I got the Sizzix Big Shot Plus machine for Christmas – which I imagine a good proportion of you have never heard of. It’s a die cutting machine – still none the wiser?
OK, I like to do papercrafts, in particular card making (when I can find the time which isn’t often). As well as using items like stickers, ribbons and so on, you can cut out your own shapes or buy ready made pieces of card – known as die cuts.
For a while now I’ve been buying packs of die cuts on Ebay, generally sold by people who have die cutting machines. I thought it would be nice to be able to cut out my own dies – it will only become more cost efficient when I’ve done an awful lot but I couldn’t particularly think of anything else I wanted for Christmas so it seemed a good a gift as any!
The way the machines work is quite straight forward – you put in the metal die (like a template) and some card and it cuts out the shape for you. You can get two types of machines – manual and electronic. The manual ones require you to turn a handle to move the die and card through the machine but it’s not difficult. The electronic ones do it at a push of a button, but they generally cost more and it didn’t seem worth the extra outlay. You can get machines which connect to your computer and allow you to design your own shapes then cut them out, which sounds pretty cool, but the last time I did what was known as computer-aided design (CAD) was in year 9 at school and I’m not actually that artistic so again I didn’t think this was worth the extra money.
The machine I got for Christmas was the Sizzix Big Shot; Hobbycraft were selling it with a free starter pack including some of the basic kit you need that doesn’t always come with the machine (like adapters and cutting pads) but also some dies so I could get started right away. My fiancé also bought me a few of the Tattered Lace dies which I think are absolutely beautiful – they are quite expensive but very intricate patterns and designs that look great on cards.
To begin I just practised using all the dies, cutting out various shapes from different coloured card. I found the ‘pokey tool’ (it’s actual name) very helpful with the Tattered Lace dies in particular – there are such tiny pieces that don’t always come off in one go when you peel the card away from the die, and you need to poke them through.
I realised that I needed to send a birthday card to a friend and didn’t have anything so used some of the die cuts I’d just made, without spending too much time thinking about design, but the quality of the die cuts means even that looks good (though I intend to spend more time next time thinking about the design!).