Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How do I get started with my new Sizzix Big Shot?

After you’ve purchased your Big Shot from a brick and mortar or online retailer, your first thought may be ‘now what?’. But there’s no need to worry, it’s actually quite simple to get started with the basics on your Big Shot. Included with the Big Shot package is the machine itself, two clear acrylic standard cutting pads and the Multi-Purpose Platform.

As with most other die cutting machines, the Big Shot is quite versatile and can cut MANY different types of materials. Per the manufacturer, it cuts 50 different materials, including cardstock, brass, chipboard, felt, acrylic, cork, beeswax, etc. The Big Shot can cut shapes and images using steel-ruled and chemically-etched dies by passing the cardstock or other material through rollers which employ pressure to cut the materials. The multi-purpose platform and cutting pads lengthen the life of the product as well as allow you to utilize cutting templates from almost any manufacturer.

One of the most popular types of steel-ruled dies are the Spellbinders Nestabilities, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are incremental to facilitate perfect layering. Spellbinders are widely available via online retailers. The steel-ruled dies come in many shapes from standard circles, squares, rectangles and ovals to more intricate shaped labels, pumpkins, stars and borders. These types of dies can cut up to eight layers of materials (depending on thickness) and many different types of materials.

Chemically-etched dies are much more intricate and delicate and therefore cannot cut as many layers of materials. Chemically-etched dies are not as common as the steel-ruled dies and are typically available from online sources.

The Big Shot is a very versatile machine and can cut and emboss using almost any manufacturer’s die or embossing folder. The key to making sure it correctly cuts or embosses is to have the ‘sandwich’ recipe. This recipe is simply the order in which the multi-purpose platform, cutting pads, die or folder and material to be cut. It’s always better to stack the items on the thinner side to avoid damaging the rollers on your machine. If you stack the items up and it doesn’t cut (or emboss), you can just add a few layers at a time of paper or cardstock to act as a shim.

One final item to keep in mind is that the cutting pads will get cut, or etched, as you use them. That is completely normal and does not impact the cutting ability. Eventually the pads will need to be replaced, but they are quite inexpensive and easy to come by via either online or brick and mortar retailers. The plates will sometimes also curl, that doesn’t impact their usage either. Just flip the plates over the next time you use them and they’ll straighten back out.

Bottom line, enjoy your new Big Shot and prepare to be amazed at your creations. The options of what you can create are limitless and will only continue to grow as you get more accustomed to its capabilities.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I'm Published!! has been bestowed the honor of being publised on EzineArticles and we've earned Expert Author Status!!  What an honor, we're very excited! 

As Featured On EzineArticles

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wedding Season is Upon Us!

Between the upcoming nuptuals of a very close family member and the numerous weddings of other friends and relatives, I have have quite the need for cards.  To the rescue, the Basic Grey Cappella card kit.  

This little lifesaver provides the instructions, materials and envelopes for 8 cards.  All you need to do is punch out the numbered pieces and assemble.  As an extra there are even bonus embellishments included in the kit to further enhance the cards or use in additional products. 

On to the fun stuff.  So far, I've made five of the cards in the kit and my personal record completion time is 7 minutes.  This includes inking the edges, adhering all items and adding a few of my own 'extras' in the form of Stickles and extra rub-ons.  How's that for impressive?  Hear the oohs and ahhs of your family and friends at the shower or gift opening and wave your hand 'Oh it was nothing'.  Gotta love it!

Can't wait until my next kit arrives and I can do more cards! 

Monday, August 9, 2010

So what's the difference between a Sizzix Big Shot and a Provo Craft Cuttlebug anyway?

As an online seller of scrapbooking, card making and paper crafting supplies, this is one of the most common questions I get. A large part of the decision on which machine to ultimately purchase has a lot to do with preference as both machines have similar functionalities, but there are some distinct differences.

First, the appearance. The Big Shot is black and pink with platforms that are stationary. There is a handle on the top of the machine that is also stationary. The Cuttlebug is lime green with fold-up platforms and a handle which collapses into the top of the machine.

Provo Craft Cuttlebug

Sizzix Big Shot

Next, the mechanics. Both the Big Shot and the Cuttlebug have openings which are 6” wide. Both come with standard cutting pads which are 6 1/8” x 8 ¾” x 1/8” (Big Shot) and 6” x 7 ¾” x 1/8” (Cuttlebug). Both machines will cut with almost any brand die or embossing folder if you use the correct ‘sandwich’ or stack of plates and materials to be cut. The Big Shot sold online and in certain stores is the exact same machine as the one featured by Stampin’ Up! without the co-branding and SU! logo.

On to the details. The Big Shot is a bit sturdier and more heavy duty than the Cuttlebug , but that only comes into play if you plan to cut some of the heavier materials, such as balsa wood or certain types of plastic. Sizzix publishes a list of 50 materials (some with maximum thicknesses specified) which their machine will cut through when using steel rule dies (such as Spellbinders Nestabilties). However, the Cuttlebug is capable of cutting most, if not all, of the same materials as long as you make sure to stack the materials and cutting plates correctly. Regardless of which machine you’re using, it’s always better to create the stack on the thinner side and shim with additional paper or cardstock as needed. Creating a stack that is too tight or attempting to cut materials that are too thick can result in the crank shearing off, breaking the rollers, or both. Sadly, any of these scenarios will render your die cutting machine useless!

Finally, some parting thoughts. Both machines are wonderful die cutting tools which will enhance your scrapbooking, card making and other paper crafting projects. There are certainly advantages to both machines featured here and ultimately once you learn the nuances of the product you choose, you’ll be amazed with your beautiful creations which took a minimum of effort.