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Stretch Magic

Reported by Megan Lock

If you’ve ever ventured down the bead aisle at a large craft store or at a local bead shop, you’ve probably seen Stretch Magic.
It’s the stretchy string that allows you to avoid using clasps while making your projects. It’s largely available in two different sizes, 0.5 mm and 1 mm diameter, though if you look a little harder, you can find it in 1.8 mm, 1.5 mm, 1.2 mm, 0.8 mm, and 0.7 mm diameter. I’ve found some black Stretch Magic, but the large majority is clear. There is a kids’ pack that features yellow, red, orange, and blue Stretch Magic string. It retails for $2.49 for a 5 yard spool.
When you make a necklace or bracelet with a metal based string, you usually add a clasp so you can easily wear your piece. With this product, your string is stretchy, so you just stretch it to put it over your hand or your head.
Generally, I only use Stretch Magic for bracelets. In the past, I’ve used it to make chokers, but I find it easier to use a clasp for those projects. This is just my crafting perspective and you may find it works well with chokers. Stretch magic is not useful for longer necklaces, unless you are using light-weight beads. If the beads are too heavy, they become the driving force to stretch the string. Your piece should only stretch while you are putting it on.
This is a video to show you how you put beads on the string and a sampling of some of my bracelets.
Pros:
  • Easy and quick to use-you can have a beautiful and professional piece in a very short amount of time.
  • Versatile, you can use it with whatever beads fit your style.
  • Few tools needed, you only need a crimp bead and a pair of pliers to complete a project.
  • Great for beginners and kids.
Cons:
  • Limited color availability, though you shouldn’t see the Stretch Magic because it should be covered by your beautiful beads.
  • If you stretch it too far or if the string is compromised along the surface, your piece will break and beads will go everywhere. The cleaning people at your work will bring you baggies of beads for months to come, but I don’t know this from experience. 😉
  • Can be difficult to string some beads. The rubber material Stretch Magic is made of can cause some resistance to beads with smaller holes.

Where to buy:
JoAnn.com
ACMoore.com
CreateForLess.com

Have you used Stretch Magic? Love it or hate it? Have something you like better? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Sizzix Texturz Plates

Reported by: Megan Lock

Before I start the actual review of this product, I would like to say this product is made by Sizzix, but also has different designs supplied through Stampin’ Up! The one I’ve used here is from Stampin’ Up, though other designs are available at Michaels, Amazon, or at your local scrapbook store. They retail for $9.99.
Sizzix Texturz plates are made of hard plastic that is six inches wide–which for us Cuttlebug users, means it will fit. Of course, you can also use the plates with the Big Shot. There are two different designs on either side of the plate. The set I bought came with three plates, therefore there are six designs. It’s important to note that these are not entirely like Cuttlebug Embossing folders. There are not a positive and negative sides to reinforce the design. As a result, the impression these plates leave is not as “deep” as the embossing folders. That said, these still offer the ability to add some texture to your paper. In my samples below, I used a die cut flower for my samples and I used three different techniques.
1. I used this sandwich in the cuttlebug (from the bottom to the top):
-A Plate
-Texturz embossing plate
-Cardstock or Patterned Paper
-Tan Mat (I use the Spellbinders tan mat, clearly I’m not devoted to one company)
-C Plate
2. Using the same sandwich, mist your cardstock or paper with water. I won’t judge you if you use your rubber stamp cleaner because it’s in a spray bottle, already on your table, calling your name, but I would never do that.
3. Tap your ink pad on the plate and immediately run it through your machine, using the same sandwich as before.
All three techniques will work, it just depends on what you want to do with your project. The first leaves a faint impression, though it shows some soft texture. The second is a little hint if you want a deeper impression. And the third adds a little depth to the texture.
Pros:
  • Durable
  • Numerous designs, and you get many with one purchase
  • Variety of techniques can be used
  • Affordable
  • Compatible with the Cuttlebug and the Big Shot
Cons:
  • Not as deeply etched, if you’re accustomed to Cuttlebug folders
  • They’re not available at all large chain retails
All in all, this is a quality product that achieves its purpose, regardless of of similar product comparisons. Do you have a set of these? Do you like them? Would you recommend them to another crafter? We’d love to hear from you!
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Martha Stewart Punches

Reported by Megan Lock

The woman we love to hate: Martha Stewart. Regardless of how you feel about her, she has some fantastic people creating beautiful products with her name on them. One of the most popular products these people have designed are, of course, the punches. She may not know how to use them, but as a papercrafter, we love them!

There was the goo border punch at Halloween that was sighted on ebay for upwards of $100. There was the illusive twig and snowflake punch at Christmas that only a few were able to nab. There was the Valentine border punch that was (and are currently) ungrabbable, except by the lucky few who stalk the shelves each day. There will soon be a wonderful new design where some projects will boastfully laugh at our projects because they didn’t get to taste the new MS punch.

All of that to say that their unavailability is the greatest con for these punches. Don’t worry, though… I have fourteen other cons to share with you. I scoured the internet to find the problems papercrafters have been having:
  1. handle fell off
  2. sticks in locked position, won’t open
  3. can’t get them at Hobby Lobby
  4. some Archivers quit selling them
  5. MS website is not helpful in ordering or showing product options
  6. they are made by EK Success, a reputable punch producer, and the decreased quality with a comparatively substantial price tag leaves consumers wondering
  7. it should be of higher quality with Martha’s name on it, a continuation of #6
  8. not available in the UK
  9. the cupcake punch is difficult to place after punching, the parts don’t fit well together
  10. works on thinner paper, but not with card stock
  11. embossing punches are very faint
  12. quality control problem, some punches work well, while others do not
  13. need seasoning, a few hundred run throughs with card stock to get them working
  14. Walmart’s selection is pitiful

Before you Martha lovers come after me with a hot glue gun, there seems to be an equal number of users who either don’t have, or don’t report problems with their punches. They say they haven’t had any problems cutting through thick cardstock and they would gladly purchase more. I fall in this category! I have three MS punches. I have cut through Stampin’ Up! cardstock and I have always had beautiful results. My only beef is that I can’t get my hands on them!

Here are a few tips I’ve found useful:
1. Center your cardstock in the punch. Here, I used SU’s Mellow Moss cardstock.

2. Push down with the palm of your hand, hold the paper with your other hand, all while the punch remains on the table.

3. Line up the image with the image on the punch. I’ve found that some punches require you to turn it over to line up the image, but the engineers got it right on these. You can trust the image on these borders.

4. Create your project:
(Turtle Tots, Stamping Bella; Designer Paper, The Paper Studio, heart brads, Spare Parts)
Pros:
  • wonderful and popular designs
  • the good ones punch well
  • the single punches (not borders) are box-shaped, for easier storage

Cons:
  • listed above

You can (hopefully) find these punches at Michaels, AC Moore (they don’t have them on their website, but I’ve seen them in the store), and Wal*Mart, ranging in price from $9.99 to $14.99.

Overall, I think these can be good punches if you can get one and if you get a good one. Would you risk it? Do you dislike Martha so much you refuse to buy her products? Do you get frustrated that you can’t find the punch you want? Is there a punch you think is a “must have?” If so, let us know!! We want to hear from YOU!

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