Types of Blades

If you are cutting with a scalpel then there are a few blade shapes you can choose from. For this article I will only be covering the main five blade styles that are most commonly used.

11 ACM

The standard art, craft and model blade if you buy a craft knife this blade is most likely the one that is in it. They are very sturdy and offer little flexibility but have a rather nice point on the end. They are thicker than the surgical blades below so very small details can end up larger than you intend.
Personally I don’t get on with these as I find them too ridged for the actual cuts but they are fantastic for when you are cutting straight lines for backings or mounts with a ruler as they are the most rigid blade.
These are probably the most expensive of the selection though so not as cost effective if you are cutting lots.

11 Surgical

Probably the most used blade by paper cutters the 11 surgical blade offers flexibility which helps with cutting curves, it’s suitable for larger areas and small details. The downside would be that the point isn’t as steep as on other blades though I have never had an issue with that. The 11 is also the most widely available.
These are the ones I use and I buy them by the 100. Non sterile are cheaper and packaged in in 5’s. Sterile are more expensive but come individually wrapped.

10a Surgical

Not to be confused with the 10 (which has a rounded blade) the 10a is the middle ground between the 11 ACM and 11 Surgical. It has the point of the ACM but does offer flexibility. It wasn’t one I particularly got on with though perhaps because I never got on with the ACM for the main cutting. Due to the shape of the base to the blade it can be slightly more problematic to find a knife that will fit these blades after the flat surgical handles, however the Fiskars soft grip holds these well.

15a Surgical

A nice short, pointy blade. If you are particularly into detail and find a longer blade a but unruly then this is probably the best choice of blade for you. Because of the length it doesn’t have the same flexibility as the other surgical blades but offers a lot of control without the thickness of the ACM blade. These can be slightly harder to source though and as with the 10/10a the 15 is rounded so make sure you are looking at a 15a.

Swivel

This is the blade I use the most after the 11 a swivel blade uses it’s own type of handle (though I have not seen any particular make/model that is different so x-acto, x-cut, fiskars, jakar all use the same blade in their handles.) These are fantastic for curves though I wouldn’t recommend using them on a glass cutting mat as they do have a tendency to run away on those. Using a self heal you can easily cut beautiful curves in one smooth motion rather than with a fixed blade where you have to turn the cut to continue on the curve.

As with anything personal preference, your style of cutting and your style of design will all play a part in the blade you ultimately go for. There are also many other types of blades out there. Rounded blades do also have an advantage in that you are able to rock them over a line so for thicker paper or layers of paper they can be very useful.

160GSM Ivory Linen – Paper Story

When I first started cutting I used 160gsm paper, I thought that it would be easier. The last time I tried to cut Rosie on 160 I gave up because it had become hard work to get through the thickness of the paper. I had also thought 160 was not the best option for small details. Thinner linen papers I have tried have felt horrible to cut and barely had any texture to them, this one does have a gorgeous texture.

Printing

Ivory Linen 160Printing it will hold even pure black without showing through, light colours are easily visible though so save the ink and print light. Being a thicker paper it had no difficulties going through the printer so no worries there if you have a printer that doesn’t like heavier weight paper.

Drawing

No sheen so just like drawing on normal drawing paper for pencil choice. Don’t go too hard though or you could end up adding more texture to the page.

Cutting

For a heavy weight paper it doesn’t “feel” as thick as some of the others I have tried. Cutting the detail was more difficult than lighter weight paper, but it was workable, the larger sections in the tail though were lovely to cut and I barely noticed at that point that it was a thicker paper.

The texture doesn’t get in the way at all, so no worries with snagging on the curves but take your time with large curves to make sure you get it right with the extra pressure involved.

Somewhere I did slice through a line while cutting, it took me a while of poking to figure out where it was so the paper is very forgiving on slight mishaps making it good for newer cutters.

Blades

Blades, when working on detail blade use is going to be high but on larger areas it’s surprisingly good on blade usage quite unlike what you would expect for this weight of paper.

Price

£1.95 for 10 sheets so works out as around 19p/sheet.

