Tuesday, 24 March 2015

new toy to play with

This purchase has been on the cards for ages... a bigshot plus, woohoo, I hope.  Sort of long winded review coming your way, going to start off with some background as to where I come from when it comes to diecutters.  Skip down to the photo if you can't be bothered to read some waffle lol..

Those who know me know I have a bit of a mania for testing new products and they also know how incredibly picky I am about tools (& food in restaurants).  I expect things to be perfect if I'm paying good money for them and there's nearly always something I wish was better/different.  One of my big "things" is diecutters, bit weird really seeing as I don't use a lot of diecuts in my crafting but since the very first day the sizzix pull down machine was launched I've followed machines & die talk almost to a point of mania.  Now I never bought the original lever sizzix or the hand held plier style Squeezethat came out soon after.  Not because I didn't rate the machines but because the dies out at the time were either seriously naff or just something that wouldn't fit in with my style of crafting.  Fast forward a couple of years, maybe even 5 or 6 and Spellbinders launched not just their Wizard machine but their dies.  Wafer thin & capable of embossing, starting to get a bit more "me" so I hmmed & hahhed about whether it was worth getting a machine or was I just going to have another cutting tool sat on the side not being used (remember coluzzle anyone?  Or the lighthouse cutting system.. or those 2 lads at the shows with the circle with hole thingy that used normal razor blades?  Yep, I bought em too & they live in my loft as well).  I'd kept up my investigation of dies always knowing really that one day I'd have a machine but it was more when it was right for me.  Forget all all about the little sizzix sidekick & dies sat in the cupboard.. it came free with a mag subscription so we wont really talk about that other than to say I didn't use it because the dies werent my style.

When I bought my first machine there were 3 or 4 out there, diecutting was really just starting to come into it's fore and the shops were all competing for our cash.  Out of the 4 only 3 were really a possible because the Revolution couldn't use the chunky sizzix dies, the dies at the time might not have been to my taste but I could see that changing as it became not just an add on for scrapbookers in the US so I wasn't going to limit myself straight off the bat.  From the other 3 machines, Wizard, Bigshot & the Cuttlebug I immediately discounted the bug... why.. within months there were reports of breakage at the slightest hint of mistreatment and I know how hard I am on machines.  With that one out & it left between the wizard & the bigshot I went for the wizard, why?  purely because it was all metal and it'd take a hell of a lot for me to break it.. near on impossible really.  I will say I got on straight away with the wizard, the rolling the bar over and ratchet handle suited me down to the ground.  Allegedly it also had more cutting force than the bigshot but I can't say as I've ever noticed. What I did notice though was a small strip down the middle that lost pressure.. sound familiar?  Yep every diecutter going has a loss of pressure in the middle.  It's one of those real irritants these days but back then it wasnt such a biggie because the dies weren't as detailed and it didn't really notice.  Fast forward a couple of years & Spellbinders have got rid of the wizard and I can no longer buy the spacer plate needed to cut wafer thin dies so time to look at machines.  This time I went for the bigshot, with the benefit of hindsight I should really have bought it from the start but at the time of getting the wizard there was no real indication that the bigshot was going to be so well made that 10 years or more later I'd still have only heard of a handful or 2 breaking, or that Sizzix would have such good customer service (they've sent out free parts to everyone who asked).  I have to say my bigshot has been my go to machine & a real work horse.  I've abused it in the most hideous ways, shimming with mountboard on more than a few occasions when I die has had me at screaming point and it's been the only one of my machines I've trusted enough to take to playdays for other ladies to use.

Fast forward on a year or so from buying the bigshot and I decided I needed an a4 machine, at the time there wasn't an awful lot of choice, the Joy Trouvaille, The Happy Cut (which is virtually the joy under another name) and the grand calibur.  Now I knew there were quality issues with the machines when I bought but Spellbinders have a fantastic reputation so I decided to go with the Grand Calibur knowing that if it broke they'd replace the parts foc.  As it is the machine hasn't ever broken but in all fairness I was annoyed by it pretty much from the start so it got very little use.  Dies didn't cut any better than they did in the bigshot, the large suction base was bloody useless and I had to either chase it around the table or pin it down as I rolled the plates through.  I didn't like having to hold the plates to feed in either, I much prefer the bigshots feed tray which lets me make the sarnie in situ and nudge it in when I'm ready to roll.  One waste of money and it got next to no use, I couldn't trust it at playday so it sat at the back of the playroom and was only ever reached for when I needed to emboss an a4 folder.  Why oh why then did I decide to buy an ebosser??  Might have been because I know a couple of ladies who have and love theirs.  It arrived not long after the release & I have to admit the cutting side of it was good, it still didn't like all dies but it did cut better than the calibur.  On the downside and this was a huge one for me... it took 17 seconds for the plates to feed through.  That doesnt sound like a lot but I'm always eager to get on with the making of the card (which is why my stamps are left dirty & my dies nearly always have waste left in them) so it was a mild irritant to start with.  Now factor  the really evil dies that takes half a dozen plus roll throughs turning each time & resorting to mountboard.  With the bigshot I can whip it in, reverse it backwards & forwards half a dozen times before it would have gone through the ebosser once, fiddling about for what could have been four or five minutes would have had me seeing red, swearing profusely and possibly aiming the machine out of the window so it's hardly a surprise that it sat on the shelf pretty much untouched until a couple of weeks ago when I sold it.  It didn't help either that the plates for the machine were incredibly heavy and a long cutting session would have really hurt where I broke my scaphoid bone a few years back.  Dont get me wrong on this description of the ebosser, it didn't suit me but I know a lot of ladies now who love theirs.  As with a lot of gadgets & gizmos what suits one is the very thing that someone else hates about it.  Now I was sitting here with 2 a4 machines I didn't use and cursing myself for not getting a bigshot pro instead.  With the benefit of hindsight again that's probably what I should have done but getting back to reality I still didn't buy the pro, not because I didn't want one but because it's a huge beastie of a machine.  It takes 12" wide dies and it's so big and heavy it needs it's own permanent ready to use at home.  My playroom is reasonably well sized but it's packed with stash, if I did have one I'd have to sacrifice the top of the 2 paper cabinets & a butchers trolly which is where I've always stood to use the guillotine as well as a flat space where my tower of card to put away one day starts to develop.  Factor that in with a £200/300 bill for a machine that I don't really need and the justification for buying one gets outweighed.  Specially as I also have a cricut expressions (12" machine) which is used exclusively with SCAL and a craftrobo (a4) that lives in the junk cupboard where one day hopefully the dust bunnies will choke it to death.  I do have a couple of friends who at odd times try to egg me on into the purchase but I have sensible head on lately.

