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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!

Spellbinders Nestabilities

Review by Sharon Harnist

They are everywhere you look — in scrapbooking, cardmaking, rubberstamping, papercrafting of all types . . . scallops! At first, Marvy Uchida couldn’t keep up with the demand we papercrafters placed on their scalloped punches and were backordered for months.

PROBLEM:
Last spring (2006) when Ellen Hutson of Simple Dreams had a hard time keeping the punches in stock at her online store, she began brainstorming on a solution with Spellbinders Paper Arts Company owners, Jeff and Stacey Caron, whom she had met at the Winter CHA show a few months earlier.

SOLUTION:
Together, they’ve developed revolutionary plates that will emboss as well as die cut solid (straight) circles, ovals, squares and rectangles as well as scalloped versions of all those shapes!

And here’s the outcome they produced . . . (they say a picture is worth a thousand words! Photo courtesy of Ellen Hutson):

STORAGE:
Look at that pile of punches that equals all the shapes you get from that small grouping of beautiful circle copper plates at the bottom center of the photo –- amazing, isn’t it?!! Consequently, you won’t have the storage issues with these dies that you do with regular punches . . . and what papercrafter doesn’t need more storage space?!! Here’s how I’m storing mine, in a CD case with strips of magnetic sheet (I got mine at Michael’s for $2.99 for a huge roll) adhered to each side of the case. Many thanks to Debbie Olson for this idea! One CD case holds two sets of shapes . . . that’s the equivalent to 10-14 punches per case!


Here are 16 sets of dies stored in the CD cases . . . they take up roughly the same space of two punches!



WHAT THEY ARE:
Here’s an example of the beautiful cutting and embossing these dies produce (sets of both large and small classic and scalloped circles):



HOW THEY WORK:
The bonus is that the dies will work in most any die-cut machine you may already own. If you don’t already have a machine, Spellbinders has their own machine (also carried by Ellen), the Wizard universal embossing and die-cutting system. You can view a video at the Spellbinders site HERE on how their Wizard universal embossing and die-cutting system works with the dies. If you’ll be using a different machine, you will also need the Spellbinder Wizzard tan embossing mat, which can be purchased HERE thru Ellen’s online store.

Each set of dies come in either large or small, classic or scallop and range in size up to 4 inches — larger than any other punch currently produced. They are called Nestabilities, just for that reason . . . they nest in size, and each die in a given set is exactly 1/4″ larger then the previous die. Therefore, if you prefer a 1/8” later or mat, then both sets (large and small) will accommodate your needs. All of the individual “humps” of the scallops are spaced to align with one another when nesting one or more scalloped shapes together. Not only do the Nestabilities cut, they feature embossing capabilities as well!

Here’s a photo of a full set of both large and small sizes (photo courtesy of Ellen Hutson):


Each set (4 shown above) is also sold on its own — you save money when purchasing in sets. As shown in the photo above, the circles are the only current shape to also be offered in a tinier scallop (not smaller in overall cutting size, but rather the Petite Scallop Circle has a total of 37 humps on it whereas the Classic Scallop Circle only has 22 humps), for when you’d like a more “delicate” look for your project. If you make a comparison to other scalloped punches you may already own, you can determine which will better suit your style. Count the humps on your current scallops and then make your decision accordingly.

How do these dies work in a system you may already own? The Cuttlebug is the only die cutting machine I currently own, so I used the recipe shown below (written by Ellen Hutson) for my machine. Ellen compiled a list of many popular machines that she’s tested and the appropriate sandwich recipes HERE.

(Recipes are layered from the bottom, up):

Cuttlebug™ CUTTING Sandwich
1. A plate
2. C plate
3. Spellbinders™ die, blade side up
4. Paper or cardstock
5. B plate
6. Roll through Cuttlebug™

CUTTING Sandwich with Spellbinders™ Magnetic Placement Mat
1. A plate
2. B plate
3. Spellbinders™ White Spacer plate
4. Spellbinders™ Magnetic Placement Mat
5. Spellbinders™ die, blade side up
6. Paper or cardstock
7. B plate
8. Roll through Cuttlebug™

Cuttlebug™ EMBOSSING Sandwich
1. A plate
2. 2 sheets cardstock to act as shim. Add extra pieces if needed.
2. B plate
3. Spellbinders™ die, blade side up
4. Paper or cardstock
5. Spellbinders™ Tan Emboss Mat
6. B plate
7. Roll through Cuttlebug™

EMBOSSING Sandwich with Spellbinders™ Magnetic Placement Mat
1. A plate
2. B plate
3. Spellbinders™ Magnetic Placement Mat
4. Spellbinders™ die, blade side up
5. Paper or cardstock
6. Spellbinders™ Tan Emboss Pad
7. B plate
8. Roll through Cuttlebug™
*Shim with extra pieces of cardstock if needed.

I haven’t had any issues yet with my metal dies shifting when moving thru my machine, but if you experience this, Spellbinders has already solved the problem with a magnetic pad!

TIPS:
Some tips I’ve discovered: When working with rubber stamped images, I find it easier to first stamp the image on cardstock and then place the appropriate die size I need on top of it:



Then, I gently press the die (not so hard as to cut your finger!) into the paper/cardstock, to help “hold” it in place. Then flip the two over so the die is facing up when it runs thru the machine. Sometimes I’ve experienced static cling with my B plate when placing it over the die/cardstock but a sweep of the Embossing Buddy on the B plate usually solves this issue.

PRICING:
The complete set of 24 dies (that’s large and small, classic and scalloped) shown above is priced at $79.99 retail — that is just $3.33 for each die! Individual sets are priced at $24.99 retail — still a very affordable $4.17 per die.

Retailers selling the Nestabilities:
Ellen Hutson, LLC
Spellbinders
PaperTrey Ink
FranticStamper

CONCLUSION:
Here’s a recent project I completed using the Nestabilities:


I couldn’t wait to try out these fantastic new dies and definitely was NOT disappointed! They give such a professional look to your projects and I found them very easy to use. Ellen tells us that Spellbinders will be using their patented technology to continue to bring you more of the shapes that you desire and I can’t wait to try them!

Have you tried the Nestabilities dies yet? Make sure and leave us a comment telling us what you thought of this new die cutting system.

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