Sunday, August 28, 2011

Organization of Cartridges

Cricut cartridge organization, a relatively new bane to my patience.  Even following my mantra to only buy on sale, they take up a lot of space.  Provocraft has been releasing piles of new cartridges to meet customer demand.  Unfortunately, more & more cartridges are 50, 100, 200, 300 images when a full cartridge usually has almost 700 images.  This creates a storage problem.  And then, some come in boxes, some come in plastic boxes, some come in plastic packaging. Well, they all come in plastic packaging that you risk slicing your hand to remove, But I'm stepping away from that soapbox...
Many creative people are getting rid of the boxes to just store the cartridges, booklets & overlays.  I've seen plastic bag systems; binder systems; plastic buckets using plastic embroidery grids custom cut to contain cartridges; and file systems.  I use my Gypsy a lot, but sometimes I need to reference the handbook to figure out the image or how something fits together.

These green file folders have been sitting around forever.  Using a heavy duty chopping paper trimmer I cut them down to 11 3/4" x 7 1/8" (except the tab height) I was able to cut 2 mini folders from each full size folder.  I measured to find the centre (except the tab) & aligned 1/4" more each side to accommodate 1/2" wide cartridges.   Then I enlisted my Martha Stewart scoring board & a nail-file to score since I couldn't find the scoring tool (my house ate it).  I put a sticky note on the board to remind me where to score repeatedly.  As always, scoring makes folding easier.
After cutting them all to size I started rounding corners one at a time until I realized, Hey, I have a tool that will do this faster and easier.  I used my new Zutter 1/2" corner rounder and found I could clip 10 corners easily.

Here is my results.  On the right it shows 7 cricut boxes in a Recollections brand photo storage box.  Of course different brand photo boxes do not have the same dimensions, I checked.  My mini-file measurements may not work for everyone, so always measure before cutting.
On the left is my mini file folders.  I found that if I aligned all the cartridges on one side it padded out & I couldn't fit as many in.  Alternating cartridges to the left & right of the book/overlay easily fits in 15 cartridges. The cartridge boxes will go in the basement into the empty cricut packaging box until I decide if I really need them anymore.  This was an exercise in assembly line production.  I made over 200 mini file folders this way.  I knew I would never find file folders for this purpose so it made sense to make them.  If I'm going to the trouble of making them, I may as well make a lot and be done with it.  Yes, its time intensive, but I'm working for me and that is important too.  6 hours well spent: 1 hour figuring out design, almost 3 hours cutting them down, 1 hour scoring, 30 minutes clipping corners, 30 minutes folding and they're done.  The nice thing about assembly line style is that I can do one stage at a time and still progress through the job.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Good mail day!

Remember when I posted my entries for the online Christmas in July swarm?  I just received in the mail the prize I won & had to post it!  Allison, a fellow blogger posted her "Trendy Twine" storage solution over on her blog Goodybagdiva, my-twine-storage-solution and offered it as a prize.  I hope I've linked that right, I've never done a link before so it's new blog learning for me!

As always, click on the picture to big-ify.  The black & orange (orange licorice) reminds me of tigers.   The brown & white (chocolate truffle) make me think of s'mores.  The red & white (peppermint stick) could be for Christmas or Valentines.  The pastels evoke thoughts of ice cream, babies, and spring (strawberry cupcake, grape fizz, Blue Berry).  The green (twisted lime) remind me of spring lawns.  I just had to post right away about how pretty they are and the ideas they generate before they vanish.  Its fun how colours & products have inventive names to make themselves distinctive.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Creative patching

I know a busy fellow that loves to rip his jeans.  Are you kidding, he picks them deliberately & encourages the rip.  I've threatened to patch them with Hello Kitty or Barbie patches, knowing the wrath of "uncool" looming.  I also know they would never be worn again so it would be a wasted effort.  I've seen some really cool patching done online, monster faces, aliens, and some pretty gorgeous freestyle embroidery.  I then though that if I patched it with "cool" then threatened to not do any more if the ripping continued, maybe I would be onto something.
I used simple "baseball" stitching, hide the knot somehow, start from the top, go to the other side & come up from underneath.  Picture figure 8 path and that might make more sense?  I'm no stitching expert.  I started with matching grey embroidery floss to close the gap.  Then I went in with irregular layers of red. These pictures show progression of one pass of red per picture.
One or two of these layers were done with different reds to add to the visual effect.
I could've added more dripping down effect, but my fingers were getting numb.
Here's the model, looks a little bit Pee Wee Herman with the white socks.  Darned it!  I was going for a bloody slash effect.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Challenge Charms

Here are the charms I made for the online Christmas in July swarm via the cricut circle.  I used the Christmas stocking from the Gingerbread cartridge.  I sized it 2.62" wide x 3.27" high, it just looked good.  I copied & grouped it to make rows, then filled in the digital mat.  On the messageboard it was specified to make charms 1" finished size, so using shrink plastic, it should start 3".  I found with my last experiments that its a different shrinkage ratio so I went a bit smaller, using the same brand plastic I used to make the Canadian circle charms.  I placed a 8.5x11" rectangle on one layer so I would have the grey ghost boundary. That is to show me where to place the stockings on the mat, and where to place the plastic sheet on the mat before cutting.

