DIY: Quick Printable Catnip Kicking Bag

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This month’s DIY Challenge theme is Cats, so send in all your favorite kitty projects for the round-up at the end of the month. Visit the challenge page for more information, and use the handy-dandy form to upload your project photos. We can’t wait to see what you’ve made! Quick note to those of you who tend more to the barking or chirping animals – we welcome protest projects too. Show us why your favorite is better than our purring friends!

In typical cat fashion, my kitties seem to like toys that are not intended to be toys at all. You might think it’s a child-safe plug cover, but they think it’s the neatest thing since canned tuna. For a while they have been sharing a repurposed jack-o-lantern drawstring bag filled with catnip- and I decided it was time to give them something a little nicer. They do love the scale of the jack-o-lantern bag, which is long and wide unlike most catnip toys, so I decided to replicate the scale with a super-simple catnip kicking bag.

I wanted to customize the bags a bit, and I kept thinking about the lovely art Tara Bliven shared with us last month. I asked if she would write up a few feline words for us, and she did! You can use the free printable below to make this cat toy even cattier!

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Supplies for two Bags

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Download and print out the Cat Fabric according to the specifications on the package.

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Cut the fabric in half to make a sheet 10″ x 3.75″. Peel the backing paper off the fabric and stack it on top of the two pieces of thick fabric- with “right sides” facing out.

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Stitch, 1/2″ in, around three sides and leave the fourth open.

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Pour at least a teaspoon of dried catnip in the middle of your pocket…

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Close the last side of the bag, and trim around it with pinking shears to limit fraying (and add character.)

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Repeat with the second set of materials, and you’re done! A super cute sewing project that’s quick enough that you won’t mind when your kitties shed all over it. Now for the fun part…

(Warning, you are about to be bombarded with too many pictures of my kitties.)

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The dangers of catnip trips. Very unflattering photos.

 

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Success.

A couple of notes

  • The printable fabric is quite thin and I didn’t trust it to contain the catnip for very long, so I used it as an outside layer only. The catnip itself is contained within two layers of thicker fabric.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, try this tutorial to make your own printable fabric!
  • If you are worried about your print running, try this vinegar bath solution to set your ink.
  • Tara is a wizard at decorative writing (and many other arts). Visit her website tarabliven.com  to find out how you can bring more of her awesomeness into your life.

SHOW+TELL: A Look at the Letterpress

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With the weather turning gloomy it’s becoming less practical (and pleasant) to work outside, but I have had more chances to work more with my lovely letterpress. It dawned on me (while I was listening to the clunking and whirring of the machine) that I haven’t ever shared my adventures with this 126-year-old guy, even though he takes up a huge space in my heart (and my bedroom.)

I thought I’d show you a couple of behind the scenes shots, and talk about my printing process.

An old etching of the letterpress model I work with, in the amazing American Wood Type book my mom passed down to me. Synchronicity?

There are a lot of great resources for learning about the history of printing (I’ve listed some resources below) so I won’t get too much into a subject that I’m learning more about all the time.

My first experience printing was at the University of Texas, on a Vandercook press using antique wood type (from the Rob Roy Kelly collection) and modern polymer plates. I eventually acquired a small table-top platen press (a Craftsmen Imperial) and started printing greeting cards and more using the same method I use today on my floor-standing platen press.

Nearly two years ago we moved the one-ton California Reliable into a corner of our bedroom, and it has become a my go-to for printing with love.

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Polymer plates before they are aligned on the aluminum base for printing.

While I still use lead type and wood type occasionally, I mainly print with polymer plates on an aluminum base. I draw up the artwork, scan it, clean it up and prep it for the plates, then send the artwork out to have plates made. The plates are somewhat similar to the clear sticky stamp sheets some people use with a clear block; however the material is much harder which allows for much more detail and lets it stand up to the high pressure of the letterpress. The height of the material has to be just right to bring it up to type high on the aluminum block and allow for the ink rollers to roll, and the printer to print.

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Hand carved linoleum blocks being printed on a small tabletop press.

Occasionally I get a wild hair and print from hand-carved linoleum blocks. There’s less perfection in this mode, but you can end up with really great results with lots of character. There’s a trick to raising the blocks up to the right height, but it’s definitely possible.

