- Die Cutting machines (Of course!)
I love the idea, you can design and cut paper via die cutters now. I still love my scissors, but using these machines is a time saver and it is amazing what you can do with them. I currently own 3 die Cutters (a Cricut Explore, Cricut Explore Air, and original Silhouette Cameo). For my paper designs, both machines are very equal in their capabilities. However, I prefer to use the Cricut when working from my laptop, due to Bluetooth capabilities and Smart Set Dial. The newly released Silhouette Cameo 3 does have Bluetooth capabilities and a new AutoBlade, but my original Cameo is a workhorse. I cannot justify another machine quite yet.
- Die Cutting Software
For cutting and designing simple SVG files, here are the three software packages I use frequently (other than Adobe Illustrator).
Sure Cuts A Lot (SCAL) from CraftEdge
Mostly, I like Sure Cuts A Lot for the ease of creating SVGs, the ability to cut directly to the Silhouette Cameo, and the ease of exporting Cricut Design Space (DS) compatible SVGs. It is like a mini Adobe Illustrator for Die Cutting machines. Whatever die cutter you own, it is worth taking a look. They have a Trial version available to try the software. You can curve text by using the Text on a Path or use other effects to change shapes easily. Or add a background by using the Shadow Layer effect.
Silhouette Studio (Designer Edition)
Even though I am able to cut designs on the Cameo using SCAL, I also use Silhouette Studio. I use the Designer Edition, which is a minor upgrade that grants the software additional capabilities, like the ability to import SVG files. As with SCAL, it has some advanced design features that are not found in Cricut Design Space, like Offset feature and curved text by adding it to a curved path or circle, or any type path for that matter.
Cricut Design Space
Design Space is the cloud-based software used to cut to the Cricut Explore. You can upload SVG files for free. I like how the software groups images with same color on separate mats, rather than having to manually move the images about on a virtual mat. I also like the Custom dial settings you can set from within the software, for non-standard paper and materials, like glitter and sticker paper. It is cloud-based, so it stores your saved projects and uploaded SVGs and Internet connection is required. Mostly, I design outside of Design Space and use DS to cut to my Explore devices. I do design Cricut DS image only projects, so I do use it for that purpose also. Many times, I just want to work offline. This is when I use SCAL or Silhouette Studio to cut to my Cameo.
- Embossing Folders
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE embossing folders! They easily add texture to paper designs and can quickly take a box or card from “cute” to “fantastic”! I use a Big Shot manual die cutting machine, because it is a workhorse. I can also use it with the few dies I still have. There are other smaller embossing/die cutting machine options available that do the same, like the Cuttlebug.If you have not read it, check out 5 Fun Embossing Folder Tips.
- Chalk and Chalk Ink
Besides embossing folders, I use the technique of chalking or inking regularly. I use both to enhance a design. I like to use both to outline cuts to give them depth. Chalks are easier to work with and if I make a mistake, I can erase the chalk easily with a white eraser before it sets.I primarily use Pebbles Chalk sets and Craf-T Decorating Chalks (not sure if they are in business anymore). You can create shading and different colors by layering different chalk colors.Most of the time, I use Colorbox Cat’s Eye Chalk Ink to ink paper edges, but mainly for larger pieces, as it is hard to manuever the ink into small parts. It is permanent, so once it is there, I cannot take it back. It just depends what look I want.
- Glitter Glue (like Stickles)
I like to add little glitter touches to my designs. Every design needs a little bling. For this, I mostly use Stickles and honestly, I use the clear colors the most. Using colored paper, I sometimes just want to add a sparkle, so I will add a bit of Diamond or Crystal Stickles. It just makes it pop a bit from the design. I do have every color Stickles though! Never too many supplies!Make your own box to hold your glitter glue, as shown above. Click here to buy Glitter Glue Holder SVG Design.
- Glue/Adhesive (How could I work without glue?!)
The latest glue I have been using is Scotch Quick-Dry Adhesive. It dries very quickly when working on 3D boxes. However, I prefer the Quick Dry Tacky Glue. It does not dry as quickly, but gives me a little more time to move things into place before it dries. I also use Zig 2-Way Glue pen for small pieces and foam tape to give a design element a more dimensional look. I am always looking for a better glue.
- Brads Brads are a great way to add a 3D design element. I use brads a lot on the corners of card mats. I also like to use them to make a pattern on a card or design or to attach a word tag or label.
TIP: If you have lots of permanent markers, ink and/or Stickles (like me!), you can get spruce up a plain metallic brad easily. I changed a standard gold into a glitter brown brad with a brown dye ink stamp pad and Diamond clear Stickles. I can just make any color I need!
Honorable mention products:
- Cutter Bee Scissors
- Tonic Paper cutter
- Metallic Ruler with cork back (to avoid slippage)
- Stylus (for assistance scoring)