Monday, September 14, 2009

Using Gel Pens with your Cricut

Here's a little more info on my experiences using the mini gel pens with the Cricut. I was a little nervous about trying to use these gel pens with the pencil grips, in case they slipped around or weren't at the right height and dug a hole in the paper or something! But apparently there's a little leeway in how much pressure is used when printing/cutting.

I got the grips at Big Lots (if you shop there, you recognize their price sticker!) and initially thought they were a tad expensive, but they were nearly a dollar more at Walmart for the same type. I really like using them on my writing pens, too! The gel pens, as I mentioned in the previous post, were a steal at half off...two packs for a dollar @ Target, on sale. They're usually located in the front part of the store in baskets, with a bunch of dollar items.

As you can see in the photo below, I tried to line up the tip of the pen at the same depth as the green blade holder. I tried putting the gel-type pencil grips on the regular way but they were too slim to hold the pen in place snugly enough. Then I recalled Kay of Clever Someday mentioning being able to roll back the pencil grips to put the caps on while leaving the grip on, and I decided to see if I could double the grip enough to fit the clamp.

As you can see from the photo below, it worked perfectly! They were held tighter than normal, I believe, because the gel kind of squished around the pen and held it very firmly. I did have to press the clamp closed rather hard but I wanted it secure anyway. I have seen the beautiful metal gel pen holders someone is having machined for the Cricuts but I'm very chea- um, I mean frugal when it comes to what I'll spend my hard won craft money on, and I'd rather spend $3 than $30 on this!

My only warning about that is: don't leave the gelly holder doubled over when you store the pen. I went back a few days later and my gelly grip had split! Oh well. I still have a lot more of them! Kay must use a different type... The best part was, after I removed my plain test typewriter paper from the not too sticky mat, I saw these gel pens are glittery! (Click on the reposted pic below to see it better if you missed it in my other post.) So much prettier in person, although the photo did capture some of the glittery goodness! As I also mentioned on the previous post, I wasn't happy about the inky glops the pen left in a few spots on my experiment, and I'm not sure how to stop it from happening again.

But, if you cut out the design after the pen, possibly the glops will get cut off. The gel pen lines are so much finer than the markers that they don't show a whole lot once you cut everything out. Here's a shot of another card I just finished for my sister in law's 60th birthday that I used the gel pen on and then cut out. The silver glitter pen I used barely showed, but it added enough sparkle to the cut edges that I was happy anyway. I guess a deeper color would show more but this was the near-monotone effect I wanted for this card. The silver outlining added an elegant touch to an elegant card. (I used an alcohol ink polished stone paper behind the lettering on Ranger glossy cardstock for added shine, btw.) Thanks, Carol of Extreme Papercrafting, for the card design, btw!

I also used my Swiss dot Cuttlebug folder to line the inside of the card, as she did, but I used vellum to do it. I discovered I LOVE using vellum with the embossing folders! Wow, it really makes the embossing goes from nearly clear to an opaque white...great look! Not sure if it shows up in the photo or not, but click the photo below to get a better look...hit the backspace key to return (in IE)! BTW, the cardstock is actually whiter than it looks in the photo...I had to turn off the flash to capture the silver lining.

That concludes my recent experiments with the gel pens. Don't be afraid to try it! It'll only cost you $3 and some cardstock!

Btw, Enabler Alert!!! I saw black Cricut markers on clearance at Walmart tonight for $4.00! Also, some black Cricut vinyl and transfer paper for the same bet I got a few rolls! And in case you hadn't heard, ALL Cricut carts are on sale this week at Michael's! I REALLY want Childs First Year but I KNOW I could create them in SCAL...somebody stop me!!!

Below are a couple of shots of the card I made my brother in law, front and inside, and the Leo framed cutout we sent him for his birthday. It was kind of spur of the moment to make this card and I guess I could've been a little more creative on the front! I really feel that the fabulous Denise's designs stand on their own, however! I did add a little glitter after I took the pic, but my DH has definite ideas about what is "manly" on a card and I had strict instructions to not girly it up too much! I contented myself with the fancy font...

The paper is a really cool cardstock I found @ Big Lots a couple of years ago...8.5 x 11 sized and with the look of handmade paper but completely smooth and the texture of regular cardstock. I thought it gave the card a woodland kind of look that helped this card look better. If you click the pic below, you'll see that it looks as if bits of dried flowers and leaves are embedded in it.

I didn't do that great a job shading/outlining the gnomies on the inner card, but this was my first attempt to layer someone else's design and spent so much time on that that I couldn't really take my time for the rest of it. (I don't know how people seem to churn out cards so quickly! Mine always take days to design and put together!)

I brought Denise's gnomies into Inkscape and separated their hats, coats, and boots from the base, and used colored cardstock to piece-cut them out on the Cricut. I used felt for the beards, although later I got some flocking and will probably use that if I try to make Santas or more gnomies for Xmas this year! I had the Cricut cut the eyeholes completely out and used some shiny blue paper behind them to give them some can see it better if you click on the photo to enlarge it. I also added some air dry clay pipes to them after I took the picture...they really came out cute.

And finally, below, there is the Leo cutout I made him. I found the picture on the net someplace when I first started using SCAL. Wish I knew where, to give credit! I'm pretty sure I got all the astrological signs from the same place. I got it on Yahoo image search, so if you want them, you can find 'em!

I love that paper, I'm not sure of the brand name, but I get it at Michael's. The blue version (seen behind my favorite cutout "Fairy riding the Butterfly in the Trees" blog-header above) is called Iridescent Purple Haze. I believe the golden version is Sunset something. They used to carry a pink version but I don't see that one anymore. They have this wonderful multi-colored oil-slick iridescence to them that doesn't photograph well - but looks amazing in person! One of my favorite papers, especially on the fairy cutouts.

That's it for now. Happy cutting!