I am feeling highly delighted that I have now got Sheba going again. Sheba is the name I gave to my Cougar cutting machine, and she’s been under wraps for several years. So much has been going on in my life over the past few years that I haven’t had time to get her going. Starting afresh, I am also using her with new operating system (my iMac) and I’ve experienced numerous difficulties along the way, but with the excellent help of the folks on the cutting machine forum, I’ve finally got her to work properly, and I’m very pleased with the result.
The first thing I was able to cut with Sheba was the stencil for the baby footprints. In the past, I have always used acetate for stencils, but this is quite hard, and fine parts of the stencil tend to break, and it is also very hard on the blade of the cutting machine. Someone on the forum some time ago suggested using polypropylene instead, as this is a softer plastic, and much easier to manage, and it makes stronger and more flexible stencils too. They suggested cutting up cheap polywallets, so I got some at the time from Ebay. I have to agree that this material is a lot nicer to use in every respect than acetate; it cuts like butter, and I cut a lovely stencil with no problem at all.
I adapted an image I found online, and designed my stencil in Inkscape, which is a very powerful vector drawing programme, which is also open source (free). I use a plug-in which enables me to export the designs to Signcut, another programme which sends the information to the cutting machine.
Here is the stencil.
This is the original sketch and notes that I made for the project. I find it helpful to do this when working with multiple layers, so that I know which parts to cut from the different coloured card. Signcut has a facility whereby you can select different elements of the Inkscape drawing and cut each element in turn. You just have to draw them in different colours.
Here are the first elements of the design, duly cut out. These were all cut from the darkest blue in my pack of American Cardstock 12 x 12 in. cardstock, which cuts beautifully with Sheba. You can see the lattice frame, and the tag, and two narrow frame pieces.
This is the only piece I cut from the mid-blue card. The card base was eventually cut from this colour as well, but I didn’t need Sheba to do that because it was just a question of cutting a piece to A4 size and folding it in half.
This is the only piece I’ve cut from the very pale blue, cutting the baby footprint stencil file.
Two backing pieces cut from silver mirror board. I used Anita’s silver mirriboard, which is more expensive than generic mirror board, but it is slightly thinner than most, and cuts very well on Sheba, so I keep this just for this purpose.
A mock-up of the various layers, showing how the card will work. I also made a tag to go on the gift for the new baby.
The lattice and outer frame pieces, and the silver oval, stuck down on the card base.
The next layer added: the pale blue piece with the footprints cut out, revealing the silver beneath. I cut the oval slightly smaller than the silver oval, to create a silver mat layer around the oval.
Finally, the narrow oval frame cut from the dark blue, to complete the card, seen here with the tag, which was cut from the dark blue, with a silver mat layer, topped with the pale blue rectangle with the feet cut out.
The finished card.
The finished tag.
I still have to make a card insert, and propose designing this with my desktop publishing software (Serif PagePlus) and printing it out. I shall add the footprints motif using the stencil and some distress ink.
Edited on 30th June after making the card insert:
I designed the card insert using Serif PagePlus, my desktop publishing software – I added the image of the lattice frame temporarily onto my page template and created an oval shape the same size as the window in the frame, and then removed the frame. I added the text following a path, around the oval, and added colour and a couple of special effects – outline and drop shadow, and then added matching text in the top half of the page. I found the quote online and thought it was very appropriate with my footprint theme.
I used the baby footprints stencil I made to add a pair of footprints inside the text oval, using Faded Jeans distress ink, and then distressed the edges and across the centre of the piece with the same ink, using an Inkylicious Ink Duster.
The final step was to trim 1/8 inch from top and bottom so that it would not extend beyond the edges of the card, and stick it in place.
I added some seam binding coloured with ink to the top of the tag.
I wrapped the babygro I bought as a gift, and added the tag with some silver ribbon.
Then off to the post office on my buggy and she should receive it tomorrow! It’s taken me long enough to do this project, with all the problems I had with etting Sheba, my cutting machine, running, but all is now complete, and the baby will get his card and present before he starts school!!