Saturday, October 25, 2014

Explore Writing Options and Alternative Pens II: Halloween Treat Boxes using Jellyroll Pen and Dingbat Drawings

Since I bought my Cricut Explore back in March, I have been very interested in handwriting options and pen choices aside from the Cricut branded ones.  I did previous blog posts on both of those subjects, but now I have even better news!  The Chomas Pen and Marker Holders allow for even more options, including Sharpies, Jelly Roll Pens, glitter pens, and more!  (For my original post on pen options, click here! For my previous post on handwriting fonts to download, click here!)

Now you can write in WHITE gel ink!

I have missed the use of my Jellyroll pen!  The closest I had been able to come to a usable WHITE pen in the Explore was chalk markers.... but they are engineered to be choppy.  They are supposed to look like chalk!  I wanted a smooth gel for writing on dark papers and I love the way the Explore writes with gel ink! 

And the only thing more fun than finding new pen options is finding new free fonts to use that mimic handwriting and pen art!  Remember, all true type fonts (TTF) are system fonts so they will outline.  Using skinny fonts simply means that they will look like single stroke fonts.  Your chosen pen or the point size you choose can make certain ones look even more like handwriting.  For a full explanation of this and info on how to download, check out my previous post about this.  These are all from  Under each photo, I have links to each font. 

Jack and the Beanstock
Killah Pika Pika
PW Smokey
Spider Font

Hanging Letters 
 Janda Hide and Seek
KB Fun House

Origami (Dingbat)
Pig Rules (Dingbat)
Tamoro Script
KG Say Something
Daisys Delights
Austie Bost Somersaults
Something Blue
Woodcutter Invisible

Pig Rules (Dingbat) - repeat
FFC Indo (Dingbat)
Dextera - repeat
Janda Sparkle and Shine
Daisys Delights - repeat
Kara Kaboodle
Something Blue - repeat
Posey Blossom
Bernardo Moda

Using these new options, I created some tiny treat boxes for the ballerinas in my daughter's Junior Pre-Pointe Ballet class and a little candy dish for her ballet teacher!  Her academic school doesn't allow the kids to even mention the word 'Halloween' so we make up for it with her extra activities, like ballet class!

Thanks to MizEsther and Margo Foley, I was introduced to the fabulous little box on the Cricut Baby Shower Cartridge!  Cut at 4.5", this box is the perfect size for three Ghirardelli Squares!  

I found that I could fit only two boxes on the mat, whether the paper is 12x12 or 8.5x11 so using up smaller paper is the way to go.  This design utilizes the score tool as well, so the box folds perfectly.  I added text using Dafont's 'Smiley' and had the Explore write it in white Jellyroll pen with the Chomas Pen Holder!  My Design Space File for this is here:

I tied on little tags I made using a simple circle tag from my Cricut images and text that included dingbats.  Check out Dafont's WTF Sweet Halloween Dings!  Have you used dingbats with your Explore?  You can cut, print, or write the characters and there are so many fun ones!  (Be sure to print out the key so you know which drawing relates to each alpha-numeric character.)  For these tags, I used Pilot Precise V5 black pen.  This pen fits just fine in the regular Explore pen holder with no other assistance or implement!  These pens are super fine so tiny details don't get lost!  This is my file for my tags:  The text is Smiley font.  The tags were cut from Tags, Bags, Boxes, and More 2 at 1".

The fun thing with this little box is that you can use all kinds of re-purposed materials for the window.  On these, I used the plastic film that comes on Cricut cutting mats.  I have lots of those.  I cut them using the cardstock setting.  I love embossing it too!  (Embossing also hides any scratches or imperfections on the film.)

The candy dish was super fast and easy!  This was a quick file from SVGcuts from the Midnight Jamboree collection!  

To the little strip, I had the Explore write "Happy Halloween" in the Smiley font using a glitter pen.  I used the Chomas marker holder since this pen is thicker due to the rubber grip on the barrel.  

Quick Links:

My Design Space File for the Boxes (you will need Baby Shower and the Smiley Font installed):

My Design Space File for the Tags (you will need Tags, Bags, Boxes, and More 2 and the Smiley Font installed):

Chomas Creations Blog for Video on using her aftermarket pen and marker holders:  click here!

Chomas Creations Store to buy aftermarket pen holder, marker holder, and engraving tool:  click here!

