Sunday, September 30, 2012

Scrapbook News, Sept. 30, 2012

This is your weekend update for Sunday, September 30th, 2012... Here is our lead story.
The Isaacs' children got scrappy yesterday resulting in two mini albums and several requests to scrapbook everyday.

Both children reportedly mastered using the trimmer and the glue stick.  Their ability to work independently in this fashion was undocumented until now.

When asked what was their favorite scrapbooking product, Aidan said he really enjoyed working with Hambly borders while Eva felt that K and Company stickers fit her style perfectly.

Both children agreed that the best thing about scrapbooking was doing it with their mommy.

In other news, Everyday Pop-Up Cards arrived from last weeks ebay auction.  It was immediately unwrapped and put to the test.

Everyday Pop Up Cards first impressions:

I couldn't wait to start playing with this cartridge and selected the flower box on page 48 to use as my test subject.  I used my Imagine so instead selecting paper from my stash I assigned the RBG codes for the Imagine to print.  This made me think of an idea for Provocraft to consider.  Wouldn't it be great if the included the RBG codes for the various elements in their handbook samples?  I suggest this because there is always a learning curve with a new cartridge. Eliminating the color selection step might be helpful so perfectionists can learn the in's and out's of the cartridge without getting hung up on the color palette decision.
Once the layers were printed and cut, I revisited the question that often haunts me: to ink or not to ink?  I decided to use my markers to outline the images.  In order to do this without getting ink on my work surface, I traced the cut lines before I pulled anything off the mat.  This worked really well-  especially since my Imagine was not calibrated correctly so there were white edges in some places.
Here is an example of the flower box minus the brown box layer.  You can see that the markers gave the flowers a playful boost.

Next, I tried to put together the pop up portion of the card but found it difficult to figure out what went where and how.  I was shocked that there were no instructions in the handbook!  I did a little web search and found an assembly instruction PDF  on Everyday Cricut.  Thank goodness for that blog because they also had a bunch of photos of finished cards that gave me a sense of how a card should look when completed!  The diagrams were created by Provocraft and originally posted on their blog. I printed out the instructions (you are supposed to view the diagrams at 200%, but I printed them out small to save paper and used my magnifying glass, lol.) and I was really disappointed with the assembly images.  Boooooo!  

I tinkered with the pop up part of this card for hours and ran into one problem after another.  Here is a list of the primary issues uncovered for this projecct. 
  • The card and pop-up did not cut proportionately to the flower box that was supposed to go on the front of the car.  The pop up was way too small even though real size was NOT selected.
  • As you can see in the photo above, the pop up does not offer multiple layers, so the pop up inside of the card will be a solid color unless you add color by hand.
  • Also in the image above, there are 2 pop up options.  The flowers on the bottom and the "Friendships Bloom" above the flowers.  In the diagrammed instructions, the "Friendships Bloom" pop up is not even shown, so I had no idea what to do with it.
  • Even though I used card stock, the stalks on the flowers were so thin that they wanted to bend or tear whenever they were handled.  Once placed inside of the card and closed, they were never to "pop-up" again.
  • I had no idea where to attach the pop on the interior walls of the card.
  • There were no score lines (dashes) on the pop up flower box.  Just 2 slits on either side which I used to create a score line.  There were only two sets of these slits; the remaining 3 folds had to be eyeballed from the diagram.
The finished card along with a complete cartridge overview will be posted later this week so stay tuned.

Our closing story for the night is a look at recent acquisitions by Jilliene Designs. Awarded with a $90 credit for Scrapbook Island from their annual Flea, several purchases were made over the last week.

The cricut cartridges were obtained at auction (ebay) and performed the special task of relieving stress as covered earlier this week in this round table discussion.

The blending tool was reported to be a "must have" inking accessory in this recent poll.

The remaining items were so stinkin cool that they enticed to join the Jilliene Designs team.  Follow up articles will surely show their performance. 

That is all for now...we'll see you next week.  (queue music and closing credits... and out)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

To ink or not to ink...that is the question.

