Brogue Dies - Tips, Making confetti and removing die debris

This set of Brogue dies creates great borders and focal points, but did you know it also makes great confetti?
What if I show you the confetti in gold? Yep? that's nifty isn't it!
Also - I find an old stiff paintbrush really useful for excavating all of those little dots of paper - especially if I'm cutting cardstock. Paper seems to come out very easily, but cardstock can be tricky to remove - a stiff brush really speeds things up.
And you get a nice crisp die cut with no hangers-on.
Slip some card in behind to create a colour pop.
Posted by Claire Brennan on 25 June, 2015 Die Cutting tutorials | 0 comments | Read more →

Mini Coffee Bag Die - How to use this die

These Mini Coffee Bags would make adorable party favors, among other things, and I have a little info here that will help you to get the most of of them.

The first thing you should know is that these are small bags, but it is surprising just how much you can fit into them. The finished size of a mini Coffee Bag is 2.75 inches tall, by just under 1.5 inches wide, by 0.75 inches deep at the bottom.

Pic 1. This picture shows the mini Coffee Bag die and a piece of patterned paper that has been die cut. I like to put my patterned paper on to the die with the pattern facing the die and the plain white side facing out. I find it easier to make the folds when I have done it this way.

Pic 2. The piece of die that creates the window of the baggie is attached to the main body of the die by three thin pieces of metal. This is so that you have the option to remove the window piece with a pair of metal snips, to create closed bags with no window. I prefer the look of the bags with a window, so I'm going to leave my die intact, but you do have the option to create plain bags.

Pic 3. This is the die cut from Pic 1 flipped over right side up. You can see which folds should be mountain folds and which should be valley folds. Also you really only need two pieces of tape to form the bag. You can see the long strip of double sided tape down the far right flap. You will need one piece of tape on the reverse of the largest of the flaps along the bottom - I've folded it up for this pic so you can see where to place it.

Pic 4. If you are adding a clear window pane, now is the time to add that. Depending on what is going in your bag you could use a little snippet of the clear bag that your WMS stamps come packaged in, or you could use food safe film from discarded food wrappings. I got the plastic for these bags from a clear plastic bread bag that I was able to snaffle when I got the bread home and popped it into the bread bin.

 Pic 5. Your bag is nearly finished and you could just fold the top flap down in half, and then fold it down again and adhere at the back, but I have an idea that might tickle. - To Turn your little coffee bag into a proper tin tie Coffee Bag try this: add a little fine wire into the fold on the top flap. I get my fine wire from those little tin tie bag fasteners that you get with plastic lunchbags, like these ones below that you can buy from Lakeland. I strip the plastic off them (carefully, using my craft knife) to use in these coffee bags - they would be too bulky for the fold otherwise. You could also use fine florist wire, fine jewellery wire, fine fuse wire, etc.


 Pic 6. Shows how I position my tape on one side of the fold. I popped the wire on towards the centre of the fold on the top flap.

 Pic 7. Once you have folded over the top flap the bag is now finished, ready to be filled and sealed by simply folding the top flap forward once and pushing the side pieces round towards the back of the bag - just like you would with a 'real' large coffee bag.


Pic 8 and 9. Just a note about papers. All of the Coffee bags I made with good quality papers worked a treat with the thin wire. You can see the corners at the top of the bag are nice and clean and I could re-open and re-close these bags with ease without the wire showing through the top flap. I noticed that if I used a cheap thin paper that the wire can begin to poke through at the corners, the bag still works well, but for weddings and special occasions I would stick to good quality papers if using the wire. If I'm not using the wire, and just adhering the bag closed, it is not an issue.

For Food safety I would recommend using foodsafe papers such as Bacofoil Lined Parchement, or wrapping your food in clear food film before placing in any paper bag that you are unsure of.

Have Fun!
Posted by Claire Brennan on 08 June, 2015 Die Cutting tutorials | 1 comment | Read more →

How to make the Great Big Owl perchable!

