I have been stamping for more than 15 years and while I have seen techniques and trends come and go, there are a few basic tools that every stamper needs to have. I’ll start the list with six “must haves” and work down to the “nice-to-have” tools.
Reported by Cassandra Darwin
I love pens. Always have. Probably always will. And after buying hundreds of different kinds I know that some are (much) better than others. Here is a quick comparison of just a few that I happened to have handy – I tried to narrow the selection down to dark colors with pigment ink. First I’ll do a quick review of each pen, then describe a water test I conducted, and finish with summary of all the important facts.
Starting from the top of the picture:
- Acid-free and archival pigment ink
- Available in 10 colors
- 0.5 mm fine tip for writing and drawing
- Easy to hold, smooth writing, and color coded on both ends of the pen. Have not had any problems with bleeding on different paper media.
- Pigment ink that is waterproof and compatible with Copic markers
- 4 nib sizes for colors and 7 nib sizes plus two brush sizes in black (0.05 black was tested)
- Available in 6 colors
- This is like the Rolls Royce of pigment pens. Compatible with every medium, writes smoothly and easily. I plan to get more sizes and may look into buying the more expensive refillable version.
- Pigment ink is acid free, archival, waterproof, and fade proof
- 6 nib sizes (black 0.45 and 0.5 mm sizes were tested - although my chart below has the wrong sizes listed)
- 15 colors available
- This has been go-to pen for a long time. I have even been using some of the same pens intermittently for 10+ years without any sign of drying out. My biggest complaint is that the nib sizing numbers don’t correspond with the nib size – size 08 is actually a 0.5 mm nib.
- Archival ink that is waterproof and fade resistant (not pigment ink)
- The Classic Gelly Roll (solid cap) comes in two nib sizes and 11 colors
- The five other varieties of Gelly Roll (clear and glitter caps) are avilable in 40+ colors with a variety of metallic and pearl finishes
- $1.39 – $1.69
- These are certainly the most affordable option in my comparison, and maybe even the easiest to find in stores. But the roller ball gel ink does require steady pressure to get an even writing line. And the Metallic Gelly Roll did not survive my water brush test (below).
Pigment Pro from American Crafts
- Acid-free archival pigment ink
- This pen has been discontinued, but I wanted to include it because this was my first time using it. I’m not sure if it had been sitting at the store for too long, or what the story was. But I pulled it out to use it for the first time and it was all dried up!
Click the image below to enlarge see writing examples for each of the pens.
I figured it would be a good idea to test with a wet paintbrush to see which pens can be used with watercolors and markers. Below is a writing sample for each pen on watercolor paper.
Then I used the water pen to get each line of writing thoroughly wet. All of the pigment pens passed with flying colors. But of the Gelly Roll pens, only the Classic version resisted the water – the other metallic varieties had a little to a lot of smearing from the paintbrush.
Spellbinders Presto Machine Box Contents
Spellbinder Presto Punch Battery Case
Presto Punch Power Adapter
Holiday Punch & Embossing Stencil Templates
The Presto Punch templates can be used to punch, emboss, and stencil. They vary in size and are thinner than chipboard which means they do not take up a lot of space to store, unlike traditional punches. The Presto Punch templates take less space than a credit card to store (once out of their retail packaging). So if you are challenged for storage space the Presto Punch may offer you a solution with their vast line of templates.
To cut press down button on the left.
If you look closely, you can see how well the machine embosses these little templates.
Then if you want to stencil, just leave the die cut piece in the template and paint.
I used a marker but you can use ink pads, chalks, etc. I like that these templates are multi-functional.
Parchment Paper Die Cut Sample
Recycled Aluminum Can Die Cut Sample
Spellbinders Presto Punch Heart Template Card
Spellbinders Presto Punch Heart Template Card Inside View
Recycled Aluminum Can Earrings
Presto Punch Template Cutting folder does get funky looking.
