Spellbinders Circle Savvy Header Part 1

Circle Savvy with Spellbinders Dies – Part 1 – Matts, Layers and Frames

In 2003 I was priveleged to be involved in the UK launch of the Spellbinders brand to the UK market. Since then I have had the upmost admiration for the constantly developing range and am regularly astounded by the creative variation that I see from those of you that have invested in this creative range. It wasn’t until recently however that I took the leap and purchased a Grand Calibur and some simple dies.

What made me do this?

Two things really.

Firstly I really wanted to expand my card making and paper crafing skill-set but didn’t want to limit the time I had for my other creative passtimes like sewing. Although there were lots of creative dies that I looked at, the Spellbinders range seemed offer a really simple to use system that would reduce the time that I had to spend performing the basics of matting and layering simple shapes so that I could focus on the creative elements of my papercraft projects.

The second reason was that I had often encouraged guests and presenters on the shows that I produced to demonstrate the range of materials that could be used with the dies and was always very impressed with the versatility however there was something missing for me. I always like to get the best value from any craft tool set that I buy so when I recently stumbled across a blog that showed how to cut fabric with the Spellbinders dies – that was it, I was sold!

At the time I purchased the Grand Calibur I kept in mind that I wanted to simplify the basics of cardmaking and papercrafts so I also chose several sets of basic dies to go along with it. One of the sets I chose was Standard Circles (I got both the Large and Small variations) as I wanted them to matt and layer with and also thought that they would be good to do applique with in the future.

As I made a few excited practice runs with the dies in order to make a sample set of cuts (something I often do with dies) I started asking myself some questions; “Can I use this shape to do something other than matting and layering?”. The answers and ideas came thick and fast so I decided to share them with you in a series of blog posts.

For this first post I am going to take you back to my initial experiments with matting, layering and making frames as it is something that I get asked a lot about and can often make the difference between a good and a great finished look.

First of all let me say that I have made the assumption that you are familiar with what a Spellbinders die is and how to use it with the Grand Calibur. If not, please feel free to comment below and I’ll do my best to answer all and any queries about this post or the techniques in it.

Part 1 – Basic Matts and Layers with one set of dies.

So first up, and going back to my point of taking the time and effort out of matting and layering, I thought that I would show you what a basic set of circles can produce when just performing that basic cut and embossing techniques.

In the image below I have highlighted three examples of how to achieve simple matts and layers with the Standard Circles Large set.  Good to note here that this is standard practice for all Nestabilities shapes so if you have squares, ovals, rectangles etc, it all still applies.

  • Top Left – I have just cut the circles and then layered together.
  • Middle – I also embossed the circles after cutting and before layering together.
  • Bottom Right – I embossed and chalked (not my best effort) the centre of the top layer (using the die as a stencil) before layering together
Spellbinders Circle Savvy Part 1 - Basic Matts

Obviously if I was using coredinations or other coloured core cardstock I could have sanded around the edges for another effect – because the effort of the cutting and embossing is taken up by the machine and dies, I have the time to get creative! :)

The matt border width is 1/4 inch, which is a standard width for all sets of nestabilities dies.

The differences are subtle, but could make the difference to the final project. I’ve kept these as examples that I can refer back to, you might like to do the same.

Part 2 – Combining Dies Of The Same Shape

As part of my continued experiements I then looked at combining the Standard Circles Large dies with the Standard Circles Small dies to give a slimmer edge

In the image below you will see two results.

On the left is an example of using just one set of dies – it has a 1/4 inch matt border as I showed you in the basic matting image above.

On the right however I used the largest of the “Large” circles and the largest of the “Small” circles, this resulted in a slimmer matt border of just 1/8 inch. I can’t tell you why but I am liking this look better.

Spellbinders Circle Savvy Part 1 - Combining Shapes 1


Part 3 – Combining Different Shapes.

An often overlooked concept with Spellbinders dies is that the majority of dies released now, or in the future, will work alongside all of the basic shapes that you may already own.

To test this theory I cut out the largest of the Scallop Circles Large dies and then layered the largest of the Standard Circle Large cut outs on top of this; they fit perfectly! I will be looking forward to mixing and matching more dies as and when I continue to build my library of shapes.

Spellbinders Circle Savvy Part 1 - Combining Shapes 2

Part 4 – Making Frames

I really like the look of photographs that have a professional mount around them when they are framed and hung on a wall so I wondered if I could recreate this with Spellbinders dies, afterall I can position the dies anywhere on the cardstock that I am cutting so I thought I’d give a go.

I tried a few ways but the simplest way that I found not only looks good, but also will save on the amount of cardstock that I use as I only have to use two pieces of cardstock and can save the die-cuts from the centre for future use – that’s zero waste :)

For this technique I used:

  • Two colours of cardstock.
  • Two sizes of Nesting Dies in the same shape.
  • Some low tack tape.
  • Guillotine (*or Square Nesting Dies)

The Process

  1. Cut a square from one piece of the cardstock.
  2. Cut a square 1/2 inch larger from the other cardstock (this gave me a 1/4″ border around the outer edge which will match the 1/4 inch border that the nesting dies will give).
  3. Draw a cross in the centre of each piece of cardstock.  I’ll be honest, you can skip this step if you are good at lining things up by eye however I did it so that I had a visual reference for aligning the dies to the centre of the cardstock.
  4. Please both pieces of card on the cutting mat (I am building the “sandwhich” from the cutting matt upwards instead of using the base plate on the bottom).  This is so that I can see where my dies are going to cut.
  5. Lay the largest circle die in the centre of the smallest piece of cardstock and tape in place. Note – I a made sure that the ridge on the die was facing the cutting mat and not up towards the base plate.
  6. Lay the smaller circle die in the centre of the largest piece of cardstock and tape in place. The same thing applies here re the ridge of the die, it should be facing down towards the cardstock and cutting mat.
  7. Place the base plate on top and run through die cutting machine. I also passed it through a second time to emboss but you don’t have to, it’s not the law or anything, just make sure that they layers don’t move when changing the cutting mat for the embossing mat or it will ruin the result.
  8. Finally glue the smaller piece of cardstock on top of the larger piece – I would recommend a wet glue, such as photo glue, as it will give  time to adjust the positioning so that the layers sit on top of each other perfectly.

*If you also have the square Nestabilities dies you could also cut the squares and circular centres in the same pass through the machine however I am yet to build on my collection so had to cut my squares by using a guillotine.

This first picture shows what things looked like after I had completed steps 1 to 6, which is the set up before I put the base plate on top and performed the cutting/embossing.

Spellbinders Circle Savvy Part 1 - Creating Frames Set Up

This second picture below shows the finished result after the cut and construction.

Spellbinders Circle Savvy Part 1 - Creating Frames Result

Well, that’s the start of my journey into circles, thank you for being there with me :)

I’ll leave you be for now whilst I look at other ways of using circles.  In part 2 I hope to show you layout ideas for using circles in your cards and in the final part of this series I will be looking at ways of using the circle shapes beyond just matting and layering.

Hope you enjoyed this, look forward to seeing you again soon. :)


2 thoughts on “Circle Savvy with Spellbinders Dies – Part 1 – Matts, Layers and Frames

Share Your Thoughts On This Post

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.