Monday, September 12, 2016

Inside the Paper Jungle: Picking a Paper Trimmer

From time to time, I'll be giving my readers a sneak peek into the new papercrafting products, supplies or tools in my Paper Jungle, and offering a review and/or recommendation. Unless I tell you otherwise in that post, I receive no compensation (cash or supplies) from anyone to provide this review. 

This month, let's look at paper trimmers, including my new favorite, the Cutterpillar Crop.

I have, literally, a large banker's box full of paper trimmers that I've accumulated over the six years I've been papercrafting. I started with a Martha Stewart deep-blade paper trimmer with a 12"x12" bed. I moved onto Fiskars, a Carl rotary, an old-school guillotine, and a large/heavy We R Memory Keepers trimmer.  I finally found a favorite and portable paper trimmer, in Stampin' Up's paper trimmer, and I bought two of those just to always have one handy.

Recently, while attending the Close To My Heart Convention in Orlando, one of my fellow Consultant/Friends showed me her Cutterpillar Crop Scrapbook and Craft Paper Trimmer.  She demonstrated it for me, and I got to try it to see how narrow a thin bit of paper could be trimmed. I was impressed to see a paper off-cut of a thin, curled bit of paper, truly less than 1/32" of an inch!

Here's a closer look:

 
Cutterpillar Crop is made by Simple Products of Draper, Utah (www.cutterpillar.com). It is the smaller and less expensive sister of the Cutterpillar Pro. I got it through Amazon.com for $59, including free Prime shipping; here's a LINK.  It's now $69.09 as of this post, which is still at least $20 less than any of my usual suppliers of such goodies.

The box says "This trimmer is designed for speed, precision and accuracy."  Uniquely, there is a battery-operated (four AA's) LED light that illuminates the cutting edge for more accurate cuts, "especially on photos and lighter stocks).  The trimmer is NOT recommended to trim heavy chipboard, thick plastics, cloth, adhesive or metallic stocks, and cutting those sorts of media with the Cutterpillar Crop will VOID your 90-day warranty!

The blade is a replaceable self-sharpening rotary blade, which should not need replacing -- ever! 

It glides along a metal "gear rod". Be careful NOT to carry or lift the trimmer by this rod, as it can shift your cutting accuracy. The blade cuts in either direction, in a push/pull. The arm moves out to open to 17.5" -- very wide!

To aid in your cutting accuracy, the ARM is marked in both metric and inches, as small as 1/16 inch. The bed,  however, is marked in 1/4" squares only. The markings are impressed into the plastic surface with NO darker printing anywhere on it.  I found this a bit difficult to use without darkened markings.

Therefore, I marked my own trimmer using a Sharpie permanent marker. I make many pop-up box cards where the critical size is 2.75", so that is why I marked both my horizontal and vertical sizes with a dashed line. I also make a lot of A2 cards which are 4.25" x 5.5", which is why I noted those sizes.  I also wrote on the rail to DO NOT LIFT, and marked with my name.

I will also likely mark the 1" in from the cutting edge, as it's a little difficult -- for me, at least, to get used to the right hand edge being in an inch from the ruler.

In this picture (left), I'm trying to show how the LED light bar DOES shine through a standard cardstock, i.e., the weight of a Close To My Heart cardstock. So if you're trying to trim along a definite line or border, turn on the light (the switch is on the front at the bottom of the gear rod) and shine on!

This paper trimmer isn't exactly portable, though the company recommends that you keep the sturdy box (with handle) to carry the box. I plan on keeping it on my desk surface, and using other trimmers at crops and such unless I find I can't live without this one. I estimate it weighs about 4 to 5 pounds, so it is well made with quality materials.

Instead, when I travel away from the Paper Jungle, I'll likely continue to use my flat, standard paper trimmer from Stampin' Up.  One of my very favorite things about the SU trimmer is the dual blades -- one is the cutter and one is a scoring blade for marking folds. You CAN remove either one if you so choose; for me, I marked the blades to remind me which cuts and which scores -- duhhhh, I learned from experience how often I mix one up and end up cutting my cards in half inadvertently! 

I'd love to be able to highly recommend the Fiskars trimmer sold by CTMH. I liked it very much when I first got it, mostly because the accuracy is aided by a wire that runs along the cutting/drag blade. The problem is, several of my wires frayed from the blade rubbing up against it, and the only way to continue to use it is to trim off the wire. How frustrating!  Fiskars realizes this is a problem, and DOES offer free replacement wires and segments to repair your trimmer, available by contacting Fiskars' customer service. Fiskars also now offers a rotary/gear-rod driven trimmer which I have not tried. 

