Die Cutting Experiments

I have collected a few new bits and pieces for my adorable little die cutting machine.  You might have seen some of the them in my craft haul post, but I’ve got some more since then.

I got a nice spotty embossing folder, but unfortunately it’s too wide for my little dinky machine.

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I did know this before I bought it, but I’d read online that you could cut them to size.  So I got just the one folder to test this theory out.

I laid one of the plates over the top as a template.  Originally I was just gonna do one cut, but that would change the little hump of no dots in the centre of the pattern.  It would also leave me with one hinge.  So I moved the plate to the centre and settled on two cuts.

I put little marks to indicate the desired width, and got out a metal ruler and a craft knife.  It took a few cuts, but it wasn’t too difficult.

And it embosses just fine.  See.

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So I bought some more.

I cut these ones down too.  I discovered that after scoring with the craft knife it was relatively easy to cut with strong scissors.

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I’ve also amassed a couple of die sets.

I have a few more sets on the way too.  Including some Christmassy themed ones, which unfortunately didn’t arrive before I had to make my Christmas cards.  But I did pretty well nonetheless.

I’ve also learned that you need to be really careful when ordering cutting dies, because people also sell die cuts.  Luckily this mistake only cost me £1.80.

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How do you adhere these fiddly things?  If I was cutting them myself, I’d put double sided tape on the back of the card before I cut (another tip from the internet), but this was madness.  I made a total mess with a glue stick with the first one.  For the others, after a bit of research, I used a toothpick and some PVA glue.

More die cutting experiments to come!


One of my lovely internet friends has made an unboxing video about me!  It’s the first unboxing video of my stuff, and I’m super happy.

You should go look at it.  Admire her lovely accent, and my adorable art.

Speaking of CrazyComicLady and adorable art, she does some too.  She does a comic, as if you couldn’t guess, over on her DeviantArt page – all about her adorable fairies characters.  Go read that too, because who doesn’t love fairies.

I’ve actually done fan art of one of CrazyComicLady’s fairies.  This is Portobello.

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I love her stripy socks.  I used washi tape for those, and for her outfit.  It was done during Washiween, but isn’t really Halloween themed.  Do you think it counts as a Washiween piece?

Portobello was created 5 years ago!

That baffles me.  That and all these 2009 vs 2019 posts that artists are making at the moment.  I don’t have any art from five years ago, let alone from 2009.  I only started drawing in 2017, and only started original stuff in 2018.  Madness.  Maybe I’ll do a 2018 vs 2028 post in 8 years.

See Colette, no one even noticed the massive smudge of marker ink on Portobello’s wing.

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Another Line Art Swap

In October, my friend Nina helped me complete a goal and did a line art swap with me.  When I showed you what she did with my line art a couple of weeks ago I teased that there might be another swap for Christmas.

We decided that once again we’d draw each other’s characters, in a seasonal outfit.  This time we settled on a chibi style – because I’m kinda into drawing chibi at the moment.

I put her character Marie into a little elf-style outfit.  I do love stripes.  Once again, it was really hard to resist actually colouring it.

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And she drew my character Katerina running with a mug of drink, which seems awfully risky to me.  But Katerina is a wild thing.  Just look at those pompoms!  They’re so cute!

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I coloured her with alcohol markers.  I was using a card I’d never used before, so I printed two onto the page in case I messed up the first one.  Luckily I did, because right as I finished one of my cats came in from the rain and walked muddy paw prints over the spare one.

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I’m so pleased with her.  Don’t ask me what she’s drinking, I have no idea.  It could be anything.

Here’s what Nina did with my line art.  It’s one of her first alcohol marker pieces.  Isn’t it brilliant?

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Should Nina and I keep doing line art swaps?  Maybe a Valentines one?  A St Patrick’s day one?  Any other ideas?


November Colour of the Month

November’s Colours of the Month were very pretty, and included silver.

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I did a really pretty little peacock, which I’m very happy with.

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Then I saw this tweet from the Marker Universe account.

I’ve been drawing a lot of robots this year, for my self imposed challenge to draw 100 robots in a year.  You’ll see a round up for that in a few weeks.  And this little guy is so adorable.  I just had to do some fan art.

I wasn’t entirely happy with the proportions for my first attempt.

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My second attempt was better, but then I ruined it with the colours and colouring.

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My third attempt though was pretty perfect 🙂

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I shared him on all my social medias: DeviantArt, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  And of course I tagged the original artist.  They seem to like it.