Second, I want to take a moment to address the sound that the machine makes during use. Some folks may find it a little annoying. Since I have a hand injury at the moment, I think the ease of use (just a press of a button) more than makes up for the sound that the Presto Punch makes when cutting and embossing. I was still able to craft even though my hand movements are pretty limited (which why the jewelry designs are simple so my daughter could help me by working the jewelry making tools). I also found that I could use my other Spellbinders die templates as long as they fit inside the folders. Overall, I think this is a pretty cool machine and look forward to making more fun things with the punched out pieces.
- Offers the crafter portability by using either batteries or a power adapter (sold separately).
- The templates are multi functional. They cut, embosses and can be used as stencils.
- The Presto Punch and the Presto Punch templates are easy to use and store.
- Works on batteries which can lead to waste. Consider using rechargeable batteries or purchase the adapter (sold separately).
- Only comes with one set of folders which will get trashed with consistent use. However, they do sell replacements on their site for $5.99 for three (which isn’t a bad price).
- Sorry, it was hard to come up with any when I am having so much fun with the machine.
Reported by Susan Reidy
Hanging on one wall in my craft space is a shoe organizer crammed full of punches. I’d show you a picture, but no one wants to see that. I don’t even want to see it.
If only Spellbinder’s Presto Punch had come into my life much sooner. As Spellbinders puts it, this handy tool is the first automatic punching and embossing machine. Instead of a hefty heave-ho sometimes needed to use a standard punch, with the Presto Punch, you simply push a button. That’s perfect for those with any strength issues or hand problems like carpal tunnel or arthritis.
And, it solves the problem of storing bulky punches. According to Spellbinders, you can store 30 punch designs in the space of one standard punch. Sign me up!
Spellbinders says the Presto Punch works best with craft foil, fun foam and up to 65# cardstock. I didn’t have any foil, but I tried all the others, and more.
Out of the box, you receive the Presto Punch machine, a purple cutting booklet, a white embossing booklet…
and seven templates.
These guys are tiny, but cute! I like that they are nice basic shapes, and that they come with your initial purchase.
Spellbinders also has additional templates available, including basic shapes that come in sets of three for $9.99, fun themed shapes in packs of 5 for $14.99 and fonts including letters and numbers for $39.99.
Spellbinders sent me the scalloped circles.
And the Christmas Joy. Love that snowman, and all the little Christmas icons.
To use the machine or either need eight AA batteries, or the power adapter, which is available separately for $29.99.
Eight is an awful lot of batteries, and I’m not sure how long they would last. I would definitely recommend the power adapter, which is what I used.
The adapter plugs into the back, under the battery component. There’s a notch in the battery compartment door so the cord can come through.
To use the machine, you’ll first have to cut your paper to fit the 2.5 inch square purple cutting booklet.
Put your paper on the magnet side of the booklet, and put your template on top, raised edge down. The magnet is a nice touch, because it holds the template in place, at least on lighter weight paper.
Put the booklet in the machine.
Push the left/down button.
Once cutting is done, push the right/up button and remove the booklet.
And here’s the punched leaf.
To emboss, remove the template and your punched shape, and put it cutting edge down in the white embossing booklet.
Put it in the machine, press down until the motor stops and then press the up button to remove the folder. Here you can see the nice, deep embossing.
When you’re done with that, you can keep the template in place and use it like a stencil to add some color via chalk, ink, market, etc. to your punched image.
Here’s my cute finished leaf.
I do wish the directions that came with the machine were a little more complete. They give the general guidelines, which I just explained. But what they don’t say is how long to push down the button. When I first did it, the loud, grinding sound scared me and I stopped pushing the button. When I removed the folder, my paper hadn’t punched.
I went online and found further instructions, including videos, that said to keep pushing the button until the motor stops. Once I did that, my punches turned out much better.
The machine is loud, and the sound might be a little off-putting to some. But I didn’t find it any louder or annoying than any other electric die cutting system I have used (Cricut, Vagabond).
I did find there is a certain amount of trial and error involved in getting a good punch. The more I used the Presto Punch, the better my punches turned out. I tried the machine on heavier cardstock than recommended, including the Die Cuts with a View textured paper I used for my leaf up above.
