Thursday, 18 April 2013

Xcut Shape Cutter System

Last week I wrote a post about my journey to market and all the processes I go through to get my work looking professional and of a high standard. I mentioned this Xcut shape cutter system and I thought I would take a little time here to sing its praises.

For my birthday, I got the super deluxe fancy fancy gift set version from my lovely parents.  It contains: 15 shape templates, cutter carriage, and 2 blades. As it says on the box, the 15 shape templates can create 30 different shapes and also, frames in a variety of sizes.

I think the product is aimed at card makers and scrapbook makers but I have found it very useful for the labelling of my work. There are five different shapes: square, oval, diamond, circle and rectangle. They all come in three different sizes; small, medium and large. On the back of the box the set comes in, they give all the measurements to all the different sizes. Gary and I have found this information very useful when designing labels in Photoshop on the computer. Instead of guess work, which we employed lots of before, I can now hold the template in my hand and make a decision based on the information before me. Gary can then measure it up on the screen and we have cut out the stage of printing designs in multiple sizes trying to get the best fit.

I will say that you do need a cutting mat for using this device at its best. I would recommend getting a cutting mat anyway though. They come in really useful in any craft or art work and save your surfaces from scratches. I use an A4 cutting mat and for this, it suits my needs perfectly.

So you are probably wondering how you use the bloody thing! Well, let’s say you have your printed label, measured and ready for cutting. You place your sheet of paper or card down on your cutting mat. You then place the template over the label you want to cut out. Sometimes it takes a little time to adjust it to the right position, but the result is worth your patience. For me, I find it easier NOT to have a guideline printed out on the paper itself, so then I can just place the template down and I don’t have to worry about trying to include or exclude the line in the cutting. I think if you can learn to trust your eye that is the best measuring tool you have.

The cutter is a small round device that sits down onto your chosen template. The handle can turn 360 degrees so you just press down and there is a small blade underneath that cuts your paper. You run the cutter around the template and VOILA, your label is cut out. It does take a little practice to get the pressure and your grip right but it is no hard labour.

The reason I wanted to share this with you is just to promote DIY marketing, labelling and self promotion. I love finding out ways people make things themselves from art to books to cards to cakes to magazines. Taking the risk and having some self belief that you can do a job yourself can be very powerful. Money can be a real issue for small businesses, cottage industries and makers of all varieties. Where do you spend your money? Printing and design work can be quite expensive but does add a professionalism to your endeavours. Maybe have a go yourself and see what you can come up with. I like when people use their skills and ingenuity to come up with new ways to leap over barriers they are presented with.

 I would encourage anybody to have a go at making their own labels and marketing material using your imagination and the message that is at the heart of your product. I used to use Letraset transfers and hand drawn designs on luggage tags for my labels before I got more adept on the computer with the help of Gary. In my experience, people really appreciate the effort and I find it can help to increase the value of the work you are explaining and supporting in your labels.  

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