Conclusion

Once you turn it over any small areas you may have had issues with become very worth it. If you are doing wedding invite cuts use this paper. Anything that suits texture will look fantastic on this. Paper story themselves recommend it for typographical cuts and I can see why. If you are working on lots of details this probably isn’t the best choice but for the finish it can be worth persevering with the challenge just to have the amazing texture.

You can buy this paper on Paper Story’s website here.

110GSM White – Paper Story

Another from Paper Story. I normally cut on 100gsm so this is the closest to what I am used to. The paper is flat with a pearlescent sheen to it and is also available in ivory.

White 110

Printing

When printing very light grey is best, no trouble seeing even the lightest colours, of course you can go a little darker if you are printing flat but for floating go as light as you can see.

Drawing

As like other pearlescent papers, don’t go to soft with your pencil choice or it will smudge though this will take up to a 4B before going smudgy. 2H max if you prefer harder pencils.

Cutting

Very easy going on the details and larger areas. It handles curves beautifully and glides over the mat as you move the paper around. Very few fluffy bits, even if you go for too long with a blade but you will see a difference.

Blades

Blade use is good, totally what you would expect from this weight of paper. 15-20 minutes.

Price

10 sheets for £1

Conclusion

A lovely light weight paper. Due to the weight probably not one for new cutters as if you do go a little further into a corner on a cut it will be visible. Highly recommended to those that prefer lighter papers. It has a good structure if you are more used to heavier weights though so don’t let that put you off.

You can buy this paper here

 

120GSM Bersan – Paper Story

This paper feels lovely, Available in White or Cream. Paper Story teamed up with PayperBox to offer this paper and it’s worth noting that the Bersan is a range of charitable products which Payper Box donate 5% of their sales to cancer charities.
I think this paper would be perfect for wedding cuts, there is an opalescent shine to it rather than being “in your face” shiny.

Printing

Bersan 120Printing in pure black will result in some of the ink showing through even when flat, medium greys are fine if you are flat mounting but go light if you plan to float.

Drawing

HB or at the softest 2B, anything softer is likely to smudge harder and you will have the drawing showing through.

Cutting

When cutting it does feel heavier than it is, I would say it feels more like 140gsm to the blade though to the touch it is clearly 120gsm. It does mean that it isn’t as good at handling small detail as you would expect but it does still perform well if you plan which section to cut first properly.

The layers in this paper can separate if you are not careful, check you have cut all the way through, though it is easy to see where you have cut. Because of this the paper can be prone to the occasional fluffy bit, they are easy to remove though with a fresh blade.

As an advantage though once the details are cut and the paper removed everything still holds well.

Blades

Reasonable blade usage, especially considering it feels thicker to the blade. 20-25 minutes on regular cutting but 15 on the details because I was changing just before the drag to avoid the paper fluffing. I may have been able to have got slightly longer though.

Price

10 Sheets are £1.50 making it 15p per sheet. Reasonably priced for the finish and remember some of that cost also goes to charity so even more worth it.

Conclusion

On the flip, it’s worth it. A clean finish on a beautiful looking paper.

I wouldn’t recommend this paper to a new cutter, because of how the paper can behave if you don’t change the blade at the right time. Though for those with more experience at knowing when you feel the drag you can easily handle the paper. If you’re after a paper that behaves like a heavy weight but less work and easier on the blade usage then this is what you should be using.

Buy the paper here.

How to: Typography for Templates Part Two

Last time we wrote a beautiful word just by transforming our own handwriting but it needed a little more work to make it into a cut-able piece of typography.

I’ve redrawn the text to make it slightly larger than how I was working last time but kept the same style so we can start to make a few adaptations to bring it all together.

wpid-wp-1427123034293.jpegJoin up the writing by simply extending the ends of the letters to meet up with the one after. The e and the two l’s all have easy lines to extend on them and they are the only ones needed to be adapted for the moment.

