Sunday, 4 December 2016

Project Life weeks 40 and 41, plus Photo of the Month

And,,,, I finally realised how behind I am in posting Project Life pages! Here are weeks 40 and 41 - featuring gender reveal party, Chris's birthday, and some pretty flowers - as well as September's Photo of the Month. 

The photo of the month HAD to be something from our European trip - and I love this one of the three of us at the Amsterdam letters. 

I was feeling the yellow and grey this week. It was also a week of flowers - quite appropriate as we get into Spring. 

Thanks for looking!

Friday, 18 November 2016

A new addition to the crafting family

Hi everyone! I’m back with something a little different today.

Last month was bonus time – yay! And I got a little something extra for all my hard work this year – yay! So I thought I would treat myself, and starting thinking of all the scrapbooking goodies I’ve had my eye on for a while.

A few years back I used my bonus money to buy my Silhouette Cameo machine. What an amazing decision – as you’ve seen, it’s changed my life and my crafting style forever. So I got thinking about other machines out there which could enhance my crafting.

There are things like a Cricut machine which I dismissed instantly – my Cameo does all that and more. The Cuttlebug embossing press was not that appealing, nor was the Xyron sticker maker. But there were two machines that caught my eye.

The first in the Silhouette Mint, a small little machine, part of the Silhouette family, which makes stamps.
What do I mean, “makes stamps”? Well as you know, the Cameo is capable of cutting stamp material for you to make your own stamps. There are a few downsides to this:

1. Any stamp you cut does not have a backing, so you can’t have “floating” pieces of stamp. So whilst this would be possible to cut out with the stamp material…
…these would not work, due to the “floating” and layered elements.

2. The material does not make friends with all stamping inks, meaning you’re pretty bound to the Silhouette black ink, or a faded version of your other ink pads.

But on the plus side, the material is easy to use, affordable and readily available. I’ve used it myself, and I do enjoy it, but I was on the lookout for something that allows me to make more complex designs. Enter the Mint, and what I thought was the solution to my problems.

The Silhouette Mint allows you to create a stamp with a lot more detail than the stamp material. In a sense it etches the stamp for you, so you get a solid piece emerging from the machine, which you can then adhere to a stamping block. 

The reviews also say that once you’ve applied the ink (and you can do this in different colour combos too, not just one solid colour), the stamp will stamp up to 50 designs before you have to re-ink it. This was sounding good!

But after doing a bit more digging, I came up with more negatives than positives:
1. The cost. At R2200, this little machine is not cheap. But maybe the other features would sway me.

2. The machine comes with about 4 pieces of stamping material. After that, you need to buy more, which is both expensive and difficult to find. Bit of a let-down after you’ve made your first four stamps.

3. You have to use special Silhouette ink. Also, whilst the manufacturers boast that the ink “lasts for 50 stampings” I think this is only an advantage if you’re doing a business logo, or wrapping paper or something. I want, for example, a little happy birthday stamp that I can use once off on a card – but there’d be a lot of ink wastage if I did this. 

4. Because you have to use the Silhouette inks, the first few prints are a bit blotchy – not what I’m after.

As you can see, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of the Mint. When I think about buying  a new “machine”, I like to look at certain core things, such as base price, the price and availability of consumables (like ink, paper, blades, etc) and the range of activities you can perform with this machine. On this test my Silhouette Cameo ticked all the boxes, but the Mint didn’t.

The next machine I considered was the Heidi Swapp Minc. Hitting the market at the height of the gold phase  (have you seen how many gold/copper and bling things there are in the shops?), the Minc was definitely appealing.
Basically, it acts as a sort of laminating machine, but instead of sealing your design in plastic, it applies shiny foil to the inked parts. Yes please!

The machine boasts that not only can it apply foil to pre-designed cards, but you can also print your own designs and then apply foil to them! This was sounding fantastic! You could also apply different coloured foils too, not only gold.

At R1453 it was quite pricey, but not as much as the Mint. The foil rolls were about R200 each, so not crazy but not cheap either. And they seemed to be available in SA.

I did a bit of digging. Many reviews speak about difficulties in getting the foil to adhere to the ink, resulting in splotchy designs. Hmm.

But the biggest issue I found was this: most sites advise that you need A SPECIAL TYPE OF PRINTER to actually make this work. Reading the very useful post by Pink Kimono, she explained how she went through FIVE different printers before she worked out that you need a Monochrome laser printer to make the foil adhere to the designs. For this you’re looking at easy R5000 (the Brother version is R5533). Eish! Now this was looking pricey!

I also asked myself how many times I would actually use this bling feature…sure, it would be cool, but could I not use my newfound love of Printable Gold Foil from Silhouette to achieve similar results?

And so the Minc was taken off the list.

So what did I get in the end, you ask. Well, something that isn’t specifically a crafting machine, but will, I think, add to my range of crafting abilities: an A3+ printer. A Canon Pixma i6840 A3 printer (find it on Takealot if you’re interested) to be exact.
I can see you frowning in confusion…well, let me explain.

Since my early scrapbooking days, I used to marvel at pages designed by more experienced crafters. As I went along, I found ways to replicate these designs (the Silhouette Cameo was a huge help – no more cutting out letters!), and sometimes ways to work around the designs. But occasionally there were designs that I could not duplicate, because I was missing one key thing: the ability to print directly onto a scrapbooking page.

Look at this design for example – imagine it was a 12x12 page
Now ask yourself: how would I get that printing? Yes, there are work-arounds – you could print onto a separate page, cut it out and stick it on. You could use sketch pens and the Cameo machine, or stickers, or your own handwriting. But if you actually wanted to print this right onto the paper? You couldn’t do it – well, not without a printer that could take scrapbooking sized paper. And that’s where my new printer comes in.

