Saturday, June 15, 2019

TP rolls, craft tubes, whatever you want to call them — we're showing a number of crafts based on covering empty toilet paper rolls, or using the brightly-colored versions we used to sell in the store. Corporate came up with some instructions to (excuse the pun) roll our own from cardstock. The big issue I have with their instructions is, umm, staples. Not the office superstore down the road, but those U-shaped metal wires that are made to pierce two or more pieces of paper and then get their uprights stamped down into a bow shape (when the machines work properly). Even with the sometimes sharp points inside, these can pose hazards to young hands instructed to stick their fingers inside the tube to glue various craft materials in place.

There's a better way to do this, though it takes a little more time, and a handful of perfectly-reusable Jumbo Gem Clips (standard trombone-shaped paper clips).

Step 1. Cut out your blank form. This is a 7.5" x 4.5" rectangle of cardstock. A paper cutter will give you a more even edge than scissors, but it's not necessary. You could even use fancy-shape scissors on the long edges of the rectangle, to get a fancy top and/or bottom of your tube.



Step 2. Use a bone folder, or a ruler with a sharp (metal) edge, to induce a curl in your rectangle. Hold a short edge of the rectangle firmly in the center. Place the ruler parallel to that edge, as near to it as possible, and at an angle to the table. Press firmly with the ruler and pull the ruler towards the opposite short edge of the paper. This will curl the edge away from the edge you are holding. Turn the paper 180 degrees (so you will now be holding the curled end) and repeat. You may need to do this a couple of times to create enough roll to allow you to roll the cardstock neatly.
 


Step 3. Use your hands to form a roll from the curved paper. It should be about 1-1/2" in diameter, but it can vary depending on your hands and your needs. This will be just shy of two full rotations of the paper.


Step 4. Place a thin line of white glue along the open edge of the roll. Aleene's Fast Grab Tacky Glue works best, but Elmer's School Glue will do just fine, and it's child safe.


Step 5. Use paper clips to clamp the edges in place until the glue dries. Press down in the center (un-clamped area) to help the glue adhere there as well.


Step 6. Remove the paper clips. Your craft roll is ready to use.


By the way, given the potential for the spread of harmful bacteria, I would not recommend using actual empty toilet paper tubes for crafting.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Mini Cupcakes Need Their Own Wrap!

One of my ongoing challenges with Design Space (and Cricut Access) has been that of creating cupcake wrappers with organizational logos. My issues have been mostly registration issues, where my logo would end up too high or too low, or the Explore Air would not "cut on the lines" of my cupcake wrappers.

Leading into this year's AVENGER anniversary party (I've been a member of the USS AVENGER chapter of STARFLEET, The International Star Trek® Fan Association since its inception, 34 years ago), I decided to tackle the cupcake wrapper issue again — this time using Print Then Cut to get my alignment just right.

Starting with the cupcake wrapper files I had saved in Adobe Illustrator, I moved my wrappers into a space that would fit into Print Then Cut's limitations (6.25" x 9"). I added my logos, then saved the file once as an .svg and once as a .jpg, and uploaded them to Design Space.


While Design Space understood the files, more or less, and could cut on my lines, I could not get it to not cut out the logo, regardless of how I uploaded the file, and regardless of whether I designated the design as Cut or as a Print Then Cut. (The only difference was whether it tried to cut just the outline, or every little color change.)


Finally, I tried something else. I created a second file identical to my logo-bearing file, but without the logo. I added a 4-point-stroke, no-fill rectangle around the wrappers so Design Space would know exactly where to cut.To prevent errant lines, I set the stroke of my wrapper outlines to None in both files. (The downloadable .ai file has hairline strokes so you can see where to place your logos.Select the wrapper outlines and set your stroke to None before printing.) I uploaded the second file as a Print Then Cut file, and loaded it onto my canvas (the project is available on my Cricut profile page). I printed the file from my original (logo-bearing) file, and when I went to Make the wrappers in Design Space, I clicked on the "I've already printed" link to skip printing out a blank rectangle.



I ended up with perfect cupcake wrappers — but I had a number of mini cupcakes, and they needed to be wrapped as well!

Try as I could, I could not find a premade design for mini-cupcake wrappers — so I did what any engineer would do: I ASSumed the two sizes of cupcakes had the same exact proportions, and based on a 3" top versus a 2" top, scaled everything down to two-thirds.



Yes, there's a reason it's spelled ASS-U-ME. When we went to wrap the mini cupcakes before icing them, we found the wrappers were over a quarter inch too tall, and didn't have enough curvature to hug the bottom of the cupcake liner. Well, so much for wowwing folk with the minis at the event — but afterwards, it was back to the drawing board.

The wrapper sticks out the bottom (too tall),
and there is excess space around the bottom of the mini-cupcake (not curved enough)

After a bunch of trial and error, I'm down to something that's about the right length and the right curvature, but if your mini cupcake has any sort of "muffin top", it's still about 1/8" too tall.

