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Monday, November 5, 2012

Kill Your Monday Blues with Hils Hints: Cutting Up! Die-cuts with Die-mensions

Part 3: Die-cuts with die-mensions 

When I first ventured into the world of die-cutting, I loved the fact that I could cut shapes out so easily, without having to painstakingly cut things out by hand as I had previously been doing.  But I still felt that my die-cuts were missing something – they just looked a bit flat and lifeless.

These days, I now know that there are a number of quick and easy tricks to personalise your die-cuts to make them come to life and suit whatever scrappy style you are trying to achieve. 

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The first and most common one is the easiest and cheapest – simply ink the edges.  This gives your die-cuts instant dimension, making them “pop” out from your page or card.  You can ink them in whichever way you prefer. 

Some people like to use the Tim Holtz distress inkpads together with the distress inking tool, and gently blend ink onto the die cut.  This can look particularly good with larger cuts, as the colour will gently graduate, becoming softer the further into the middle you go.

A quicker and easier way is to simply swipe an inkpad along the edges of your cut.  I find smaller inkpads, such as the Momento and Brilliance dewdrops, or the Colorbox Cats Eyes, work best.  Each has a slightly pointed end which helps you to get into any nooks and crannies.  Be careful if you are using Brilliance inks though, they don’t always dry immediately, so you may want to heat set them with a heatgun to prevent any ink smudges on your project.

If you are a perfectionist, and want to get into every little corner of your die-cut, Ranger produce Craft Nibs – plain, uncoloured pen nibs (without the pen!) that you can ink up with your inkpad.

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Stamping your die cuts can add a lot of visual texture.  You don’t need to have any special stamps to do this, a generic background stamp works wonders.  Just ink it up, stamp it on your die cut and you’re done!  If you want to add a bit of extra texture or shine, then use pigment ink and embossing powder.

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Dry-embossing your die-cuts can make a huge difference to their appearance.  If you don’t have any embossing folders, then perhaps now is the time to invest in some!  Just pop your die-cut into an embossing folder, and run it through your die-cutting machine.  (NB you can’t do this with the electronic machines like the Cricut, but you can with most of the manual machines, including the hybrid Sizzix Vagabond).  You can rub ink gently across the surface to highlight the raised embossed pattern to enhance the look still further.

These are the three techniques I turn to regularly to dress up my die-cuts, often using more than one on the same cut.  You can also try layering them together (this works particularly well with flower cuts), or colouring/doodling on them.  Get some scrap card and try out some techniques, you’ll soon have a few that become your regular go-to favourites.

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HINTS!!! {hot tips}
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For even more dimension for your die-cuts, try mounting them on 3D foam tape or glue dots.

Photo caption:  I die-cut some plain green card with the Tim Holtz Tattered Leaves die.  For the one on the left, I used Vintage Photo Distress Ink and an ink blending tool to blend the ink onto the leaf.  The one in the middle was stamped, using the same ink and a text stamp, and I swiped the ink pad around the edge too.  The third leaf was dry embossed, and again I swiped around the edges with the ink pad.  My favourite combination for these shapes would be the ink blending and stamping, together they look fantastic, and take very little time to do.

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