Monday, November 22, 2010

Stencil Cutting: Fiskars Ultra ShapeXpress vs. Xacto

Cale lost his beloved "cheep cheep" (a yellow bird he made at the art museum's craft activity) last month, so I needed two circles of yellow construction paper right away to make a replacement! I found cheep cheep between the couch cushions before we actually had to make another, but I was on the circle-cutting goal right away. And of course once I found cheep-cheep, Cale was over it. Kids!

For my first round of circle-cutting, I started with my old Fiskars Ultra ShapeXpress that hasn't seen much action. I didn't have a circle stencil, so I had to improvise right away. I cut the large 4-inch (body) circle by moving the Ultra ShapeXpress around a toothpick. The circle was very nicely circular, but pretty large for my needs.

However, for the 1.5-inch bird head, I either needed a stencil that I didn't have, or another idea. (Using a positive template instead of a negative stencil would be A Bad Idea at that size, since I wouldn't be able to hold on to the template and move the shape cutter too -- its buffer zone is too big for that!) So for my next act, I used a medicine cup for my template and cut around it with a craft scalpel with a retractable blade (I need at least token safety to use it around my small kids who want to watch everything we do!).

I found the directness of the Xacto-style scalpel to be much more natural than the ShapeXpress. If you're really worried about your fingers, or your children's fingers, you might prefer the ShapeXpress. But I think mine is going back to gather dust.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Easy Robin (of Batman) Costume

Speaking of easy costumes, the one I pulled off last week was also easy. Karston went as Batman for Halloween, so I made a Robin costume for Daddy.

  • matching green sweatshirt and sweatpants (I already had an oversized set)
  • solid red teeshirt or muscle tank ($2.50 at craft store)
  • adhesive-backed craft felt in yellow and in black (under $2 at craft store)
  • for more authenticity, add a black eye mask (or those not-too-over-the-top bat glasses I saw in a costume flyer), and a black or yellow cape [we didn't]

Then I made the "R" logo for Robin. I traced a coffee mug on the black felt to cut out a black circle. Then I cut out a yellow R to fit inside the black circle. First the black circle went on the red tee, then the yellow R went on top of that. VoilĂ , one Robin logo! The "work" was cutting the sticky-back felt, since it's rather stiff. Other than that, this was thoroughly easy!

Yeah, Right

Not that I complain about unexpected checks in the mail, but I just got a refund check (OK, it was issued 10/20/2010 and I didn't check my snail mail for a while) from the local tertiary care hospital for an invoice dated 3/19/2009! If I were that slow paying my bills, I would be in arrears! That hospital is broken. (I base that statement on other events too, like receiving yet another bill for Karston's delivery just over a year after he was born! Too slow!) Sheesh.