About Candace West

Candace West is a multiple national award winning quilt artist and educator, whose art has been displayed at all major quilt show venues such as the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX, and the American Quilting Society show in Paducah, KY and many others nationwide. Her award winning quilts and garments have appeared in several major magazines. A love of teaching and sharing the techniques that can make anyone’s quilts show worthy, is her mission.

There are no mistakes, just experiments!

Life is full of experiments, not mistakes. This holds true especially when you are embarking on a cutting project with new-to-you materials. All the material setting charts, tips and tricks are but starting points on your artistic journey. To be successful with your machine, you must give yourself permission to make a few mistakes and use up some material to get the best results. Today’s project was a prime example of this truth and here is the tale of my journey.

The Project

My daughter is a new theatre teacher and she wanted some unique and durable hall passes for her students. She initially thought of laminated cardstock passes that would be hung from a lanyard. I designed a playful twist on the iconic Playbill magazine for her hall pass. Time spent = 3 hours

Version 1 – Printed on cardstock and laminated was the easiest, but the least durable. The thinner the cardstock, the less rigid the pass. Thicker cardstock did not seal well along the edges of the lamination. Time spent = 1 hour

Version 2

Base

    • Decided to use a plastic for the pass base and adhere the design to it. The pass needed to be double sided with a white base, but where to get a suitable plastic sheet material in one day? (did I mention I only had a weekend to produce this?) After stops in 4 stores both hobby and home improvement, I resigned myself to a For Sale sign from Lowes. The plastic is rigid but not too thick to be cut with my cutter. Problem was there is only a 5” x 20” space of white on the sign, so there is a great deal of waste. (I may be able to use the leftovers in another project that is one sided.) Time spent shopping = 4 hours.
    • I have since found several sources for this plastic, white ASA Styrene, online. Mainly from model building companies.
    • This plastic was a breeze to cut on my KNK Maxx Air. Time spent cutting = 1 hour.

Design Layer

  • Any material I printed the design on would need to be water and smudge resistant. I had found some Silhouette Clear Sticker Paper and some Water Slip Decal paper that was ink jet printable last time I cleaned my office, so I thought I would try them. Both materials printed nice and bright, cutting however proved to be a bear. The clear sticker paper was thick, more like a craft plastic instead of a vinyl. I started with a vinyl cut setting and eventually worked my way up to the same settings I use for .007 craft plastic. A range of force from 42 to 140. The decal paper was a little easier, but still much more force and blade exposure than I anticipated. Time spent = 3 hours and double the materials needed.
  • After adhering these units to the base they needed to be water proofed. The decal paper came with its own special spray, which did not spray so I tossed that material. For the clear sticker paper, this meant the arduous process of spraying several light coats of clear epoxy on both sides and waiting 30 mins in between each coat to dry. I confess I am not very good at spray painting, too much and it runs, too little and no coverage. I was not pleased with the results. Time spent = 3 hours

Version 3

    • There has got to be a better way that takes less time and no waterproofing! Woke up the next day and started over. Sent husband to the store for more plastic and tested more materials. Then it hit me, Ink Jet Transparency film. A material that is not commonly seen in stores anymore since the rise of digital projection, but still available. I have quite the inventory of it as it makes great fussy cutting templates for quilt piecing units.
    • You print in reverse on the treated side of the transparency, so the ink is protected by the plastic. Flipped my Print and Cut project and cut using the same settings as I do for thin .007 craft plastic.
    • Since the transparency is crystal clear with no backing sheet, you need to slip a white piece of paper underneath your mat to be able to see the registration marks for the Print and Cut process.

  • After cutting, I ran the cut shapes through my Xyron sticker machine to apply permanent adhesive on the back of the units.
  • Adhered to the plastic bases, making sure to brayer and squeegee any air bubbles out. Time spent = 3 hours

 

I spent a total of 15 hours over 2 days on this project. I went through 2 -3 times more material than what was needed for the actual end product. Seems excessive for such a simple thing, right? But that whole time, I was learning about new materials and machine settings, problem solving until I had a product that I know will stand up to daily use.

And that is how it is in life, you learn by doing, to not try or give up at the first setback means you never get anywhere or achieve your dreams. So, don’t fear your machine. Keep trying and testing, give yourself permission to make mistakes, because they are just experiments, not failures!