Pic 1 - This is the owl from the Great Big Owl stamp set - I really wanted to make this guy 'perchable' and I do this with the help of the matching die set. First, I stamped the owl in black - I clear embossed him at this point as I was going to colour him with copics.
Pic 2 - Then I trimmed him out with the die and colored in the white card -
I knew he was going on a black background.
Pic 3 - Then, I placed the little 'claws line die right on top of his feet. Even though you cannot see the cutting line when you do this there is a simple way to make sure it lines up - see where the red arrows are - I just made sure the centre of the metal at both ends was centred on top of the last toe/claw on each side.
Pic 4 - This is how it looks when the cut was made - perfect.
Pic 5 - At this point you can slide a branch in underneath his toes!!! The Great big owl die set contains a branch die which is a perfectly sized perch for him. Love this tip.        
I simply mounted him on a layered card base - he really is a big chappie
Hope it tickles!
Posted by Claire Brennan on 05 September, 2014 Die Cutting tutorials | 1 comment | Read more →

Boo and Friends die sets - how to use the face die


I have a super simple little card for you - I made it with the bonus die that you can find inside the little bat die from the Boo and friends Bat die set.




It's the circular die you can see inside the bat shape in this image.

Use a pair of small pliers to remove the circular die from the bat. I sometimes smooth those little remains of the joining tabs with a file, it's best not to leave any sharp edges, future you will thank yourself.



This little disc can now be used to cut  a spooky face into a card front or a tag! Depending on what side of the card you use your face can look in either direction! For my card above, I just used a plain black card base, cut a spooky face and mounted white card in behind. The speech bubble sentiments from the Boo and Friends set work great with this wee die!





Posted by Claire Brennan on 03 September, 2014 Die Cutting tutorials | 1 comment | Read more →

Picot Panel - How to use this self matting die

What's nice about this super useful little die is that it is self matting! Here's how:

The die has a double cutting line all the way around - when you run it through your die cutter it will produce a panel and a little frame, you will normally just discard the wee frame piece if you want to use the panel only.

If you have run it through the die cutter again with an embossing mat, you will also see the embossed line detailing and it will bring out the pierced lines especially well.

If you wish to create a mat for the panel, run the die through the die cutter one more time with a fresh piece of cardstock in the colour you want your mat to be.

While the die cut is STILL IN THE DIE - use ordinary tape to tape along both of the side of the die - you can just see the shiny tape in this pic. You should but the edge of the tape up to the lowest parts of the scalloped edge - DON'T put your tape right to the edge of the scallops or you will see it when the panel is done. It does not really matter how wide your tape is - I used ordinary household tape - just so long as it covers the tiny holes also.

When you take the die cut out of the die and turn it right side over, you will have something that looks like this - all you need to do now is snip away the excess tape at each end of the panel.

In the pic above I have cut a plain panel from blue card and I have made a mat panel from white card - just as I described above.

Now I layer the pieces to get a picot panel with a contrasting mat - happy clappy! :) - you can use the mat complete, or you can trim it flush at the sides like I did for the Thank you card. I love this look also.

Posted by Claire Brennan on 27 August, 2014 Die Cutting tutorials | 0 comments | Read more →

How to use WMS cutting edge dies

Posted by Claire Brennan on 07 February, 2014 Die Cutting tutorials | 0 comments | Read more →

Masking a die cut - How-to


With our new dies releasing this month I have been playing around with them, looking at what I can do with them - i love to get the best value possible from all WMS product and dies are going to be such fun in so many ways!


Our dies are going to be a mixture of both open dies, and closed dies depending on what suits the stamp it matches or the purpose of the die. For this post I'm using a closed die from the Little Lanterns Die Set.


Closed dies are dies that you cannot see through, they are not open  in the middle section. Closed dies will have little round target holes and while these are so handy dandy for lining up die cuts, the target holes also cut the card. this is absoltely no problem when I am die cutting the actual shape, but when I want to use the negative space left by the die cut, I might not want to see those little circles, let me show you what I did.


1. The lantern die is lying on the white card, cutting side up - you can see the two target circles, one on either side. I'm going to mask those using a teeny tiny piece of the tan embossing mat that I have. It's an old mat, I'm currently using a fresher one, but it is great for this purpose, if you don't wish to sacrifice a tan mat to this process you could try a little piece of thin cork or some tiny pieces of card stacked up. You can see in the photo that I have trimmed off a tiny corner of the mat and cut it into two.

2. You can see where I have taped the little rubber mat pieces over the target circles, the lantern too is also taped to the white card that it sits on, this is just a piece of scrap card, it's there so I don't get tape gum all over my Grand Calibur Base plate. the tape is so thin that it does not matter if it happens to sit over the cutting die, it won't interfere with the cut.