Free Fonts:  find links to specific ones listed under each photo.  Just click the font name!  For the Halloween Dings, click here!

My Previous Post on Pen Options that FIT in the Explore withOUT aftermarket holders or other assists:  click here!

Midnight Jamboree Collection from SVGcuts (candy dish):  click here!

Thank you for checking out my blog post!  I am in the middle of an on-line crop and these are two of my challenge projects!  Gotta get back to cutting and gluing!  Are you getting your craft on today?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Designing Tags in Design Space

I was able to do some crafting this weekend in preparation of a Susan G. Komen for the Cure fundraising event.  One of the events is a silent auction at a truck and tractor pull so I decided to put together a Cookout Basket for a personal (non-company) donation.  I bought some items and I used some sponsor swag that I had in the office that I have been hoarding for months to use.  The items were kind of uncoordinated in color and style so I wanted to create a theme to make them work together in this basket.  Fall colored throws, a pink hat, bright blue soft drink bottles, wood and metal grilling tools... you get the point.

I decided on an autumn theme and used a natural colored basket.  I created tags to group the items and give them a "fall and outdoorsy brand".

The tags were created in Design Space.  I was thrilled to be able to use a website that created palettes for me and offered hex codes for each color.  By having the code, I could change the color of the tags to fit my theme!  There are tons of websites for doing this.  I used this one: .

I used the artwork from Campin Critters.  The ribbon image was from Pink Journey.  I was able to use the animal characters and badges from the cart, changing the badges to include imported logos that I created from PNGs.  Because I could insert a circle from one of my images and change the color to match the other badges, I was able to make my own custom badges that matched the others in size and color.  I loved using RGB color codes with my Imagine so getting to use hex codes with Design Space felt familiar and freeing!  And getting to combine imported images to personalize something along with the ease of using Cricut artwork made this such an easy project to do!  What made this extra simple though was the fantastic Cut Then Print feature, which eliminated any need to piece die cuts.  Not only was I able to customize the colors, but I was able to have the image flatten and print.  Then the Explore simply cut around the outer perimeter for me.

Now, I will say that this was not a fast project... and not because I couldn't figure it out or had trouble searching for something or was slow at making decisions.  No... it was slow to use Design Space.  Each step required a bit of waiting with the worst of it being the insertion of text.  As you can see, I used a lot of text.

My font is from the Southwest cartridge.  That's a cart I don't own but I bought this font because it was the closest to a system font I wanted to use, and system fonts sometimes don't save (for some reason on some fonts which you aren't warned about ahead of time).  At these unpredictable times, DS can't "find" the font and it replaces it.  Since this was an important project that I knew I would want to save for future reference, I chose instead to use a Cricut font.  I do look for these issues to be corrected with future Design Space updates.  I mention it here for full disclosure in the event that you are planning a similar project!

I used dacron to raise certain elements in the basket and natural colored shred to hide the dacron and add to the fall coloring.  To bring more fall colors in, I cut a ton of leaves from Designer's Calendar, crushing then spritzing them with black ink.

I added them in and attached leaves to some of the items.

And once I added heat shrink wrap, and the large outside tag, my basket was ready to donate.  The heated wrap, if you are not familiar with it, uses the heat of a hair dryer to shrink it down tight around the object it covers.  This holds all the basket items in place and keeps those leaves from floating away as well.  At this outdoor fundraiser, it is a must!  I found it in a roll at Michael's crafts.

Hopefully the guys will bid on it!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Decorated Bras for Breast Cancer Awareness

It's October so that means that everything is pink for Breast Cancer Awareness.  Every year, October also means the last outdoor truck and tractor pull for our company. Running these shows with our series, insuring them, finding sponsors, and televising them on NBC Sports is what we do for a living.  Needless to say, my summers are pretty "testosterone-y".  I have to put aside crafting, sewing, and being a ballet mom in exchange for diesel fumes, trucks, dirt, and engine talk.  But the last show of the year is different.  It is a fund-raiser for Susan G. Komen and a tribute for cancer survivors as well.  This year, the promoter and his family came up with a few extra ways to meet their donation goals, including a bra decorating contest.  Finally, a good reason to CRAFT that my husband supports!!  (He portrays himself as a crafting widower.  Give me a break!)

The object is to make something that the folks at the pull will "vote" for by making a donation on the entry.  The entry with the most votes wins bragging rights for the maker.  I didn't sign up for bragging rights; I signed up for a full day of crafting!  My husband even took our kiddo to the mall so I could have time to finish.  Is this a dream or what?!