Next because the H is floating on it’s own we need a way to join it to the rest of the word, a decorative swirl is simple and effective. Using the same techniques as we used to create the letters (thicker on the down strokes) the swirl is created by drawing an expanded figure of 8 type of line.

wpid-wp-1427123350970.jpegWhen creating the swirl make sure it connects the H and e, I have also made the first loop bridge between the second l and the o to add more stability. A teardrop is added to terminate the bottom of the line.

Next, in the name of stability I have extended the flicks on the top of the l’s this provides another bridge so the H isn’t just held on by the swirl at the bottom. Since we can’t do that to just one the second l is joined to the first. (There is no photo of this stage, it was an after thought.)

What we had was perfectly workable for a paper cut, but to even out the designwpid-wp-1427123450494.jpeg there needed to be something around the top of the o, I have drawn in a simple flower, though you could use a star, a heart or any other basic shape.

Next all that is left is to ink the design so you have a final you can use to create a template. I always keep my original drawing as is once it is finished.

We will look at different ways of turning an original drawings into templates another time as this one was fairly quick I used tracing paper to transfer the design “flipped” onto the cutting paper.wpid-wp-1427123861612.jpeg

Since this is the end of the section on how to make your own typography for papercutting templates, here is the final cut, remember we only started with our normal handwriting and transformed it into beautiful typography.

These methods can be applied to everything, next time you are writing a birthday card why not try using these techniques there, or even in your art journal.

It would be great to see what your typography ends up looking like, if you want a different base why not ask your partner/parent/sibling/child/fourth cousin, twice removed to write the starting word and build up from there.

Have fun creating.

Safe Disposal of Blades

I really can’t stress enough that when you are done with your blades they must be disposed of safely, in most places blades are destroyed by incineration as this is the safest way to ensure they don’t damage anyone or anything in the environment.

Safe Disposal

Mostly the type of blades used are surgical so logically you should dispose of them just like any other surgical type of equipment. Here in the UK we have Sharps Boxes which are available from doctors or pharmacies at a very low cost. (The smallest box would last you years.) Once full the box is designed to be impossible to open once sealed.
When ready for disposal the box should be labelled as craft blades – non medical waste so it is known that your box does not contain any sort of contamination. Then usually it can be returned to your doctor or pharmacy and they will ensure it is disposed of correctly.

However in some areas they state they cannot take the box (and will not allow you to have one) unless it is for medical waste only so please be clear when you request one.

Some councils will allow you to seal your blades in a container that can not be broken label it as craft blades and be collected with your normal domestic waste, if you are a business this will go with your business waste and not household.

Please always check with your local council or environmental agency how you should be disposing of your blades. If neither the pharmacy, your doctor or the council will take your used blades contact a waste contractor, they will charge you a fee but it is imperative that blades are disposed of correctly.

Be Safe at Home

Whatever method you need to use when it comes to disposal you also need to make sure all these used blades don’t end up all over your house. They may not be any good for paper cutting but they are still very sharp.

As a sharps box cannot be closed properly without permanently sealing it, it is possible for it to be knocked over and blades can spill. Make sure you keep it in a safe place where it is unlikely to be at risk of being knocked, either from children, pets or clumsy spouses.

Money tins that require a tin opener to access are also a favourite as the blades cannot “escape.” Jars can be used but aren’t ideal as glass can be broken if dropped or especially when placed in with domestic waste if you have that option.

It is best to assess the personal risk in your home, if you are the only one in the house there is far less chance of any problems arising from how you store your used blades, for those of you with children remember that some places that may seem inaccessible actually are when you have a toddler with enough determination.  For really inquisitive children perhaps a lockable unit (key not a child lock) or tool box is the best option.

However you store your used blades it may be best to test the method before filling it with blades.

Be safe and enjoy your craft.

130GSM Pearlescent – Paper Story

This paper is from paper story. Mid-weight for paper cutting so ideal for beginners  This paper is double sided (other than the latte, which is single sided) and comes in all sorts of gorgeous colours, The golds and silvers are divine and for some reason I adore the tropical orange (not a colour that would usually take my fancy.
I selected the Bearly Pink for the test.