I also still use my Martha Stewart paper trimmer, as the blade is exceptionally deep AND sharp!!  I use it to cut chipboard and glitter paper. I can attest to how sharp it is ... when I went to change the blade, I severely cut my finger and bled a LOT. I thought I'd need stitches. Ever the documenter, I did take pictures, but I'll spare you those. Gross!

Several of my crafting friends use the We R Memory Keepers paper trimmer (pink, at right) which is now discontinued. It is HEAVY, I mean really heavy, and unfolds to open a large 12"x12" bed. I most like the bed itself, with the various markings for cards on this cutter.  This was an expensive trimmer ($100+) that has been a bit of a disappointment in terms of cutting accuracy, IMO. 

So that's it on paper trimmers. If you have any questions, feel free to ask away!  Thanks for tuning in!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

#GrandmaToAKindergartener (eeek, where has the time gone!?)


It's funny with kids. Turn your head away for just a few seconds, and they've grown up from an infant to heading off to school, and the next thing you know, they'll be heading to college and getting married ....

Darling Charlotte, my first grandbaby, started kindergarten today. I swear it feels like just yesterday that she was taking her first steps, saying her first words.  So now I am officially a #GrandmaToAKindergartener.

To celebrate this occasion, her Mom Emily and I collaborated on a few crafting goodies that will help her, and us, remember this day and other first days in the years ahead.

First, I made a card. It's a side-step card, and the paper I used is Close To My Heart's new "Swan Lake" suite, available beginning September 1. I added stamped images from the CTMH stamp set "School Kids", as well as some text cut using my Cricut Explore.

Next, Emily dropped off a very large pink shirt, and asked if I could make a "Class of 2029" to affix to the shirt. I used heat transfer vinyl and designed the cut, again, with the Cricut Explore. The idea behind the shirt is to have Charlotte pose in it every year until she fills it out, in 2029.

The most time-consuming project was making a chalkboard sign for Emily and Charlotte to complete annually, to pose with in their yard.

Emily bought the simple framed chalkboard at Michael's for about $10.  In my stash, I had hoarded a lot of vinyl (both matte and glossy) in a variety of colors. Again, using the Cricut Explore, I set the text in a selection of fun fonts; where the information would change annually, Emily wrote that information in chalkboard markers that she also purchased at Michael's.  Here's the finished project; please don't mind some of the privacy edits. We can never be too safe with our special kiddos.


And today the big day came:

 
 
 
(Baby brother, Evan)
 
...and just for kicks, let's compare Charlotte's mom Emily (left) on her first day of kindergarten (age 5) with Charlotte on her first day of kindergarten (age 5.5):
 
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Crazy Cat on this Month's Stamp of the Month

Oh my word, how cute is this Stamp of the Month (SOTM) for August from Close To My Heart?                    OK, truth be told, I'm not a cat person (but do have two dogs who think they're cats), and I've outgrown Halloween but still I love this build-a-cat.
And you don't have to relegate it to your "Holidays I Never Celebrate" stash.  Let me show you how I've changed it up:
 
 
 
For this first birthday card, I stamped the crazy cat four times, each on different "Whimsy Fundamentals" cardstock from CTMH's new collection. Then I went to town dressing each up for a party, using my journaling pen and other random embellishments I had hanging around the Paper Jungle. 
 
The guy upper left got a suit of paper, a tie made from CTMH Shimmer Tape, a hand-drawn mustache and glasses, topped with Liquid Glass. The gal below him got a dress made of CTMH's new Sea Glass Glitter Paper, and some twine twisted for her hair. For the gal to the upper right, I used Sparkle gems for her necklace and turned the stamp set's pennants upside down to elongate her ears. Her mask is also stamped on Shimmer Tape. The guy below her has the bat in the stamp set converted to a bow tie, and he earned some freckles thanks to the Journaling Pen.
 
They're set within a picture collage that I designed and cut quickly on my Cricut Explore. I cut it from some of the new Whimsy paper -- isn't it darling?  The sentiment stamp came from CTMH's "Fireworks Fun" stamp set -- it's fun to mix and match! 
 
 

 
This crazy cat decided to party on some older (now retired) Kaleidoscope paper. She's layered onto a piece of acetate that holds back a party full of multi-colored sequins and glitter.  Behind the glitter is a layer of another paper from the Kaleidoscope collection, that has been stamped with the CTMH "Bitty Birthday" M-sized stamp. 
 
