Basics of Die-Cutting

Dear Fellow Crafters,

For those of you who first started die-cutting back in the 1990’s (I think), you’re an old hand at the basics. But for those of you who are new to these amazing tools how about a Basics Re-Do and some tips.

Back in the day the only dies were shapes but today there are a wide assortment of options for both dies and machinery – you might say there is something for everyone.

To create a die-cut you need a die-cutting machine. Each machine is slightly different but will operate in basically the same way You place a metal die with the raised or embossed edge facing your cardstock and insert it between cutting plates. TIP: if using a thin die from Spellbinders, Sizzix or Crafters Companion, use a magnetic platform with cutting plates. If not, use low tack tape like artistic tape to secure the die in place.

Machines differ. Some are small and portable and manual and some are electronic. In either case,  you need clear cutting places to “sandwich” you dies to the paper and the platform. With use, these plates become scratched. TIP: Number them when new and rotate them to get even wear. Cutting dies will last a long time with care. When you are done cutting a shape, remove all the paper bits from the die before using it again. TIP: a paper piercers, lint brush or other sharp tool will help.

What do you do if you’re die-cutting and you get interrupted by life? What happens if that tiny “Happy Birthday” die gets lost on your crafting floor? These phenomenons have happened to me, more than once!  I had seen a Pinterest pin on this very topic and thought I could do better. I had a large (24″ x 18″) box with a clear plastic lid. I lined the bottom with magnetic sheets and placed my nesting and other dies on top. Then I closed the lid and put removable tape on all 4 sides. I hung my die frame on the back of my craft door. Because they were all safe, in one place, and dust-free I could tell at an instant which ones I needed at a given notice.

But my best tip ever is to use a clear plastic box (like one that holds grocery bakery items) and line it with magnetic tape. If you are crafting and you know you only have a certain length of time to die-cut and you don’t want to put the die away, put it in this type of magnetic box and close the lid. You can take this tip a bit further if you have no room on your crafting table. Make a Die-Cut frame. Line the background paper with thin magnetic tape and you are done. Use the glass for another project.

Happy Die-Cutting!



Crafters’ cohort

Dear Fellow Crafters,

Thousands of articles and pictures have been shared by crafters over the years about crafting. Heck, there’ even a site that gives us all a visual scrapbook to “store” our ideas (Pinterest!). Anyway, there is seldom an article about the husband, significant other and/or partner and their input into our crafting lives. So when my husband, Ray, suggested writing a piece about his role in my crafting world, I said ok. So here it is. Enjoy.

Happy Crafting,


Crafters’ Cohort  AKA  “Husband in Tow”

I love my wife — I really do. We’ve been married for 47 years now, and I know what I’m talking about. She’s about as perfect a wife as one can get. One thing though —- she’s a “CRAFTER” !

To say that these 47 years have been an adventure, is an understatement!

Now, first, your wife must find HER craft after a series of trial and error. Mine took eight years. I don’t remember how many different crafts.

One thing that has not changed in all these years is the primary function of the husband, and that function is threefold:

1) Navigator – be sure your wife knows how to get to the store / shop. 

2) Driver- chauffeur is a better word. She can’t drive – she must read the ads for that store, plus clip any coupons.                   

3) “Wallet”— self-explanatory.

The virtues of a “husband in tow” (explain that one in a moment) must be many and varied.

·        Patient : The time your trip will take is totally unpredictable. If your crafter doesn’t like the store (my crafter could find something in hell) it will only be minutes. If the store is your crafters idea of heaven, you can go to Mars and back and she’ll never know you’re gone.

·        Strength: Some of that equipment, or ALL of that equipment she buys will take Hercules to get it to the car. Good idea: have a hernia doctor on speed dial.

·        Ability to learn new languages and the ability to add to your vocabulary daily. “Crafterspeak” is a language all its own, and changes with every new thing to come along.

·        Cheer leader: This is a tough one to get right. In the beginning, as she is learning, everything is brilliant, marvelous, wonderful, best thing you ever saw. At mid-level, you might get the nerve to question about color combos, minor stuff like that. At the master expert level, if you have the courage that would win medals on any battlefield, you might have reached the point where you might say “Honey, far from your best.” If you do it right, all these levels will bring rewards from your crafter.

Now once you are comfortable with your crafters “little world that she lives in” you can finally start to deal with her foibles on your own terms.

You can begin to do things like:

·        Honey, since the craft store is one you’ve been to a million times, would you mind if I stayed home and watched the game ?

·        Honey, do you know how long we’ll be, because I really should stay home and do my “honey do” list ? (certainly, a LIE)

·        When you’ve finally been successful at mastering the crafter world, you MIGHT be brave enough to just use this old one: Honey, I have a headache.

Now one of the best things that can happen to you is the owner / manager who understands your plight. (Of course, this is profit motivated. The longer your crafter is in the store, unhampered by you, the more money she’ll spend)

Case in point: A few years ago we went on vacation to Virginia. MY job: Plan every possible detail related to a Va. vacation. CRAFTERS job: Find every craft store / shop in Va., and tell me to plot the course.

So we get there, locating a store only Magellan at his best could find. Crafter is greeted by an owner / manager (EXTREMELY attractive I might say) who smiles, asks her interests, and points her thusly. Suddenly, like I had been “beamed down”, she says “Ah, the husband in tow !” (if she hadn’t of been so good lookin’ I would have smacked her)

We’re used to husbands being “towed” in here. I have something special for you! She takes me by the arm to the window, points me slightly to the right, and says: “The bar is over there. I have their number, I’ll call them when your crafter is done.”

So $143.74  later, plus the cost of my bourbon and beer, we leave happy – crafter, store owner, bar owner, husband in tow.


So to men everywhere I advise: THINK about it carefully! Marry a crafter and THIS is your FATE !