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There’s a long list of things I love about letterpress printing, but color is at the top. I love how each color I print is one solid color instead of being made up of a pointillistic nightmare of Cyan/Magenta/Yellow/Black. (There’s no room in my blue for little pink dots.) Each color on a letterpress print is printed separately; each color has its own plate. I’m a somewhat inexact ink mixer, but I always seem to end up at the right color (and I try not to get ink everywhere.)

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Printing the first color of a leafy card.

Alignment (registration) is something that has taken a little getting used to, but I’ve come up with a method that works great for me. Here you can see a couple of polymer plates on my aluminum base, printing the first color of a two-color card.


The opening and closing action on this Gordon-style press is powered by a flywheel and a foot-powered treadle. There is a single magical dance that inks the rollers on the ink plate, rolls them across the printing plate, then presses the paper into that plate to make a print. (I’m learning a little more all the time about the mechanics of this magic, but the first lesson was DON’T LEAVE YOUR HAND IN THERE.) I’m responsible for pumping with my foot/ankle/hip and feeding paper.

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Printing on paper handmade from the scraps of other cards.

One of the nicest things about the letterpress is that with a little ingenuity you can print on just about anything flat. Most of my pieces are printed on thick cover stocks, often 100% cotton. I’ve started printing more and more on sheets of handmade paper that I make from the trimmings of those other cards. I love the texture and softness of the paper I make, and I adore the fact that it means I’m contributing less to the landfills. (Want to know more about making paper? 1 2 3)

I’ve also just started to experiment with printing on fabric…. I have ideas….

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So that’s my old guy. Our love is still new, but I think it’s made to last.

Time will pass– I will get more ragged and he will get less, and he’ll always have new things to press.
I’ll keep learning.

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Resources and Links

Briar Press: A never ending resource for letterpress parts and printers
Letterpress Commons: Developed by Boxcar Press with articles and resources
Boxcar Press: My usual source for polymer plates and some other materials and supplies
Reich Savoy: One of the papers I print on.
Van Son Rubber Base Plus Ink: My preferred ink

TOOLBOX: Saddle Stapler Review

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You may or may not have heard of a saddle stapler– but let me tell you, I love this sucker. I mainly use it for binding small booklets, but it’s handy for any project that you need to staple further “in” than the 1-inch you get with a regular stapler. Plus they are heavy-duty, sturdy, and have lovely lines. (I’m not sure why I’m quite so fond of a piece of metal.)

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My journals and booklets typical have about 10 sheets of text weight paper, and a 100# weight cover. I use a bone-folder to fold the inside sheets in half (with the grain) 3-4 sheets at a time for a crisp fold throughout. I like to score my covers before I fold them (also with the grain) to make sure that I have a nice smooth spine.


When I’m ready to bind, I’ll slip one side of the paper into the curved opening of the stapler, and the spine with lay smoothly along the stapling edge.

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My stapler is a little picky about where it staples, so I usually have to hold the paper down with a finger on either side of the spine. Then I staple, trim, and voila…

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Journals! (You might notice I used the corner rounder on these, as well.)

IMG_7161Although my saddle stapler isn’t very old, they have discontinued the model. You may be able to find this exact model online (it’s a Swingline 615 Saddle Stapler) you can buy the very similar Stanley Bostitch Booklet Stapler at Amazon*. Both use standard staples found just about anywhere, so you don’t need to stockpile anything.

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The one feature that appears to be missing on the Stanley version is the measurement guide, a little piece of metal that can be adjusted to line up the staple location if you’re doing multiple books. I typically make a mark where my staples should go or eyeball it, so I seldom use the guide anyways.

If you love journals, or staplers, this is a must-have. If you’re in a pinch, and local, I might even let you use mine.

*Support Adventures-in-Making by shopping from our Amazon store. We’ve selected a few things that we love, and think you will too. If you purchase through us, you pay no more for those items, but we get a small portion of the sales to further the adventures.

TOOLBOX: Dremel Micro Review for Glass Etching

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I have a secret. I’ve been hoarding glass bottles… and jars. Sure, I’ve been drinking out of a set of 6 jars, but what no one knows is I have a whole box of them in my closet.

Shoot. Now you know.

