Cricut Design Studio – Three Ways to Maximize Your Creating Time

The Cricut electronic die-cut machine paired with the Cricut Design Studio software has opened up a whole new world of designing possibilities for scrapbookers and cardmakers alike. While many of us have an abundance of tools and materials, the one thing we seem to be lacking more than any other is time. It is important to use the time we are able to find to the fullest if we want to complete more projects. Here are three ways to maximize your time spent creating.

1. Maintain proper maintenance on your machine, blade, mat and tools.

If you spend the few extra moments it takes to keep your machine in good condition it will save you time and money in the end. The two biggest culprits seem to be the blade and the cutting mat. Replace your blade when necessary to keep from wasting paper after paper with torn or less-than-perfect cuts and the time it takes to re-cut your images. If you try to stretch out the use of your mat too long the papers will begin to move and slide as the machine cuts. It’s more than worth it to implement the age old advice of doing things right the first time.

2. Become familiar with the people who can help you.Getting to know the resources available to help you will save you time when you get stuck using the machine and software. The most important resource in my opinion is the Cricut message boards. There are some wonderful people on there more than willing to answer any question you have and help with ideas.

3. Don’t reinvent the wheel.Unless you just enjoy designing and playing with the software, there’s no reason to recreate a file someone else has already made. There are numerous blogs and sites where other Cricut users share the projects and the corresponding files they have designed.

There’s no reason to spend precious time designing cuttings from scratch when someone has kindly put it on the web for you to use. Even if you only use the base of the design as a starting point for adding your own additions, you will still save a good deal of time by not trying to figure out how to create the file from the very beginning. One thing to remember is to always give credit where credit is due, even if you do change the file in one way or another.

Spend a little extra time up front by keeping your tools in tip-top shape, getting to know where to find help, and using other people’s designs when you can. If you do, when you sit down to work on a project you may just find that you have more time to actually complete it than you thought.

Craft Supplies for Everybody

Having for many years been an ardent card crafter I had always had difficulty sourcing repeatable card and card making products.

As many of you will know having to travel round for miles and miles just to find a piece of card or a topper to match one previously used can be a soul destroying experience. Even though cardmaking is meant to mean that each card is individual I tend to find that myself and many other cardmakers prefer to use the same type of card as a base for our designs be it hammer embossed white, linen embossed cream etc.

This has become quite difficult to achieve with the closure of many small local craft shops and the appearance of many craft chains that like most big companies just shepherd people in take their money and shepherd them out again I mean a sign of the times is that even Tescos do craft items now.

Having seen my own local craft store close and vowing never to use one of the big chains again I got into contact with some of the big paper and card manufacturers. I then with great difficulty opened an online craft store that will be able to supply quality repeatable products at what I hope are reasonable prices.

However this is not a blatant plug for my store. As Napoleon once said the united kingdom is a nation of shopkeepers. Well yes it was but now look at it, it’s full of out of town retail parks and supermarkets bigger than 3 football fields.

I’m not saying don’t go to the supermarket or to the retail park, everything has it’s use. But before you do drive all that way to do your shopping in “one” place think about your local shops or small shops you can access on the internet, possibly slightly more expensive but when you think about the cost of petrol nowadays will it work out to be more expensive? Plus you get to keep your local economy booming and will most probably get a wealth of advice and tips be it face to face or by e-mail. And next time you do go to one of the big stores try and compare the sincerity of the service there to the sincerity of the service you would receive at your local store or small internet store

Card-Making and Well-Being

Therapeutic recreation, as defined by the National Therapeutic Recreation Society, is the use of “treatment, education and recreation services to help people with illnesses, disabilities and other conditions to develop and use their leisure in ways that enhance their health, functional abilities, independence and quality of life.”

On the other hand, Western Carolina University defines it as ” the prescribed use of recreational and other activities as treatment interventions to improve the functional living competence of persons with physical, mental, emotional and social disadvantages.”

In traditional medical point of view, forms of treatment are mostly focused on medicines, surgery, laboratory tests and such. Based on the definitions above, however, it is clear that there are other activities beyond the scope of traditional medicine which can help in the recovery of the sick person.

There are several activities which are being used to support recreation therapy. Some of these are dance, music, games, sports, leisure education and academics and social activities.

