YouTube Subscriber Question Monday – Original Sizzix Machine.

Last week I received a question from one of my YouTube Subscribers.  The question was regarding the “Old Sizzix Machine” and how to use it.  Mary Kim Nance’s question is as follows.

Hi Leslie, I love watching your videos.  They are inspiring!  I have a request to see how to use the original SIZZIX machine.  Lol…the big red heavy one your husband bought you.  I picked one up at Goodwill and I don’t know how to use it or if you can still buy folders/dies (?).  I thought I would give this a try before investing in a new model.  Any input would be appreciated. Thank you for inspiring me!  Take care.  Mary Kim.

It has been a long time since that, once loved, machine has seen the light of day.  Answering this question was an ideal time to get reacquainted with the old thing and get into my stash of dies.

Original Sizzix machine with some of my dies and embossing folders

Original Sizzix machine with some of my dies and embossing folders

Currently, many rubber stamp companies are making coordinating sets of dies and stamps.  They make it easy to be creative.  Stamp an image then use the appropriate die to cut the image out.   The dies for the stamp sets are all super thin, much like the Spellbinder dies.  In the photo above, the Spellbinder dies are above the Original Sizzix nesting together on a magnetic sheet that doesn’t work so great.  :/

I have created a 34 minute video showing how to use each of the dies I display in this photo.  I have included how to use the embossing folders which are to the top right.

Like many old “Work Horses”, they are put out to pasture when the newer versions come along.  :/

There are a few dies that will NOT work with the Original Sizzix machine.  The die body is too wide to fit through the throat of the machine, under the presser head.  Tim Holtz Alterations dies will not work on this machine.  His border dies WILL work with this machine because they are narrower, about half the size of his other dies.

I have used two cameras to create this video.  I found out that I can do “Picture in Picture” using my iMovie program during editing.  I have used this feature to highlight portions of the tutorial on making this old machine work for Mary Kim.

If you watch the video, keep in  mind that most of the time I don’t think things out very well.  Especially the portion using the Spellbinder dies and the “shimming” required to get the best use of the die sets.  I should have cut the shims to the size of the cutting plate making it easier to make the die work correctly.  :/

Oh, well… least the viewer will see what NOT to do when working with this machine.  😀


Freak Show! Crazy flower from fake leaves.

Crazy flower made from fake flower leaves

Crazy flower made from fake flower leaves

My last video tutorial in the series of “Heat Embossing Techniques” features using the leaves from fake flower bouquets.  I have created a flower that, most likely, is NOT “Mother Nature” approved.  😀

A freaky hybridized flower that no botanist would even consider a worthy species to replicate.

Species?  I’m not even sure what the classification would be for flowers.  Maybe genus?

Whatever the technical name for a flower classification is, I’m positive my featured flower would not be in any of either classification.  😀

Hey, I’m trying to show how you can repurpose things that would normally be tossed in the trash.  “Use what you have”.

I used VersaMark Embossing Ink on the green leaves and on some of the red leaves.  To get things moving along quicker, I used Glycerine painted on with a brush for a large portion of the red leaves.

Putting the thing together was accomplished with my most HATED tool in my craft room.  The Hot Glue Gun.  I HATE that thing!  Burns, hot glue strings like spider webs, blobs of glue dripping out everywhere.  That tool, I just don’t see why so many people use that confounded contraption in their craft spaces.  :/

You have about 20 minutes?  You can watch the video below on how I created this Freak Show.


Final Episode: Heat Embossing Techniques

At the request of one of my YouTube subscribers for information about heat embossing, I have created several videos on this subject.  Seems like nearly a bazillion of them 😀

When a person does a search on YouTube for heat embossing the resultant videos all show how to use rubber stamps with heat embossing powder.  Not every crafter has a stash of rubber stamps, more especially those that are just getting into this craft.

Give them six months to a year and their crafting space will look almost as bad as mine does.

This week’s set of four technique videos are all about embellishments.  Brads, plastic clear faceted items, chipboard die cuts with pre-printed sentiments and coloring, raw chipboard die cuts just waiting to be dressed up spiffily, and I even go so far as to do injustice to Mother Nature and create a hybrid flower from the plethora of leaves left on a silk flower bouquet after I’ve snipped nearly all the flowers off.