I have found my little 6X12 cricut cuts more thoroughly than the big expression does, but each machine works ever so slightly differently.  I used multi-cut 4, pressure 6, blade depth 6 with the deep cut blade & housing.  I struggled with each sheet & cut lots of extras anticipating problems as this is fairly fussy cutting for plastic.  Several pages I had to recut 2 more times before unloading.  Once I had them cut I ruined quite a few separating them from the waste.  I used my basic grey brand fine file tool set to burnish off the burr edges because it just wasn't a cooperative cutting session.  Any nail file type tool is useful to clean up the edges for nice results once melted.
I tried a shadow cut by mistake on the right, I didn't like the sizing so I didn't use that cut.  The middle shows the centre pieces not removed yet, the left one is ready for markers. The picture below shows how much darker they get & size difference once it is shrunk.  I used Permapaque metallic markers by Sakura.  The metallic doesn't really show up which disappointed me a bit.  These are meant for writing on slick surfaces and is known to be  a good product brand.  I'm just using what I have.
Here are all 26 finished, with two 6mm jump rings ready to go.  I slipped them into little jewelry bags I got from the dollar store with a slip of paper with my details.  They went into the mail  August 8, and the return swap will be sent August 20.  I will definitely post pictures of what comes back!
Here is another reason to make extra when using shrink plastic.  Sometimes under the heat gun it has a mind of its own, it twists, sticks to itself, & just won't comply.  I cut 5 sheets of 9, ruined a lot separating them, then these 2 brats resulted.  I went back & cut one more sheet from another package, and of course it cut perfectly, punched out of the plastic easily, & fully cooperated.  I have read that "older" packages of shrink plastic are more temperamental to use than "fresh" plastic.  There's an irony I would never have thought of!
Lessons learned in addition to my last shrink plastic experiments:
1.  Peek at the cut before unloading to check that it cut through.  Once it is unloaded it will never load & cut exactly where it left off, 1mm difference with the unload & reload screws up the cuts.
2.  A dry static duster is a marvelous thing to pull away the little plastic shavings produced from cutting.  After each page of cutting it is good to remove the blade housing, poke out the blade & clear away the shavings so they don't build up & interfere with cutting.
3.  Working outside is best for shrink plastic, but being close to a wind break is important to keep from losing any under the deck.  
4.  Don't rush the separating cuts from the waste plastic, fussy cuts split, tear, rip, and are SHARP and POINTY.
5. Keep the Gypsy plugged in to prevent glitchy hang-ups with even slightly low battery.
6.  Using parchment paper is great, sandwiching still hot shrink plastic between PP & putting a cool iron or book on top to get it flat works nicely.
7.  Sakura Permapaque markers are nice, but they dry a little bit slower than Sharpie markers.
8.  Colour with scrap paper underneath, save your table top.
9.  Colour in circles if filling in areas of colour, it shrinks up less visually irregularly.
10.  Trace around all the edges with the markers to make the colours more finished looking.
11.  Some markers need to be sealed to keep colour from bleeding if these are worn against the skin as a pendant.  I would try UTEE (Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel) or Modge-Podge. Clear nail polish would be okay, but it tends to get yellow & brittle with age.   I didn't seal these charms and am hoping for the best.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Project fail

As we all know, not all projects are a success.  I thought it best to 'fess up & show the world a fail.  Its okay to laugh, I do now too!  
I measured out tab top curtains, I found the grain, ironed it out, got it all sewn from denim that I got on a-steal-of-a-sale.  I made cream coloured backing from a clean painting drop-cloth to reflect summer heat.  It hung great, until I washed it!  The inherent nature of denim is in the twill weave structure.  It is tough because there is more threads packed into each inch of fabric than plain weave.  Twill is a bias weave structure, that means it will TWIST!  Now I have a piece of fabric hanging au naturale from that bar.  The tab-top curtains, well, they've gone to the rag bag to wait to be turned into heavy tote bags or something when I can look at them again.