First Slip-stencilled Cups!

I’m off tomorrow to the American Pottery Festival at Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis. I’ll talk with MN potter Kip O’Krongley about her use of a die cutter for stencils on clay. The clay people, shop talk, and good pottery at APF will be wonderful. My die cutter work slowedwhile I finished the APF works, photographed, inventoried, and shipped.  The home page on my web site has links to the gallery of works for that and the upcoming Charlie Cummings Cup show. All majolica works. There’s info about my cheap-and-dirty photo setup used to take the images on the Handouts page of my web site.

I finished the cups for the Craft Emergency Relief Fund/Crimson Laurel Gallery cup show later this fall, curated by educator and low-fire potter, Martina Lantin. I was very excited about using die-cut stencils, and LOVE my Zing die cutter. More when I get back from Minnesota. Natural Disaster: Fire below. See the gallery of all cups for the Disaster, Relief, and Resiliency show at Crimson Laurel (11/1-12/25/13) here:

Natural Disaster: Fire. Die-cut slip stencils on earthenware.

Natural Disaster: Fire. Die-cut slip stencils on earthenware.

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:

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.