Mundane to the Maxx

Not every use for the KnK thrills and delights with visual inspiration.  Sometimes I use my KnK for things that have nothing to do with paper.  Actually, come to think of it, I have never used the Maxx for scrapbooking.

This past week I used the Maxx for something very mundane.  Tile templates.  I’m making tiles for a bathroom, and I wanted to be able to cut out the tile shapes and sizes according to the Fibonacci principal.  Using the Make-the-Cut software let me do this easily.  I created squares and circles with the size of their areas reflecting the differing Fibonacci sizes.

Fibonacci: take the previous number and add it to the current number to get the next number in the sequence

Fibonacci: take the previous number and add it to the current number to get the next number in the sequence

Now I can take those cutouts and place them on the floor and walls where I want to tile to see how they will fit, and arrange my pattern accordingly.  Once I have my pattern and tile count determined, I can then go back to the software, and enlarge each shape by the percentage of shrinkage of my clay.  I then cut  templates out of heavy mylar or acetate, and use them as the form that I put on my moist clay.  When they come out of the kiln, their size will be (if I calculated properly) the same as what I used to put up on the wall to work out my initial design.

fibonacci-squares

Mundane?  Yes.   Useful?  Yes!

 

From Russia with Love

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Needing to make a few party favors for a little girl’s birthday, I hit upon the idea of making Matryoshka – Russian nesting dolls.  I decided to make them out of felt, and needed sturdy pattern pieces to trace the design with.  I created the design in MTC, and then printed it out on oaktag as the pattern.  Using MTC was nice because I could easily resize to make a series of them later.  I could have cut them out with the cutter, but it was faster to do it by hand as I was using many different colors of felt to make each one unique.

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The pattern was easy to make by using basic shapes and modifying some with the pen tool in the nodes mode.

While I was at it, I decided that this would be good to cut out of paper, too, so I added a few more pieces to the design to make it a paper piecing project.  I didn’t want to dig around for paper.  Ah Ha!   A few brightly colored paint chips were laying on the desk, a perfect size to use.  Now I’m not advocating  that you use paint chips, but hey, they are free and come in every color you want.  Just sayin.

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Here are the steps in pictures.

Parts

Parts for the Matryoshka:  Top Row L to R – Base, hair, eye/hair, kerchief.  Bottom Row, L to R – mouth, face, flower color, dress.  Small pink piece in middle is a leaf for flowers.

Cut out your parts.  You’ll need a base, a dress section with flowers cut out, a solid dress section the color you want your flowers to be, face, hair if you want a color other than black, eye and hair section, mouth section, kerchief, leaves.

Step 1 - Glue flower color to base

Step 1 – Glue flower color to base

Glue the flower color of dress to base.  Then glue dress with flower cutouts over this.

Step 2 - Glue hair to eye color

Step 2 – Glue hair to eye color

Next make the face.  If you are going to have hair color other than black, glue it onto the black piece.  Then take the face and glue the mouth onto it.  Then glue this onto the hair/eyes.

Glue mouth to face

Glue mouth to face

 

face and kerchief

face and kerchief

Above you’ll see the completed face and the paint chip that I cut the leaves out of.  Save this piece, along with the leaves.  You will use it as a glue template.

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Glue on the kerchief.

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Now glue on the leaves.  Using the template (piece of paper) from which the leaves were cut, align it over the flowers, and place glue in each spot.

DSC_0018 Done!

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Clover Pin

A few years back I found this post on how to make a Shamrock Pin.  It continues to inspire me!   I made a few pins, but I don’t have much luck with glue guns, I make a mess.  For me, it was hard to put a safety pin on the back and fasten it.   But each year I pull them out and my daughter and I wear them.  The instructions on the post include a free PDF download, and it would be easy enough to make this into a print and cut file and then make them.  But this post is not about how to do that.

 

orignal pins

orignal pins

With St. Pat’s coming up again, I was wondering what I could do for an inexpensive  project for kids, and the Shamrock pin came back to me.  With a little designing, I realized I could easily make the fixings for multiple pins that small kids could put together themselves, without a glue gun or glitter should they so choose.

 

clover pin components

clover pin components

 

The file is posted up on Make-The-Cut Gallery under “Clover Pin” for anyone to download.

if you make some, send me a photo and I’ll add it to this post.

