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Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY!: Spellbinder Grand Calibur (Day 2 of 2)

Reported by Dana Vitek

I’ve been a Spellbinders customer since the beginning of time. I have one of the original Wizards; it says “Patent Pending” on it. I’ve been collecting the Spellbinders dies since before the Nestibilities came out. As such, I have amassed quite the collection:

I may or may not have a problem.

So when the time came to test out the Spellbinders Grand Calibur, I was the obvious choice.  Kandi did such a great job yesterday describing the contents of the box and such, I’ll just get right down to the business of showing off.

The first thing I wanted to cut and emboss has been hanging out in my craft room for years:

This is Craft-a-Board, developed by Ellen Hutson for use with the Spellbinder Nestabilities. It’s a sturdy board, like chipboard, but nicer. I could never get the Nestabilities to cut cleanly through it with the original Wizard, so I was excited to try it with the Grand Calibur.

I laid out all the dies I wanted to cut. The largest scalloped square there is the very biggest of the Grand Scalloped Squares. I also threw some scalloped paisleys on there because I had SO MUCH ROOM on the cutting platform.

Here they are after one pass through the Grand Calibur:

One piece didn’t cut cleanly all the way through, but a quick pass of the craft knife, and it was ready to go.

Compared to the trouble I had with this stuff using the original Wizard, I was thrilled!
While I had the Craft-a-Board out, I decided to make a puzzle for my daughter, using the Spellbinders Jigsaw Puzzle Die. I traced out the size of the die in pencil, and then went to town stamping and coloring the Craft-a-Board:

I centered the die over the design, and ran it through the Grand Calibur:

One pass through… 

and here it is in pieces:

Most of the pieces came apart with a little back and forth wiggling; I think I had to cut 2 or 3 pieces with the craft knife, and it literally only took seconds to do that. A quick, personalized 20-piece puzzle for my kid. These would be great as birthday party favors!

Now then, I have letterpress on the brain because I just finished up a some letterpress projects, and the packaging of the Spellbinders Impressibilities caught my eye. It says it can be used for letterpressing. Don’t mind if I do!

I pulled out my letterpress paper and ink, and inked up the Paisley Impressibility:

I laid it on top of the paper on the ‘A’ plate. I ran it through the machine using the “embossing sandwich” but there wasn’t enough pressure, and I didn’t get a good deboss.

So I tried it again with the regular cutting sandwich (‘A’ plate, paper, Impressibility, ‘C’ plate), and voila! It looks fabulous!

I was really impressed! Pun intended!

Moving on to one of my favorite media: shrink plastic! I love making little charms for cards and jewelry, and I wanted to see if the Grand Calibur generated enough pressure to cut plastic with the low-profile Nestibilities.

Test subject:

I ran it through the Grand Calibur, and the plastic cut with no trouble at all! I set my old-school Old Milwaukee heat-gun to work, and came up with this cute little dragonfly:

Here’s a fun little card for a coworker’s new baby girl, using the letterpressed paper, the dragonfly charm, and some cut paisleys:

I figured that since it could cut shrink plastic, it could probably cut thicker plastic too, like the ubiquitous clamshell packaging. I swear, I have saved every plastic package since the late ’90s. Really. I refuse to let it go to a landfill, but I’ve never really figured out what to do with it. Well, now I know!

This is actually the packaging from the Grand Scalloped Square Nestabilities
again, one pass through, no problem…

all sanded up and ready to go!

I’ll bet you’re wondering what I made with all this stuff… okay, I’ll show you.

While I was cutting paisleys, I cut a bunch of them, and made a scrapbook layout featuring my kid wearing a dinosaur hat:

this was a happy little accident… 2 paisleys=a heart!
this kid knows what’s up.

I decided my layout needed some rub-ons, but didn’t have the energy to use that Popsicle stick doohicky, so I placed the rub-on where I wanted it, and ran it through the Grand Calibur, just to see if the pressure would transfer the rub-on.

It totally did! What a time-saver!

And here’s the finished layout. This uses the largest (8″) Scalloped Square that I cut from the Craft-a-Board; the smaller scalloped square, also from the Craft-a-Board; that sanded plastic piece that I cut from the packaging, and the Paisley heart: 

Please be gentle… I am not a scrapbooker!

I put the Grand Calibur through its paces, and am happy to report that I never found anything it couldn’t do. EXCEPT. Except it is just not quite big enough to use the regular Sizzix dies. I was so hoping that I could whittle down my die-cutting machine collection to just the Grand Calibur, but I have way too much $$$ invested in regular Sizzix dies, so the Big Shot stays.

