Sunday, November 28, 2010

An eCraft Project

(click on photo for a larger image)

Craftwell recently released its updated software designed to correct many of the problems inherent in the original version. I'm happy to report that many of the problems I had with my machine have been addressed and corrected with version 2. It's still not not my dream machine but it is far from the nightmare it was when I first received it. As a result, I've been playing around with it quite a bit, putting it through its paces and seeing what it can do. My big interest in this machine is the ability to import and cut images that I design on my computer. Now that it is behaving in a more consistent manner I can begin to dream up projects for the senior citizens center that I can cut solely on the eCraft. Here is my first paper project cut solely on the eCraft. It is a layered flower mounted on a pin back badge.

The flower on the right was cut from standard cardstock using the eCraft Fundamentals 1 set of SD images that were included in the initial shipment of the machine. The poinsettia flower on the left was cut from discontinued fabric paper the center had on hand with .svg files that I adapted from royalty free clipart. The layers are stacked with a washer between the leaves and petals to create height. The individual leaves and petals are curled and manipulated to give them more dimension and depth. Each layer, including the base badge, has a small hole punched in the middle through which passes a small office variety paper fastener. The legs of the fastener are opened and pressed tightly to the pin-back, effectively holding the whole thing together. I'm particularly pleased that I was able to salvage and repurpose the badges from being tossed into the trash by the senior center director. I believe wholeheartedly in recycling.These versatile flowers can also be made without the pin back for use as decor or dressing up a gift package. Ooh, I see a flowery spring bulletin board in my future.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva
Design team member for About Art Accents

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The eCraft arrives...with a slew of problems.

The eCraft electronic cutter that I won at the CHA Summer 2010 Super Show finally arrived at the very end of October just as I was leaving for my 24th anniversary weekend so I wasn't able to put it through its paces until after I returned.

The machine comes with a power cord, a USB cord for connecting to a computer, a proprietary SD card with a set of images, a paper tray and a roller assembly to accommodate rolls of paper for creating banners. For more information on the eCraft's features and capabilites, visit the Craftwell USA website.

To be honest, I think this machine has been putting me through my paces and trying my patience in the bargain. The downloadable software that allows the machine to communicate with my computer and cut my own .svg images is buggy...VERY buggy. To say that there are a few glitches is to be kind. Craftwell, the makers of the eCraft, are well aware of the issues and is scheduled to release an update to the software on November 19th. (The original release date was Nov. 12, pushed back at the 11th hour.) I was so annoyed and frustrated by the problems I was encountering that, after three days and untold sheets of cardstock, I disassembled it and put it back in the box, fully prepared to relegate it to the status of expensive paperweight. By way of the eCraft Facebook page as well as a user-created Yahoo group that I have joined, I have discovered that not only am I not alone in my frustration but I am not experiencing the worst of it. Many other users are experiencing worse problems with the machine and its software.Non-communication between computer and cutter, windows asking for drivers that have already been installed, ripping, tearing and shredding paper...all sorts of problems are being reported. Yet others are reporting perfect cuts and wonderful results. Apparently there are those who have been unduly blessed by the electronic crafting angels. I, however, am not among them.

After a couple of days, I took it back out of the box and began again from scratch, uninstalling and reinstalling the software and rebooting my computer a number of times before it and the eCraft were able to communicate. My euphoria at this progress was short-lived because of the glitches inherent in the software. It performs well enough when cutting directly from the images provided on the SD card but PC-to-eCraft communications remain somewhat sketchy. Still, I was able to successfully create and cut some of my own images, albeit extremely simple ones. Anything complex and eCraft has a hissy fit, cutting random circles, stuttering in one place and likewise exhibiting ill-tempered behavior.

In spite of it all, I was able to cut one perfect project and created my son's name for his wall. All the layers of this image were created in a drawing program, saved in .svg format, imported into the eCraft software and sent to cut. I stamped the topmost layer with Versamark watermark ink and dusted it with PearlEx pigments.

In the course of my travails with the machine, I think I may have stumbled across the reason for the stuttering while cutting imported image files. I have posted my theory on my Facebook fan page under the discussions tab (click here if you're interested) and am waiting to hear if anyone else tests my hypothesis. In the meantime I, like dozens of other eCraft owners, am a lady-in-waiting...waiting for the promised update that is supposed to address all software issues known to date. I've got projects in the pipeline waiting to be cut so this update better be all it's cracked up to be. I'll keep you posted.

Ballo ergo sum - Gitana, the Creative Diva Design team member for About Art Accents

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trying to Catch Up

Wedding card
Origami folded invitation

Shrink Plastic Charm Bracelet

Cardmaking at the Senior Center

Jewelry making

I've been so busy lately it feels as if I've been running like a madwoman just to stay in place. Just in the past month alone I worked on the projects pictured on this page.

I designed, printed and folded over 100 custom invitations for a repeat client. The invite, which had to tie into the theme of love and money, is that of an oversized one dollar bill folded origami-style into the shape of a heart. In the photo, I placed the invitation next to an actual folded dollar bill so you can get an idea of the scale.

No sooner was that project completed than I had to scramble to make a card for a wedding I was attending and, of course, I did it just hours before I left for the wedding. No pressure. On the heels of that, I had to create, photograph and write instructions for a charm bracelet made with shrink plastic charms that I rubberstamped and colored. Once that was put to bed, I had to design a card, create the prototype and make individual assembly kits for my crafting class at the senior citizen's center where I volunteer. I had been away from the center for five months due to other commitments and have just returned to find that nearly all the crafting materials had been rearranged. I predict hours of reorganization in my immediate future. On top of all this, I signed up with my sister to attend a weekly jewelry making class at the local community college. I'm having a lot of fun creating simple little bracelets, earrings and necklaces. I have already designed a project for my senior ladies to do. It's the bracelet and matching earrings in the center top of the photo.

As if I didn't have enough to do, I just received a new "toy". The E-Craft electronic cutter that I won in a contest at the CHA SuperShow this summer finally arrived after numerous delays. I've been too busy to do much more than open the box. It is two feet long and so much more intimidating on my table that it was at the trade show booth. I'm going to have to dive in soon and put it through its paces so I can really start creating.

My summer flew by, autumn is in full swing, the holiday season is bearing down on me and I'm still hoping to find a little time to relax. Nope, doesn't look like that's going to happen any time soon. Maybe in my next life...

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva
Design team member for About Art Accents