Here’s what the finished ones looked like after some help from first graders.

finished Clover Pins

finished Clover Pins

And in case you don’t have MTC, below are directions for designing your own.  Quick, easy, and inexpensive.  What’s not to like?

Clover Pin Directions – Design and Fabricate

  1. Materials:
  • 6 sheets of card stock or heavy weight paper in mix and match colors
  •      it is a good idea to have the bottom clover of heavy weight stock.
  • #1 safety pins
  • ⅛” brads
  • tape
  • Optional materials:  glitter, clear or white glue, decorative brad.

Leaves:  Open your design software and make sure you have the grid turned on .  Now go to the “import basic shapes” icon (the examples below are from MTC).  Import one heart.

Heart from Basic Shapes

Heart from Basic Shapes

Line that heart up so the bottom point just touches an intersection of grid lines.  Copy and paste in place this one heart, and rotate this second heart until the horizontal grid line upon which the original heart is touching bisects the lobe of the heart. (the arrows are there just to help you visualize).

three hearts aligned to make a shamrock

three hearts aligned to make a shamrock

Make certain that the point of the second heart also just touches the intersecting grid lines.  Select the second heart, copy it, and paste it in place.  Then select this third heart you just duplicated, and without moving it, make a mirror image of it.  Why not move them manually via duplication?  Because they will be a little bit off, and when you go to the next step, welding, you will see that you have lost your symmetry.

Stem:  Using your design tool pen that draws straight lines and bezier curves, make a rectangle and modify one end  to swag to the side.  Alternatively you can import a basic rectangle, turn on show nodes, and modify from there.

Stem showing bezier curve handles

Stem showing bezier curve handles

Position your “stem” over your “leaves” until you are happy with it.

Stem and Leaves

Stem and Leaves

Then select all and weld.

Welded hearts and Stem

Welded hearts and Stem

Now that you have your first clover done, you want to size it.  We’ll layer 6 clovers of varying sizes together.  Just duplicate your first clover (I used 2.5 inches wide) and then make each successive clover about ¼ inch smaller than the last.  Put each clover into its own layer.  But place each clover on top of one another so that they are perfectly nested. Copy, paste in place, select duplicate, resize.  You get the picture. Use your grid lines to help you do this, and blow it up so you can really see it well.  Now you should have 6 layers, each with a clover.

Stacked layers

Stacked layers – note how the crosshairs on each are all over one another.

Brad Hole:  To put all the layers together, we will use a ⅛ inch brad.  Make a 7th layer, and put a ⅛” circle on it.  Align that circle with the intersecting grid lines so that it is right over the center.  You’ll notice it is too close for comfort  to the cut line of the smallest clover, so move it down a bit.  Select your lowest layer, and copy the brad hole and do a paste in place.  This will put the brad hole circle right where the original one is.  With all other layers locked except the lowest layer, select all, and do a Boolean join of B-A to pop that brad hole cut in the center.  Repeat for each clover, pasting in place, selecting all, boolean join.

Brad Hole

Brad Hole with Boolean join

Go back to your bottom layer.  This is where you’ll make your holes for the pin to go through.  I used a #1 safety pin (the size that seem to come home from the dry cleaners).  I made two ovals for the pin to fit through, and did the boolean join as above.

Now you can delete your brad hole layer, and you have 6 clovers.  Duplicate each clover to fit your paper, and cut them out!  If you download the file from the MTC gallery, you’ll find sheets already made to cut multiples from 8 ½ x 11 sheets.

Assembly:  The pins are so easy to assemble, that even a child can do it.  And that was the whole point of the project!  If you plan on doing glitter, do it before you assemble. Put your safety pin through the bottom layer.  Now take your brad, and push it through the smallest clover, stacking successively larger clovers, with the pin clover being last.  Open the brad.

Hope to see your creation!  If you send me a photo, I’ll post it below.

Happy St. Pats!

 

 

Valentine Kitchen

Remember making valentines when you were a kid?  Guess what.  Most kids don’t get a chance to do that any more.  But they did today at the Valentine Make and Take party.  It was an easy party to do, and one that can easily be repeated each year.  Just cut up the paper, put out the glue, and make cupcakes.  Come on in to our Valentine Kitchen and see what we cooked up.

Print and Cut - Printed and Cut!

Print and Cut – Printed and Cut!

It all starts a few weeks before the actual date.  You sit in your kitchen and start making your grocery list:

  • vintage die cut valentines
  • heart and cupid shapes
  • X’s and O’s
  • Scored and cut cardstock
  • lots and lots of heart shaped cutouts….
  • Cupcake toppers

Next, you have to do your shopping.  Cutting out hearts and cupids is an easy thing to do.  You can get images as easily as typing!  A quick browser search for “font valentine dingbat” will turn up fonts that have many images that you can use simply by tying within MTC.  No need to do a pixel trace!  How easy it that?  And remember, the simple shapes icon in MTC has many hearts you can easily manipulate.  Don’t forget to find a nice font to cut out your X’s and O’s!

I find that the internet has a great supply of Vintage Valentine images that are high resolution and no longer copyrighted.  Or you scan from your own collection.  Either way, you take those images and put them into Photoshop and make yourself a sheet of repeated images.  Save that as a JPEG, and import it into Make The Cut software.  Just make sure that your sheet image size is ½ inch smaller in length and width than the paper you are going to cut from so there is room for the registration marks.  So a 8 ½ x 11 paper becomes an 8 x 10 ½ JPEG image.

Printed sheets waiting for the cutter.

Printed sheets waiting for the cutter.

Doing so many sheets has made me very confident with Print and Cut.  The first photo in this post shows two cut out.  And take a look at these:

Perfect cutting on the cutter

Perfect cutting on the cutter

Here is my favorite one.  The resolution on it was great, and those little circles cut out are about the size of a pin.  You can see the dots on the sheet example above.  Below you can see that the cutter was accurate enough to cut them all out.  The final size of this was about 3 inches wide.

You can't help but love this one!

You can’t help but love this one!

Cupcake toppers are another easy Print and Cut.  There are lots of nice images to use.   I found some fun ones over at the Graphics Fairy blogspot.  I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t know the Graphics Fairy, but if you don’t, well get over there.  Your head will spin.  The flag cupcake toppers are ones I again manipulated in Photoshop to cram as much as I could on a page, then printed and cut.  The round ones you see below I just printed and used a circle punch.

Valentine Cupcakes with Strawberry Ganache frosting

Valentine Cupcakes with Strawberry Ganache frosting

Now that you have all your ingredients together, you just have to add friends.  In our case they were 4,5, and 6 year olds that created their valentines from the assembled ingredients.  Here they are picking out the items to take from the kitchen.

Choosing ingredients in the Valentine kitchen

Choosing ingredients in the Valentine kitchen

And here are some of the finished pieces hanging up to dry while the chef’s take a break and head out for cupcakes.

Final Valentines

Final Valentines

Lots of love from our Valentine Kitchen to yours!

Get ready for Christmas

Yup, you read that right.  January is when I start planning for Christmas.  Not going out and buying up the sales for gifts.  Not editing my mailing list for holiday cards (haven’t even gotten to 2012 yet!).  No, now is the time that I start my baking.

What, Baking for Christmas?  That’s right.  I make a tradition laden cookie called Lebkuchen.  Its a German holiday cookie made with honey and nuts and citron.  And it has to sit for six months or more to be good.  I make the dough in January, and then in September I roll it out and cut it and bake it, pack it in tins and let it mellow until Christmas.     My Grandmother used to pack it in tins and bury it in the back yard (something to do with the cold and humidity, or maybe it was so her boys couldn’t find it and eat it all).  It doesn’t go bad.  The honey is a natural preservative.  Try it and see for yourself!  You’ll find a recipe at the end of this post.

Lebkuchen cakes

Lebkuchen is rolled out thick and decorated with nuts and candied cherries and cut into squares, or it is rolled out thinner and cut into the shape of St. Nicholas, Hansel and Gretel.  Why Hansel and Gretel?  Well they loved to eat lebkuchen.  “Nibble, nibble little mouse, who’s been nibbling at my house”?  So said the Witch as Hansel and Gretel ate away at the Lebkuchen tiles that adorned the Witch’s cottage.  It’s sort of hard to tell from looking at a lumpy lebkuchen cookie which one is St. Nicholas, Hansel or Gretel.  That’s why you have to paste onto the cookie with icing the highly detailed die cut labels for each character.    And that’s where KnK comes in.

vintage labels

After many years of searching, the only place I could find the labels was on Ebay, where they went for $30 and up, each.  My brother in Switzerland was able to find a pack of two for $7 (before postage), but only during the holidays.  But in cleaning out her kitchen drawers prior to a move, my Mom found a set of cutters, and a pack of labels.  But there were only a couple of each figure left.  I knew I had to buckle down and learn how to use the print and cut feature in KnK once again.