But one major focus of these activities is the arts and crafts, which specifically includes cardmaking. Why arts and crafts, one may ask. This particular activity as a form of therapy for patients gives them a relaxing activity. At the same time, it also provides the opportunities to improve their fine-motor skills, self-esteem, develop a sense of accomplishment and adopt a worthwhile hobby.

Furthermore, cardmaking promotes well-being by developing interpersonal and social relationships. It also enhances self-confidence.

Cardmaking is really an interesting thing to do because it uses simple things but leave a nice impression to the person receiving the card. It is a highly creative activity that promotes wellness of the brain and overall physical and psychological well-being.

In addition, this activity doesn’t require much time or resources. One just needs to use very simple techniques coupled with the passion and lots of creativity and imagination. Making very impressive cards by using very simple things can surely create a sense of accomplishment, thus promoting self-esteem. You can use a piece of paper, a ribbon and a plastic bag to make a beautiful card.

Cardmaking: Quick and Easy Handmade Easter Greeting Card Ideas

Are you looking for some quick, easy and affordable handmade Easter greeting card ideas? If so, I have two greeting card designs that I would like to share with you today. This project would be great to make with older children, scouting troops, church youth groups, paper craft groups and with school groups.

We made these cards with 10-14 year old girls for them to give to their parents for Easter. Once they were done making them they were very proud of their creations. If you don’t own a Cricut Die Cutting Machine (used to cut the ovals and lettering) you can hand draw and cut out various sized oval shapes and you can purchase letter stickers at your local arts and crafts store. We used the Cricut George and Basic Shapes Cartridge for these projects.

Supplies Needed:

4″ by 5″ blank cardstock note cards with envelopes

various scrapbooking papers (prints and solids)

decorative edge scissors and regular edge scissors

adhesives – glue dots, glue sticks and glue pens

various colored scrapbooking fine tip markers and pens

*optional ink pads and Easter sentiments rubber stamps

For these 2 designs we also used self-stick plastic scrapbooking mesh in mint green and 4 mm round self-stick purple rhinestones.

For Card Number One:

Cover the front of your card with pink scrapbooking paper that was cut to fit. Using the Cricut set on the number one size setting and using the Cricut Georges Basic Shapes Cartridge we cut out eight ovals from different colored papers. Using the same cartridge turn your dial to the shadow option and cut out four more ovals (we used dark blue paper) as these will serve as the base for your eggs. Using your glue stick, glue a smaller oval on top of each larger oval to serve as your Easter egg. Using decorative scissors, cut a part the remaining four smaller ovals into various widths. Using a glue pen, glue the cut up pieces onto the eggs and let dry. (about 5-10 minutes). If desired…use various colored markers to add polka dots and squiggles to your eggs to decorate them even further. Using glue dots, attach each egg to the greeting card near the top and going horizontally across the front. Using the Cricut Georges Basic Shapes Cartridge set your dial to the number two size setting. Cut out the letters E A S T E R from medium blue scrapbooking paper. Cut out a strip from white scrapbooking paper that measures 2″ by 5″ in size and glue it to a piece of dark blue scrapbooking paper that is cut slightly larger than your white strip. We used decorative edge scissors to add interest to the design. Glue this strip onto the lower half of your card. Using a glue pen glue each letter to the white base strip to spell out the word EASTER. If desired…use a ink pad and rubber stamp to stamp a sentiment inside or write your own message.

For Card Number Two:

Cover the front of your card with pink scrapbooking paper. Using a piece of self-adhesive plastic mesh in a mint green color, attach that to the center front. Use blue self-stick letters (in this case we spelled out the word EASTER) and place those right above the mesh strip. Using the Cricut Die Cutting Machine and the Georges Basic Shapes cartridge, cut out two purple ovals on the 2 1/2 size setting and on the shadow effect, cut out one medium blue oval on the same setting. These three ovals will serve as your base for the eggs. Using the same 2 1/2 size setting cut out six to seven more ovals from various colored scrapbooking papers. Glue one of these ovals onto each of the larger ovals that you first cut out. Using wavy edge decorative scissors, cut a part the remaining smaller ovals. Use a glue pen or a glue stick and use those pieces to decorate your egg bases. Once done, use glue dots to attach your eggs on top of the plastic mesh strip. We decided to decorate the egg in the center with little purple self-stick rhinestones to add decorative interest to it. Using an ink pad and rubber stamp, stamp your sentiment inside or handwrite your own message.