 

Materials

ASA Styrene Sheet – I used the For Sale sign, but blank sheets can be sourced online. White Styrene Sheets .020

KNK Zing/Zing Air/Maxx Air Standard Material Detail Blade

HP Premium Inkjet Transparency Film

Xyron Sticker Machine

 

Maxx Air Settings

Force = 125, Speed = 300, Passes = 1, Blade Height = 25

Quilt Show Ribbons – Customized with Bling!

The theme for my quilt guild show this year is Diamond Jubilee, so bling on the ribbons is in order! I designed a theme logo for the show consisting of four diamonds in a modern take on a diamond quilt block motif. To carry the theme from the marketing materials to the ribbons, I designed a rhinestone embellishment for the ribbon centers. I was lucky to find acrylic rhinestones in the exact shape of the show logo diamonds. But the thought of individually adhering all those stones to 120+ ribbons was daunting. I knew I needed an accurate way of replicating the logo with the stones.

I decided that Rhinestone Motif Rubber and Rhinestone Transfer Tape would be the answer to transfer the diamond logo to the ribbon centers.

Materials

Glitter Adhesive Backed Paper

KNK Zing/Zing Air/Maxx Air Standard Material Detail Blade

Rhinestone Motif Rubber

KNK Zing/Zing Air/Maxx Air Thick Material Blade

Rhinestone Transfer Tape

Glue for adhering rhinestones to paper, I used Krazy Glue™.

Maxx Air Settings

Glitter Paper – Force = 45, Speed = 300, Passes = 1, Blade Height = 25

Rhinestone Motif Rubber – Force = 60, Speed = 400, Passes = 2, Blade Height = 25

The ribbons as they came from the supplier had plain centers the color of the ribbon, so to get more bling, I measured the centers and cut circles out of glitter adhesive backed paper to dress up the ribbon centers.

The diamond motifs were designed in Make The Cut! based on the size of the actual rhinestones. I used the shadow function to make my template cut out slightly larger than the stones. The green rhinestone template material is super sticky and I needed a backing for my template anyway, so I used an old mat that I could retire. Once the shapes were cut out of the material, I weeded the positive and left the negative stuck to the mat for my rhinestone template.

Unlike the round rhinestones where you can just brush them into the round holes in a template, these diamond shaped stones had to be placed individually into the template.

I then applied the Rhinestone Transfer Tape to the entire template, lifting all 48 diamond logo motifs at one time. Repeated the process three times until I had enough motifs.

A few passes with my rotary cutter yielded individual diamond motifs ready for transfer to the ribbons.

Unfortunately, these rhinestones were not self-adhesive, so the additional step of applying glue to each stone needed to be done before transferring the motifs to the ribbon centers.

Accurate transfer of the diamond motif is a snap with the Rhinestone Transfer Tape!


And now I can recruit some help with the rest of the ribbons and be assured that the designed motif will look the same on every ribbon.

 

 

The Iron Throne

When I envisioned this quilt, The Iron Throne, I knew I would use my KNK Maxx Air cutting machine to cut the intricate appliqué out of heat transfer vinyl. What I did not guess is how many other things I would make to help me bring The Iron Throne to life.

Last month I shared the longarm ruler I made, Need a Special Longarm Ruler? No Problem! . Here are the other items I made to assist me in the construction of this quilt.

Cutting Template to ensure each diamond block was exactly the same size. I used Grafix Craft Plastic .020 mm to make the template and included registration marks to help be line it up. I included a cut out in the center so that the quilted appliqué would not distort the template when used.

Fabric! I wanted to include a flange border in the binding of each diamond and I did not have any fabric that I was happy with to match the colors. So, I made my own fabric by cutting strips of the same heat transfer vinyl I used in the appliqués and fused it to muslin. Now I had the perfect color flanges to inset into my binding.

Sword Marking Templates to mark my quilting lines on the leather corners of the quilt for the swords that make up The Iron Throne. Quilters template plastic was used for these templates.

Hole Marking Guides to accurately and evenly mark where the holes needed to be punched for the installation of the grommets. I first made one specifically for the diamonds and then refined it to a multi-use tool for future projects. I used a quilters plastic template material for these guides.

My cutting machine has become a valuable tool in my quilting studio to create original art!