So these are my entries... First the lady-like entry....

Although I had played with the idea of making a paper bra... even looking for a bra pattern before deciding that they really probably wanted us to start with a real bra and work from there, a hot pink one was the base for this.  I used my Explore and Design Space to size out several flowers from Mother's Day Bouquet, Flower Shoppe, and Art Philosophy.  I love spiral flowers.  They are so fast and look great!  If you haven't made those before, you simply start at the small end and roll them up using a quilling tool and just squirt a dab of hot glue on the base that is at the other end.  I let it un-twirl a bit and voila!  A flower!  For my Design Space flower file that I used:

The butterfly was a great find!  It was designed by Annette Yoacum and she not only provides the SVG for free, but she also provides permission on her blog to use this image for fundraising for a breast cancer foundation of choice.  To find that svg: I attached it with a piece of acetate so that it would float a bit.  

The next one... well... it is a bit much.  First let me preface this by saying that in truck pulling, there is a rule that headlights have to be off so that the driver doesn't blind the flagman at the 300' line.  It is actually a serious rule but I used it to kind of mess around with the slang of 'headlights.'  

I know... those on/off buttons....

And yes, they do work!  

Starting to look like minions to you now, right?  Is it just me?

I used Meridian Easy Touch Tap Lights from Walmart.  Just a few bucks each and they have a compartment on the back for batteries.  Since this is a two-day event, I wanted to be able to change the batteries!  (These are big so I had to get a larger cup than I needed for the floral one!)  I cut out circles from the bra cups and used Duck Brand silver waterproofing tape to attach the lights to the insides of the residual cups.  

Then I covered all of that up with white regular Duck brand tape, taking care to leave free the battery compartments.  

 I cut 5" paper circles with the Explore to make a loose cover to hide the black boxes and made a simple tape hinge for easy access with white tape.  I am not sure how these will be displayed so I didn't know if the backs will be visible. I did this just to be sure.

The tap lights were pretty heavy so I used artist board for the back and a small piece for the area in the front between the cups to keep them separated and make the whole thing sturdy.  

I used the Explore's writing ability to make a banner with text written on a shape from Formal Occasion.  I used the Print Then Cut feature in Design Space to make a tiny version of our logo and attached that with a bit of acetate so that it would hang below the banner.  

Text reads:  Headlights must be off before Green Flag will be dropped.  This friendly reminder brought to you by the Battle of the Bluegrass Pulling Series.

I left both of my entries on the silly hangers that they came on, as I am unsure how they will be displaying them and assuming that the hangers might come in handy.  

I am looking forward to seeing all the entries!  The ones they have peeked out on their Facebook page have been funny and creative!  Now, I need to work on the basket we are donating for the silent auction.  I am gonna squeeze out all the crafting I can today!  I hope October finds you in the pink!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

All Beauty and No Beast!

We just marked the start of summer at our house:  completion of dance recital performances!  My kiddo's ballet school has a special way of doing recitals:  they do a full ballet with two performances in lieu of a standard recital that includes all the students from age 5 to age 18 in the show!  The high school seniors and advanced dancers have the starring roles; the younger classes have supporting roles.  My daughter's class performed as the Silverware and the Dream Belles. The parents do the set design and creation, make costumes, do lighting, stage management, house management, handle tickets, props, sound, and keep the kids ready for their parts! Some dads even have roles in the performances!  It is such a huge production and undertaking!  I took off two weeks of work to help and I needed an extra week to recover, but that didn't happen!  (My daughter always seemed so surprised that I was tired when she was the one dancing.)
Rehearsal for the Finale
Each year, at the December Mother-Daughter Tea, we learn which ballet the girls will perform in June so we have known for a bit that this year would be Beauty and the Beast.  The two employees (and that includes the owner!!) of the school choreograph the show and teach the girls their parts.  I find it incredible that they do this all with parent volunteers and only two employees.  It really is remarkable!  This is the 30th year for the school and the current owner is the daughter of the original owner.  It is a family affair in many ways! And it is so much more...they make all the little girls feel important and like they are part of something BIG!  My daughter told me, "Whatever the year, my class always has important parts in the ballet!"  (And that from a salad fork, her role in one of her dances!)  They make it fun, using a blend of the traditional music from the ballet as well as some from the Disney movie.  It seamlessly works together like magic.