Scrapbooking, Craft Punches, and CardmakingScrapbooking, Craft Punches, and Cardmaking

One technique that I love to use my craft punches for is making flowers. As an idea you could punch out two or three flowers in one size and then get a smaller flower punch and punch on or two of these out also. You would then assemble them all together making sure to offset them when placing them on top of each other, with the larger flowers at the bottom and the smaller flowers at the top. You could distress the edge of the flowers and ink them to give them a different look. Or you could roll and ink the edges of the flowers which is another nice effect. Once you have assembled the flowers put a brad through the middle and there you have a simple embellishment to put on your card. Combined with some bling and ribbons you would have a simple and quick card. Or you could repeat the flower design over and over and place a few on one card or scrapbooking page.

Another technique that I particularly like is to stamp an image such as a butterfly and cut it out. Then using your craft punches, punch out a large square and a smaller square and place the smaller square on top of the larger square. You could then add the butterfly to the top with some magic mount. This could also be repeated down the side or middle of the card or you could place one in the middle of the card. Add a bit of kind glitz or ink and some ribbon and you have another easy card.

Another popular idea is to use a scallop border punch to create an interesting affect on the side of the card or on a piece of scrapbooking paper that you place on top of the card. You could then punch out some scallops of different sizes and place them together for another embellishment.

There are so many craft punches on the market the sky is really the limit on what you can create, they are a real must to any scrapper’s stash.

A quick tip on keeping your craft punches cutting clean is to punch them through some aluminium foil every now and then. This will make sure that they are sharp and make a clean cut through your cardstock every time.

There are many tutorials and classes available online which can show you ways in which to make the most of your craft punches.

Success Story on Cardmaking

Losing your job unexpectedly is one of the worst things that I experienced. Once your superior broke the bad news to you, it feels like you are being crippled by those words, it feels like your world is crashing and you don’t know what to do or simply put, it feels like the end of the world.

This is the initial feeling of Almira when she lost her first job. It was very traumatizing. She lost her self-esteem and confidence. She now see herself as the biggest failure in the world and she also thinks that no company would employ her. She felt like a big disappointment. For almost a month, she wallowed in self-pity and depression.

Her life changed when her mother’s birthday is already nearing and because she has been jobless for almost a month already. She don’t have money to buy a decent gift for her mother. It’s her mother’s 50th birthday so she has to give something and besides her other siblings are planning for a grand surprise birthday party and part of the program is their presentation of their gifts. This left Almira even more in the web of sadness and frustration. She can’t help but blame herself for everything and make herself believe how incompetent and mediocre she is.

But all thanks to her best friend Anna who have been with her through thick or thin, who enlightened her on things. She told Almira that things like those really happen and it is always up to us if we would allow that incident ruin our life entirely or use it as an inspiration to look forward and strive even more harder. Anna also suggested that since they don’t have any money to buy a gift for her parents why not try to make a handmade and personalized card instead.

At first, Almira was hesitant. The last time that she made a handmade card was when she was 10 and it was only an average card. Anna assured her that this card would be the most beautiful gift that night and that her parents would definitely appreciate it. So, with scissors, glue, scrap paper and colored pens, they started the card making process.

After a few hours, the card turned out to be on how they planned and envisioned it to be. It is really very beautiful and it looks very classy, it is even more beautiful than those cards sold in the book stores. Almira wrote the most touching and heartfelt message that she has ever written. She wrote in the card how her mother has been very supporting all these years and how she could not be where she is right n

Cardmaking – How To Make 3 Pretty Valentine’s Day Note Cards

Are you looking to make your own greeting cards for Valentine’s Day? If so, I have 3 great handmade greeting card ideas to share with you. To make each of these note cards you will need just a few basic craft supplies that you can purchase at any local craft supply store. Each of these design’s were made on a blank 5 1/2″ by 4″ card stock note card and take less than 20 minutes each to make.