At the Crazy Cat's shoulder is a pretty flower that I cut using the brand new Cricut Flower Market cartridge!  The cartridge has beautiful flower designs and other images too -- 700 in all. The collection comes with three D-sized stamp sets from CTMH, and a pack of the new Adventure Fundamentals paper, which includes 7 bright, bold colors including the "Willow" green from which I cut the flower's leaves, and "Lemon" yellow of the flower's stamens.
 
Special for Blog Readers!
 
 
I do have a special for my Blog Readers if you'd like to buy the Flower Market Cartridge this month. Buy the Cartridge and its collection ($99 retail, plus tax and shipping), get the SOTM for just an additional $5, and then I'll reimburse your FedEx Ground shipping ($7.95)!  Just let me know in a comment here that you'll be buying, and I'll look for it, and reimburse your shipping via PayPal or by check, your choice. 
 
 
And now for some results!
 
Over the weekend, I participated in the Disney Pixar Blog Hop (scroll down if you missed my project!), and offered a prize of a free (and now discontinued) package of 12" assortment Flip Flaps to a random commenter.  Random.org chose the #2 comment by "LYN or GARY MEEKER."  Lyn or Gary, please leave a comment here or send me an e-mail with your contact information so I can get this pack out to you!  Congratulations!
 


Friday, August 5, 2016

Disney Pixar Blog Hop for August: The Magic of Flip Flaps!


Welcome to the
Disney Pixar Blog Hop!

Disney and crafting are a magical combination!  We are so happy you joined us today for this blog hop.  Some of the crafters participating in this event (including me!) have been doing this together since 2011!
 
Over the years, the hop has grown but one thing has always stayed the same . . . amazing crafting projects that feature your favorite characters from Disney and Pixar movies.

For 2016, we are going to have a hop every other month for the entire year!  If you missed one of the hops we already had this year, you can still go back and see the projects. For February click HERE, for April click HERE and for June click HERE.  If you are on Facebook you can like our group page so that you can be the first to learn about each upcoming event.  And who knows? Maybe you'd like to join in to show off your Disney project. Just click HERE to go to the Facebook page.

To make sure you don't miss any of the fun, be sure to start at Shawn's blog to see all of the projects.  Just click HERE to head over to Shawn's blog and then follow the hop line-up at the bottom of the post to see everyone's projects.
 
Here's mine:
 


Add caption
Blogger friends, I'm sure, know that my pride and joy are my two grandbabies, Charlotte (5) and Evan (2).  In May of this year, the kids and their parents were taken by their granddad (my ex) to Disney World. It was Charlotte's second trip -- we took her 3 years ago -- but Evan's first. It made for some perfect scrapbook moments.
 

And *I* have the perfect scrapbook paper for their album: Close To My Heart's "Magical" Disney-themed paper suite.

Of course, there are zillions of fun pictures from this trip, and there's no way I could fit them all in a single album -- or is there?  Well, with Close To My Heart's Flip Flaps, I can fit more pictures than meet the eye!  Check this out:

Above, you see just two pictures, right? 

But here, you see the follow-up to Charlotte's hug -- her smooch on her brother's cheek -- just by lifting the miniature page protector (or "Flip Flap") that's adhered to the top of the standard 12x12" page protector.



I'm still working on this double-page spread, but I wanted to share with you how very Magical these exclusive Flip Flaps can be. Here's the outside of the standard two page layout. Imagine this with a collection of photographs -- I'm thinking Cinderella's castle on the right, and some pictures of rides and other Disney scenes on the left.

 

How many pictures do you think I'd be able to comfortably fit in a two-page spread?  Six?  Eight?

 
How about 26 ... or more?
 
The outer upper panel flips up, the outer lower panel flaps down, and inside, there are different sizes of mini-page protectors flippin' and a flappin' in all sorts of directions!
 
Flip Flaps are available in many different sizes from Close To My Heart, most in packages of 12 pieces.  A new feature this year is that half of the pieces have their adhesive strip and opening on the horizontal side, and half are on the vertical side, to allow for greater flexibility in your layout design.
 
There are the small ones (3"x4") as I show in the set of 18 pictures on the top half of the layout above. (Click on the size of each to be taken directly to my shopping site to buy your own!) 
 
Then the most popular size (4"x6") standard for many photo prints. And another standard photo size (5"x7") is new this year too. Also new is the cute 2"x2" size of flip flaps; this size is perfect for not just photographs, but also souvenirs and mementos, like pressed coins the kids collected at Disney, stickers, charms, and trading pins.
 