Each year, my daughter gives Opening Night gifts to the ballerinas in her class.  For the past couple of years, I have made the gifts and tried to make them as wearable keepsakes that represented the ballet for that year.  You can see last year's post on the Cinderella Ballet by clicking here!  

Last year was Cinderella!
Each year, it seems a little harder to think of something that the girls would enjoy.  My daughter, at age 10, is one of the youngest in her class.  Students in this pre-pointe class go all the way to middle school.  I thought silver bangle bracelets might be the way to go this time around and my kiddo approved.  I fell in love with Alex and Ani bracelets but needing eleven meant I had to come up with something that wouldn't break the bank! I found so many great options with A Bead Story brand!  Their round bangle bracelets feature a screw-off bead on the ends which makes adding and changing beads a snap!  This is so easy! Their spacer beads have what I suppose is a silicone liner that keeps the beads from sliding too much.  After depleting the supply of bangle bracelets at the store nearest me, I went online and found slightly different oval bracelets, a different brand.  They worked just fine and my daughter actually liked those better for her small wrist!

I chose beads that represented elements of the story:  the rose, the yellow dress, the dancers, the dome over the rose.  These girls have all out-grown the Disney Princesses and so those icons were not an option for this project.  

I added spacer beads between the charms.  These made the various charms seem to be more integrated with the whole bracelet, though admittedly, less like the style I had originally been trying to copy.

I also made some drop charms using head pins, crystals, and smaller silver beads.

I found my supplies at Hobby Lobby for the A BEAD STORY round bracelets and all siver beads.  The oval bracelets were from ebay.  I found the crystals at Michaels.  The ballerina charms and the crystal ball charms came from both and Hobby Lobby.  The 3D flower charms came from Michaels physical store.  The flat siver roses and the large amber rondelles were from Fire Mountain Gems.  The small crystals and head pins came from Michael's. 

To package them, I used my favorite gift box:  the jewelry box on the Cricut cartridge, Bridal Shower (page 14).  I cut it at 11".  

I use upholstery batting (dacron) for the inside padding.  

I decorated the tops with yellow roses.  I learned to make these from Juliana Michaels when she was part of the fantastic Circle Design Team.  You can find her video on how to make them here.  She uses Mother's Day Bouquet to make them.  They are fabulous!  For the sizes, I have a cheat cheat based on the sizes I make them:

I cut the ones for my boxes using key 27 cut at 1.25" and key 8 cut at 2.75".  Juliana shows how to make them on her video (link above).  

After cutting the floral pieces, I assemble them using hot glue.  The nice thing about having an Explore and an Expression is that you can cut the same thing on both machines since you can use the physical cart in the Expression and the digital version in the Explore.  For projects with lots of duplication, it really makes the cutting go fast!

Wrapped with yellow ribbon and tagged.  
Of course my kiddo gets one of the bracelets, and all of the ballerinas receive flowers from their families on opening night, but I also get her something special.  I decorated her gift bag with another yellow rose, but I wanted to go overboard on size so I made one from the Cricut cartridge Giant Flowers, cut at 10.5"  

She kept it and put it on a shelf.  It is a fun decor piece!

They were a hit (always a relief!) and it's always fun on opening night with all the energy and excitement.  Gifts just add to the fun.  I will say that this is my daughter's fifth ballet, but the first one where she smiled during all of her performances.  She really looked like she was having fun.  

Thank you so much for letting me share my project and photos of my kiddo!  

But wait!  There's more! On a totally unrelated note, I wanted to give a big shout-out to my friend, Danita, and suggest you go look at her blog.  She has been ramping-up glass etching and she doesn't use etching cream.  She does what she calls "Air Erasing" and I was so impressed (and scared) that I think you need to see this!  She always does great work and has made several blog posts of her projects, but this time, she shows us a tutorial and all of her tricks!  Check it out:  Danita's Designs.  And if you need a little more of a nudge, she says that it is easy, cheaper after the initial set-up, and you get a much nicer effect than by using etching cream on your glass items!  True, high quality etched glass items that look like high-end boutique gifts!!  Ooooo...maybe next year's ballet will feature etched glass pendants!  I'll be driving to Danita's house for help with those!

But wait! There's more! Click 'older posts' above!

But wait!  There's more!  Click 'older posts' above!