At a recent event, I sat across the table from another avowed crafter. I don’t exactly recall how that fact was initially revealed (my guess is right after she told me her name), but I do recall one very big topic in the ensuing 2-hour long conversation. (As some may know, if you get a crafter talking, you can’t easily get them to un-talk.)
What really started a fire in her conversational belly was when I inquired if she owned a die-cutting machine. Apparently I’d accidentally thrown down a gauntlet. Eyes twinkling, my companion slowly leaned across the table toward me and confidently replied, “Eight.” I was stunned.
It was an innocent question. But the truth is, just about every hardcore crafter either has, or truly lusts after, a die-cutting machine.
Personally, I had no idea that there were eight different kinds of these machines (there are actually many, many more than that), let alone so many different styles. But this conversation enlightened me.
For those who have not yet been introduced to the concept, a die-cutting machine allows a crafter to easily cut shapes and patterns into various types of materials: paper, vinyl, rubber, plastic, fabric, foil, paperboard, card stock, plastics, adhesive tapes, etc. Some machines are quite simple, requiring pre-designed metal templates to stamp a set shape and operate via hand crank. Others are computerized and rely on design programs to function. But the one thing they all do — usually very well — is cut intricate shapes into tricky materials quickly with great precision.
Die-cutting machines are a staple for paper crafters, scrapbookers, quilters and T-shirt designers, precisely because they take the heavy lifting out of onerous cutting tasks. And you can credit these machines for the recent surge in text-based art.
For example, a very popular item in home decor right now are quote canvasses: standard artist canvasses with an inspirational word or quote painted on them. To make such a canvass, pre-cut letters are used as stencils and are then adhered to a canvas. The artist then paints over the entire canvas, including the letters. When the paint dries, the artist removes the letters, revealing the finished, stenciled pattern.
Often the fonts used in the design of these canvasses are decorative and diverse — two qualities that aren’t fun to replicate with a pair of scissors. But the task becomes negligible with a die-cutting machine. Better, the cuts are clean and precise, resulting in a professional-looking crafted item.
There are a variety of die-cutting machines available at the box mart crafting stores. Things to consider:
What type of crafter are you? For example, if you prefer paper crafting but prefer to rely on others’ designs, a simple template-based, crank-style die-cutting machine might be better for you.
What types of materials will you be using? For example, if you work with fabrics, look for a machine that not only handles fabric well, but fabrics of different densities. If several types of crafts interest you, you’ll definitely want a machine that can handle various crafting materials.
What is your budget? Be sure to find the right machine for your needs. As die-cutting machines can run from $25 to upwards of $300, it’s important to know what you really need and whether that can be accomplished with what you can afford.
If you’re interested in getting a machine of your own, rely on the experiences of others. Be sure to check out some of the many video reviews available online. There are several comparison videos, where a crafter will perform the same tasks with different machines, side-by-side.