Pros:

  • Wide-format opening allows for 8″ dies to be used.
  • Grand Nestabilities match the smaller Nestabilities, and allow for layering.
  • Easy-to-turn handle, no shooting the sandwich stack across the room like with the original Wizard.
  • Can cut lots of media, not just cardstock.
  • It’s pink. Ish. Kind of a raspberry, really, but I’m down with that.

Cons:

  • Opening is not quite big enough to allow a regular Sizzix die through.
  • The crank handle takes many revolutions; seems like the gear ratio should be reset.
  • That’s all I’ve got. Really.

GIVEAWAY!
Our friends at Spellbinders have given us a set of Grand Scalloped Squares AND a set of Grand Squares (which coordinate) to give to one lucky reader (that’s a $100 value!). Just leave a comment on this blog post answering this question:

Knowing now what different media you can cut with the Grand Calibur and the Nestabilities, what would you try to cut?

One comment per person, please. Winner will be selected on Friday, April 29, 2011.

Disclosure

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

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY!: Spellbinders Grand Calibur (continued)

Reported by Kandi Phillips
I’ve always loved shaped cards and couldn’t wait for the chance to create my very own scalloped card! One the amazing things the Grand Calibur does is to emboss all in one cut when using Nestabilities! I placed my cardstock fold in half over the die and then ran it through the machine.

I was left with a fun scallop shape complete with embossed edges.

Using some of my previously cut dies I created this quick shaped card.

When using the oval Grand Nestabilities in conjunction with the coordinating scallop dies, you can create a precise layer that will fit perfectly on your die-cut shape.

Using my sewing pattern flower I dressed up the front of the shaped card and added some felt petals also cut out with a die.


You can also use the Grand Nestabilities to cut photos! Since you’ll always place your media face down on the die (with the die edges facing up toward the cutting plate) you can get an embossed edge even on your pictures. I centered the die over my photo and then taped the edges outside of the cutting area.

Flip it over on your plate and then pass through your machine to result in an embossed and quickly cut picture.

Using the dies and the previously cut scallop I created a scrapbook layout inspired by the ovals as eggs.

For my next test I wanted to take things to the next level. How many of you have extra scraps of ribbon that you think you need to hang onto “just in case” and then never use on a project? I gathered up some of my strips and secured them onto a scrap of white cardstock.

I placed the smaller oval die on the back side of the ribbon. I knew I didn’t need to have an embossed edge on this one and I wasn’t sure if it might damage the ribbon so I used the opposite side instead. I secured the sides with tape in case of accidental shifting before it was placed in the machine.

When I removed it from the back of the machine I found it hadn’t cut all the way through the ribbon, but that was quickly fixed by trimming around the edges.

I dressed up the oval with some flowers and can’t wait to use this cute Easter egg on another layout or card!

Finally I took the plunge into cutting fabric! The first pass through didn’t yield the expected results and I was a little dismayed.

After doing some research on the Spellbinders website it recommended using a shim in the form of regular printer paper to bring the die closer to the fabric. I ran it through and again and still wasn’t able to get the even results I was hoping for.

Thinking I need to use more printer paper, or actual cardstock, I created a thick sandwich of cardstock and layered my fabric over the dies. It was amazingly difficult to crank the handle with such a thick sandwich and after hearing a large pop I was worried I had completely broken the machine. I reversed the handle and luckily everything was still in working order, and even better I had some fabric cuts!

Now, I’m still going to go back and try to find the perfect sandwich and mix for cutting fabric, but if you’re thinking of trying this, it may vary depending on the fabric you’re using, or how thick your cardstock is. If you’ve got a recipe for success I’d love to hear about it!

After spending so much time cutting I knew I needed to focus on the embossing side of things. I already knew I couldn’t emboss with my Sizzix® Impression Plates, and I needed the W-025 Raspberry Spacer before using my Cuttlebug ® folders, so I went in a different direction. I wanted to try and use various items in my craft supplies to create unique embossed backgrounds. I used embroidery floss, chipboard butterfly cuts and buttons.

Unfortunately the buttons were too thick so I couldn’t get it all the way through and had to reverse. The chipboard almost cut through the cardstock, but the floss created a really cool effect.

I tried another set of chipboard die cuts that were a little thinner, but still it almost cut through the cardstock from the deep pressure of the machine.

Lastly, I wanted to use a brass stencil to test out the embossing feature.

In comparison you can’t see too much difference from the Big Shot Express® example on the left to the Grand Calibur example on the right.

I added some distressing ink and although it’s not very visible in the photo, the image from the Grand Calibur is slightly deeper and a little crisper.

