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.

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