Tyvek Stencils for Pottery Decoration with Zing Die-Cutter

After working with the setup and practice pen, and checking out helpful online videos and reading parts of the very complete Zing die-cutter and Make the Cut software combined manual online (available in an interactive online version here, or a downloadable PDF version here), I set up a page of images from various edited clipart sources for an upcoming Natural Disaster cup show at Crimson Laurel. Chad Youngbluth at Accugraphics, the company that sells the Zing, suggested that the regular red blade would be fine for cutting Tyvek. The page has many complex anchors (points) to cut, and I set it up at slow (8), double pass due to the fiber-y nature or Tyvek (10G weight – light), and an average force of 74, blade offset .35. It took a l-o-n-g time to cut, but cut exceedingly well. The Tyvek was stuck down to the Zing sticky mat for cutting.

Using Tyvek stencils of this weight on clay is more difficult than using wet paper stencils on leatherhard ware. The back of the non-porous Tyvek has to be wetted, and the clay underneath damp. I don’t think this would work on late-leatherhard ware – too dry to stick. The cups were trimmed, handles put on, and slipped with a white base slip (recipe for slip on the Majolica and Lowfire  handout on my web site Handouts page.) The cone-shaped Natural Disaster: Tornado cup was dipped in slip that proved to be too thick and needed brushing out a bit. The Natural Disaster: Flood cup had white slip brushed on as a ground. With bad weather conditions as a theme, the atmospheric thick-thin of brushed slip works with the idea. With slip, it’s hard to tell how uniform the coverage is until it’s glazed. Even thin slip looks fairly opaque before glazing. It might be easier to do the surface first THEN put on the handle. Images from the project below. Going in the bisque today.

Screen shot from Make-the-Cut software of page to be cut

Screen shot from Make-the-Cut software of page to be cut

Tyvek stencil after cutting.

Tyvek stencil after cutting.

Arbuckle terracotta cup with slip on leatherhard clay w Tyvek stencils and sgraffito. Natural Distaster: Tornado. Greenware.

Arbuckle terracotta cup with slip on leatherhard clay w Tyvek stencils and sgraffito. Natural Distaster: Tornado. Greenware.

Arbuckle terracotta cup w slip on leatherhard clay w Tyvek stencil images. Greenware. Natural Disaster: Flood.

Arbuckle terracotta cup w slip on leatherhard clay w Tyvek stencil images. Greenware. Natural Disaster: Flood.

Arbuckle greenware cups w/stencil decoration on leatherhard clay.

Arbuckle greenware cups w/stencil decoration on leatherhard clay.


Zing Die-cutter Arrives!

The Accugraphics (Klick-N-Kut) people were kind enough to furnish me with a Zing die-cutter for research and promotional consideration. They had not considered ceramics application for their product, and are curious. The Zing looks like a serious tool. It will cut 14″ wide, and accepts media a bit wider than that. The Silhouette Portrait I wrote about earlier cuts 8″ wide maximum. The Zing has several kinds of registration: you can cut in relation to your image and position the knife starting point manually, you can use a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG), or use the laser beam to register the lower right corner. The Zing works from the Make-the-Cut software bundled with it, and is controlled from that software on your computer (Mac or PC).

My office at home is small, and I am a tool, supply, and books packrat. I have sewing, beading, and knitting supplies, 2 remaining cabinets of slides I’ll either scan or eventually ditch, and loads of books on art, design, ceramics, and computer topics. I also have a scanner, a laser printer (for b & w printing that won’t smear if wet, and laser decals – info on my website handouts page ), and an inkjet printer. The Zing has to be attached to your computer, and you want to be able to see it from your computer screen for moving the registration to the right place before cutting. This meant moving the inkjet to the other side of the room, and making a Wi-Fi connection with it. I had to give up the fax connection to do this. Like the Portrait, the media moves through the Zing, and you need a modest space in front and in back of the cutter.

The Zing die-cutter from Klick-N-Kut

The Zing die-cutter from Klick-N-Kut

Unlike the Portrait, the Zing people have done a very thorough manual that’s downloaded or viewed online, and loads of videos about details you need to know on YouTube. They do a good job on educating their users. The Zing comes with a sticky cutting mat, a 45-degree (regular) blade, a 60-degree blade for thick things, a blade holder, a pen (you can also clamp your own pen into the holder) and fillers for the pen. The instructions walk you through set-up, and coach you on practicing with the pen to become familiar with how the cutting set-ups in the software actually locate on the die-cutter, the adjustments, and other details. They kindly say that you have of make a lot of mistakes to learn, you won’t hurt the cutter, and to get in there and TRY a lot of things. The Zing intro online videos are succinct and helpful. You can cut everything from cardstock and vinyl to cake icing sheets, to balsa wood and felt. Someone even mentioned cutting flattened soft drink cans. You can also engrave and emboss, with the associated tools.

I spent much of the day making space for the Zing and setting it up, so I’ve barely scratched the surface with a few pen drawings of arrows to see what they’re telling me about how the various settings deal with where they work on the cutter field. It will take a bit of doing to get past the tech parts, and a bit more to decide how my aesthetic works with this tool, but I’m very intrigued, and glad I have the opportunity to work with the tools.

Nice explanation about how to test the blade depth setting here:
I assume for decal solid color sheets I’ll want to put it on a mat and cut all the way through the color and backing. The video helped me see how I might figure out the right knife depth for that, as it’s thicker than paper, and maybe thicker than cardstock. The Portrait has a ratcheting adjustment for blade depth, while the Zing is infinite, allowing for finer gradations of setting. For something like cutting vinyl, you’d cut through the vinyl, but not the backing – that’s a fine adjustment!

You make adjustments depending on what media you’re cutting to adjust blade depth, speed of cutting, and force. The blade depth is manually controlled, the speed and force set through the software.

Zing FAQs: http://www.iloveknk.com/knk-info/zing-faqs/

If you’re curious about this technology (or just want to see how it works with a cake icing sheet!), do check out some of the videos on YouTube.