The big plan was to use etching cream to mask and etch them into glass masterpieces– but something always stopped me. It may have been that the first time I pulled out the etching cream, Safety Husband insisted on reading the ingredients and warnings. He then set out a strict list of suggestions for using the DANGEROUS stuff I got from the craft store. I followed the suggestions once, but lived in fear of getting out the cream ever again. “Wear gloves. You don’t want it eating through your skin… to your bones.

We live in a world of excess caution, over here.

Safety Husband recommended safety goggles and a respirator- talked down to spectacles and a dust mask.

For Dremel Etching, Safety Husband recommended safety goggles and a respirator- accepted spectacles and a dust mask.

The box of glass lived to taunt me. Sitting in there, instead of going to the recycling bin where it belonged; until I got the bright idea of looking for alternate etching options. There are a lot of great, videos, but the one from Dremel sold me. It was time to replace our old rotary tool, so after some shopping I decided on the…
Dremel Micro, which is cordless.
•I bought two diamond bits, but I’ve only got around to playing with the one that looked most useful, the Dremel Diamond Wheel Point Bit.
** UPDATED 12/14 – I’ve since started using two different diamond bits with more success. 7105 Diamond Ball Pointand 7103 5/64-Inch Diamond Wheel Point

Experiments

I tried several different ways of getting my initial artwork laid out, including drawing the design on with a Sharpie, as well as using masks that we had made with the intention of using the etching cream.

Tara Bliven drew and cut out this beautiful mask for me.

Tara Bliven drew and cut out this beautiful mask for me.

We drew and cut these masks out of contact paper, but you could also use masking tape. They are a great way to start out, because the mask will help you learn to control the tool. If you jog out of the lines, the mask material will shred before you mark the glass, giving you one chance to screw up without consequences.

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The mask is definitely the most time consuming and tedious way to go. I’ve moved on to freehand patterns, and occasionally use paper templates that taped to the other side of the glass. (More on that later.)

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Tips

•Higher Speeds (controlled with a button on this model) work much better for etching glass. I usually use the second to highest speed. The highest works even better, but the sound is skull-splitting, so I only use it when absolutely necessary.
•Using the bit I’ve listed above, you will mainly be making thinnish lines, so plan on going over your artwork a couple of times. It works best to hold the bit as close to parallel with the surface of the piece.
•Make a jig for round items. I took a couple of wood scraps and made a kind of rail for the glasses to lay in. (See in the photos above.) Make sure it’s small enough to move around, as you will want to be able to approach your piece for all angles. After my experiments, I sprayed the whole jig black so I could see my work more easily.
•Wear Protective Gear… or you’ll get in trouble. I found a dust mask and glasses worked for me, but it might be good to start out with even more coverage. Remember that your glass could shatter at any time.
•Start with thick glass pieces, and don’t grind too much in one place. This is not a tool for drilling, so you’re more likely to shatter your pieces than cut cleanly through.
•Start with trash pieces you’re not afraid to throw away. There’s definitely a learning curve.
•Hand-wash any pieces, to make sure you’re not shocking the thinned glass with hot water.
•Work outside. You’ll be generating a ton of dust. While I haven’t had any sharp pieces (yet) it’s nice to let nature get rid of the dust.
•This is a no-distraction project. Don’t plan on watching TV while you work with power tools.

Things to Love

•It’s lightweight. Initially I was planning to use a flex shaft like they use in the video, but the cable is not very flexible, and I decided the lack of cord would be a benefit.
•It compact and easy to transport (although it does not come with a carrying case.)
•The battery lasts longer than I do. I haven’t had to stop what I was doing to recharge.
•I haven’t hurt myself (yet). This is always remarkable.

Things to Hate

•The “Lock” button sticks out just above the power button, and I have hit it accidentally a couple of times while the Dremel is running. It makes a terrible sound to tell me I’m killing it to death.
•It’s still a little clumsy. Even though the end is tapered so you can hold on to it, it’s more like trying to write legibly with a Squiggle Pen than an actual writing implement.
•It is quite tricky to get make a curve. A lot of this has to do with skill, and the kind of bit I’ve been using.
•The sound, especially at higher speeds. It makes a high keening when you’re using it on the glass. The birds have been complaining about this as well. It’s just life in the etching game.