Sensible head got kicked to the kerb in January though.. Sizzix announced a new a4 bigshot, woohoo.  Half the price of the pro and it doesnt need quite as much room.. double woohoo.  and then I read it's got some fancy new metal roller system designed to eliminate pressure loss in the middle of the plate.  OMG, I have to get me one of those bad boys, one day.  Well one day arrived sooner than I thought.. as in a few weeks later.. can't wait, I know it's not released yet but sod it.. bye bye calibur & ebosser, time to get in the car, head off to Farnborough to the makeit show and hand over a few folded notes to Oysterstamps then wait til the slow boat from the US arrives and it gets sent out to me.  I did try to pull a fast one & nag Tracey into letting me have their demo machine but she wasnt having any of it lol.  Anyways have wrote this monologue before the machine gets here so hopefully the next sentence will read.. guess what arrived today lol

Well it did arrive today but the twerps at ukmail should have delivered it on Friday, lies & excuses when I rang them yesterday (monday) when it still wasnt here by 4.  Thanks to middle daughter dropping my grandson off at lunchtime I havent had more than a cursory play with it so this will be initial thoughts and I'll do a better review when Nate has gone home & I've had a full days play.

When I saw the machine at the NEC show last Saturday my first thought was wow, that's a whopper and instantly sort of worried where I'd put it.. this is after buying a 42" trimmer last month not realising 42" is as large as it is lol.  Once out the box, handle screwed on and it was ready to play.  In the interest of fairness I went and got baby bs and lined them up side by side and actually it's not hugely larger.  What is massively larger is the cutting plate.  It's 9" wide and about 15" long!  No problems getting a full a4 on that one and there's room to spare.  Yes it's a heavier machine & I wouldnt want to take it out & about to crops but I can carry the machine in one hand without too much trouble, wouldnt want to walk a mile carrying it but I'd so all I could to avoid walking a mile anyway ;o)  It's definitely light enough to bring downstairs if I want to craft in the kitchen or move around the playroom.

Editing to add in: Footspace on the desk is 16" by 12", the handle does come out another 4".  The machine needs 7 1/2" of clearance space either end to allow the plates to be ran through at full extension. 

One thing to note about the bigshot plus is its new roller, it's not a single true cyclinder it's made up of several different thicknesses with the fattest in the middle, there's only a fraction of a mm between them and it's to cure the problem of a machine having more pressure on the sides.  In practise this does work, using an a4 swiss dots type embossing folder I had perfectly even embossing over the entire a4 page.  My calibur did lose pressure in the middle but it wasnt bad enough that I never used it but my ebosser had a huge stripe where there was next to no pressure in the middle and the embossing wasnt useable.  One thing to point out is the new crafts too a4 embossing folders are a lot thicker than normal embossing folders.  If I'd used the correct sarnie I'd be pretty sure the top plate would have snapped.  The one that worked for me was, platform, adapter A (not b) and ONE cutting plate not 2.

The thing a lot of people are asking about is its cutting ability.  I havent had chance to really get it working but I did try a few dies. The baby bigshot mpp & plates do work in the plus and it did cut better in it than it did in the baby. This was just one quick test, I'll try to do more to confirm it.  I will say it's harder to turn the handle on the plus than it is the baby, I also found it harder to feed the sarnie in the first couple of times.  Whether that's the plates being a smidge thicker or the plus having more pressure or just that I'd loosened the baby I don't know. 

My most evil die.. arianna lace.  Normally I'd use mountboard to shim it and struggle to get it through the baby bs, admittedly that is with thick card tho but even with 160gsm I usually have to put it through, rotate & add a couple of spot shims.  I didn't even attempt it in the calibur or ebosser.  In the bigshot plus, in the middle of the plate and with 220gsm pearl it took going forward & reversing back twice to get a totally clean cut.

2nd most evil die is my frosty memory box edge die, that's another than needs a lot of shimming.  On the same pearl card it cut through first time when placed down the edge of the plates and when placed at an angle in the middle.  When placed across the plate it was very patchy, hardly surprising as straight edged dies should never be placed parellel to rollers because when they roll over them they jump slightly, bit like bumping the car over a kerb instead of gliding over a dropped kerb.  Had to try it tho to see.

3rd most evil is a dangling from a bow snowflake from memory box, another I normally shim, cut through the 220gsm pearl with ease.

Overall I'm very pleased with my new toy, the question though is will I still be happy after giving it a good run through, I hope so.

No comments: