Sunday, August 9, 2009

QK Cookie Cutter Storage

First of all, I need to apologize for not posting in an entire month. My goal when I started this blog was to post at least twice a week. However, shortly after my last post, we embarked on a 16-day family vacation out West. My plan was to post a couple of times "from the road" using my son's laptop. However, we discovered that there is no publicly available internet anywhere in Yellowstone National Park (we never had cell service, either), and by the time we left there, I had kind of given up on the posting from the road idea and resigned myself to just taking as many great pictures as I could. (I hope to post some of those soon.) After we got home from vacation, I found out that our wireless home network was all messed up and I couldn't access the internet from my computer. Finally, just a couple of days ago, we got that problem resolved. So, that's where I've been, and I'm happy to say that I'm back!

Okay, I'm just going to put this out there -- I LOVE all things Quickutz (or QK, for short). I was probably one of the first scrapbookers to purchase that fat blue hand tool along with the Venus font, complete with shadow. I don't remember how much I paid for that set, but it was a lot! I remember that I used part of a bonus I got from work, and it was truly treating myself to get this new die-cutting system. Since then, I've become the proud owner of two of the Squeeze hand tools (black and purple), a Revolution, and just a couple of weeks ago, an Epic 6. Along with all of those various die-cutting tools, I've managed to amass quite a haul of fonts, some on the 2x2 dies and others on the 4x4.

When QK first introduced the "cookie cutter" type dies (each letter of the alphabet is a separate piece of metal, kind of like a cookie cutter), I was skeptical. They looked weird. But after I got my first cookie cutter font (I think it was Magnolia), I understood the advantage. To make a title for a page, I could simply gather the letters I needed, and ONLY those letters, place as many as I could fit on the platform of the Revolution, and in just a few spins of the handle, I had my die-cut title with no extra letters and no wasted paper.

Initially, QK sold magnetic storage books for this style of alpha. The books were about the size of a regular sheet of paper, and opened out so each side could be used for storage. They came in black and white. Although rather expensive (around $12 each), these were fine, at first. But then, a couple of things happened. First, the storage books began to be rather difficult to find, and second, I bought Diesel. Diesel is the font on the right in the photo above. The letters aren't just huge, they're chunky, too. With much fooling around, I managed to get all of the Diesel letters into one white storage book, but I couldn't fit the numbers, too. So I had those stored in a baggie in a drawer, reasoning that I probably wouldn't use them very much anyway. Some time later, when I received Mary Jane in the mail (that's it on the left in the photo), I knew immediately that I was going to have the same problem. By this time, it was harder than ever to find the storage books, and I rarely used Mary Jane because the dies were stored in a baggie on my scrap desk. At some point, QK started selling a different kind of magnetic folder for the cookie cutter dies, but it was smaller and I didn't like it as well as the storage books (and I didn't even like those that well). So, the end result was that every time I found myself interested in a new font (and that was pretty much every month or two), I'd look first to see if it was the cookie cutter format or if it was on the flat dies. It the font was the cookie cutter format, I thought long and hard about how much I wanted it, because storage was becoming such a problem. Smaller or "classic" size fonts turned out to be okay, because the entire font, including upper and lower case letters, numbers, and punctuation, could invariably fit in one of the "old style" storage binders.

Then I started wanting more of the cookie cutter shapes, such as the sets of nested circles and stars. Those were stored all over the place, with whatever font had a bit of room left in the folder. But I could see that I was eventually going to need a better storage solution if I intended to buy any more cookie cutter dies. I'd been thinking about magnetic sheets adhered to cardboard and put into page protectors, and I'd gotten as far as checking prices online on 8-1/2 x 11 magnetic sheets. But then, a few days ago, I read a thread on the message board of my favorite scrapbooking idea site, Two Peas in a Bucket, and this gal mentioned that she'd lined cookie sheets with magnetic material and used that to store her cookie cutter dies. An enormous light bulb went off in my head. Years ago, I'd used a similar system (without the magnetic materal) to store rubber stamps, and it had worked great. So, yesterday afternoon, I hit a few stores, and the storage "system" I ended up with is shown in the picture at the top of this post. Here's how I made it.

First, I bought two packages of magnetic vent covers at Lowe's. The gal on the message board had specifically suggested these, noting that the vent covers were 8x15 and came in a pack of three for $4.60, versus about $2.00 at most stores for ONE 8-1/2x11 magnetic sheet. The vent covers have the added advantage of having pretty strong magnetic properties, whereas the sheets that they sell at office supply stores tend to have very weak magnetic properties. In Lowe's, the magnetic covers are with all of the decorative and replacement household vent covers. Once I had my magnetic sheets, I went searching for just the right cookie sheets. After visiting a few stores, I found at Target a package of two 14x15 shallow cookie sheets with only two edges. The package of two sheets was $10.99. Upon returning home, I cut two magnetic sheets to fit one of the cookie sheets exactly. Because the dimensions of the cookie sheets were pretty close to the dimensions of two of the vent covers placed side by side, I didn't really have much waste at all (the frugal side of me liked that a lot). Then, I adhered the magnetic sheets to the cookie sheet with my ATG (see my previous post on adhesives if you don't know what an ATG is). The ATG adhesive is perfect for this application because it lays down easily, it's permanent, and it's SUPER strong. Once I adhered the magnetic sheets in place, I got out all of my cookie cutter fonts and shapes, and did a little figuring. I was ecstatic to find that both Diesel and Mary Jane fit easily on one cookie sheet, and I even had room left over on the Diesel cookie sheet to include a couple of nested dies. Even better, the two cookie sheets nest perfectly on top of one another, and they'll soon be joined by a few more because now that I know that this system works, I'm going back to get another package of cookie sheets and some more magnetic vent covers. For just under $35, I'll end up with four very large, flat magnetic storage trays that will hold even the 12" long cookie cutter "border" dies (this is important, because I just purchased one of these, the bracket). Price wise, you can't beat that, and I think this system looks nice, too. But the most important thing is that it's functional. All of the dies for each font are all together, including punctuation, and I've now freed up a couple of those expensive QK magnetic storage binders, which I'll use the next time I purchase a "classic" or smaller sized font. I can easily bring the trays out, find and use what I need, and replace the dies when I'm finished. I have no doubt that I'm going to be using some of my QK fonts more often than I have in the past, simply because they're now stored in a more accessible way.

So, hats off to the wonderful gal on Two Peas who came up with this brilliant solution to a problem that, while not earth-shattering, had been bugging me for quite awhile.

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