Overall, I am in love with the Grand Calibur and what it can do. Although I am disappointed at my results with fabric, and the fact that I can’t use my Bigz® dies, I am incredibly pleased at being able to use other dies I’d almost given up on. Combined with the fact that I can use extra-large Grand Nestabilities that coordinate with the smaller scale Nestabilities, and the amazing crispness of the cuts, I know I’ll always turn to the Grand Calibur for die-cutting outside of Sizzix® dies.

The Grand Calibur retails for $129.99 and replacement cutting plates can be purchased separately for $24.99. Additionally, the Grand Nestabilities can be purchased for $49.99, and as mentioned coordinate with the smaller versions of Nestabilities seamlessly.

Pros:
  • Wide cutting plates let you cut with the super-sized Grand Nestabilities dies and also cut multiple dies at once
  • Amazing crispness and deep embossing when cutting through most mediums
  • Compatible with most dies on the marketBuilt in handle that you can hold onto while turning the crank handle
  • Stability base works well and keeps the machine in place

Cons:
  • Crank handle requires at least 30 revolutions to complete one pass
  • Isn’t compatible with Sizzix Bigz® dies and requires a spacer plate for use with Sizzlets®, Fiskars® plates and Cuttlebug® folders
GIVEAWAY!
Our friends at Spellbinders have given us a set of Grand Scalloped Circles AND a set of Large Format Circles (which coordinate) to give to one lucky reader (that’s a $100 value!). Just leave a comment on either of today’s blog posts answering this question:

Have you used the Spellbinders Grand Calibur before? What do you use your Grand Calibur the most for, or what would you use it for?

One comment per person, per article, please. Winner will be selected on Friday, April 29, 2011.

Disclosure

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

Ask Craft Critique

Our first Ask Craft Critique post is here. You asked questions, our reporters have answers.


Q: I would love to know where each of your members shops the most to find the best deals! I am referring to mostly internet shopping since most of us will not live near you.


Jessica: For Scrapbooking Supplies I shop at AC Bailey Designs primarily where you receive free shipping on the 1st of the month with orders $35 or more.


Melissa: I shop at the Scrap In Style TV boutique. They have unique items, there’s tons of sales, and often have free shipping offers. Just create an account and you’ll be signed up for the email promotions.


Francie: One of my favorites is Peachy Cheap It’s an interesting concept for a site and there are several deals a month that I’m interested in. I’m not a regular scrapbooker. I buy them for journaling and altered art.


I have also had great deals and wonderful customer service from Memory Villa.


Amanda : For in person shopping I get a good deal by making good use of coupons. You can almost always find coupons online for 40% off at Hobby Lobby and Joann’s. Coupons for Michaels are on the receipts you bring home and through email if you sign up on their website.


Taylor : I do most of my internet shopping at Jacksonbelle Embellishments. She has a great selection of stuff. Lots of papers, ribbon, fun embellishments


Q: I am not a sewer AT ALL. I know nothing about sewing machines, but I love that look. What kind of sewing machine would be good for me, and how much should I spend?


Susie: She seems to need it for scrapbooking instead of sewing fabric and in any case, I wouldn’t really be able to recommend a specific machine other than to say that I think it is a good idea to get a nicer model than a cheap one, but one shouldn’t spend too much money on tools one may not really use.


Melissa: If you do want a sewing machine just for paper crafts I recommend the Janome Sew Mini. We actually have a previous review of it here. For fabric sewing, I like my Brother sewing machine, but I recommend going to a sewing store and trying out demo models to find a machine that’s right for you.


Fabrizio: Since you don’t want to start sewing a new dress anytime soon, I take it that you just want to add that homespun look threading a couple of mats to put on your cards or scrapbook pages ? Your best be would be to go for those easy stitch machine you can find in big retail stores. They usually retail for between $ 20-30 US. They’re very compact and you use them for the occasional stitch job. Looking on then net I found this very affordable one on Amazon.


Stephanie : I was also a non-sewer before July of last year when my husband bought me a simple Singer sewing machine so that I could use it in my scrapbooking.


I picked out my machine based on brand name and amount of decorative stitches. I decided on the Singer Esteem mostly because it was economical and practical. Sewing machines can get really expensive, so think about how you’ll use it: Will you mostly use paper? Will you do any fabric sewing? This machine works pretty well for both, but if I wanted to use it for sewing through heavier materials, I would probably try to go with a heavier model.


I think for scrapbooking, you will definitely be able to find a machine for less than $150. If you are willing to make an investment, you can spend more than twice that much for a really good machine that will last you a lifetime. Just do a bit of shopping around, read some reviews and I’m sure you’ll fine the perfect machine for you.