Things to Try

•More bits. I tried scratching the glass with non-diamond bits with little result, but now that I’m hooked on the etchin’, I’m going to try everything. (If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear from you.)
•More freehand designs.
•On flat surfaces, like plates, trays, etc. On mirrors.
•Make a set of matching glasses, with patterned numbers, using paper templates. That’s pretty specific, huh? I guess a DIY is in the works… but until then, have fun!

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TODAY: It’s Okay to try it Your Way.

IMG_2720_OKAYAs creative folks, we know that our work will change over time. We’ll have struggles, and we’ll have breakthroughs.

I feel like I’ve been going through a lot of that lately. I’ve had to make changes to the way I do things to accommodate for my schedule at the shop, and the limited time it’s allowed me for more creative endeavors. All in all it’s been a great experience, and has caused me to grow in directions I wouldn’t have expected. Since we’re focussed on building a creative community here at A-i-M, I thought I would share some of my experiences and encourage you to share your own.

Today I am thinking about…

Trusting Your Instincts

A friend keeps reminding me that “you have to know the rules to break them”, but I’ve always been the kind of person who knows the rules- then sticks to them. My rebellious side would let me break a few,secretly, but the other side would never be happy unless my lines were straight and my skill immaculate. It was tedious, and I was never happy with what I was making.

Because of limiting factors, I started working in a new way. I moved away from the computer and started working extensively in pencil. I would sketch, erase, sketch, erase, until I built up a design I was happy with. It all happened on one pieces of loose-leaf card stock; with a lot of lead, and a lot of erasing.

But I kept questioning myself. What if I was doing it the “Wrong Way”?

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At some point I just decided to forget about it. It doesn’t matter if it’s the wrong way if I am happy with the result. Our satisfaction with our work is the most important outcome. If I was happier breaking a few rules and following my own instincts, then that’s the way it should be.

We have to have the confidence that our way is the right way, for us at least. That means trying new things, and feeling it all out…

but that’s what growing up is all about.

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What do you think? Have you had any breakthroughs this summer? Any projects that surprised you?
Are you trying things your way?

 

TOOLBOX: Alison’s Essential Drawing Supplies

TOOLBOX: Alison's Essential Supplies #drawing #tools

My favorite supplies have changed a lot over the years. Right now I have a loose-leaf system that works great for me, and along with my travel kit, it’s incredibly portable. (Portable tools mean you’ll get more done, more places!)

Since I have a tendency to do things a little differently, I thought I’d share a little about my process and supplies; then let you decide if you think I’m crazy- or a crazy genius.

I’ve included links to many of the supplies, in case you’d like to try them yourself*.

Paper and Stuff

TOOLBOX: Alison's Essential Supplies #drawing #tools

I like to work on 8.5 x 11 inch loose-leaf pages because I can carry them around easily. From time-to-time I’ll cut pages down so I can have an even more portable set- but I keep the same selection of papers.

A. Papers

I use Smooth White Cardstock  for early sketches and drawing. Cardstock handles a lot of erasing a redrawing.
When I can’t erase any more, I’ll do additional edits on  cheap tracing paper.

I use higher quality Canson Marker Paper for final drawings, and for inking. I tried a bunch of different papers, and this was the best with my Uni-ball pens. It doesn’t bleed too much, and dries quickly enough that I’m less likely to drag my left hand through wet ink.

Graph Paper and Miscellaneous Guide Sheets  I’ve found it’s handy to keep guide sheets that I can use with tracing paper. I usually have sheets of graph paper, script slant guides, and other handy shapes I use a lot.

B. Clipboard

I love this low profile aluminum clipboard. It’s lightweight and means I can draw anywhere.

C. Project Filing

I keep each project I’m working on in a clear page protector. When I’m done, I can discard the pieces of my process I no longer need, and retire the whole protector to a binder or other file for safekeeping.

 

Tool Kit

TOOLBOX: Alison's Essential Supplies #drawing #tools

I do as much work at the store as I do in my studio, so I’ve come up with a very extensive travel kit to carry. (I like to be prepared for everything.)

A. Pencils

I love using Woodless Graphite Pencils  for shading, thick lines, and because they are awesome. I use BIC Mechanical Pencils  a lot in my early sketching phases. Blackwing Pencils are my newest obsession. The erasers are especially useful, and replaceable! I prefer the harder “Pearl Pencils”.

B. Pencil Sharpener

This small metal pencil sharpener is essential if you want to use anything other than a mechanical pencil.