3. I set the cardstock down on top of the die before setting the cutting mat on and passing it through the Calibur.

4. When it come out the other side, I have a nice negative shape on the red cardstock with no unnecessary target holes. This is the technique I used to make the negative shape for the front of my card, hope it tickles!


For my card I used: Zig Zag Backgrounder, Little lanterns, Little lanterns die set and Light of the world sentiments. inks were SU Cherry Cobbler, Tsukineko Versafine Black and SU daffodil and Wplus9 White. I clear embossed the sentiment with wow ultra fine clear embossing powder.




Posted by Claire Brennan on 10 November, 2013 Die Cutting tutorials | 0 comments | Read more →

Learn about Cut Files

Cut Files - a little Info

I had a few emails from folks wondering what cut files are - Here's some Q&A's just in case it's something you are not familiar with.
So what is this thing, this Cut File?
So, I'm making a card or a LO and I want to cut out one of the images I have stamped. Used to be I got out my scissors and started trimming around the shape as neatly as I could. This was grand, I have a great patience for papercutting, what I don't have is time.
Then I discovered dies - we love dies, don't we ladies, yes we do. I am addicted to dies, if I ever need to send anyone to college I will just auction my die collection, I think it will probably see all three of them through. Metal dies enable me to get a crisp, neat, even cut around any shape I have a die for. First it was basic shapes such as circles and squares, then I discovered labels and now I am having custom dies made up for some of my stamp sets. I love dies, they are great for mass producing card sets and they give a lovely embossed edge (well mine do because mine are all Spellbinder dies). the low profile metal dies will work with just about any table top die cutting machine such as Cuttlebug, Bigshot and of course the Grand Calibur etc. These are mostly hand cranked machines and you can also use embossing folders in them to produce texture on your cardstock, or indeed any other material such as fabric, thin cork and some wood papers, leather etc, lots of stuff, you can see why we love dies.
But, I'm greedy. I also like lots of shapes, I like to make up my own shapes. I like the possibility of designing a shape and being able to cut it out any size I want, in any quantity I want depending on my project. I can do this with an electronic cut file.
Yes, but what is an actual Cut File, what does it look like?
A cutting file is an electronic file that you can download to your computer. It's a bit like a digital stamp, except that where you send a digital stamp to a printer to get it out onto your cardstock, you send your cutting files to an electronic cutting machine which uses the file to electronically cut out a shape.
If you have a peep at the images above - you can see that the first image is of the Halloween Party stamp set - you can clearly see that the black images represent the stamp designs.
The next images shows the same stamps, but this time, you can see a little red line around the stamps - the red line shows you the shape of the cut file associated with the stamp that it surrounds. The Halloween Party cut files are a Freebie, so you can dowload them and have a gander at how they come. If you have a grahics program on your computer you might even be able to open them and have a peep inside. It is vital that you save them to your desktop first though, or they won't open. They come in a zip file.

When you download a 'Cut file' (from WMS), you are getting the file that has the red line shapes only. The cut files will produce blank shapes onto which you can stamp the corresponding images provided you have the matching stamps. Some of our cut files are for shapes that don't require stamps at all, such as the Art deco card front set. This file produces lovely patterned card fronts.

What do I need to have to be able to use Cut Files?
You will need a computer and a compatible electronic cutting machine.
In order to use cut files from WMS and indeed from may other stamp stores you will need a cutting machine which has the capability to use files. I have a Silhouette Cameo machine, I bought it with the designer edition software which allows me to use my own and purchased cut files from a wide variety of sources.
Some personal electronic cutters are closed systems and use only the cutting shapes available in their own cartridge systems, and example of this are the Cricut machines. At present Cricut machines are only able to use files on cartridges made by Cricut, although this may change if cut files become more popular. 
I hear people talking about svg files, what does that mean?
Cut files are supplied in a few different formats, most commonly you can find them as .svg and .dxf files. The format is just the way in which the file is saved and each machine will have it's own preference about what files suit it best. My silhouette Cameo can use .svg files, but before that I had a Robocraft machine that used .dxf files.
We hope to expand the availability of file formats as time goes by, we have started to introduce .jpeg files and if you require a particular type of file format we'd be interested to hear about it.
So which is better, dies or cut files?
 The short answer is that it depends on what you are making. It's like trying to compare apples and oranges, they are both different and you can do different things with each.
Electronic cutting machines offer great creative freedom in that you can resize files, merge files together, create mats for files, cut lines, dashed lines, and cut many multiples at once. The trade off is that it is not so easy to cut other materials. I only ever use card in mine, although vinyls and fabrics can be used, but I would not dream of putting felt into it for instance and felt is something I love to die cut. Also, and this is a big thing for me, you just don't get that lovely embossed edge that I love from my Spellbinders dies. So going forward my personal choice would be to have both! 
I hope this info helps a little, but I'd love to see if anyone has any questions about this, I am not an expert by any means, i am just learning my Cameo, but if there is something you need to know, i might be able to find an answer for you!
Posted by Claire Brennan on 21 May, 2013 Cut File Tutorials | 0 comments | Read more →

