Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cuttlebug Letterpress

Recently, while shopping online for a Cuttlebug storage binder, I discovered the L Letterpress from Quickutz--it's basically DIY letterpress, at home, with just a die cutter/embosser.  It looks very impressive! (har har, I wonder how many other craft bloggers have made that pun)  The kit itself isn't out yet, though it should be soon, as "late October/early November" is basically now.

My ProvoCraft Cuttlebug, however, is not an Epic Six, so I'm dying to find out if I can get the L and use it without having to buy another die cutting machine.  I really love my Cuttlebug; I've had it for a couple of years now and it's very reliable.  Considering that I can use nearly any brand of die in my Cuttlebug, I'm going to guess that it's compatible--all that really matters is, will it be too wide, or too tall?

Very likely, I will end up getting one of these, although I will probably wait until it's actually released so that I can read reviews by real crafters.  I couldn't help but do some frantic online searching, however, and I did come across the idea of using the Cuttlebug and embossing folders as a makeshift letterpress, however, and I wanted to try it myself.  Combined with the fact that I recently took over Ben's abandoned camera, my endeavours required some bloggin'.

There's a video available on, which involves cutting the embossing folder, but I didn't feel that was necessary--most of my embossing folders are the A2 size, so they're patterned, and it works just to flatten the folder.

For a shim, I used some felt, cut to size.  I started with 2, which provided adequate cushioning for a couple of presses, but I had to add 1 after that, and ended up with four sheets of felt underneath.

You can kind of see my layers:

B - cutting
inked embossing folder
B - cutting
felt (just scraps in that photo above, though, from testing)
A - block

For ink, I just used some stamp ink that I've had around forever.  Not being much of a stamper, I don't have much ink.

Yeah, that's about it.  There's a black pigmented ink pad that I found when I was moving things around, but I didn't get around to trying that one.  I also tried out my Marvy Wet Looks markers, but that didn't turn out too well:

The ColorBox inks weren't bad, especially the little Chalk cat eyes.  The dye ink was okay, but not great--I used it for the present, below:

Overall, I think it worked out fairly well.  I could definitely see myself trying it again, although I think I need to pick up a rubber roller, and some more ink, or some paints.  The ink came off fairly easily with stamp ink remover and a paper towel.  The paints for the L Letterpress are more oil-based, though, so I'm not sure how that would make for cleaning the embossing folders.

Don't be surprised if I end up getting the L, assuming it works with the Cuttlebug, or at least some of their printing plates and inks.  I would be extremely surprised, though, if the L wasn't compatible with the Cuttlebug and the Sizzix, or any other basic die cutter/embosser on the market.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Two years ago, Ben started the "Delicious Club", which was basically a method of marking good restaurants in different areas, done through Google Maps reviews.  There was a whole categorization scheme that he set up based on price and dress for each restaurant, which he outlined in a Google Doc, but right now it seems like Im the only person actively marking restaurants.  I'm trying to mark all of the restaurants I can remember that I love, but that basically means that there are only places down the west coast.  There are a few old ones on the east coast, from one of his friends, but not many.

Doing a search for "delicious_club" will point out delicious restaurants on Google maps:

View Larger Map

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Birthday Card

Last weekend, I picked up a copy of Paper Crafts, a magazine I'm amazed I haven't found until now.  It's a fairly small glossy, but it has some cute ideas, and I've already incorporated one for this year's Christmas card design.  Combined with the workshop I did at Paper Source, there is a lot less design experimentation and a lot more card making this year.  But while I'm really excited about my Christmas cards, I don't want to post them until they're sent out!  Ever since I started making them, they've become like mini-gifts to people I care about, but don't get to see very often. 

But I would like to start posting cards that I've made, or am making, so here is one that was fairly recent.  This birthday card was made for Ben's aunt in Arizona.  Usually the cards I make are for people I know personally, but this would be the first I've made for someone I've never met.  This is significant, since I normally set out to design my card based on its recipient.  Now that I think about it, I write in the same way, too--I can't tell a story unless I know the main characters well.  But even so, I went fairly generic:

From Craft projects

 - 3" x 5" card
 - iridescent paper (likely from Bazzill, but I can't remember)
 - EK Success flat edge punch: swiss cheese
 - Cuttlebug cake die shape
 - foam squares, glue, 2 sided tape

When I bought the punch, I thought they were just bubbles, but that's how I did the edging--think champagne bubbles?  The cake was chocolate with vanilla icing, and the stand matched the card backing.  I'm never a fan of gluing little parts together, as I always seem to get glue everywhere, but I liked the way it turned out, overall.  Inside I stamped "Happy Birthday", fairly simple, and on the back, my usual made-by-me stamp.