Q: I have always stored my stamppads upside down based on information gleaned from Lisa Volrath…This seems to be reinforced by the new Stampin Up pads…any info to back this up?

Sara: I have stamp pads that are literally years old (7, 8, 10…) that have been stored upright, and have had no problems with the ink remaining near the surface. My guess is that it has as much to do with the ink pad material and how well it is saturated as it does anything else.


Kristine: I don’t have anything ‘official’ to back this up, but I do agree that there is a definite benefit to storing inks in such a way that gravity works for you rather than against you. The biggest benefit? Saving money. Since gravity will always cause stuff – including the ink in your pads – to settle downward, it’s best to store them upside down so that the ink is settling towards the stamp surface keeping it nice and moist, rather than settling to the case. This means the pad won’t dry out as quickly, and you don’t need to re-ink as often. Just a caution though…Some stamp pads companies (e.g. CTMH and SU) have designed their ink pads so that the ‘pad’ is stored upside down when the pad is closed, and they swivels and flip over when it’s time to use it. So with these pads, you store the cases right way up – and the ink-pad is already upside down as it should be. Storing these types of cases upside down would of course put you back to working ‘against’ the forces of gravity.


Q: I see where many stampers are using Nestabilities for their layers. I must admit I’m clueless about this item. I haven’t taken the time to research it myself so I hope you can fill me in on the ease of use or why this over something else.

-and-

I would like to know which “Nessties” are used most often and for the first time buyer, which set is best to get. Which would you get the most use from. I like the look of the ovals.


Sara: “Nestabilities” are “naked” metal dies for cutting cardstock and paper. They are made by “Spellbinders” and work in all manufacturer’s die cut machines. Spellbinders has gotten both smart and creative in making a series of dies in decreasing sizes that “nest” inside each other. And they have all manner of shapes and sizes: the basic ovals, circles, rectangles and squares; but also elongated rectangles and a variety of shapes that they call “labels”. They are super for making layered frames for your cards and your scrapbooks: cut one piece of cardstock in one size, and a second, complimentary color using one size smaller, and you have an instant, perfect frame for your picture or stamp image. You can also mix and match the shapes with scalloped shapes, to have a perfect scalloped border.

If you are a first time buyer, I would choose an oval, circle or rectangle (your taste preference) and a companion scalloped die in the same shape. Then you can get all kinds of combinations from a minimal investment.

Melissa: Craft Critique has previous reviews and information on Nestabilities here.

Taylor : If you like ovals, start with those. I’d get a straight edged (classic) set and a scalloped set, so you can layer them.

Q: I’m also very intriqued by the quilter’s new tool “accuquilt.” It acts just like a Sizzix big shot, but do you have to use that machine or can other die cut machines substitute fairly? Thanks again!

Susie: As for the AccuQuilt, I can’t tell if the dies it uses work with the other large die cutters like the ones by Sizzix. I did a little search and found that there are two AccuQuilt machines: The Studio and the GO!

The dies for these two machines are not interchangeable. The GO! is a lightweight, portable machine designed for the home quilter and it cuts 3-4 layers of fabric at a time. The Studio is very expensive and is designed for quilt shops. The Studio cuts 10 layers of fabric at a time. The AccuQuilt GO! won a Best Innovation award at CHA Winter 2009 . From what I am reading, people who own or have used the AccuQuilt are enthusiastic, but there is more fabric waste using their dies over regular rotary cutting. Additionally, the dies are expensive. Golly, it sure looks awesome the way that the AccuQuilt already cuts off the little dog ears on triangle sets!


Q: I love my new Fiskars fingertip craft knife, however cannot find a replacement blade for it. My Michael’s store carries the knife, but no blade. Please help! (I am in Canada, so an online resource would be great too!)


Melissa : The Fingertip Craft Knife takes regular refill blades 9601 and can be found at craft stores where the other craft knives are, just look for that number.


Fabrizio: The item manufacturer number is #96017197; in doing some searches I soon realise that it’s also the same code for replacing blades for the Metal Razor Knife from Fiskars, I found them available from Office Quarters for $1.98 US for pack of five blades. Although based in the USA they appear to ship to Canada too so you could stock on a few packs to justify the shipping.