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Die Cutting

As mentioned in my craft haul post, I got a mini die cutting machine for my birthday.

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It’s an adorable little thing.  It came with three plates (2 thinner and one thicker), an embossing folder, a set of little dies to make a flower, and an instruction booklet.

I tested the embossing folder first.  This involved cutting a piece of paper to size, sandwiching it in the embossing folder, and then sandwiching that between the two thinner plates.

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Then you roll it through the machine.  It makes some interesting noises, but the internet reliably tells me that’s okay.

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Unsandwich everything, and your paper is embossed.  What you should probably do though is make sure you orient it so that the raised part of the emboss is on the right side of the paper.  If that’s what you’re after, of course.

Moving on to the dies.  You have to remember to switch out the plates.  Because the dies are so much thinner than an embossing folder you make your sandwich with one thin plate and one thick one instead.

Place your die, raised side down, on your paper.  Sandwich between your plates, and roll through the machine.  This makes even louder interesting noises, and it sounds like you’re breaking everything.  This is supposed to happen.  Apparently.

The scratched outline on your plate is also normal.

I cut out the other flower part and a leaf, during which I discovered that you have to be careful how you handle your sandwich or the dies might shift.

I cut another leaf and another bigger flower piece.  Then I correctly embossed a background.

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After a while I decided the background didn’t really go, so I made a little square of another card stock.  I used sticky pads to stick everything together and voila!

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As well as the machine, my friend also got me a bunch of dies.  Including this pretty fairy.

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Unfortunately my machine is a mini machine, with closed edges.  Some machines have a wider slot than the plates, so you can put excess through.  This one doesn’t.  And when I forced the fairy through, I ended up with a folded edge on one side, and the very tips of her hair didn’t cut.

While testing the extra dies I also discovered that some dies might need to go through the machine twice.  Like these Best Wishes.  I tried again with it, and sent it through the machine twice by reversing the way I rolled the handle so it came back through.

After playing around for a little bit I learned three very important things.  The plates will get very scratchy, very quickly.

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The plates will also warp.  Again, the internet assures me that this is normal, and that if you switch up the orientation in which you sandwich them they’ll gradually even out a little.


And finally, die cutting is one of those crafts that creates a bit of a mess.

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Paper Snowflakes

Warning: this one is picture heavy.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I enjoy making paper snowflakes.  I’ve made some more.  Or I tried to at least.

I gathered a bunch of pretty origami paper, folded them and drew on some designs from some images I found on Pinterest.

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Then I cut them out, and unfolded them.

Yeah.  I messed up.  The only one that turned out okay was this one, which is the bottom centre row in the folded cut picture.

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It took me a while to figure out where I’d gone wrong.  I missed a fold.  You fold the square in half, then in half again, and then in thirds.  I’d missed that second half.

So I got some more paper and folded it properly.

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Then I drew a design from another Pinterest image.

That little triangle at nearly the tip – that you can’t reach from the side with scissors – I tried cutting that with a craft knife and failed.  So I just cut out a whole wedge.

And then while cutting the rest of the design I screwed it up.  I cut too far.

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I did the same thing to three more snowflakes before I got frustrated and took a Pringles break.

Then I had another go with the design from the Frozen image, but without drawing it out first, just improvising.  It came out not looking too bad.

I tried one completely improvised, which looked a little dodgy.

So then I went back to the first Pinterest image I was working from.

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I tried the top one first.  It came out looking a lot more solid than the result in the image.

It’s a very low quality image, and you can’t zoom in very far.  I suspect I was missing a bit of the design.

I had a go at the second design, and clipped a bit off the point as well.  This one came out really nice, but I didn’t quite get the border right.

I had run out of the paper that I’d gathered at this point, so I reached for a sheet of good old printer paper, which works really well for these.

Unfortunately that was my last sheet of printer paper.  I do have about seven million origami papers though.  I got out my box of papers, went through them all selecting ones I thought would make great snowflakes, and folded them without really paying attention to how many I was making.  I got carried away – surprise surprise.  There are over 60 of them.


I will probably save some for next year.  Maybe.

First I wanted to retry the snowflakes from the post the other day, with the correct number of folds.  Here’s how they looked before.

I drew out the first one, started cutting and found myself really struggling to get this little notch here, so I just chopped it off.  And then when I was cutting further down the pattern I accidentally lopped a bit off.  Then I didn’t even try getting that section out of the point, so I snipped off the tip to give it a centre hole.

