Knives and Blades, a Review

I remember being asked by one of my followers on instagram (my ig is @papeldepinay, btw) to write a review on my cutting instruments a couple of months back. It seemed like a good idea since I’ve used several brands already and I do have my favorites.

Since July last year, I’ve used the following brands: X-acto, Maped, Dafa, Linex and Morn Sun.

X-acto

X-acto is probably the most known brand of blade used for papercutting. It is a brand owned by Elmer’s Products, the company specializing in adhesives. So far, the X-acto blades I see in bookstores are sold per piece, in 2s (in cylinders), or in 3s. These are all X-acto #11 blades, but are just packed differently by bookstores. I’ve noticed, though, that the blades sold per piece last longer and cut more deeply. I’ve no idea why, though. The blade is also darker grey in color and has an inscription that it’s made in the US.

It’s not a surprise that X-acto is a favorite among crafters. It makes very precise and sharp cuts. However, because the blade is really sharp, the tip can break easily. And once the tip is broken, it’s good for nothing. You’ll have to replace the blade. This is a problem especially for crafters like me who tend to make deep cuts. If I am making an A4-sized papercut, I ‘d normally have to use 2 to 4 X-acto blades.

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The dark grey blade makes better cuts and does not break easily.

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Maped

The Maped brand has got to be my favorite. Okay, I might be a little biased (or just plain biased) about this as I’ve only used Maped knives since I started cutting. Why? Their knife has a soft grip (your fingers will thank you) and very easy to use. You can also buy blades from other brands, which is what I do. So if you prefer to use other brands, you can just buy their blades and attach the blade to your Maped craft knife. As for the blade’s quality, it lasts the longest compared to other blades. Sometimes, I am able to make 2 or more projects without changing the blade. It’s that durable. The tip does not easily break as well.
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A unique-looking craft knife that Maped also carries.

My only problem with Maped is that you can’t buy spare blades from this brand. You’d have to buy the knife, which also comes with 3 (or is it 4?) blades. The whole thing costs 120.00 Pesos. The price isn’t that bad, really, but what would you do with 10 similar craft knives after a while?

Dafa

The Dafa knife is not really something that I can say I’ve really used. I bought it because it has a small blade, which I thought would be great for making those tiny cuts. Unfortunately though, it didn’t quite do it for me as the knife doesn’t have a good grip to it and it easily slips off my fingers. Of course, I’m not sure if I’m just using it the wrong way. But I got tired of using it after just one project and didn’t bother to figure out the right way of holding it.

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The Dafa knife has a smaller circumference and carries a smaller blade as compared to other brands.

Linex

Linex is also another brand that I’ve noticed to be durable. I was able to make 2 papercuts without changing blades. Maybe that’s the reason why it’s a bit more expensive compared to other brands. When it comes to the quality of the cut, though, I’d say X-acto is still the better brand. The cuts it makes, as I’ve observed, are not as clean as the latter.

 

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Morn Sun

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Morn Sun is probably the cheapest brand of spare blades you can find in the market. Three blades only cost 30 Pesos. I discovered this brand in Deovir, an art supplies store, when they ran out of X-acto blades. Good thing I didn’t buy more of this as I wasn’t really happy with it. The cuts aren’t clean and the blade seems to be dull. It would probably be okay to use this for projects that do not have intricate details.

There you have it. My review on the different brands of cutting instruments I’ve used so far. If I were to rank them, my obvious top choice would be Maped, followed by X-acto, Linex, Dafa, then Morn Sun.

I hope I enlightened those of you who are also in search of that perfect blade for your projects. 🙂

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Stay Wild

Finally… The last project for my Wild Child papercut series.

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I made this one months ago but haven’t gotten the chance to post this until today.

Papercut:
4×4 in.
Pink cardstock
115 gsm

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Frame:
from Regalong Pambahay
Double glass
6×6 in.
Brown floral border

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I just love how the frame’s border is also printed with wild flowers!

Now that this series is complete, I can move on to another one. Thinking of a project that’s inspired by a bestselling book. Any guesses which one it’d be? 😉

Before I end this post, let me show you the cleaning tool I use after messing up my worktable with pieces of paper. Cute huh? :))

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This piece is for sale, by the way. Contact me for details 🙂

Tips and Tricks in Papercutting

I know I’ve only been cutting for a good five months, but in that length of time, I’ve had my share of discoveries and mistakes in papercutting. And while I am still continuously making these (discoveries and mistakes alike), I just thought I could share them with my followers who might be interested in the hobby as well. Here are my ten tips and tricks that will be handy when you get into papercutting:

1. Buy your frame beforehand.

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This first tip might seem odd to some, but this is what I’ve learned in my few months of papercutting. When I first got into the hobby, I was too excited to make papercuts that I made a lot of them in all shapes and odd sizes. By the time I realized I wanted to frame some of my best works, I had a difficult time looking for the perfect frame to fit them in. So yes. If you can, and if you can already picture your finished product, buy the frame first. Frame shops are very limited in Manila. And if you want to have a customized frame, it can really be expensive.

