Die Cutsu ts

CardMaker - - Card-making Techniques - By Sara Nau­mann

Back when I started scrap­book­ing, my lo­cal store had a diecut­ting ma­chine for cus­tomers to use. We’d du­ti­fully crank our card­stock through with a thick padded die, the re­sult be­ing a cut im­age of a frame, oval, car, duckie or other sim­ple shape.

A few years later, per­sonal die-cut­ting ma­chines en­tered the homes of crafters and I ad­mit: I was late to the party. I lived in a small apart­ment, with an even smaller craft space, and I couldn’t fathom where I would put a ma­chine let alone the dies, plates and shims. Plus, how many oval shapes could I re­ally need, any­way?

Fast for­ward, and die cut­ting has be­come a solid part of pa­per craft­ing. We’ve moved well be­yond those ba­sic shapes and big ma­chines. To­day’s crafter has a wide as­sort­ment of op­tions for both dies and ma­chin­ery—there’s some­thing to suit ev­ery bud­get, space and de­sign pref­er­ence. Sud­denly I could take ad­van­tage of the small table­top ma­chines and the huge va­ri­ety of beau­ti­ful de­signs. I couldn’t re­sist any longer!

Now that die cut­ting has be­come such a key part of card mak­ing, we’re also ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent die-cut­ting tech­niques. Once cut, these ver­sa­tile pa­per im­ages can be glit­tered, em­bossed, stacked, lay­ered, cut apart and used in a lot of dif­fer­ent ways, giv­ing you the most for your craft­ing in­vest­ment.

Ma­chines come with cut­ting plates. Gen­er­ally, two of the plates are clear plas­tic cut­ting plates that will sand­wich your die and the card­stock. With use, they’ll be­come cloudy and scratched from the die blades. Be sure to ro­tate them oc­ca­sion­ally, us­ing both sides and al­ter­nat­ing which one is on top. You can also clean them now and then with dish­wash­ing soap and water—es­pe­cially im­por­tant if you use low-tack tape to se­cure your dies to the plate. I use an old tooth­brush to scrub in the etched lines, to re­move all pa­per and tape residue.

Re­place your cut­ting pads when both sides be­come worn and are no longer cut­ting prop­erly.

Cut­ting dies are a tool, just like stamps and sten­cils, and will last a long time with proper care.

When you are done cut­ting a shape, be sure to re­move all pa­per bits from the die be­fore us­ing it again (Photo 1). A pa­per piercer or other sharp tool will do the trick. Store your die in the orig­i­nal pack­ag­ing or on a mag­netic sheet.

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