So what I ended up with was nothing like the first one really.  But it made a fairly decent snowflake in the end.

The second one lost some limbs too.  I really suck at this.

I think these ones actually looked better the first time round.  But there you go.  I was getting a bit disheartened here, so I went for something simpler.  I went back to that blue reference image, and tried the second one again.  And it’s so pretty!

I did the bottom design on the blue reference image, and that was pretty too.

I even did a small snowflake.  Not that you can tell because there’s nothing in these images to indicate scale.  But the rest of the snowflakes have been 6×6 inch origami paper.  This one is a 3×3 inch piece, with an improvised design.

I found another reference image from Pinterest and did a couple of those.

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Then I found yet another reference image – the internet has MILLIONS of these things.

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I did the first one from that image, and the third one.  Both pretty, but I think I prefer the first one.

After that… well after that I got distracted by a Christmas movie and just kept improvising some.

There are some really dodgy looking snowflakes in there, but there are some that are freaking awesome too.  I selected out some of my favourites and ironed them briefly to get them to lay flat.  Tomorrow I’ll get them stuck up onto my walls somewhere 🙂

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Phew!  That’s a lot of snowflakes.  I’d say that it’s the last of them, but there are more snowflakes coming in a few days – this time with a different medium though.









Origami Stars & Snowflakes

After my 13 Days of Halloween series in October, I’d planned to do a 12 Days of Christmas series around now.  I was going to take 12 of my Christmas traditions and translate them into craft or art projects.  But things have been a little hectic here at Casa Colette, and I haven’t had the time to do it. I have still been doing Christmas themed arts and crafts though, naturally.

One of the things I was going to do for 12 Days of Christmas uses the gorgeous origami kit that my best friend got me – as mentioned in my craft haul blog post the other day.

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The tradition it relates to would be making new ornaments, and there’s a wee bit of paper snowflakes in this post too 🙂

So the kit comes with four different types of paper: including a spotty one, a blue one with snowflakes (some of which are metallic), a see-through vellum one, and a very sparkly glittery white one.  Look at that pink sheen on it!

My poor photography and the lighting in my room does not let the beauty of these papers fully shine through, but hopefully you can get the general idea.

The kit also came with instructions for a Bascetta Star, an unnamed star, and some paper snowflakes.

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I started with the simplest of the three projects.  The snowflakes.  I’ve always enjoyed making paper snowflakes – and I’ve made them every Christmas for as long as I can remember.  I even did a blog post about it during my 25 Crafts of Christmas series back in 2016.  Two posts actually, because they’re a little addictive.

I used the spotty paper for the first one, and drew one the design for snowflake A from the instructions.  My cutting skills aren’t fantastic, but it looks good.

I did a second snowflake, using design B from the instructions.  I decided to use the glittery paper for this one, and while it looks awesome it’s thicker paper and therefore harder to cut.  With my awful cutting skills it looks kinda raggedy.

I moved on to the second simplest of the projects – the unnamed star.  I made the six modules easily enough.

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But then I struggled a bit putting them together.

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I reached a point where it seemed like I needed another module.  Maybe step 10 meant six MORE modules.

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So I made another one and managed to get it into a position that looked about right.

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I tried looking on YouTube for a video of the pattern, but because it wasn’t named it was hard to find.  The closest I could find was this one.

It uses different modules though, so I made some of those.

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But again, I had trouble putting it together.  I had a formation with 7 modules that seemed like it was okay, but because I’d done four of each colour the pattern didn’t work.

I eventually managed to slide the modules into a position I was happy with, and I used little bits of double-sided tape to secure them in place.

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I did the same thing with the first star – wriggling and fiddling with it until it seemed okay.  This one I secured with some pva glue and little gem stickers in the centre.

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Finally I moved on to the complicated Bascetta star.  The modules were simple and putting the first three together was relatively simple.

It took me ages, and quite a bit of swearing, but I managed to keep adding modules and putting it together.  I even managed to do it without resorting to looking for a video.

The last step was extremely fiddly, but I did complete it.  And it looks very very cool!

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I did do one more project with this kit.  The vellum paper reminded me of a project I’d done before, but with snowflakes.  So I made six sonobe modules and put them into a cube.

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Then I opened up the top flap and put an LED candle in there.  When closed, the little box glows.

The candle actually changes colour, but the only way to really show that is a video, so here ya go.