2. Make standard-sized papercuts.

If you would still prefer to choose a frame after making your project, make sure that the length and width of your project are the standards. By “standards”, I mean 8×10, 8.5×11, 8.5×13, 5×7, 6×8, and 4×6 dimensions (all in inches). These are the usual frame sizes that you can find in the mall or a bookstore. Others carry 9×12 and A4 sizes, but these are hard to find. And even if you find frames in an unusual size, chances are the color or design may not go well with your papercut.

3. Dont forget to leave an allowance for borders.

I hate to break this to you but while a 6×8″ frame may fit all of your 6×8″ papercut, not every detail will be seen, specifically the sides. Remember that some frames have wide borders which may cover the outer parts of your project, so take note of this before cutting. 

4. Change blades as often as needed.
Dull blades are the worst. They ruin the paper and make your project untidy. So when you feel like your blade is no longer cutting deeply into the paper, it’s time to change. I normally use a minimum of 2 blades per project, depending on the intricacy of the design. So buy spare blades. Lots of them. I hate it when I’d have to put off a project just because l ran out of blades. Trust me, you’d hate it too.

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5. Cut diagonally.

Avoid pointing your craft knife vertically. There may be designs which are so intricate that you’d point your knife in a close-to-90-degree angle to make sure you cut right through small holes or lines. Don’t. This is the usual culprit for breaking the tip of your blade. When this happens, your blade is just as good as breaking the entire thing altogether.

6. Take a break.

Whenever I’m making a project, I make sure that I take a break from time to time — usually after an hour of cutting. Check your e-mail, drink a cup of coffee, open your facebook, whatever floats your boat. This will give your fingers a chance to rest for a bit and will prevent you from getting backaches after a project.

7. Cut to the music!

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I can’t remember a time not ever listening to music while doing a project. Music – apart from coffee- is my fuel; it just keeps me going. Papercutting goes hand in hand with sound tripping (at least for me) so always be ready with your favorite playlist.

8. Sometimes, a “so-what” attitude helps.

You will, from time-to-time, commit mistakes. You’d accidentally cut a part you shouldn’t, realize you’ve misspelled a word after finishing an entire project, etc. When you do, try to repair the damage if you can. If not, so what? You’re only human. Mistakes, you gotta make them.

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Notice how there’s a space between “always” and “be” at the last line. That’s because I mistakenly put “the” in between, so that it would’ve looked like “will always the be the same”. I just removed the extra “the” to remedy the error. Fortunately, the space is in the middle of the phrase so it kinda looks intentional.

9. Never, ever, pull a loose papercut.

You’ve finished cutting a project and found a part you haven’t cut completely. Whatever you do, do NOT pull! It’s tempting, yes, but doing so might tear the surrounding paper. Stop being lazy and grab your cutting knife so can cut through the loose part completely.

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10. Take your time.

Don’t be too hard on yourself when doing a project. Instead, take your time and focus on the end product you want in mind. A project doesn’t have to be done in one sitting. Sometimes it can take days, weeks or months to finish a papercut. Remember, papercutting is a hobby. Hobbies are there to be enjoyed. So just relax and enjoy what you’re doing 🙂

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I could think of more than 10 tips, actually, but these should do for now. I hope you find these 10 tips helpful in your next project.

Of Music and Papercuts

If you’ve been following my blog, you’d probably know by now that some, if not most, of my works are inspired by songs from my favorite artists. (Click here to get a view of what I’m talking about).

Fresh from watching their concert in Manila two nights ago, I remembered I made a papercut a couple months back about One Republic’s first album.

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I made use of my newly bought stone paper back then, which is very ideal for papercutting. I just wish I could find something with less thickness.

The concert was one for the books. I could rave about how Ryan Tedder and his fellow band members rocked the night away but it’d take you days to finish reading this post. So, I’ll just leave you with a video of one of their songs from their new album, Native.

One Republic – Counting Stars

Home Is Any Four Walls…

My friend in Singapore who’s also a blogger has requested for a home-themed papercut to be displayed in their place. To be honest, I find commissioned papercuts more challenging to make than my regular projects because of course, there’s the pressure (from myself, not from the client) to have a satisfied client. The design must suit their taste and the cuts must be flawless.

For this project, I used the quote “Home is any four walls that enclose the right people”. Sketching this piece wasn’t that hard, though it took me quite a while to perfect the main text. I also made use of a lettering stencil for the first time for the text at the bottom. As it turns out, this stencil is a papercutter’s friend as you can just flip it to trace the mirror image on the back side of the paper. Saves you some time from imagining how to draw the text backwards. And mind you, drawing backwards is not my favorite thing to do.

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Cutting took more time than I usually do with my papercuts as the flowers have a lot of holes and curves. In the end, I was happy with it, which is an important thing. After all, you can’t expect your recipient to like your work if you’re not happy with it in the first place.

So here’s the final output. I placed it in a double glass frame which I think gives the papercut more depth and drama.

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Visit my friend’s blog here. 🙂