27 June 2013

Bringing In The Big Gun - Heat That Is !

I find that I use my heat gun a lot. Nearly every day for a lot of different applications. In about 1992 or 1994 I bought my first embossing tool. It was a Personal Stamp Exchange model that seems to no longer be sold. It appears to be a copy of the currently produced Stampin' Up brand embossing gun.

For many years it sat unused since I was not really 'into' doing too much embossing. Once I picked it up a few years ago and began using it for things other than embossing I became hooked and this embossing heat gun became one of my most used tools.

The Stampin' Up embossing/heat gun version 
This little embossing tool worked like a little demon for a long time, but over the weekend I used it once too many times I guess, and it must have just burned it's little guts out. At first I thought that it might have been the socket, but alas, it was broken.

What to do, I use this tool almost every day now. I went searching on Amazon. After recently trying a couple of 'embossing' heat guns made for crafts I was very cautious about buying one because they seemed so very weak. Hardly any power at all and embossing takes wayyy too much time with this weakened down versions.  I considered getting the Stampin Up brand because it looked like it would give me the same strength as my beloved PSX embosser.

After some more reading and investigation I decided to go for the 'big guns'. This little, well, truth be told is not so little(!), gem arrived on Tuesday and I tried it out right away. Right a dream! Why did not pass go and get one of these all those years ago?!  This is very controllable, has two speeds and you can vary the temperature from very low (and quiet fan) to very hot (more than I could use I think) with the turn of the re dial. Cool! It's relatively lightweight and is a pleasure to use.  Amazon reviews ranked it quite high and, at $34.00 or so, it was not a huge departure from the cost of a good embossing heat tool .

I just brought in the Porter Cable "big gun" and I love it !

26 June 2013

New Work With Kraft Tex

I'm lucky. I have friends who remind when it has been too long since I have posted anything. Thank you Lauren for the gentle nudge!

Solstice Friday last week was my final day at work. It felt a bit surreal really, and I cant say that the reality of this change has really hit me yet. I keep thinking that I should feel something - and yet I feel as I may just be on a vacation. My email and employee account were quickly deleted. That should say something. No moss growing the County's feet! That felt a bit odd after all of these years - to not have a business email account to look at!

Being the bag-a-holic that I am, I have been working on some projects. The projects are for C&T Publishing, which I am thrilled about. It's a baby step, but one never knows where opportunities will come from nor where they may lead, and so I am, most cautiously, hopeful. To my knowledge I am not  prohibited from posting any of these images. These will be provided to C&T's top sales agents for use in selling their new, and utterly marvelous, material called Kraft Tex. I have fallen in love with this stuff, and was surprised and delighted to find that an image of one of bags is on their packaging label for the rolls of Kraf-Tex. Right now it's available in, what else, Kraft color, but early next year it will also be available in black and white.

I plan to making some of these for sale, so if anything interests you, please let me know!

This is the packaging label that comes with the rolls of Kraft Text. I was shocked to see my bag there. I had not know that it had been chosen for this!

This is a group of bags that will be provided to C&T's top sales managers for use in their displays at shows. The sizes range from a small pencil case (second down on the left) to a larger knitting project bag with an interior pocket (on the top). I love taking this material and making it look like aged leather. I've been having blast with it!

08 June 2013

Silhouette Cameo Machine - A Surprising Winner!

I have so many things that I want to blog about - a new knitting needle comparison is up next, and it will feature Kollage Yarns Square needles. It's said that they help to make more uniform stitches, and are better for arthritic hands.  Do they do all that they claim? I will be highlighting these unique needles along with the new, just released, larger sized Karbonz circular needles from Knitters's pride. Are they as good as their smaller sized cousins that I fell in love with earlier this year? Stand by for my opinions!

In the meantime I just have to mention this wonderful cutting machine that was one of the amazing gifts that DH surprised with me with for my birthday.

"This" is a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine. Some of you may have heard of the more well known Cricut machine- and this is a similar item. I had been dithering about 'wanting' a cutting machine for a long time and had researched the differences between the Silhouette Cameo and the Cricut machines (a comparable Cricut). Quite honestly, I was not certain if this would be a tool that I would really get much use out of and I was very careful, in this case, of what I wished for because of the cost of wishing for this! 

As a mixed media and textile artist I was not sure how I would use this machine as a part of my 'arsenal' of art tools.I did not want DH spending this kind of money on me for something that might spend much of it's life sitting on a shelf. I love to make special cards for people, but I really wanted to be able to use this machine  for more 'artsy' uses - that was a more important consideration for me.

I was so happily surprised at how user friendly this machine is, and, best of all, it does so much more than I had thought it would. Having used a Cricut (though I have to admit to not using it a lot)I was very happy with the ability of the Cameo to cut v-e-r-y intricate designs. It cuts details flawlessly and cleanly. The cutter adjustment is straight forward and easy to do. The instructions are well written and, within minutes I was ready to cut out my first design.

These were the first cards that I made on the day after I got the machine. My birthday was on a work day so I just looked at it on Friday night and really set out to play on Saturday morning. This machine really does shine in it's ability to cut very delicate, intricate, designs. I am now so excited about the 'art' uses for this machine. I'll be cutting some of my own stencils next. It's a far more versatile machine than I had thought and, with the Studio Designer (which came with my unit) and can be purchased separately, there are so many 'artful' options to consider. Silhouette has two machines to consider. 

Once I discovered the online shop I was done - there are so many choices and it is so easy to use. I like the fact you are also able to suggest designs and make comments on the designs that you buy. Almost all of the designs are 99 cents; a few are 50 cents and each week there is a free design offered. Several of the high end alphabets are $2.99 but that's not too bad either if you consider the cost of a die for , say, a Big Shot machine. With the Cricut you buy cartridges with multiple options on them. 

The alphabets can be cut very small, another thing that I had hoped for. It will cut to .25 inch if you want- you just need to be very careful in removing those tiny letters from the mat to glue them to your surface. I finally found the perfect reason to use my Xyron machine too - it works perfectly to add adhesive to these designs, and to small letters too!

The Silhouette Cameo (link to the company website) will cut cleanly through many paper types, sticker paper,heavy cardstock and stencil material. I am thoroughly impressed and very happy that this was my machine of choice. I'm relieved that my 'want' became a gift and that the gift became more useful to me that I had thought it would! I'm so pleased with the machine, the website and the online store!

Why did I choose this lesser known Silhouette over the more well know Cricut? Well, I began with research and reading lots of different reviews. The one consistent comment was that the Silhouette was much better at cleanly cutting intricate designs; that was a big thing for me because I do tend to work in small art! I think that Cricut has more 'classroom' options, but then again I have found a plethora of tutorials and 'how-to's for the Silhouette as well. The owner of our local crafts shop looked as though she wasn't sure what I was talking about when I told her that I had gotten a Silhouette! The Cricut is the machine that seems to be in all of the card magazines,and is just more well known in many circles it seems, but my research pointed me in another direction an I am so happy with the choice that I made.

If you have ever considered investing in one of these machines, do your research, if you can try this and other brands before you purchase, do it! I bet that in the end you will agree with me that this machine cuts the most intricate designs more cleanly than any other brand of cutting machine. It's a little gem. Well made, user friendly, quality components and great operation. What more could you ask for ?!

No, FTC  I am in no way affiliated, this was not provided to me for review. I'm just a pleased consumer!