I have now finished my two A4 sheets of polka dot stencils, one of half-inch circles and the other quarter-inch circles.
I had some problems cutting these. To start with, Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine, was not cutting the circles out unless I used sufficient force which was then marking the mat excessively. After taking advice on the Black Cat forum, someone suggested I did a double cut with reduced force, which I did – F30. This worked very well. They also suggested that it was unnecessary to use the 60+ degree blade (designed for thicker, denser media) and that the normal 60 degree blade should be fine for this thin acetate, which proved to be the case.
Then, there seemed to be too much information for Sheba to process, and the cut behaved somewhat strangely towards the end, and also several of the circles failed to cut. To solve the former problem, someone on the Black Cat forum suggested that I alter my Inkscape drawing so that the circles were in different colours, so that when in Signcut, I could select each colour in turn, and so avoid having to transfer the whole file over. This proved highly successful. The latter problem I discovered was due to some of the circles of acetate lifting from the mat and being carried along by the blade, preventing it from cutting. This was somewhat alleviated by pausing the cut frequently, and brushing the stray circles away. At the end of the cut, I went over the whole thing again with a single cut on F30, which cut out the remaining ones. After removing the stencil from the mat, there were very few circles that had to be teased out, and in the end the stencil was perfect.
Here are the bitmap images of the svgs I designed in Inkscape, first the half-inch circles:
and the quarter-inch circles:
As usual, these svg files are available for free download from my Skydrive (see sidebar).
Here are the samples I did from them, using Dusty Concord Distress Ink for the half-inch one, and Barn Door for the quarter-inch one.
Finally, here is a picture of samples of my first three stencils cut with Sheba: the small (A5 size) leaf trail, and the two polka dot stencils.
I think these will prove to be a very useful resource. I intend designing and cutting quite a few more.