C. Erasers

I use a Mars Plastic Eraser for heavy duty changes and a narrow eraser for getting into tight spots

D. White Pencil

I often us a white Prismacolor Pencil to correct mistakes that can’t be erased, I also like to be able to draw on surfaces that aren’t white. (See the pictures of my work table.)

E. Ruler

This 6″ Ruler was one of the best things I added to my kit. You can’t eye-ball every line.

F. Compass

For years I used a cheap school compass, and when I upgraded to this guy, suddenly my life got so much better. Perfect for making curves, and circles.

G. Inking Pens

Uni-ball Pens are my preferred pen for inking on marker paper.

H. Scissors

A tiny pair of scissors like this comes in handy often.

I. Permanent Marker

I love the twin tipped Sharpie Markers. Sometimes I want to go nuts and make a permanent drawing impact (ie. leave my tag somewhere.) I don’t usually do that, but a permanent marker is great to have on hand.

J. X-acto Knife

I think everyone should have a quality X-acto Knife. I use this one from Martha Stewart Crafts because the lid stays on well, which is important in a tool that travels around with me. I also like to keep a few extra blades on hand; this box set does just that, and has a place to store the old blades.

K. Glue

It’s important to keep glue around for when you want to add something to your drawings. A glue stick works well, and leaves less mess in your bag. I also carry around a small roll of scotch tape.

L. Miscellaneous Tools

You probably need a Bone folder. I also try to keep something that will poke, but isn’t sharp, like this embossing tool, or a small wooden skewer. Think of other miscellaneous tools you might need – a needle and thread?

M. Pencil Bag

A gorgeous pencil bag will inspire your work. Check out this lovely one from Slide Sideways (now Year End Co.)


Well, now you’ve seen what I’ve been working with lately. It’s not your usual collection of art supplies, but life is all about trying unusual things!

*Support Adventures-in-Making by shopping from our Amazon store. We’ve selected a few things that we love, and think you will too. If you purchase through us, you pay no more for those items, but we get a small portion of the sales to further the adventures. Check out the whole store at http://astore.amazon.com/adveinmaki-20

TOOLBOX: Lacis Cord Maker Review + Video Demo

TOOLBOX: Lacis Cord Maker #tool #equipment #braid

This nifty braiding machine is something I picked up a few years ago for Camp Smartypants. I was getting really sick of hand-braiding for my greeting cards (each card included a braid around the fold of the card back in the day). When I reached the point where I was selling hundreds of cards, the braiding got to be pretty daunting. After doing a bit of research, I found this battery powered cord maker on Amazon. It works great and definitely sped up my production process. I’ve since discontinued the braids with the cards (since I’m now selling over 1000 every year), but I still use the cord maker to make my Peace Bracelets.

Here are a few examples of what the cord maker can do. I typically stick to using three different colors of embroidery floss, but the Lacis Cord Maker can twist/braid up to 4 strands. You could also use yarn or even ribbon to make your cords.

TOOLBOX: Lacis Cord Maker #tool #equipment #braid

To Love

• The Lacis Cord Maker is powered by two AA batteries, making it portable and easy to keep running.

• It makes consistent twisted braids quickly and easily.

To Hate

• I’ve found that sometimes I have trouble getting the two settings to work. I have to play with the button or give the whole thing a good shake to get it to run (you’ll see this happen in the little video demo I made below).

• The noise. It makes a loud noise when you use it, making it a bit distracting if you are making braids in a public place or trying to watch a movie.

Here’s my video demo, so you can see exactly how it works:

All in all, I would definitely recommend the Lacis Cord Maker to anyone interested in making twisted braids for their craft projects!

TOOLBOX: Lacis Cord Maker #tool #equipment #braid

TOOLBOX: Photography Basics For Bloggers

Photography Basics For Bloggers #eqiuipment #supplies #adventuresinmkg
Photography is an essential skill for any blogger and one of the most intimidating tools to learn (at least for me). I’ve had my Canon Rebel for over 6 years and am only now really learning how to use it. I took an online class from A Beautiful Mess called Mastering Your DSLR last April and it has helped me improve my photography skills immensely.

At my last job, I worked as blog editor for an online company and spent a lot of time working with their in-house photographer to create blog content. I learned so much from watching the photographer work and assisting her in styling each shot.