Materials Needed:

5 1/2″ wide by 4″ high blank note cards with envelopes
2 sheets of 8 1/2″ by 11″ scrapbooking paper in Valentine’s Day designs
1/2 sheet solid pink scrapbooking paper
1/4″ by 12″ long piece of pink & red print ribbon
1/2″ by 5 1/2″ piece of purple & pink ribbon
4 foam glue dots
sentiment rubber stamps and black or red ink pad
scalloped edge scissors and straight edge scissors
stickers and 3-d embellishments to decorate your cards
glue stick and liquid glue pen (adhesives)
cutting mat and knife

Design #1: My Heart Belongs To You

Using a piece of patterned paper (in this case, it’s a heart pattern) cut it down to measure 5 1/2″ by 3 1/4″ in size. Use your scalloped edge scissors to cut one long edge on the paper to make it scalloped. Cut a piece of solid pink paper to measure 5 1/2″ by 1″ in size. Use your scalloped edge scissors and cut on long edge on the paper to make it scalloped. Using those same scissors, cut the front long edge of your note card to make the edge scalloped. Using your glue stick, glue down the solid pink strip onto your card leaving 1/4″ of the white card front showing. Use the glue stick to glue the large printed piece of paper on top, leaving 1/2″ of the solid pink piece of paper showing. For this card I applied a 3-D embellishment that says Forever to the lower 2/3 of my card front. Above that I used a clear backing sticker that says “My Heart Belongs To You”. I cut a piece of solid light red paper that measures 5 1/2″ by 4″ in size and glued that inside. I then had a rubber stamp that has a romantic saying on it and hand stamped that inside on the red paper.

Design #2: I Love You

From my patterned heart paper I cut a block that measures 5 1/2″ wide by 3 3/4″ high. I trimmed one long edge with the scalloped scissors and attached it to the front of the card with a glue stick. Using a liquid glue pen or glue dots, attach your choice of ribbon 1/2 way down the card running horizontally across the front. I made my own 3-D embellishment from a heart shaped I Love You sticker that I attached to red card stock and trimmed it down leaving a very tiny red edge surrounding it. I then used 4 foam dots to attach it to the front, centering it on the ribbon. I left the inside blank on this one so that I could write my own message.

Design #3: Love Hearts

From my patterned heart paper that has the printed words of LOVE and XOXO on it…I cut a block that measures 5 1/2″ by 4″ to completely cover my card front. I then attached the paper to the front with a glue stick. I cut my ribbon to measure 1/4″ by 5 1/2″ and tacked that down near the bottom edge with my liquid glue pen. I cut another piece of ribbon measuring 5″ long and tied it into a bow and tacked that onto the center of the ribbon trim with a glue dot. I had 2 heart shaped 3-D embellishments made out of red and white felt that I attached to the upper right and bottom left of the card front to add accent. Using a rubber stamp and red ink, I hand stamped my sentiment inside.

Decoupage Technique in Cardmaking

Decoupage is the art of decorating an object – a card or a vase – by gluing colored paper cutouts and adding special paint effects. By looking at the finished product, it seems that the process is complicated, but it really isn’t. If you know how to cut and paste, then it isn’t hard for you to learn decoupage as applied in card making.

In objects like furniture, vases, boxes and other containers, the technique begins by covering the object in multiple layers of newspaper or magazine. Each layer of wrap is sealed with multiple coats of varnish or paint to create a painting or inlay effect. Originally, 30 to 40 coats of varnish is applied and then polished or sanded. In 18th century England, this technique was called The Art of Japanning or the European imitation of Asian laquer work. This same technique, however, may also be applied in other surfaces, even flat ones like greeting cards.

In card making, decoupage is a technique to creating three-dimensional designs. Aside from applying layers of wrapper and coats of varnish, you may use four or more layers of the same picture, cutting out the parts of the design and pasting them over each other using alternate slobs of silicone glue or mini foam tapes to create the 3D effect.