Q: This is totally random but it has been bugging me and I can’t find any info anywhere. I even emailed Martha Stewart w/no answer yet. Why are some of her punch handles green and some white? Are they different or just changing the color. I like things to match and I have all white punches but if I am going to collect something I don’t want to mix colors if they are the same punch just different colored handles. Does anyone know why she did this? Do the green ones do something different than the white? ie emboss as well. I don’t know. It’s been bugging me to find out. I thought maybe the green ones are manufactured for WalMart and the White ones are Manufactured for Micheals? Maybe it’s just to make them exclusive to that store. Thoughts? Info? Thanks


Melissa: I haven’t heard this direct from any source, but I used to work at Michaels and we only received the white ones. It is my understanding that the green ones are part of the Martha Stewart Create line that is available in Walmart stores while the white ones are part of the Martha Stewart Crafts line available in Michaels and other stores.


Stephanie : The green Martha Stewart punches are from WalMart and the white punches are from Michaels. As far as I know, this is simply to distinguish the two by where they were purchased, as some of the stamps are EXACTLY the same except for the color. This may mean that the selection is different at each place, but they do exactly the same thing.


Q: I’d love to know which size of the xyron people are happiest with–create a sticker sizes (150) or the large economy size (900)


Kristine : Now I only own the smaller version so I might be a bit biased, but I personally use the Xyron Create-A-Sticker Model 150 “X” Dispenser A LOT! I use it most often when I’m dealing with titles/letters/shapes cut on the Wishblade that would be too fussy to adhere by any other means. It is small of course, and limited to items that are 1.5″ wide, but that in itself is why it works for me. As I said, it can be tricky to apply adhesive to items that are little and the “X” dispenser makes it oh-so simple. I admit that there’s been a couple of times where I’ve thought the larger unit would come in handy, but I can usually make due without it. It’s also great because it’s portable – and takes up very little space in the crop bag! For me, the “X” Dispenser is a must-have.


Francie : I love my large size xyron. I ended up giving the small one to my son to make stickers with. It was just too limited in size. If I didn’t get the item lined up just right it didn’t get coated because there just wasn’t that much to go around. And I really like using the laminating/adhesive sheets for some projects!


Q: When heat embossing, how do you prevent the paper from becoming warped? I even have this problem when I use heavy cardstock…I make sure not to overheat the image, I keep the heat tool as far away from the paper as I can and move it back and forth, etc. Just curious if others have this same problem?


Fabrizio : Actually, it’s the fact that you move it back and forth that keeps it longer from embossing and the paper gets hotter. You should emboss 3 to 4 inches away and keep it steady and as soon as you see the powder melt moving to the next bit left to emboss (you have to be quick). You should be done within 10 to 15 seconds for medium size image. You have to keep a watchful eye when you do this and you’ll see that you’ll keep your cardstock from warping to a minimum. Another tip is to put the image you’ve embossed, after it has cooled, under something heavy like an acrylic block to flatten it. Make sure the embossing powder has cooled though to avoid it sticking.


Q: I’ve been looking at Catholic saint bracelets and wondering how one would go about making one. Do they make wooden beads with a little bezel you can fill, or do you put a picture on a wooden tile and coat it in resin? Also, where might I find wooden beads drilled that way? I’m having a heck of a time.


Francie : You can buy predrilled mini dominoes or you can drill them yourself if you drill very slowly and carefully. Then gesso the area when you are going to attach your image, put a little Diamond glaze on the back of the image, lay it down, and coat the top of it with a nice coat of more Diamond Glaze. The glaze gives it a beautiful glassy look and seals it. Then string your bracelet. Just Google mini dominoes – regular or wooden, predrilled or not.

Q: I am also interested in the Copic markers &/or pens, but they seem really spendy. Is there a big difference between the markers and pens, and where can you find them for a decent price?

Amanda : Here’s another time when Hobby Lobby coupons help. If you can find the rare coupon that covers an entire purchase it can really help with the purchase of Copic Sketch.

Melissa: Here’s links to previous Craft Critique articles all about Copics.

Q: Is there anyway to totally coat a paper or card to receive UTEE so that it spreads and adheres evenly? I have tried several pads and to no avail…

Amanda : I find the best way to get an even coat of UTEE over a complete surface is to do several very thin coats until it looks the way you want it to look.

Q: i would like to see a FAQ or tutorial on digital scrapbooking. I am CLUELESS! Once you buy an image can you use it endlessly? What kind of program do I need? What do I do with it when I’m done creating the page? Print it myself? Send it to a lab? Like I said, I’m CLUELESS! But I want to learn.

Craft Critique : Stay tuned…we are working on articles all about digital scrapbooking!

Those were the answers from some of our reporting staff, but we’re sure there are others, so leave your answers in the comments section. Or, ask a question of your own and it will be put in our database of questions. We will try to answer reader questions at least once per month, so leave them in the comments or email them to melissa@craftcritique.com.

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