Original 2/3 size, interrim rework, final rework
(If it's just filled to the top of the tin, with a very little crown, the design works fine.)


The mini cupcake wrapper is available on my Cricut profile.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Unicorn Party Hat

One of my colleagues is known for her collection of deely-boppers and headbands; she has at least one for every occasion, and is always collecting more.

While some of our customers suggest I should do likewise, that sort of head decor is not really my thing. My Kitschy Christmakwanzakah Fascinator (with full sets of felt Chanukah and Kwanzaa "candles") is about as far as I'm willing to go.

That said, a couple of weeks ago I was tapped to do another "Unicorn Fantasy" birthday party at Michaels. I had recently licensed a number of unicorn and unicorn-related images from DesignBundles.net, and decided that a party hat might be a cool thing to design. After a bit of browsing through the many images in the "Unicorn Bundle" I'd licensed, I decided on one of MStudio's designs from this group: a horn with a pair of horse ears and simple paper flowers. The original design also had eyelashes, but in order to make a headband, I needed to delete them from the image I'd be cutting.

A very large horn (left) before some better-scaled ones
Because I wanted my headband to have some dimensional layering, I had to reconstruct the underlayers from the original design so one could see the entire horn and flowers from both front and sides.

Backer piece, held onto the headband with paper tabs
On the fit side, I needed to add curvature so the design would sit on a human head and attach to a headband to hold it there. I also needed to create a backer for the design elements as well as the headband, and set everything to a reasonable scale. It took several tries to get it right.

I used Aleene's Quick Dry Tacky Glue and Studio G dimensional foam dots (similar to these) in the assembly process: first, manually gluing the horn bits to the back of the design, then the inside ears, then several layers of outside ears, and the top half of the tabs that secure the back to the headband.

(Note: I suggest using paper clips to clamp glued papers together until they dry.)

Side view shows holes for optional elastic.

Finally, the flowers went on with dimensional dots, and the design was ready to try out.



The design for this party hat is on my Design Space profile.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Business Card Holder Redux

After looking at the Business Card Holder design I published last month, I realized it would be an easy fix to make it slant backwards in the way we are used to seeing business cards presented. I also decided I didn't like the way the edge of the "holder" piece stuck out over the top, and the way the top corners of the "stand" piece were exposed.

In this edited design, the holder will stand slightly slanted, and the top of the "holder" is scored so that it can be glued across the top of the "stand".

I originally thought to suggest a pair of glue dots to secure the front part of the "holder" to the folded-to-front sides of the "front". As it turns out, Aleene's Fast Grab Tacky Glue is really good on this project, as long as you use paper clips to clamp the glued areas in place until they dry (about a minute or two).

Both of the above links should forward to my projects on Cricut Design Space.

The unicorn-theme paper design was tiled from Krystsina Kvilis (@peace-art)'s "Magical collection of unicorns II" from Design Bundles.net. (I had intended this particular holder for use at a unicorn-themed event.)

Front view (it got a bit crushed traveling)

Side view: slanted versus upright card holders

Oblique view, comparing the two designs

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Cricut Project: Business Card Holder


This is the edited and completed version of the project I started at this year's Trenton Computer Festival (TCF). It is available on my Cricut Profile Page.

The instructions there are a bit terse, having to fit inside 500 characters. Here's a more complete version:

Supplies:

Preparation:

  • Print an allover design on cardstock (optional)
  • In Design Space, set all text to "not visible" (or just ignore the black mat)

Settings:

  1. Set your materials setting to "Poster Board" or "Poster Board +"
  2. If you have a Cricut Maker, use the Double Scoring Wheel.
  3. Cut "pretty side down" if appropriate (not what I did).
  4. Set your material size to 11" x 8.5" (letter)

Make the Project:

  1. Cut and weed both mats. You will have three pieces ("Stand", "Holder", and "Front")
  2. Take the "Stand" piece and fold all score lines to the back.
  3. Secure the top corners to the folded back top of the stand using Glue Dots.
  4. Hold the "Holder" piece so the three parallel score lines are towards the bottom. Fold the upper two score lines to the front; fold the lowest score line to the back.
  5. Use a tape runner on the plain side of the bottom of the holder to secure it to its adjacent section.
  6. Holding the "Front" with printed side facing you, fold all score lines to front at 90 degrees. 
  7. Turn the piece so you are looking at the unprinted side.
  8. Using a tape runner or Glue Dots, secure the "Holder" piece to the "Front", matching up the large rectangle and the folded-up ledge beneath it.
  9. Fold the side fronts over the "Holder", and use Glue Dots to secure the corner flaps to the bottom ledge. 
  10. Using Glue Dots, secure the two long tabs to the bottom ledge.
  11. Using the tape runner, Secure the front/holder piece to the "stand", matching large flat rectangles.

Finishing

Add business cards and set on table.

Note: if you prefer your cardholder to slant rather than stand upright, align the "Stand" with the top of the "Holder" rather than the bottom.