Decoupage, although quite a popular technique, is also called “poor man’s art”. To do a decoupage card making project, you will need card blank and a separate sheet as your object. You will also need pictures to decoupage, which you can get from newspapers, magazines, brochures, catalogs, wrapping paper, etc. Don’t forget to prepare your cutting tools like scissors, craft knife, and cutter. Likewise prepare glue and a tool to spread it with like cotton swab, brush, and sponge. You will also need sealer or decoupage medium, which may be glue, lacquer, or polyurethane. Finally, prepare rags or tissue for cleaning.

Because decoupage is rather messy, you will need another sheet to decoupage, which you will later paste onto your card blank. Cover your work area with scrap paper and keep tissue paper or wet sponge for cleaning. You may cut this decoupage sheet into various shapes and not just stick to the basic square, rectangle or circle shape. Make sure that the surface is clean and dry. Cut out the pictures you will use for this cardmakingproject. Next, arrange the picture onto the sheet; the pictures can be scattered or overlapped. Afterwards, apply decoupage medium where the pictures are to be positioned and then stick the pictures. Press the picture with your fingers or pop stick, from center to sides, to work out the wrinkles. Add some more layers of design to the sheet as desired and dry. Cover the object with decoupage medium with as many coats as needed until the edges of the pictures are smooth. Let the decoupage dry thoroughly before you stick it onto the card cover.

Is Cardmaking Really Cost-Efficient?

For events such as weddings, couples get easily overwhelmed by the list of things that need to get done – decide on flowers, look for the perfect venue, follow up on suppliers, gown fitting and organizing the rehearsal. So why bother with cardmaking?

The simple answer is because it would cut your expenses into more than half. Since weddings are usually planned months, even years in advance, why not plan on making the cards yourself? Place cards, save the date cards, welcome cards, wish cards (if you’re using a wishing tree), gift cards (for the sponsors and bridesmaids) and inserts for the invitation could create a huge hole in your pocket if you plan on having them made by a professional. Very few couples are aware that they need not sacrifice the quality of the cards only because they are not having the cards made by a printing press. There are ways to cut the expenses for cards.

One of the most important tools you might need for your cardmaking projects are rubber stamps. Visit blogs and forums to determine which supplier could deliver high quality stamps at an affordable price. If you have a design in mind, consult a friend or a relative who has some experience with designing and ask her to make a sketch. Go to your nearest library and browse through some craft books to get some inspiration. You also have tons of ideas online you can choose from. Then make a list of the materials you would need. Search for the nearest specialty stores and visit the retailers in your area to see which ones have more affordable prices. Wait for the sale season. Gather weekly ads and compare prices. If the stores are not too far away from each other, you could make lists of items that you want to buy from each store. This way, you can avail of all the bargains that they have. Once you’ve gathered your materials, set aside an evening to make samples. Use the same materials but with slightly different layouts or design. Stick to your wedding theme when you think of the details. These small but well thought out items could easily become conversational pieces during the event.

Cardmaking in 10 Minutes Or Less

Many people think that cardmaking should be left to those who are really skillful and creative. This is not true. If you have the passion to create things on your own, making your own cards could be a very rewarding experience. The gratification you will get by sending out cards that you made yourself is invaluable. People will remember you because of the effort you’ve exerted into the cards. Little do they know, it only took you ten minutes to finish the project.

Here are the simple steps for making cards. Look for card stocks in your house – the thicker the better. If you only have the normal construction paper which is rather thin, do not let it discourage you from cardmaking. There are ways to improvise with what you have.

Next, look for a pair of scissors, glue and maybe some rubber stamps (maybe from your children’s art supplies). You would also need various colors of markers. The ones that can write on glossy paper are better but if you only have regular ones, you can also use those. Then take a few minutes to think about the recipient. What is her favorite pastime? Is there any kind of sport she is passionate about?

For someone who considers herself a coffee junkie, a coffee cup sleeve could be used as the centerpiece of the card cover. Think of a witty comment, an insider joke or anything that would make your friend feel that you pay attention. Write that passage using different colors of markers. You can write the first part on the cover and the punchline inside the card.

If you are into scrapbooking and you have the tools, you can also cut the edges of the card to give it another visual interest. Personalized rubber stamps are also great to let them know that you made the card yourself. Use a rubber stamp saying: “Handcrafted by ___” and your card will definitely stand out among all other birthday cards your friend will receive. Making people feel that you really thought about them is something that they will really appreciate.