade actually did an amazing job. No loose threads, minimal drag, and I LOVE the idea of being able to cut free-shapes and make them into appliques without the use of scissors! This is the most impressive selling point for me!

So, because I’m a practical gal, I also tried out changing the blade (I’m a little dense here, because it took me 15 minutes just to figure out how!). You’ll need to grab the metal collar with your non-dominant hand, then twist the grey tip of the handle towards you. It will loosen the collar and pull out of the handle with the blade still in it.

Tip the collar over to empty out the blade.

Drop a new blade in the bottom of the collar, then insert the collar back into the handle and twist the grey part to tighten it all back up.

So, all in all, I really like this blade. It’s comfortable to hold, works will with different weights of paper and fabric, and gives you the flexibility of making your own shapes without a stencil or ruler. I certainly will be keeping this blade on TOP of my craft desk!

I used the negative and positive shapes in a collage.


  • Ergonomic handle
  • Easy to change blades
  • Works well on different weights of paper/fabric
  • OK price point (between $8-$12 USD)
  • Kinda cute!


  • Cap is not attached, prone to loss
  • Not great for tight turns with thicker cardstock
  • No holder/stand

The X-ACTO Designer Series Craft Swivel Knife is available at

Have you used the X-Acto Swivel knife? Have a comment? We’d love to hear from you!


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Pearl Pens by Viva-Decor

Reported by Jenny Barnett Rohrs

One of the things I love about CHA is the chance to see new products rolled out before they hit the stores, and Viva-Decor didn’t disappoint last January. I came home with these cool “Pearl Pens” to try out.

These are similar to Tulip Dimensional Fashion paints which you may have seen in stores. These paper and fabric “puffy” paints dry and remain 3-dimensional, and are washable, too.

One of the bonuses of Viva-Decor’s brand is that they have just the right viscosity- thick enough to hold a nice, domed, 1/2 pearl shape, but not so thick that you get those annoying peaks and spikes.

The first thing I tried was making a series of graduated half-rounds:

See how they are perfectly domed? Really awesome. I’ve never gotten these kind of results using the other brand.

I also have to comment on the colors. What is not really that clear in the picture is that you have a nice selection of “plain” glossy finish (like the turquoise blue and red), “pearl” finish (like the yellow, dark green, and purple) and a “metallic” finish (copper, gold and bronze). The metallic and pearl finishes are nicely metallic and have a nice shimmery glow.

For my first project, I decided to try a card, using the dots as an embellishment:

I kind of got carried away! I started with just embellishing the tail….but then adding the little dots was so much fun, I did the whole bird.

It was at this point I noticed that my turquoise paint was a little runnier than the others, and that the color had separated a bit. I got some running when I put the dots too close together.
On the whole, the “plain” colors seemed a bit looser/runnier than the pearls and the metallics.

Check out the dimension in the side view:

The dots really pop nicely off of the surface. When I did get little peaks, I just tapped the table and they leveled right out.

Another bonus: in all 13 colors I tried, not ONE had a gummy nozzled or clogged ONCE during my whole playtime. This is also a big deal, as usually when I’m using a dimensional paint the nozzle gums up and you have to keep a straight pin on hand. No clogging tip = happier crafters!

Next I tried using the Pearl Pens on fabric:

I was really pleased with how they performed on this twill. I just made sure the tip of the nozzle was in contact with the twill before I started squeezing, and those perfect little pearls popped right into place.

The website says that if you let them dry for 24 hours, you can then launder them as along as the temp stays below 86 degrees (I guess that makes it a cold-water wash then!)

Here again is a side view so you can see just how dimensional those big red drops in the eyes are:

For a quick and simple way to add dimension, Pearl Pens are a new fave!


  • Good price point (around $5.95 each) especially when compared to pearl embellishments
  • Washable
  • Good for paper or fabric
  • Nice saturated colors
  • Easy to get good results
  • No noticeable clogging with the nozzle


  • Might be hard to find in a brick-and-morter store as of yet
  • Pricey compared to other dimensional paints
  • Will wrinkle your paper slightly

How do you like to use dimensional paints? We’d love to hear from you!


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Mold-N-Pour by Ranger Industries

Reported by Jenny Barnett Rohrs

Usually I’m a thrifty crafter- after all, money doesn’t grow on trees, and why buy products or tools that are one-trick ponies? As a consequence, I’ve been making molds for my polymer clay pieces out of scrap clay and dealing with the difficulty of de-molding by gritting my teeth. But now, intrepid crafters, things have changed!

I got a sample of Mold-N Pour by the fabulous Suze Weinberg herself at CHA, and it’s taken me a while to try it out. I started by trying to figure out what might be a good item to mold. One that is not too deep, not too intricate, one with no under-cuts. So this is what I started off with (I decided to not use the rosary charm, after all).

It states on the package that you need to use equal parts of the purple and white compounds and mix them together thoroughly for the silicon to set up. However, they don’t include a scoop or perforated lines or anything, so I dug this little scoop out of my glitter drawer (doesn’t everyone have a glitter drawer?). [Editor’s note: yes. yes we do.]

So I make little scoops that were about the size of a dime…

…and then started mixing. Now, they also tell you on the package that it’s sticky– and IT IS. It totally stuck to the paper the container was sitting on. It even stuck to the glue gun mat that I usually work on because it’s non-stick! Thank goodness for my palette knife- I was able to slide it under to release it just fine.
Just to let you know, it is VERY easy to mix it’s soft and slightly greasy feeling, but not unpleasant. I was surprised how quickly it mixed up into one color. Time to make molds!

Unfortunately, I got caught up in the moment and forgot to take pictures of making the molds-but it’s so simple you don’t even need photos. You just wad your Mold-n-Pour into a ball, flatten slightly, and then press your object straight down into the blob. Leave it there for 10 minutes or so… and when your finger nail doesn’t leave a mark, it’s done.

Because this is a silicon mold, it’s super flexible and non-stick. My original objects popped right out! I tried each mold- the leaf, face, and key- in polymer clay and melted UTEE, because I’m familiar with both of those. Here are my results:

Overall, I was impressed- the UTEE was easy to use- just pour in, let cool, and pop out (the black examples above are UTEE.) I also used gold polymer clay and again, the polymer de-molded so easily I had very little distortion. One note on polymer, though: the clay I was using was a little stiff, and so I had to work it to get it into the super-flexible mold- which DID cause some distortion (you can see that most clearly on the bottom-most face example; it’s a little flattened).

So after crafting for years without Mold n Pour, suddenly I’m scanning my studio for buttons, jewelry, and trinkets to make molds of!


  • easy to knead
  • sets up quickly
  • heat-resistant; you could bake polymer clay right in the mold if you wanted to
  • can be used for chocolate or food-crafting if dedicated to food-only
  • can also be used for soap & candle-making
  • readily available at craft & big-box stores
  • OK price-point- between $11-13


  • no easy way to measure – you gotta eyeball it…
  • sticky- watch your surfaces!
  • so soft & flexible it might not “stand up” to firm polymer clays

Have YOU used Mold-N-Pour? Love it? Hate it?? Tell us about your experience!

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