Pearlescent 130Printing

Since I am used to printing on white or single sided paper my template lines are quite light to prevent them showing through. While I can still see the template printing slightly darker would have been an advantage (necessary on some of the darker colours.) Pure black doesn’t show through to the opposite side if it is flat, but if you plan to float don’t print too dark.

Drawing

If you draw your templates don’t go for a soft pencil HB to 2H is ideal for drawing on this type of paper, white pencil for the darker shades.

Cutting

When I first started cutting I did wonder if I was going to like this paper, only because I am used to a lower gsm. Once I had got a little more into it I began to just enjoy the greater control and structure of a higher weight.

Fluffy bits, barely any with this paper, you can see where you have cut easily so you know where the danger zones are. If by any chance a fluffy bit does appear they come away easily with a fresh blade and are even removable with a slightly used one.

Blades

This surprised me blade usage was quite low, I got closer to half an hour out of a single blade working on the detail, 40 minutes on larger areas (which is why you can see more cut in this photo.)

Price

A pack of 10 sheets in a single colour is just £1.50 so at just 15p/sheet it’s a good price for an excellent paper. Or if you like to buy in bulk there is an option for 100 sheets at 12p/sheet where you can request the colours you would like.

Conclusion

Over all, a brilliant all round paper it looks lovely once it is flipped over and because it is double sided there are no white bits. However that is also the only disadvantage as the darker colours are harder to work with if you print a template rather than draw.

Here is the link to the white, the colours are all listed separately.

Papercut Template Designers

When I started papercutting I found a lot of the lists didn’t differentiate between personal and commercial use and I often saw people asking specifically for commercial use or just personal use. I found that a lot of shops did order their store categories by personal and commercial use when the sold separate licences, a few had them mixed in, some only dealt with one licence type.
So I started clicking links and compiling a list, it is by no means definitive but it should serve as a good guide.

If you are a designer and want to be added or you notice a broken link/closed shop then feel free to contact me to help keep this list updated.

Hobbycraft Make of the Month

stag_in_the_woods_by_scarletleonard-d84niw7Hobbycraft do a make of the month challenge on their blog, I decided to enter the November one with my Stag in the Woods papercut.

There isn’t any particular theme, it’s just a collection of crafters from a variety of different mediums. You do have the chance to win £100 worth of hobbycraft vouchers and 10 other entries are selected to win a £10 voucher.

When I got an email from hobbycraft a couple of days ago I was excited to see my cut had been chosen and I had won a £10 voucher. The winner of the £100 voucher was a lovely stags head that had been crocheted.

You can read the post announcing the winners and showcasing their entries over on the hobbycraft blog. There are some fabulous crafters out there.

I’m now planning a trip to hobbycraft in Nottingham so I can spend my vouchers, there are some things I have been wanting to try and this will get a few supplies in, or maybe I might spot something else to have a go at.

The month before, another friend Jennifer owner of Twinkleballs scooped the jackpot with one of her forever family baubles.

First Experience: Papercutting

Paper Cutting is a craft that I have been looking at trying for a while, I stumbled across this blog post from SLS Creative. A free paper cut template that looked simple enough to tear me away from the “nah, to fiddly” thoughts.

paper and scalpelSo What do you need to do a papercut?

  • Scalpel (I opted for an x-cut swivel knife)
  • Cutting Mat
  • Paper

I printed the design out on 200gsm white card, standard copier paper was far to thin. It didn’t take too long for me to finish the design and while yes there are mistakes, (it was my first cut after all) I was very happy with the results.
As a craft its either really relaxing or wants to make you curse.

first cutThings I learnt

  • The parts you cut away don’t have to be perfect, you are allowed to chop them up if you need to.
  • Don’t press too hard, it hurts your wrists (and the blade gets stuck in the cutting mat)
  • 200gsm is probably a bit thick.
  • The blade needs changing sooner than you think.

I have since bought some watercolour paper and I changed the blade to start a new cut and now it’s all a bit easier and very enjoyable.

Have you tried paper cutting or do you want to?