Monday, 20 February 2012

3-D Silver Butterflies Completed

After sharing my cut files on the Black Cat Forum, someone cut them (very successfully in silver mirror card – I was very impressed, and also very chuffed!) but she said that it might be better if the smallest holes were a bit bigger, to enable it to cut better. I expect it would cut OK with the detail blade, but I took her advice, and I have now altered the design slightly. The following picture shows the two variations (complete and partial cut), before and after editing.

As well as making some of the peripheral holes slightly larger, I have also thickened some of the outlines a fraction, which should help small-sized cuts survive a bit better! Superficially they look very much the same, so I don’t think the design has suffered at all by being somewhat simplified. (It’s a bit like those “Spot the Difference” pictures we used to enjoy as children!)

There was also some discussion about mirror card and how well (or otherwise) it cuts. Until recently I thought mirror card was mirror card was mirror card, but not so! It is quite variable in quality and price, and some cut better than others. The general consensus on the forum was that Anita’s Mirri Board was very good and cut well, although it is fairly thin. I don’t mind about that because for my purposes it doesn’t need to support the weight of a whole card; I’d only be using it for toppers, so I ordered some.

I was then able to do some test cuts, and try to cut my revised butterfly design. Setting the force at 50, I have now got Sheba to cut my butterfly piece for the 3-D project. These are the small sized butterflies, at 2 1/2 inches across, from wingtip to wingtip. I am pleased that I have achieved this, because I prefer the delicate look of the smaller butterflies. I did not want to use the 3 1/2 in ones for this project, and was determined to succeed!

The tube of photo glue is there for a reason! This afternoon, I stripped all the glue off Sheba’s mat, using Crafter’s Companion Stick Away, and turned the mat over, and sprayed it with Crafter’s Companion Stick and Spray, a repositionable adhesive. Dawn, on the Black Cat Forum, says that 3M Spray Mount is better, but I’ve almost run out, so thought I’d use the Stick and Spray instead; I can always re-do it when I get some more 3M. It is like having a new mat! All the deeply engraved lines which I did when I first started, and blunted the blade through using too much force (a common mistake for newbies!), are now on the reverse. The grid marks are still visible and it works just as well.

However, the mirror card has a slightly shiny reverse surface, and it tended to pick up some of the glue off the mat. I was able gently to rub this away, but in places it left dirty streaks which really spoilt the look of my project – normally this wouldn’t matter because it would be on the back, but in this case I am using the reverse of the mirror card on the front. Photo glue is amazing stuff because when it is dry, any excess rubs away completely, and I also sometimes use it to clean off bits of mess on my table or off my hands, and I thought it might do the same with the surface of this card, and it did – beautifully!

This is the reverse side of the mirror card, which will now be the front, with the wings of the butterflies flipped up.

On this picture, you can also see some satisfactory cuts I have made of the complete butterfly, i.e. which cuts out of the background piece completely, and has a body and antennae. The first two of the three were done with Force 25 and 30 respectively on Sheba, and although they were OK in the end, I had to push out quite a few of the holes which hadn’t cut properly. The final one, at F 40, was fine.

You can also see the embossed bodies and antennae, done from the silver side, using a hand-embossing tool. When I flipped the wings up, I folded them along the edge of a ruler to get a nice straight crease.

I then cut the back piece. My idea was to “engrave” the butterfly shapes onto silver mirror card, and I reduced the force right down to 1 (minimum) to prevent the blade cutting through, but with the blade height set to a distance of 2 CDs’ thickness above the surface, the force was still too much, and some of the pieces did cut right through. I reduced the blade height to 1 CD’s thickness, which was satisfactory; I got a nice clear line but nowhere did it cut through.

Finally, I put the Force back up to 40, raised the blade to 2 CDs’ thickness again, and cut out the back piece.

In addition to engraving the butterfly shapes, I also engraved a rectangle 1/4 in larger than the butterfly piece, to make a nice mount effect, and the back piece was cut out a further 1/2 in beyond this.

The next picture shows the 3-D piece stuck down onto the engraved piece.

The final touch was to add a tiny blob of Pinflair gel adhesive underneath each raised wing, to prevent them being flattened. This is crystal clear, and really doesn’t show from the front.

The following pictures show the detail of the underside of the wings with their mirrored surface, and the engraved detail of the layer beneath. I am fascinated by the interplay of multiple reflective surfaces, which give so much interest and movement according to the angle of view and the direction of the light source.

The engraved detail of the butterfly wing underneath the raised wings gives added definition.

This is visible from the sides, and also through the pierced holes in the raised wings.

To mount the card, I folded a piece of A4 card in half to A5, and then trimmed off 9/16 in through both thicknesses of the open edge of the card to reduce the finished width to 5 1/4 in. The finished proportions of this card are more pleasing than A5, I think, being 8 1/4 x 5 1/4 in.

With the butterfly piece glued silver side down onto the back piece with photo glue, when the wings are flipped up, their silver undersides reflect in the mirror card of the back piece, giving a subtle effect against the white card, and causing some interesting plays of light and shade, depending on the lighting, and the angle of view. The white background card thus becomes full of movement and dimension, and is no longer the boring flat surface it was at the beginning.


  1. Wow, so intricate! It is stunning. Sounds like the cutter you have is much more advanced than our little cricuts over here. Thanks for the info.

  2. Oh my gosh, Shoshi! Everything you do is just so awesome and detailed - and time-consuming! And perfection, too. You have amazed me again. Not sure why - I should be used to it by now:)


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