I'm sorry to say that the popular 12" large assortment of Flip Flaps has been discontinued, but I have one extra set that I'm willing to award to ONE randomly-selected person who comments on this blog post.  So leave a comment below, along with your e-mail address please so I know how to reach you when you win, and answer this question:
 
Have you ever been to Disney World or Disneyland, and if so, what was your favorite part of the trip?
 
This prize is awarded by me personally!  I'll announce the winner on this blog on Monday, August 8.  BUT WAIT!
 
Before you go, make sure to enter to win the official prize for this Blog Hop . . .

We have a prize from Clear Scraps!  You could win one of their sandcastle chipboard albums!  This is perfect for your summer beach photos or with a little magic, this castle becomes the home for any Disney Princess. 


Enter here:
- - - 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Now, move on to Melissa Cady's beautiful blog called "My Disney Life."  She can be found by clicking here:
 
http://mydisneylifebymelissa.blogspot.com/

 
The full blog hop line up is below. Thanks for visiting, see you next time! 

 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A little primer on stamp pad ink

Good hazy, hot Friday from here in southeastern Pennsylvania, where today we're having a typical July day ... temperatures in the 90's, with humidity level to match. It feels like an oven out there!

So it's time for some indoor catch-up here on the blog. I apologize for neglecting this spot. Life just gets in the way of spending time in my Paper Jungle. And besides, my "Jungle" (the craft room) is my house's entire upstairs, and while it's air conditioned the best as it can be, it's directly under the heat of the summer sun, all day.
 


Today I'd like to give a little lesson here in the CardMonkey's Stamp Camp about inks. That is, stamp pads or ink pads and the differences in each. 

As my followers know, I'm a Close To My Heart (CTMH) independent consultant, and as such, sell what I've come to learn are some of the finest stamping inks around.  The majority of the Exclusive Inks sold by CTMH are water-based dye inks, that are currently available in 42 different colors.  Each ink color has a matching pigment ink, as well as a matching solid cardstock.  We also sell Tsukineko Versamark, Memento and StazOn inks, and also have a CTMH Exclusive Ink in black that is an archival solvent-based ink.

Let me show you a chart I've made that shows you which products have which properties:

CTMH has provided its Consultants with great descriptions of each kind of ink, which I'll share below:

Dye Ink: Dye inks have a soft look. They absorb directly into the paper, allowing them to blend easily with the material. For example, if you stamp a yellow dye-based ink onto bright blue paper, the stamped image will appear green. Dye inks are popular primarily because they dry quickly and blend easily.

Pigment Ink: Pigment inks “settle” on the top of paper instead of soaking into it. This is why Close To My Heart currently offers White Daisy and Colonial White as pigment-based inks, since this property allows those pale colors to appear opaque on colored or bright papers. (Depending on how thickly you apply the pigment ink to your project, it may take a few stampings to get a solid, true color.) Pigment inks also take longer to dry than dye inks and may require heat setting.

Water-based Ink: Water-based inks (also called aqueous inks) are inks that dissolve in water and are therefore excellent to use in watercolor projects (if you want the colors to blend). Water-based inks can be blended easily with a blending pen. 
 
Did you know that CTMH sells a beautiful set of watercolor paints,
along with a perfect set of watercolor brushes, and watercolor paper too?
 
 
 
My own note:  I have found that when watercoloring, it is best to use a waterproof alcohol-based archival ink such as Ranger's Archival Ink stamp pad, which is acid-free, permanent and waterproof. When using this stamp pad, be sure to promptly clean your stamp, as this ink will stain your acrylic stamp. The alcohol base dries very quickly!

Solvent-based Ink: Solvent-based inks are inks that dissolve in solvent. Solvent-based inks separate from water just like oil does, so these inks are best used for creating an image that you do not want to be ruined by watercoloring.

My own note:  When I trained with Copic's (markers) top instructors and received my Intermediate certification, staff warned that we should NOT use solvent-based stamp pads if we intended to use alcohol- based markers like Copic or ShinHan Touch Twin. The reasoning is this: When your alcohol marker touches or glides over a line or image stamped in solvent-based ink, the ink from the image is dissolved and transfers onto the nib of your marker, where it will permanently rest, causing that off-color to muddy your subsequent coloring. It "ruins" your marker, and you'll have to replace it, or its nib. I have found that it is best to use Tsukineko Memento Tuxedo Black stamp pad if you intend to color your image with alcohol-based markers.

Alcohol-based Ink: Alcohol-based inks work incredibly well for projects where you need to blend colors. The ink itself penetrates the fibers of the paper and dries quickly. This level of absorption allows for beautiful blending; colors will seep into the paper and mix slightly with neighboring colors, whether they are side-by-side or layered on top of one another. A smooth color transition takes place where they come in contact with each other, providing a smooth, even look.