Since launching Adventures In Making, I’ve had to dive in and take all the photos you see here myself. I can tell you it’s definitely something that takes both patience and practice. I have a few essential tools and techniques I use to achieve the quality and look that I want for each photo, plus aside from my digital camera, all the equipment I use is low-budget or found second hand.

1. Basic Equipment

Digital camera. Although a professional DSLR camera is ideal, you can still get great photos from a simple point-and-shoot, or even your iPhone. It’s worth your time to look for tutorials and advice for using the camera you choose. There may be simple techniques you overlook when you’re using it. Definitely take the time to ask friends what they use, and if they have any tips.

Tripod. Even the slightest movement while taking a photo will cause a motion blur. The closer you get to your object, the more obvious the motion blur becomes. Even an inexpensive tripod will make a big difference in the sharpness of your images. Tripods are available at all sorts of stores. If you’d like a more portable setup, think about using a small table-top tripod, or a flexible tripod like a Gorilla Pod.

Remote switch is also helpful to prevent moving the camera while taking a photo. Even the action of pressing the shutter will often cause you to move and blur your photo. A remote switch can relieve this frustration. If you don’t have a remote, try playing with the timer setting on your camera.

Reflector. A reflector can help direct light to your subject and soften dark shadows. You can purchase one like this one, or for a cheaper option you can use a large white poster board. I recommend reading this post from Making Nice in the Midwest blog. Mandi goes into great detail about the equipment she uses and how reflectors can make all the difference in your photos.

Image editing software to crop, brighten, sharpen, etc. your photos as needed. It may seem easier to use the image exactly as it was shot. But in reality, it is difficult to shoot an image precisely how you want it to appear in its final form. We recommend using Photoshop or similar software program. PicMonkey is a free online source for photo editing.

2. Styling

Styling is essential to create a strong image because it gives your idea context for the viewer and can help tell your story. Simple backdrops and props are great for enhancing photos. For example, I like to use different fabrics, papers and textures for backdrops and I have a variety of different props I like to use (like baskets, dishes, ribbon, flowers, etc.)

Photography Basics For Bloggers #eqiuipment #supplies #adventuresinmkg

You want your photos to showcase your idea, so it’s best to try not to use too many props that distract the viewer. With that said, you can still get creative with different prop ideas to enhance your photo. For example, in my Watercolor Gift Wrap post, I used a small vase of flowers, and a dish with dried chamomile (one of the ingredients for my eye pillows) as props. For my Fire Cider recipe, the ingredients themselves became my props. And in my Pretzel Treat Favors post, I used paper straws, ribbon, tags, and balloons to create the look and feel of a party.

Photography Basics For Bloggers #eqiuipment #supplies #adventuresinmkg

When thinking of prop ideas for your photos think simple and try to use what you already have in your home or kitchen. I also recommend dollar stores and thrift stores as great places to find baskets, flowers, old fabrics, etc.

3. Lighting

Window/natural lighting makes the best photos. Never use a flash or overhead light. Set up your backdrop and props near a window and take your photographs during the day when there is good light. If photographing outdoors, an overcast day or shady spot is best. Direct sunlight creates hard shadows in your photos (which is not good!). Think soft light not hard light.

If sunlight is never where you need it, consider trying some supplemental lighting. The trick is to find a light fixture and bulb that will help you replicate sunlight. I recommend stopping by a store that sells cameras and photography supplies, and asking what sort of setup they recommend. Avoid using a normal household bulb as it will produce yellow light (which is bad for photography), especially when you are aiming to replicate the look of ‘natural’ sunlight.

Additional Resources

Food & Light: Photography Tips from Diane Cu by Averie Cooks
Food Styling By Celebrate Creativity
Lighting Tips and Tricks for Bloggers & Photographers by Making Nice in the Midwest.
Basic Photo Tips for Bloggers by B.You

TOOLBOX: Crayola Light-Up Tracing Pad Review

TOOLBOX: Crayola Light-Up Tracing Pad #product #review

My mom, who is especially good at finding useful things in unlikely places, brought me home a Crayola Light-Up Tracing Pad one day. Actually, typical of my mom, she bought 3! One for her, my grandma and me. Both her and my grandma are sewers, so she thought they would be useful in tracing pattern pieces. Boy, was she right! Who would have thought you could find such a handy tool in the toy section.