Speaking of custom stamps, I am seriously thinking of doing that stamp making workshop so I can turn my robot into a reproduceable image.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I've been meaning to post about the Brushes app ( available for the iPhone and iPod touch.  At $5, it's a bit more expensive than the normal app available on the iTunes store, but it's well worth it.  It's a fairly lightweight application that seems like a simple finger painting application on the surface, but it has many interesting features.

1. Different brushes
There are 3 brushes that are available to "paint" with, and I'm not sure if it's merely a different brush type or if it's supposed to simulate a different paint type, but I can tell that they're different.  I won't pretend to know a lot about art mediums, so I will leave it alone.  You can also change the size of your brush, from 1px in diameter to 64px.  The same goes for the eraser.

2. Colours
That's right, "colours", with a 'u'.  The app uses "Color", but I'll forgive the author since he includes the entire spectrum of RGB colour choices, with varying transparencies to choose from.  A little colour picker lets you find a colour you've already got on the canvas.

3. Layers!
How awesome is that?  Four little layers to choose from, to move around, fill with colour, merge, or delete.  You can also import one of your photos as a layer, even awesomer!

4. Zoom
Just like any other iPhone/iPod Touch application, pinch to zoom in or out.  I discovered this after a few paintings, and it makes a big difference.  This is very obvious.

5. Brush stroke log
You can undo and redo nearly any brush stroke you've painted during the session, and even better, you can download the image as a Brushes filetype, and use the viewer available on their website to turn it into a movie of your painting, from start to finish.  I imagine this could make for some very interesting movie art.

6. "Connect"
In the corner of the Gallery, they give you a little wireless/RSS-type icon, which gives you a URL to try, if you're connected to a wifi network.  This is how you download your paintings either as .png or whatever format the Brushes file is in (I haven't tried it yet).

My paintings, so far, are in my Picasa album, and I hope to add more to my fine portfolio.  Here are a couple of my favourites:

From Brushes

The left is the first painting I did, the right is one I did after I discovered you could zoom in.  It makes a suitable iPhone background image.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I have to do this!

The Paper Source is having a holiday card contest which I have to enter. I have to!

I've already got some supplies for Christmas card making, thanks to that card workshop I took yesterday night.  I came home with a fairly hefty bag of stuff, I'm (not really) sorry to say.  But the card contest rules state that the card must be made with 100% Paper Source materials!  That means I have to go back. I have to!

The card workshop was fun, although it was a little odd for me, going by myself and being surrounded by middle-aged female teachers and/or domestic engineers.  There were so many alpha types there, it was scary. "Me me me, oh yeah I know that, me me I I I gimme gimme."
I wasn't particularly impressed with any of the cards or techniques they showed us, since I'd already had experience in most of them (stamping, embossing, using a sticker maker, glitter and glue, punches), but it was kind of nice to be able to play with their materials hands-on.

The one thing I did find impressive, however, was the envelope liner templates.  They're extremely simple--you cut nice paper to the shape of the template, and glue it into a matching size envelope.  I've never used liners before, but they look awesome, and they only take a minute.  I feel the need to also get the envelope template kit so I can always have matching envelopes. I have to!

Another thing I liked quite a bit, but had used before, was the embosser + plates.  I can emboss papers with my Cuttlebug as it is, but the specialized embossers can be made into custom designs, and they have a more refined look to them.  I have to get this one eventually. I have to!

One of the most amusing things of the evening was the impatient husband I saw as I left at 9:30pm, waiting in a car outside the store.The other really amusing thing was the way one of the instructors showed us how to deal with excess glitter or embossing powder--"You just flick it, like this," she said, and flicked the sparkles onto the ground.  !  I would never be allowed to do that at home, anywhere.

Overall I was happy with the workshop, I came home pretty hyper.  I'm seriously considering doing their make your own stamp workshop, though it's longer and more expensive, and seems more involved (a challenge!).  I think it's about time I turn my classic robot drawing into a stamp... I have to!