Gretel in Photoshop

I scanned the originals, then manipulated them in Photoshop to put as many as I could on a page.  Saving the file as a jpeg, I imported it into Make The Cut.   Using glossy brochure paper (the right weight and similar to the original) I printed them out on a photo printer and then placed the result on the KnK to cut out.

lebkuchen

Christmas present is a little more like Christmas past when  our family has Lebkuchen just like 50 years ago, even 75 years ago and longer.  Looks great, tastes great!  Thanks to KnK I can preserve my memories and pass them on to others.

 

Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen

 

If you are wanting to try making your own Lebkuchen, here is a recipe that I got from my Mom.  It makes a ton of dough.  You can bake half the dough, and store the rest in the fridge (not freezer) until next year.  It won’t go bad or get moldy.  The honey is a preservative, and the dough that has been sitting for months tastes better than fresh!

6 pounds honey or molasses or combo of both (this must be honey that is over a year old.  I like to go heavy on the honey, and minimal on the molasses.)  Heat this up in a cauldron and add and melt

1 cup butter

sift and add a sufficient bread flour until you have a semi-liquid dough (think thick pancake dough).  Why is there no exact amount called for?  Well, this is an old recipe and because honey differs in viscosity.

Add 4C sugar; ½ cup mixed spices of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mace, allspice; 4t grated fresh lemon rind.  You can be more generous with the spices.  Who wants bland lebkuchen, and how often do you get to cook with Mace?

When your dough is well mixed and barely warm, add 1oz. hartshorn that has been dissolved in 1/2C wine or rum or water.  OK, what is hartshorn?  It is a very old leavening agent.  A bit of history here.  A hart is a deer, and hart’s horn is just that.  The horn (antler) of the deer.  It used to be finely ground up and used as a leavening agent.  Today, we don’t grind up deer antler, but use carbonate of powdered ammonia.  You used to be able to get it at the chemist, but only very old pharmacists have a clue about what it is and don’t carry it.  Don’t despair!  Some websites such as King Arthur Flour, House on the Hill, and Amazon carry it.

Add 1 lb. blanched shredded almonds and ½ lb chopped citron (but I can never resist adding more…and it comes out fine).

Sift and add sufficient:  All purpose flour (as compared to the bread flour you started with) to make a dough that sticks to your hands.  You can bake at once if you have too, but the dough may be aged.  Just put it in a crock with a tight fitting lid and shove in the back of the fridge for 6 months or more.  Seriously.  My last batch of dough was in the fridge 14 months, that’s because I made this monster batch and only used half (but we were really bummed out not having made a double batch!).

Keep that flour on hand.  You want a sticky dough that you can just work with.  It takes some playing with.

Roll out ¼ inch or a bit thicker (thicker does not shrink as much, important if you are using cutters and the paper labels) and cut with a floured cutter, rolling out between two pieces of waxed paper or the like.  Bake on silpat or parchment for about 18 minutes at 325.  If making the thicker cake like squares, pat out into a buttered jelly pan a bit thicker (½ inch) and bake 30-45 minutes.  Let cool in the pan about half and hour before cutting and then frosting and decorating with nuts and citron or candied cherries (see photo above).

Frosting:  1 1/4C confectioners sugar, ¼ C lemon juice, 1t vanilla.  The frosting is the glue that holds down the paper figure or the nuts and candied fruit.

After you have baked your Lebkuchen, and let the frosting dry, pack it away in tightly sealed tins and put them in a cool dark place (think pantry or cellar).  Check on them about a month before you want to eat them.  If they are a bit dry or hard, slice up some apple and lay it on top of some parchment over the Lebkuchen, and seal the tin back up.  This will help add some moisture back into the cookies.