Next Wednesday a new series will begin.  What it will be about….I’m working on that one 😀


Lighting for my videos.

I can’t afford the fancy lighting for professional photographers.  I don’t have the space to set up that type of lighting, either.

Joe dabbles in photography when the whim hits him.  He has a lot of stuff scattered throughout our house…in places where it can be stored….to create a fully functioning dark room and for proper lighting of his subjects.

When I started making videos for YouTube I “appropriated” some of his lights.  Hey, they were shoved away on the shelf in our bedroom closet and not being used.  He was gone on the road and not home to declare that the lights were his.  😀

Like most things in my life that require expertise….of which I have not one iota of…..I pretend that I do.  😀

For quite a long time I used his lights in my room for filming.  I have a standard overhead light and sometimes harsh sunlight coming in through the window blinds.  I tried to combat the shadows with my genius.  :/

My lighting for several years

My lighting for several years

These lights are of the “Older” variety with the ceramic doodads that hold the light bulbs.  You can purchase similar lights at a hardware or a farm store.  The farm store will sell them as “hatchery” lights to keep the little baby chicks warm after they hatch out.

You can see, from the above photo, I have the spring clamps attached to the handles of the cupboard doors above my work table.  Sometimes this lighting works but mostly I get a lot of shadows.

Last week, I asked Joe to help me with setting up my lighting in a better way.  Notice I said “My lighting”?  Using HIS lights.  😀

I had him watch a video on making light stands with PVC tubing.  I’ll include that video at the bottom of this post.  He went to our local big box hardware store to purchase the items  he would need.  Within about 20 minutes he had me all fixed up.

The lighting in my room after Joe did his magic

The lighting in my room after Joe did his magic

The PVC tubing light, to the far left in the above photo, took him about 5 minutes to cut the pieces and attach them with connecting doobitties.  Joe made the “feet” into a three leg pattern instead of the four leg pattern you will see in the video.  This adds more stability to the tall pole and keeps it from tipping over.  I don’t need to weight down the supports with anything.

3 legged stand on the light pole

3 legged stand on the light pole

I told Joe I needed to have one of my lights, to the left of my work table, higher and back further than it had been.  Previously the light was attached to one of the door handles of the cupboard above my head.  Joe purchased some metal piping and elbow joint thing-a-ma-bobs, along with a “flange” to attach this to the wall.

Light to the right of my work table

Light to the right of my work table

Before Joe created my light setup, I “appropriated” some of his PVC pipe that had been in our  hallway for a few years.  It wasn’t long enough to reach from the top of the cabinets to the left and to the far right.  I had to “appropriate” a 3/4 inch dowel to add the length I needed.  Having this overhead light helped me to see what I was doing on my work table as I video taped.  I still had shadows but not as bad as had been before.


Stolen PVC pipe from Joe's stash

Stolen PVC pipe from Joe’s stash

With Joe’s help, and expertise in all things – as usual….I now have better lighting for my creative blathering.

Nearly professional lighting

Nearly professional lighting

For about $35 you can set up your lighting with things from the hardware or farm store.  The light things at the hardware store will be in the section where they sell “Work Lights”.  They are about $10 each.  The PVC tubing and connectors will be a little over $5.  Beats the heck out of $400 to set up this same kind of lighting.

Here is the video I had Joe watch to get my lighting set up.


Step INTO your fear.

This is what I fear most.

This is what I fear most.

I’ve used lace before.  I’ve used beaded ribbons before.  I’ve used flowers, too.  Doesn’t mean that I no longer fear the silly things.

Inadequate.  Judged and found wanting.  Self recrimination.  Self abuse.

I suppose, like other things in life, you can develop a tolerance for horrid things after you do it/them multiple times.

The tag shown above took me over two hours to make.  I had the heat embossed swirl applied to the tag in about four minutes as I did the tutorial on heat embossing with stencils.  That was the easy part.

For me…facing my fears is akin to finding a spider coming from above on its invisible web.  No matter the size, minute or as big as a quarter, that spider will send me running and squealing.  Calling out for help to my “Spider Slayer” husband.  When he is not home to do this job then I am left to deal with the spider myself.  Most of the time it gets safely away to torment me another day.