Stamping with Backgrounders - Big Stamps


 The Backgrounder stamp - you can see the Vintage Christmas Backgrounder above with a standard size SU ink pad, still on it's backing sheet, these measure 4.5 by 5.75 inches, they are huge.
I have not felt the need to purchase large blocks for them as I think I have found the perfect way to use them - courtesy of technique Queen Lynn Mercurio. Lynn first suggested to me the idea of using a brayer. I didn't have one so I purchased a small one and haven't looked back. You don't need one, I have inked these stamps up with pads just the same, but I do think I get particularly good results with the brayer.
The brayer makes it really easy to ink up the stamp evenly and avoids the situation where areas of the stamp get clogged up with excess ink - and  this is important in our next step.
Once the stamp is covered in ink, I laid my cardstock down on top of the stamp. I was making a tea cracker, and so I was able to lay the whole template for my small Tea Cracker down on top of the stamp - couldn't be simpler. In the pic below left you can see how I laid a sheet of scratch paper over the top so that I could smooth the whole thing down without getting ink all over my fingers. Take care to smooth all over the cardstock at this point. 
 On the right once I peel back the template it is completely stamped, no need to line anything up! fabby!

The Backgrounder Stamps can cover a standard US card 4.25 by 5.5 inches in one go, with no lining up! Fabby! Have fun!
Posted by Claire Brennan on 10 November, 2012 Stamping Tutorials, Techniques | 0 comments | Read more →

How to make windows with the 'Twas the Night before Christmas set

Windows - How-to.
Since a picture is worth about a million words, I have photographed all the important steps involved in making one of those wee windows from the Twas the Night before Christmas set.

I start out by stamping the window image, clear embossing and then trimming it out with the Spellbinders labels 14 die template. Notice the fine inner line that frames the empty inner space.

Next I trimmed out the centre rectangle, Can you see how I have trimmed the rectangle out so that the fine line is cut away at the sides and left in place at the top and bottom? Look on the bit that I have cut out, it has the fine line clearly visible at each side. This is important if you want to use shutters, if you're just trimming out the rectangle and not adding shutters you can just trim all the way round the fine line.

Next, I stamp two shutters. I also clear embossed these. I trim them out with a little spare flap on one side, I make a left shutter and a right shutter by having the spare flap on different sides of the shutter image.

I use the back of the scalpel blade to score along the edge of the shutter image to create a crease for the fold, I find the scor-pal just a little bit 'big' for this job.

Very importantly, I make a tiny slice at the top and bottom of each fold on both of the shutters, circled in red below. I do this so that when I fit the shutters into the window frame, they make a snug, tight fit, the shutter images are a hair larger than the window frame for this very reason.

Below you can see the components of the window. The shutters have been sponged and the hearts coloured brown. The two window sashes, stamped beside each other on a rectangle of card, clear embossed, sponged and then the woodwork coloured brown with a copic. I trim the image of the window sashes quite neatly so that when I put it behind the window frame, it doesn't peep out around the edges.

Next I add the mouse, there are also, baubles, a Nordic heart decoration, and a little candlestick, all suitable for stamping in the 'open' sash.

Below, I have slotted one shutter into the frame, I adhere it with strong tape. You can just see how the tiny wee slices in the fold of the shutter help to make the fold a snug fit around the window frame.

Window frame with both shutters added, and below that, the sash windows. You can see how I added dimensionals all around the sash windows, I wanted it to be set back a little from the window frame.

All that remains is to add the frame over the sash windows, and there is one pretty focal point for your card!!!


Posted by Claire Brennan on 14 September, 2012 Die Cutting tutorials | 0 comments | Read more →

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