This printer prints “A3+” which means it can print 329mm x 483mm. As a standard scrapbooking page is 12x12 inches, or approximately 305x305mm, I am able to send a full scrapbook sized page through my printer. This means I can add text to pages, as well as print my own patterned scrapbook paper.

By using my Silhouette Studio software, I can easily design the layout of my page and print the appropriate journalling.

Have a look at these pages I’ve managed to do so far:

Text printed directly onto the paper

For this page, I cut my photos and made photo strips, then positioned them on my page. By placing my silhouette cutting mat over the design (so you can see the grid lines over the scrapbook page), I was able to work out where I wanted the text to go, and then design the corresponding text in Silhouette Studio.

For this page, I wanted a border, title and text down the side of the page. Granted, I could have printed and cut the text out separately, but how fantastic does it look printed directly onto the page?

I’ve also been playing around with a few backgrounds. I LOVE kraft paper (yup, spelt with a K) and I’ve used this design on gift cards before. After printing it out I added a bit of bling from China Town, and here we have it, a fantastic background just waiting to be used!

 Playing around with colour

And some fun hexagons. I intend adding hexagon shaped photos to this background

I have a few more ideas of backgrounds to do – like cameras, quotes in the middle of the page, banners at the top, chevrons, clouds, confetti, and much more.

Okay, but back to my choice of machine. I did my usual analysis: base cost, cost of consumables, availability of consumables and range of features.

At R3439 the printer was admittedly not cheap. The initial machine comes with a full set of ink (nice surprise!) and ink refills are looking at about R700 for the set, but you can buy them separately too. Also not cheap, but I do know how well these inks last. Also, my intention is not to use this as an everyday printer, or even as a photo printer (although it can print photos. Hmm, on that, I may try printing an A3 photo one day…) So I think my ink will last quite some time. The ink is also readily available, as is paper/card to feed in.

I already have a Canon printer, so I was pretty set on staying with the brand. It was also one of the cheaper A3 printers (which are not that easy to find, btw).

As for range of functions, I can see myself using this printer for MANY scrapbooking projects to come. Have a look at some of these pages I’ve found which would benefit from 12x12 printing abilities:
Yes, it's A4, but it COULD be 12x12. I have always loved this page design.

I love the typewriter look to this.

Think 12x12 background here

The inspiration for my hexagon page.

Granted, I’m not making my own stamps or adding foil to anything, but I am loving the thrill I get when I print a background that I designed, or add text to a page in a way that I wasn’t able to do before.

So that’s the lowdown on how my new A3+ printer joined the crafting family. I’ll bring you feedback on how he gets on, and despite my reviews above, if anyone feels they’d like to GIVE me a Minc or a Mint, I’m not saying no! :)

Until next time, happy crafting

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Mark and Nicole's wedding - scrapbooking pages

I had a lot of fun putting together these pages from my cousin's wedding. Of course, the gorgeous photographs and beautiful people helped! 

Added to that, the fact that I like the wedding colours - and have a lot of these colours in my scrapbooking stash - meant I was able to put the pages together really quickly.

When doing pages of a wedding, I really like to use some of the "stuff" from the wedding - like the invite, or the order of service. The bride and groom - scratch that, just the bride! - has put a lot of effort into these touches, and I really like including them in the pages. 

I had a lot of fun with the photo booth page. Some fun colours and some washi tape and we're good to go!


I think I managed to capture the essence of Mark and Nicole's wedding in these pages - let's see what they think!

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Halloween decor

Hi everyone! I’m back today with photos from my first ever Halloween party! I really went all out on the décor, and my guests were suitably scared…I mean, impressed!

But I wanted to share with you one particular décor item that I made by adapting one of Bird’s SVG files. I think even Bird will be surprised by what I’ve done here!

I started out with her free Halloween SVGs. I took the grave SVG and enlarged it as much as I could to fill an A4 page. I then saved this as a PDF – do you know how to do that in Silhouette Studio? There’s a trick to it – you tell your software to print, and then where you would normally select your printer, you instead choose “Print to PDF” and the file will save!

Why did I do this, you ask? Because I wanted to print this grave out BIG! To save on ink, you can see I made the design so it would only print the outline of the grave and the words.
I then took it to work (sneaky, I know!) and printed it out size A3 on our printer. Hmm, turns out I must have done something wrong, because it cut off the bottom – but this actually worked better – the bottom, after all, was basically square, and I was going to hide some of it in the ground anyway. And this way I got a larger print of the actual gravestone part. So I stuck with my print. 

Then I took my print home and found a suitable cardboard box.
I cut out my grave, cut the box into panels, and used the grave as a stencil.
You can see how I just extended the lines for the grave, down to the bottom of my box.
Then I cut it out (not the text, just the outline)

 I cut a second gravestone, then I mixed up some grey paint (I had white and black craft paint handy)and applied to both. I didn’t worry about the back, due to the positioning of the gravestone in the garden.

 Once it was dry, I grabbed my stencil again, and a permanent marker, and then stenciled the word RIP onto my grave. I then coloured this in with the permanent marker.

And this is what it looked like in the garden! I couldn’t resist adding a spider, some eyeballs and a filter.
So there you have it, a very different use of a cut file!

Here is another collage of some of the decor elements

And because I know you’ve been dying to see…here’s a picture of me and hubby in our Halloween costumes. Warning: they’re scary!
I hope your Halloween was amazing :)