A small pile of lace trim sitting on my work table can make my stomach twist, my heart beat faster, dread well up from the depths of my core.  My eyes flick back and forth from the lace trim to the blank tag.  My brain has shut down at this stage and all I feel is the fear.  I find that I have been holding my breath.  You’d think that I was in imminent danger of my very life.

While I’m creating cards or other abominations in my craft room, I start with a glimmer of an idea.  As I begin the process of gathering my supplies that glimmer turns into a spark, then into a fully fledged idea that I will work toward.  Not so when faced with lace trims.

I used my video camera to document my progress from paralyzing fear to actually completing the tag.  As I said, it took well over two hours to make this one tag.  I’ve edited the video down to about 18 minutes.

So anyone out there that is scared out of their minds, terrified to make the first move, and have clamoring voices in your head telling you to STOP…..Take a deep breath and STEP INTO YOUR FEAR.  You’ll never know how it will turn out.  Your first attempt may look like something that needs to be immediately thrown in the trash bin.  That is not the message.

The message is YOU DID IT AND  YOU SURVIVED IT!  You learned a little something along the way.  Your next attempt will be better.

Maybe you will have found a nugget of information to use on your next project, whatever that may be, as you watch my video.


Heat embossing with stencils and templates.

I will have six videos up on my YouTube channel today.  Yes, I said 6!

In my small attempt at getting others to look into the depths of their hoard of paper, tools, and products I dug through my stash of brass, plastic, and decorative stencils.  Over the years I have accumulated quite a number of items that have been shoved into the deep dark cupboards in my craft room.

Each stencil I use in this quasi-educational series was, once upon a time, chosen because of its supreme beauty.

Being the type of person that I am….having the attention span of a gnat….the spell wore off shortly after I got that most prized piece home.  Doubts and fears overcame my adventurous side.  What am I ever going to do with THAT?  The end result was nearly forever darkness.

Time to do a “Haul”.  Get in my cupboards, bins, boxes, and drawers and “Haul” out all of my stencils and templates.  In my zeal to be a good teacher and inspiration I did a few things that will become a “cautionary tale” of what NOT TO DO and if you DID DO IT then what the remedy is.

I have a, newly acquired, brass butterfly stencil that I nearly ruined by my genius.  I thought it would be prudent to tape the stencil on a piece of paper and use several colors of embossing powder at one go.  Uhm, err, ahem….DON’T DO IT.  And if YOU DO here is what to do when you have a massive fail.

Rubbing Alcohol, or Surgical Spirits for those of you in Europe, is your friend.

Rubbing Alcohol or Surgical Sprits is your friend

Rubbing Alcohol or Surgical Spirits is your friend

Place the stencil in a vessel of your choosing.  Cover the botched beauty with rubbing alcohol or surgical spirits and leave to soak for 24 hours.  Trust me….this will do wonders to your stencil and your spirits.

The paper I had the stencil attached to did not release when I pried it up off the paper.  It was stuck on there good and tight.

Paper stuck on the back of the stencil

Paper stuck on the back of the stencil

After soaking for 24 hours in the rubbing alcohol, the paper easily came away from the brass.  No scrubbing, no digging, no damage to the stencil.

After a 24  hour soak the paper released easily

After a 24 hour soak the paper released easily

You can see the entire fail in this photo.  You will also see that the stencil was not damaged.

The mighty fail

The mighty fail

The heated embossing powder comes loose with a bit of scratching with your finger nail.  No other tools required to remove the stuck on mess.

Just like new

Just like new


To get you started….here is my “Haul” video 😀



Unconventional Tool in the craft room

My husband, Joe, is building a component for our Transport Trailer that requires him to solder wire gizzys into little holes.  He has, in the past, used his soldering iron to reheat the solder to remove a wire and place it in a different hole or replace a wire that has broken.  He found a tool on eBay that is used in the computer industry to make the process easier for him.

My husband is an “enabler”.  When he comes across something in his eBay searches that he thinks I can use he makes it a point to let me know.  One such item is a Bozan 858D+ SMD Rework Station.

Bozan 858D+ SMD Rework Station

Bozan 858D+ SMD Rework Station

He paid about $35 (shipping included) for this thing just for me.  I’ve used it and it is easy to use and did the job I needed it to do.  Check out the video below to see this thing work.


Previous Older Entries