I found with the smaller shapes, the Presto Punch could handle the heavier paper. However, with the larger shapes, it had a hard time cutting through Papertrey Ink (110#), DCWV and Stampin’ Up (80#) cardstock.
One tip: If you try cutting heavier than 65# paper, make sure you have the machine all the way up, and punch all the way down, so you get the maximum amount of punching time. When I was doing lighter weight paper, I didn’t worry if it was all the way up.
I like that you can nest shapes like this.
But unfortunately, I couldn’t successfully cut the two shapes effectively at the same time, even when I tried plain old copy paper. However, it wasn’t hard to cut the circle first, remove the circle die, add the candy cane, and punch again. I got this.
I thought this would be super cute as Christmas tags. I cut a few more, and then thought I’d get a little fancy. After cutting my tag and layering a solid scallop underneath, I tried embossing the candy cane on that lower layer.
I put the template over the precut candy cane and put it in the embossing folder. Here was my result.
Not too bad, but you can see my template shifted a little. In the future, I will add a little piece of tape to my template to keep it in place.
Here are some of my finished holiday tags.
I was really into the nesting thing, so I tried making a wreath with two of the nested scalloped circles.
I again had difficulty getting it to cut all the way through in one punch.
But again, I got a good result punching it in two steps and using a lighter weight patterned paper. Here’s my finished wreath, with an added punched and stencilled holly leaf, also from the Christmas Joy set of templates.
I love that you can use the templates to emboss and stencil, to add more interest to a punch, and used the technique a lot. For this tree, I brushed liquid glue right over the template and added glitter.
The glue and glitter wiped right off my template with a baby wipe.
I cut and embossed the cute snowman, then added some details with chalk.
So cute! He would also be cute with some bling buttons or eyes.
I added him to a journaling pocket I plan on using for a Christmas layout or maybe my December Daily.
I wanted to try the Presto Punch with fun foam. I dug around, and finally found a small piece (but just the right size for the 2.5 inch platform). I was pleased with how well the templates cut through the foam, although the edges were a little rough. This was one of the last things I cut, and my cutting mat was looking really rough, so that may have had an impact.
The directions included with the Presto Punch say not to use template in manual die cutting machines because “doing so will damage the templates and the cutting mats.” So I didn’t try it.
I did however try some of smaller Spellbinder Nestabilities in the Presto Punch. They worked great, but you’re limited to the dies that are small enough to fit on the cutting/embossing surfaces.
After all my testing and playing, my purple cutting booklet looked like this.
The magnet sheet on the surface started bubbling up, and came off altogether in some places. I think it’s definitely time for a new cutting booklet. Replacements are available in a pack of three for $5.99.
Once I got rolling, I really enjoyed using the Presto Punch. It really is easy on the hands, has great “nesting” capabilities and takes up much less space, even when you include the size of the machine. I love that you can emboss and stencil with the templates, much like Spellbinders Nestabilities.
However, there are some trade-offs when compared to traditional punches. You need to cut your paper down to size before you can punch, your results are varied with heavier cardstock, and it takes longer. With a traditional punch, you have your image punched in about two seconds. With the Presto Punch, it takes about 10 seconds to push the punch down and then back up. If you include cutting the paper down to 2.5 inches square, it’s even longer.
Still, the benefits of the Presto Punch make it worth it. While I won’t get rid of my traditional punch collection, I will definitely look to add to my Presto Punch template collection before buying traditional options.
- Great for people with strength or hand problems.
- Easier to store than traditional punches.
- With same template you can punch, emboss and stencil.
- After the initial investment, it is cheaper than traditional punches.
- Templates can be nested for fun results.
- Cute shapes available, as well as fonts.
- Can cut up to 65# paper, fun foam and craft foil.
- Directions included with the machine are incomplete, but lots more information is available online.
- Needs eight AA batteries, which is a lot, or the purchase of the adapter for another $29.99.
- Takes longer than traditional punches.
- Paper has to be precut to fit 2.5 inch square cutting/embossing booklets.
- Results vary when using heavier cardstock.
Have you tried the Presto Punch? How does it compare to traditional punches? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!