I did a little cricut cartridge therapy (ebay style) over the weekend and woke up feeling a wee bit guilty.  It is amazing how the shopping/ bargains/ cricut goodies cocktail does the trick.

It's lovely.

So instead of being hungover with buyers remorse, I decided to get scrappy and play with a newly acquired cartridge Nate's ABC's. My rational was "if you play with it, (its Ok if) more will come" (MacCheezey Field of Dreams Reference).  I decided to experiment with 3 images in hopes that I might gain a better understanding about inking edges. I never ink edges with client work for fear of making a mess.  I always ink edges with my family projects and just overlook the mess.  Frankly, the whole subject gives me anxiety.

My first project was to print and cut the darling inch worm on page 38.  For simplicity's sake, I followed the color palette in the example.  I use an Imagine so I was able to tell my machine what color to print rather than looking for the paper and then aligning the paper position on the mat with the virtual mat.

I love that!

I didn't have my computer handy so I eyeballed the colors instead of looking up proper RBG codes.  I am terrible with the graduated color wheel but I gave it a try. After I was done, I was a little disappointed with my selections. I felt my greens turned out flat and the brown was way too light.

I don't like that!

To ensure my laziness will not trump color precision ever again, I printed out a RBG cheat sheet  You can download a PDF version of the Cliford 500 colors color chart by clicking on the link below:

This is what some of the pieces looked like when I first removed them from the mat.  Do you see what I mean about the color?  Imagine allows you to select a border size and color for your images.  For the sake of this experiment, I selected a white border so the inking and doodling would be obvious.

Here is the worm die cut with the layers assembled.  I used a black micron on a few of the worms stripes so you can get an idea of "with pen" versus "without pen."

Below is the finished die cut with every edge outlined with the black micron. The effect made the die cut much more detailed but because I had Cricut Image add a white border, some of the black pen is thicker in areas (I didn't want any of the white to show).  If there had not been any white border, the finished image would most definitely look cleaner.  It is worth mentioning that drawing the outline with an ink pen can be time consuming business.  I had a time limit before I had to pick up the kids from school so I rushed a little and it still took 20 minutes.  Maybe after some practice it would go faster. Truth be told, from selecting the image on my Imagine machine until having a completed die cut, it took an hour to create this little guy.

The next image I cut and printed was from page 50 in Nate's ABC's - 2 boys in a home made tent.

Again, I eyeballed my color selections instead of assigning RBG codes, but this time the palette was a little better. I did not designate a border so the color went right to the edges.  For this experiment I used Black Cat Eye chalk ink by Colorbox.  I wanted to see if the effect was A) more subtle and B) easier to apply and less time consuming.

Above are all the colors and cuts Imagine made for me.  The pale white items on the right are the boy's arm and the broom top.  I decided that to save time, I would ink all of the edges first, then assemble the layers.  When I applied ink straight from the ink pad, (or eye-pad :o)) I ended up with a lot of ink rub (This is what I call excess ink that is accidentally applied to the image making it look messy).  In part, this was because the image was small and the edges were not straight.  I pulled out one of my favorite tools, a Fantastix made by TSUKINEKO.

You simply dip the tip onto your ink pad so there is a transfer of ink, then you spread it along the die cut edge.  This produced much better results, but it slowed things down a bit.  I really wished I had brought this tool on board BEFORE I inked the broom bristles.  What a mess!

Ok, so all the edges were inked and I start assembling, but.... oh rats!  Some of the edges were supposed to flow into a different color - the edge made it obvious that there were 2 separate pieces. This became an important lesson learned.  Make sure you stack your layers before doing anything else so you can get your arms around the finished project!

There was no getting around this boo boo.  I had ruined the look.  In an attempt to save the die cut I pulled out my Prismacolor markers and started lining in extra details to take the focus off the obvious line between the arm in the tent and the arm outside the tent.  This effort was futile.  Sometimes we just have to accept that an idea has fallen apart.

I hate that!

It happens to me all the time, but I jot these boo boo's down in my Cricut notebook which I keep next to my machine.  No need to make the same mistake a year down the road.  I have my notebook casually divided by cartridges so that the next time I start on a project, I can look at my notes.