TOOLBOX: Crayola Light-Up Tracing Pad #product #review #adventuresinmkg

What’s great about this light pad is that it’s small and portable. You can easily fit it into your bag along with your sketchbook. After showing it to my friend Tara, she picked one up to use during her calligraphy classes! The light is powered by three AA batteries and is nice and bright, making for easy tracing.

This has become one of my go-to tools for my illustration work and I love that I can sit with it on the couch, at a bar or in a cafe.

TOOLBOX: Crayola Light-Up Tracing Pad #product #review

UPDATE! Here is a video from Crayola showing off their Light-Up Tracing Pad. Watch to see it in action.

Note: I did not receive any kind of compensation for this product review. At Adventures In Making we love sharing information about our favorite tools and resources because we believe knowledge should be shared and that we can all learn from each other’s experiences.

TOOLBOX: Diamond 1 Corner Rounder Review

Toolbox: Diamond 1 Corner Rounder #tool #review #paper
I’m pleased as punch (no pun intended) with the Diamond 1 Corner Rounder I recently bought. It comes with a 1/4″ corner rounding die, which is great, plus ordered a couple of other dies as well.

It will punch a whole stack of paper/cardstock/etc at a time, which is super handy for rounding the corners on pads or books. The extra scrap falls down a hole at the back, into a trash drawer. There is another drawer at the front for extra dies, and tools.

Toolbox: Diamond 1 Corner Rounder #tool #review #paper

The extra dies I ordered are namely a wider diameter rounder, and a 45 degree straight cut (possibly because I was watching BSG at the time.) In total I have 4 blades, from a very small professional curve to a nice big friendly one. The blade pieces are a bit oily- I would advise wiping them down with a paper towel before hooking them on. The oil has never been on the blade portion, so it doesn’t transfer to the paper.

They look like this…

Toolbox: Diamond 1 Corner Rounder #tool #review #paper

Here are the cutting results from each blade: M (45 degree die), S (1/8″ die), M (1/4″ die comes with the cutter) and L (3/8″ die).

Toolbox: Diamond 1 Corner Rounder #tool #review #paper

Each die bolts onto the cutter with an Ikea style hex key. It’s very important to re-adjust the blue guides after replacing the blade, and from time-to-time while you’re using it. (If the blade is too close to the paper, or if it is slightly turned you get a small notch in the side of the curve. Look at the “S” example in the sample picture above. The curve goes into the paper, instead of going straight into the straight side.)

Toolbox: Diamond 1 Corner Rounder #tool #review #paper

Once you have your die blade bolted into place, the blue guides are loosened and adjusted.

Toolbox: Diamond 1 Corner Rounder #tool #review #paper

I cut several scrap pieces of Crane Lettra. It does well, but with a large stack there is a little variation in the shape of the curve from top to bottom. A stack 1/4 inch or smaller works best. These sheets were cut as a stack…

Toolbox: Diamond 1 Corner Rounder #tool #review #paper
The cutter has a nifty hole and drawer for catching paper scraps (though they will still get EVERYWHERE). The front drawer holds some of the things you need; a couple of blades, the hex keys, etc.

IMG_6749

All in all I’m happy- my biggest complaint is the constant adjusting of the blue guides. But it’s worth it to get rid of those sharp, pointy edges (and so much better than craft rounders.)

What I love about this tool

• It’s simple and easy to use.
• I’m able to change out the dies for different purposes.
• It cuts clean and fairly consistently on a variety of different papers and card stocks.
• Good quality and value

A couple of drawbacks I’ve found

• The blade really cuts into the blue plastic underneath. The set comes with a few replacements, and I can see I’ll need to replace the original pad more quickly than I’d hoped.
• It’s really important to get the paper lined up in the corner just right, so you have to really keep your eye on how you are putting the paper under the blade. There are guides, but for some reason it’s easy to slant the paper one way or another.
• I want to round everything. In fact, I just might.

I bought this guy from Binding101 because they were the cheapest. It’s also available from an Amazon dealer. It took about 5 business days to get to me, which was great.

Note: I did not receive any kind of compensation for this product review. At Adventures in Making we love sharing information about our favorite tools and resources because we believe knowledge should be shared and that we can all learn from each other’s experiences.