Butterflies make everything beautiful!

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I think butterflies are really beautiful and I asked myself, “Why is that?” I think it is because butterflies are so symmetrical and people are generally attracted to things that are symmetrical. But I’m also a very analytical and have a scientific mind set.

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The technique for today is “die cut monoprint”. Using this technique, I created two cards witht he butterfly monoprints, but you can also use the prints for a scrapbook or art journal. This easy technique takes about 15-20 minutes and the two cards took over an hour to make. Continue reading “Butterflies make everything beautiful!”

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Look for a Star – Miniature music dome

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Another miniature for you to look at… and perhaps inspire! Last time I made a little house in a tin box. This time it is a music dome with a café and appartment.

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The finished product, without the dome over it.

This was super fun to do and I didn’t do anything too special. I followed about 98% of the instructions because I find it relaxing to just follow the kit’s instructions and not need to think too much. From start to finish, this kit took 4 days to finish. It was also a bit more difficult than my last miniature kit, but not by a lot. Continue reading “Look for a Star – Miniature music dome”

So Sweet!

I got a new die (the circles) and I wanted to use it, so I created this sweet little card!

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It’s a clean and simple card so it was rather easy to put together.  I had made the little girl image a few days earlier, and she’s just so sweet and cute that she had to be used on a card soon!  I also really love this patterned card paper of the cupcakes and strawberries, and I thought it was also perfect to use the circle die to showcase one of the cupcakes.  It was not easy to choose which cupcake to use! Continue reading “So Sweet!”

The Right Way to Use the Cuttlebug

Today I’d like to share a tip on cutting thin intricate dies with the Cuttlebug WITHOUT using any shims (metal or chipboard), WITHOUT running it through the machine more than once!!  This tip is only for the Cuttlebug because it’s what I own.  So let’s get right into it!

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If you don’t want to bother reading all the mumble jumbo, the tip is basically to cut up!  That is, you need to place the die cutting side (ridges) up.  If you don’t know what I mean, or you want more details, then read on.

So the die I’m using is this beautiful underwater scene die.  It is a thin die that I got from Ali Express, so it’s not of any brand I know of. This die also has some embossing/scoring elements, like the fish scales and eyes, the design on the jellyfish, seahorse, and seashell.  What makes this die so intricate are the jellyfish tentacles; they are very thin and close together.

Now before I get into how I cut this die with one pass and no (metal) shims, I want to point out that you can find many videos on YouTube showing you how to use the Cuttlebug, as well as tips on how to cut intricate die.  Some videos on how to use the Cuttlebug shows you the proper way to use it (cutting side up), and some do not.  And the tips for cutting intricate dies usually involve using a metal shim.  I will show you that a metal shim is not necessary, as long as you do it properly!

First I will show you the wrong way to do it:  wp-image-892760111
The bad sandwich is as follows, starting from bottom: A, C, Paper, Die with ridges down, and B.  (My C plate has no label on it.)

I ran it through once, and this is the result:wp-image-1391544807

Look at where the jellyfish tentacles should be; it’s not cut!  It is slightly impressed (hard to see in the pictures).  Perhaps it may cut if I did add a metal shim, but why waste money on buying a metal shim when I can cut it with one pass without it!  By the way, this picture is what it looks like after one pass.  I did a second pass and the tentacles showed up a little more, but it was not cut through.

Now let me show you the right way to use the Cuttlebug.  This works EVERYTIME, and I never have to pass it more than once.  By the way, passing a die more than once can cause the paper to shift slightly, so you may get “shadow” cutting, which is cutting again, but slightly off.  So here is the correct sandwich:wp-image-1125245494
The correct sandwich is as follows, starting from the bottom: A, C, Die with ridges up, paper, and B.  As you can see, my B plate is very well used!

And here is the result from running it through once:wp-image-1814417664

This is amazing!  One pass and no metal shims needed and everything is cut out, even the thin tentacles!

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So this tip is really not a secret.  The Cuttlebug is designed to cut up and it’s also in the user manual to place the ridges up and paper over the ridges.  I’m not sure what is contained in the newer manuals, but I got my Cuttlebug from 2010, and using thin dies were just starting out at the time, which is why my C plate has no label.  But after so many years, the Cuttlebug still works great and cuts through my intricate dies easily with only one pass and no shims.  Anyway, I hope this tip helped those of you that have been having trouble with the intricate dies!

I’ve never tried other machines either, but I don’t see the need to because I’m happy with my Cuttlebug!  And last but not least, you can see the final die cut over my freshly made background with my new Tim Holtz Distress Oxide by Ranger.  I’ll be posting the final card on my Instagram account, so be sure to check it out!

Angel Policies, part 2 – Knock-offs and such

Part two of the Angel Policies topic tries to answer this question:

I recently bought some cheap stamps and metal dies from the internet that are rip-offs, counterfeits, knock-offs, or pirates of name brand craft company!  Does the angel policy still apply to the stamps and metal dies?

This question really opens up a can of worms.  First of all, there is a difference between all those terms and we need to know the difference.  A counterfeit is an item made to look exactly like the original, all the way down to the label.  A rip-off or knock-off are imitations of the real thing.  And a pirate is an illegal reproduction of an item without permission from the original company.  A pirate usually covers music, books, and movies, but any copyrighted work as well.

To the best of my knowledge, all the stamps and metals dies from China I’ve seen online (like from Ali Express or eBay) are not counterfeits because they do not sell the stamps as if they are originals.  They are mostly knock-offs because they have been modified to be smaller or larger.

I also believe that some stamps or dies on Ali Express are possibly pirated because I think they are exactly the same as the original, but without a company’s logo.  In my research, I have learned of something called supply companies.  These are companies that generally supply the discount stores and they generally do not design or make any product.  What they do is scour for new toys and crafts from China, India, Blangaldesh, etc., buy it up, (re)package it with their supply company’s craft/toy brand, and supply it to discount stores to be sold.  So, to go back on pirating, if a supply company has bought up a line of stamps or dies, but someone is still producing it and selling it outside of of the supply company’s contract with them, then it is pirated, even though the supply company is not the original company/maker.  On a side note, buying stamps and dies from discount stores or from a discount line in a big store will almost always be cheaper than buying it from Ali Express or eBay.  The reason is because these supply companies buy in bulk (they buy up everything), so it is very low priced for them to buy, then they set a low profit margin to sell low.

So, let’s go back to the topic of Angel Policies!  Almost all stamps and dies from a supply company’s brand has no angel policy on it because the supply company did not design anything.  They just found something, bought it up, and now supplying and selling it back out.  The person(s) that designed these such products also do not hold any copyright or patent to it because copyright and patent laws in places like China are rather bad.

There are also no angel policies on knock-offs either… but you are walking on a very thin line.  The craft companies that designs a stamp or die set hold copyright over the design.  If someone takes their design completely, but decides to resize it to be smaller or larger than the original, it’s not exactly the same image anymore, therefore, the angel policy on the original design does not apply anymore!  But this kind of stuff is so fuzzy, and why there are often so many copyright lawsuits!

My personal suggestion is that if you are wanting to create and sell handmade items using stamps and dies, best go with name brands or “no-name” brands (stuff sold by supply companies), and not with knock-offs.

So that’s pretty much all there is to say about Angel Policies.  I do not condemn the purchasing of craft items from places like China, be it knock-offs or not, particularly for personal use.  But in light of angel policies, always try to be on the right side of the law and follow each company’s policy as a sign of respect to the company and its artists/designers.