Adding layers of alcohol-based ink deepens and intensifies colors. Even when the coloring is vivid, the layering remains smooth.  Water-based inks are easy to blend, but can create a streaked or diluted look.  In contrast, alcohol-based inks blend completely so there is no streaking.

I hope this little primer on inks is helpful to you in making a good impression on your paper crafts. Please contact me if I can be of further help in selecting the perfect medium for your project.  I can be reached by leaving a comment on this blog, or via e-mail to cardmonkey@Comcast.net.  Thank you!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Disney-Pixar Blog Hop - June 4: Craft happy things to make before your next Disney trip!

Welcome to the Original Disney Pixar Blog Hop, June 2016!  

Disney and crafting are a magical combination, and we are so happy you joined us to day for this blog hop.

Some of the crafters (including me!) participating in this event have been doing this together since 2011!  Over the years, the hop has grown but one thing has always stayed the same: amazing crafting projects that feature your favorite characters from Disney and Pixar movies.

For 2016,  we are going to have a hop every other month for the entire year!  If you missed the one of the hops we already had this year, you can still go back and see the projects.  For February click HERE and for April click HERE.  

If you are on Facebook you can like the group page so that you can be the first to learn about each upcoming event. Just click HERE to go to the Facebook page.

To make sure you don't miss any of the fun, be sure to start at Shawn's blog to see all of the projects.  Just click HERE to head over to her blog and then follow the hop line up at the bottom of the post to see everyone's projects.

Here are my projects for today's hop:
My daughter Emily, her husband Josh and their adorable kids Charlotte (5) and Evan (2) went to Disney World a few weeks ago -- gasp! Without me!!  (That's okay -- my ex-husband, Emily's dad, took their family. For some reason, he didn't agree to pay for me!! :O) 

Emily asked if I'd help make some projects for their family.  

First up, a "Countdown to Disney" chain that Emily had found on Pinterest, shown at right. 

I modified it a bit -- putting feet on the yellow "body" part of Mickey's resemblance. I designed the cuts using Silhouette Cameo's software, and made 7 full Mickeys (four weeks' worth).  Every day, one of the kids pulled a piece of the chain to show them that their trip was nearing. They were sooooo excited!

Next, Emily wanted me to make autograph pillow cases for the kids -- another idea she found on Pinterest.  (She neeeeeds to stay off Pinterest!!!  LOL)

Using my Cricut Explore, I downloaded files from the Mickey & Friends cartridge, using Cricut Design Space, and modified the castle to weld in a solid space (where there was a drawbridge/door) and replace it with Mickey ears. I also put the kids' names into the design.

I cut the designs from Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) that I'd purchased from US Cutter. I had never done a vinyl/iron-on project before, and it was easy-peasy. The vinyl cut like butter, and ironed onto standard pillow-cases very easily. 

The pillow cases were a HIT with the Disney characters. See here how they signed each kid's linen, using fabric markers that Emily bought:


Here's Jasmine (left) and Aladdin, with Emily and Charlotte.
(If you're wondering, Emily borrowed two laminated laptop boards from me, and wrapped/moved the pillow cases as needed, to ease the signing by the characters. She held the pillow cases on with binder clips and a rubber band, and kept them in a large Ziploc bag to keep them from getting soiled between signatures.)


And Anna from Frozen thawed out enough to sign the kids' pillow cases. Charlotte is dressed as Tiana, from her visit to the Bippity Boppity Boo Boutique.


Evan took a real liking to Ariel from The Little Mermaid. 


...and Evan had a "thing" for Aurora too. 


Evan was back at the hotel, sick, and didn't 
get to meet Olaf, also from Frozen
It was just Dad (Josh) and Charlotte this time. 


I'm not sure how or if Evan liked Stitch from Lilo and Stitch, but he seems happy to have his autograph. 


And here are the signed pillow cases, after 
a week's worth of signatures:


Can you make out your favorites?


I hope you enjoyed these unconventional papercutting projects, as much as I enjoyed making them.

But wait, before you go, there's BLOG CANDY associated with this Hop:  We have a paper and sticker variety pack from Reminisce!  There was so much that Shawn could not get it all into the photo.  These papers will be perfect for your Disney crafting.


Make sure you enter, here:
- - - 


- - -

Good luck, and enjoy the rest of the hop! Your next stop along the way is Tammy.   The full blog hop line up is below.  

Ellen (you're here)