Materials

KNK Zing/Zing Air/Maxx Air Standard Material Detail Blade

KNK Zing/Zing Air 12″ x 12″ Extra Sticky Mat Set (Green Grid)

Engraving Tool

Grafix Craft Plastic .020 mm

EZ Quilting Thick Template Plastic

 

Maxx Air Settings

Text – Sharpie Ultra Fine

Force = 5, Speed = 350, Passes = 1, Blade Height = 13+, Blade Offset = 0

Cut Settings for Grafix Craft Plastic

Red Blade, Force = 190, Speed = 300, Passes = 3, Blade Height = 25Blade Offset = .25

Cut Settings for Quilters Template Plastic

Red Blade, Force = 130, Speed = 80, Passes = 3, Blade Height = 25, Blade Offset = .25

Engraving Tool, Force = 135, Speed = 350, Passes = 4, Blade Offset = 0,

Blade Height = 25

Need a Special Longarm Ruler? No Problem!

I am working on a special quilted art piece using new materials and techniques that I am currently experimenting with. Leather, heat transfer vinyl, computerized cutting, and chainmail! Each of the blocks in the quilt have different styles of background quilting for the theme of the block. I wanted a gentle wave as background fill for the House Stark block and could not find a longarm ruler exactly like I needed, so I decided to make one using my Maxx Air.

Longarm rulers need to be ¼” thick so the hopping foot does not jump the ruler and cause damage to the needle bar and throw off the machine timing. Not to mention break needles! Since we cannot cut that thickness of material with our cutting machines, I decided to cut multiple layers of craft plastic and glue the layers together to get to the ¼” height I needed. It took ten layers of the .020mm plastic to achieve the proper thickness.

Materials

Grafix Craft Plastic .020 mm

KNK Zing/Zing Air/Maxx Air Standard Material Detail Blade

KNK Zing/Zing Air 12″ x 12″ Extra Sticky Mat Set (Green Grid)

Engraving Tool

Clear adhesive for plastics

 

Maxx Air Settings

Engrave Settings

Engraving Tool, Force = 120, Speed = 400, Passes = 3, Blade Offset = 0,

Blade Height = 25

Cut Layer Settings

Red Blade, Force = 190, Speed = 300, Passes = 3, Blade Offset = .25, Blade Height = 25

Process Details

Brought my Corel design for the ruler into Make the Cut! and added the text for the ruler name. Separated the text and guide lines as separate layers for the engraving. I only engraved one text layer and a few guidelines only layers, the rest I just cut the outline of the ruler.

I could get three ruler layers on one sheet of 12” x12” craft plastic. Using the Extra Sticky Mat, I taped down the edges of the plastic, just in case. First, I engraved the plastic using the Engraving Tool with the ruler name and then changed to the Red Blade to cut the ruler layers.

After removing the excess plastic, I glued the layers together carefully making sure that everything lined up properly. I encased the engraved layers between the clear layers so I got a smooth bottom to my ruler. And for a little extra bit of security I used a clear packing tape on the ends while the glue was drying.

I then applied a few pieces of ruler grip tape to the bottom so the ruler would not slip on the surface of the leather as I was quilting. I did notice some minor “fanning” of the layers when the hopping foot was in motion, but not enough to impact the outcome. Next time I will be sure to apply more glue along the edges.

I am pleased with the results using my new longarm ruler. This was a quick solution to fulfill my need and I will be making more longarm rulers for special projects in the future!

 

 

Sugar Skull Banner

 

When a beloved co-worker and best friend moves on to pursue exciting personal opportunities, what do you do? Have a surprise party and wish them the best! Staff and close friends were asked to contribute to fill a treasure box with cards and small gifts to show our love and appreciation for her service. Cathy has many signature styles in her art and many of the gifts reflected these themes. One recurring theme in her work is sugar skulls, so I decided to make a banner to decorate her studio.

I collected sugar skull SVGs from several websites and modified them where necessary to cut well in paper. Then I created two shadow layers of each skull, one smaller and one ¼” larger. The skull and the larger shadow layer were cut twice, both in white and black cardstock. The smaller shadow layer I cut in a brightly colored cardstock.

Materials

Cardstock, Ribbon, Glue and staples

Maxx Air Settings

KNK Zing/Zing Air/Maxx Air Standard Material Detail Blade

Force = 75, Speed = 200, Passes = 1, Blade Height = 25

Assembled the skulls by sandwiching the inner color layer between the skull front and back. To create the hanger for each skull, I cut a 1” x 5” strip of card stock, folded in half and attached at 8” intervals along my hanger ribbon. The hangers were centered on the back of the skulls and glued in place. Added some bright ribbon tassels on the ends to finish off the banner.

 

Cathy was overwhelmed by the treasure box and has added all our gifts to her studio décor as a daily reminder of the friends that support her in her new venture. I hope she smiles every time she looks at her sugar skull banner.