In my opinion, a black micron would have worked best on this die cut.  Especially with the top brown pole that protrudes just above the broom.  Here, it looks like I assembled the image incorrectly, when really, the brown is supposed to look like a pole.  A simple black line would do the trick.  Another option would be to outline the edges with markers of the same color.  if I had had the time, I would have recreated this die cut using that method.

The last example I have is from Nate's ABC's, page  22.
For this experiment, I substituted the brown layers (under the yellow bus layer and the tires) for black.  My thought was that by using a darker color, the contrast might be more crisp and no border edging would be necessary.
Above is the assembled bus with no inking or black doodling. I think the black was effective in producing contrast but, in my opinion, very subtle black inking would make the die cut pop.  Here, the bus is clean, but flat.

And then it was 2:55 PM and I had to dash to pick up my monkeys.  I hope this trial by error experiment was helpful.  I'd love to hear from you.  Please share your opinion and experience on the age old question, to ink or not to ink.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Comprehensive Overview of Cricut Cartridge, "Life's a Party"

Cricut has a whole line of Project and Events cartridges that offer specifically themed party decorations and elements.  What I love about the "Life's a Party" cartridge is that it offers a variety of different party themes, a nice selection of projects plus a font!  In this cartridge overview we will take a look at:
  • a sample view of the cartridge images
  • a list of the various themes this cartridge can work with
  • a look at all of the cards offered on the cartridge and a PDF reference sheet download
  • a look at the font and a PDF reference sheet download
  • a look at all of the phrases offered on the cartridge and a PDF reference sheet download
  • a look at all of the projects offered on the cartridge and a PDF reference sheet download
  • a look at a few handbook pages with photos of completed projects completely assembled
  • a link to the PDF of the handbook
  • a spreadsheet with a list of the images, words and phrases, cards and projects with their pages numbers including a link to download the PDF version.
Above is the sample sheet that is on the back of the cartridge box.  Below is a list of the various party themes included on this cartridge which include coordinating cards/ invitations, phrases, cupcake wrappers, scrapbook pages and 3-D projects.

Party themes includes:

  • Birthday/ celebration
  • Princess
  • Rock Star
  • Pirate
  • Outer Space
  • Zoo or Animals
  • Sports
  • Over the hill
  • Baby shower/ New baby
  • Bridal shower/ Wedding
First lets take a look at the cards included in this cartridge:

There are 5 cards for each theme which can be used for invitations, greetings and thank you notes.  I created a quick reference sheet so I can quickly look through my options when I need a card. You can download a PDF copy of the Life's A Party card reference sheet by clicking the link below.  If you would like to share this information on your blog, instead of copy and pasting this info, please paste a link to my site:

Next, lets take a look at the font that comes with the cartridge.  I use this font all the time.  I love its playful tone and weight. It is perfect for scrapbook page titles, cards and banners!


I have a hard time judging how a font will look as a word unless I see the letters next to one another so I created this Font Quick Reference Sheet. You can download a PDF copy of the Life's A Party Font Reference Sheet by clicking the link below.  If you would like to share this information on your blog, instead of copy and pasting this info, please paste a link to my site:

This cartridge also offers a category (creative feature) called phrases although many of the cuts in this category are images rather than words.

You can download a PDF copy of the Life's A Party Phrase Reference Sheet by clicking the link below.  If you would like to share this information on your blog, instead of copy and pasting this info, please paste a link to my site:

Believe it or not this cartridge also has a variety of projects including gift boxes, crowns, hats, glasses and scrapbook pages.
You can download a PDF copy of the Life's A Party Project Reference Sheet by clicking the link below.

There is also a cupcake wrapper and topper for each key on the cartridge that coordinates with the primary image. 
 Here are a few examples of completed projects:



To download a copy of the Life's A Party handbook visit the Cricut website here.
Last but not least, here is a list of all of the images and phrases on this cartridge with their page numbers.  If you find any errors in the spreadsheet, please let me know so I can correct them. If you would like to share this information on your blog, instead of copy and pasting this info, please paste a link to my site. The spreadsheet below is saved as a JPEG but you can download a PDF version of Life's A Party here: