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Mel Stampz: Free-hand cut D.I.Y. Cereal box Cuttlebug or Pressure Embossing Plates
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Free-hand cut D.I.Y. Cereal box Cuttlebug or Pressure Embossing Plates

I've played around with Stamped & cut embossing plates & with Grungeboard embossing plates, but a woodsy Cuttlebug challenge project wanted organic shapes that I didn't have, so this time it's freehand cut embossing plates.... in the shape of leaves.

I find these Do It Yourself plates work best with de-bossing & the effect is a little more like the letterpress look.


...make freehand DIY Cereal box Cuttlebug Embossing plates

The leaves were a supremely easy shape to cut, it just took a while. :O)

  • Cereal Box Cardboard (thickness is important. I've had success with Quaker Harvest crunch, Cheerios, & Shreddies. My fave is the Quaker Harvest.)
  • Mod Podge & brush
  • Pencil
  • Good sharp scissors

Please Test!
:O) Before you work on making a finished folder, it might be wise to test the thickness of your cardboard in your particular machine--(since they all vary in how they are calibrated)--to be sure it'll work. Then you won't have to curse my name! ;o)

Try this simple test to see if your thicknesses will work:

1) Stick a few pieces of cardboard to another large piece of cardboard.

2) Let the adhesive dry (Sealing with Mod Podge will prevent the paper binding to the cardboard, but it needs to dry so the paper won't stick---hence for this step it's not necessary. You just wanna check the impression or embossing your test piece makes...)

3) Run it through the machine with a piece of cardstock very lightly spritzed with water on both sides.

If this works, then you are a-go; if not maybe eat a different cereal to get another thickness? ;o)

Step 1}-Cut a piece of cereal box cardboard to a little bit smaller than the size of your Cuttlebug plates (I just find it TOO cool that this lets you emboss paper this big!)

Step 2}-Cut the cereal cardboard into whatever freehand shape you'd like.

Shaping up: Of course, if you prefer, you can draw shapes. The leaves that were cut for this one were a really easy shape to just cut without drawing but the cloud plate was one I sketched out before cutting.

For larger drawn shapes
rough cut the cardboard around the shape (This makes a huge difference. It'll make your fine cutting easier & tidier.)

To make the cutting easier on your hands... You can break up the cutting & gluing. I cut as much as I could, then glued some. When I ran out of leaves to glue, I went back to cutting and so on...

Step 3}-Cover a section of the cereal cardboard with Mod Podge. It will set up a little bit, so working in sections & adding more Mod Podge when you need it seems to do the trick. Removing any blobs is also a good idea (so they don't harden & show up when you emboss.)

Step 4}-Adhere your cut pieces to the base cardboard. I like to stick the coloured side down in case of any colour bleed when damp cardstock is embossed on it.

Step 5}-Clean up the gluey bits as you go along: The modgodge will harden & whatever texture is there can leave an impression when you emboss, so to avoid over softened corners, I found that using a little Mod Podge is much better than globbing it on, since it collects in the corners. To remove any that collects just use a damp brush with very little Mod Podge on it & pounce out the corners. Working systematically from one corner of the design to the last is a great way to make sure that you don't miss any excess.

Step 6}) Allow to dry to touch (then if it is curly at all, allow to dry under book stack. But no worried a little curl is ok.) Then cure it: if you can wait, it is ideal to let the cardboard harden by curing the modpodge for a while (1 hour after a minute or two with a teensy bit of gentle heatgunning was enough for this impatient crafter, heehee. It worked loverly!) :O)

And that's it! It really is easier than I make it sound, honest. :O)

Rough Time to Make it (and Am i Crazy?)

This can be done with die cut shapes or large simple hand cut shapes in about 15 minutes, but the leaf plate took me about an hour and a half. The tiny leaves just took a long time since there are around 3 hundred on this particular embossing plate. That might seem very time consuming, but it creates a one of a kind embossing tool--that you can use again over & over--so to me it was worth each minute it took to make it.

Here's another hand-cut one:

This was a digital stamp I made that I printed & glued
to the cereal cardboard, then cut out etc.

If you have a Cricut (and you know how to make your own .cut files) then you can cut these with a deepcut blade. (MAN do i need to figure all that out!) You could use the plastic DIY folder kit provocraft sells, but I like the size the cardboard gives you (and that it's free!)

Here's a die-cut version:

This one uses the Stampin' Up! Sizzix die-Birds & Blooms...

...Die cut 2 thinner ones & layer on top of each other to get the thickness needed to emboss it. One of my ingenious readers suggested layering the shapes (so that a little one is on top of a larger one & you'd get variations in levels.) I looked & looked for your email to credit you with the idea, but couldn't find it. I'm SO sorry! :O)

Have punches you're crazy about? You could punch several out of cardstock & stack them to test for the best thickness. Might take a while, but would be original & would match your punched embellishments.

Quick reference for Ya:

The technique to make the Folder:

1) Cut an image out of cardboard
2) Stick the pieces on more cardboard
3) Seal it all up with some Mod Podge

The Cuttlebug stack/sandwich used:
(listed from bottom to top:)

1st, lay down your white A plate
2nd, add a B plate
3rd, lay down your test cardboard piece (or new custom folder)
4th, lay down your piece of cardstock that you have lightly misted with water
5th, lay down the silicone sheet
6th, add a 2nd B plate

Depending on the calibration of your Cuttlebug, you may need a piece of cardstock or two as a shim to get the nicest impression. I'd add that before the final B plate. :O) (Got a sandwich like this for another machine? Please share it with us?)

Happy Crazy Cuttlebuggin'! :O)


Martha said...

oh wow, I dont know if I would have the patience to glue each and one of those pieces lol
but your results are amazing!

Baukje said...

Martha Said.........oh wow, I dont know if I would have the patience to glue each and one of those pieces lol
but your results are amazing!.....
I KNOW I don't have the patience to do what you do, Mel, you are amazing. I hope you feeling better.

runningonink said...

Mel you total blow me away! You are soooo clever and talented! You have my head spinning with ideas now! WOWZERS!!!!

Christy Farneth-Kerr said...

Really clever:)
I wish I could barrow your brain for a day!!(lol)Thank you for sharing. Have a great day.

Kate's Life said...

You are INSANE!!! ( I mean that in a good way!) You are seriously amazing!!! I am in awe!!!

Barb said...

My hands are cramping just thinking about how many of those little leaves you cut! You are amazing!

Shelly Schmidt said...

This is fantastic- I cannot wait to try this out. The ideas I have are.....endless! TFS

Just Ducky @ Heart! said...

Mel--I have actually tried this, but didn't get very good results...but you have inspired me to try again! I LOVE the possibilities (not to mention the cost...FREE--how can you go wrong! Plus it's a green kind of thing to do...double points, LOL!). Thanks, for the inspiration.


Holly =^..^= said...

Mel you are so clever! I can't wait to try this. Of course now I'm having an "argh" moment in that I just bought a bunch of texture plates...and here I could have made my own!
Thanks for sharing!

Peggy Maier said...

Great idea! I love the thought of one-of-a-kind templates. Thanks so much for showing us how!

Amber said...

WOW .. that is all i can say about this these are great and I know I dont have the patience but u did a amazing job ! have a blessed day and as always love stopping by ur page

SueB said...

Amazin' stuff, Mel. I wish you were a neighbor and we could borrow from one another, LOL!

Lisa M. (aka. Lisabee) said...

Good Gravy on Biscuits, Mel! This is amazing! Part of me is dying to try this out as I have an endless supply of cereal boxes (thank you WIC!) but I don't think I could do a leaf one like that! 300?? :O

Still, something to think about trying...I'll defininitely save this tutorial for later...

Must add modge podge to my wishlist...

Rose-Anne said...
Here is my link to what I have created from your Tutorial I have wanted to do this in ages but you have inspired me to try. Thanks Mel. I will now create something from my embossed papers.Just love it.

Liam said...

What a clever idea. The results are great. I have to say your work is amazing. How do you get the time to think of these ingenious ideas. Love your work. thanks for sharing.


Chrissy's Creations said...

Holy smokes girl you are uber talented!
hugs, Christine

Dawn said... never cease to amaze me...I SAY THAT A LOT with you!! Bwahahahahaha! But you've inspired many ideas running through my pea brain!!


Brenda said...

This is the coolest thing I've seen in a long time!!! I am definitely going to try this. the wheels are spinning already! Thanks so much for sharing!

Elena said...

Mel, you are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing all your SUPER CREATIVE ideas!

artycrafty said...

wonderful! I am so going to give this ago when I find out what I want as an embossing folder. lol got some cardboard waiting for this sole purpose

Mod Podge Amy said...

Mel, this is awesome!! I can't believe how talented you are - yes I can . . . :D

Anonymous said...

Ok. I kind of already regret that I bought the cuttlebug in first place. (I thought I could get away using a rolling pin and later saw someone's tutorial).
But I only have 2 embossing plates and found your blog when I searched on how to diy.

PS: Yeah... I am cheap that way! LOL


Proud Mom of 5 said...

Cool! Now I have something to try once we eat the 100 boxes of cereal in the pantry!

Tammy Moore said...

I'm so glad I happened upon your blog! I'm going to try this (and play with the stack since I have a Big Shot). Great idea! TFS!

Andrea said...

what a great idea! i dont own a cuttlebug i have always used the embossing folders in my sizzix(original). would you vary it in any way to use that? thanks!

My name is Julie and I am a paper addict. said...

I am eternally in your debt. I just googled embossing folders looking for something really specific to buy. It never occurred to me to make my own. Your post came up. You are my new hero.

Manda said...

Treated myself to a cuttlebug last year for my birthday, and only now just started to use it, keep looking on the net for embossing folders that would work with my designs. Now I have the answer. Glad I found your site. My mind is full of ideas that can actually be made using your techniques rather than trying to find and use someone elses designs.
You are such a talented lady.
Keep the brilliant ideas coming.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! One correction: It's "paperboard" you are using, not cardboard.

Mel M. M. McCarthy said...

Thanks Anonymous! That makes complete sense (Paper Board) now that you mention it, but I'd never heard the term before. Thanks for teaching me a new useful term! :o)

daffyscrapper said...

wow such great ideas. thanks for sharing.

scrappymo! said...

Wow...very creative!

Holly said...

I think this is outstanding! I love recycling and making more tools. I also love to share these finds so I made an entry and credited your site in it.
Great ideas and so glad you like to share too.


milkcan said...


*Paula* said...

Wow! I'm so impressed with your ingenuity!

Holly said...

This is amazing! Thanks for sharing.

Sandy said...

Genius! I'm getting cardboard from recycle now.

Lindsey said...

Thank you -- This is brilliant! I just posted how I used your tutorial on my blog.

Jen said...

Wow Girlie!!! U R Brilliant!!! Love this... have so much patience, but that is what the love of crafting does to ya, huh?? Loved reading this post... love all your stuff. Very Cool!!! Love your project too!! Aloha, Jen

Rush'd Lady said...

I tried the cardboard embossing plate on my Cuddlebug, but it never worked for me. I did try using a piece of plastic canvas though, which made a lovely impression. Have an "ant" card made with it as a "picnic tablecloth" background on my blog. Heard you were a frugal crafter. Have a great day! :)

callisueart said...

Greetings from South Africa! Thanks so much for sharing such inspirational creavity for the cuttlebug. I can't wait to finish a calligraphy commission and try out your technique. Sue in Port Elizabeth, S Africa

Dora said...

Hey wow this is fabulous, thank you for the tutorial. .. Was wondering from where I can get this mod podge... or if I can use something else instead! Thank you xx

Jane said...

That is amzinf. ever cool. You must have a lot of patience

Amy Anderson said...

BRILLIANT. Seriously! That is such a great idea!

Anonymous said...

This is so cool but I'm wondering where you can get silicone sheets?

Natasha Hoover said...

So totally cool! I hadn't even thought to make my own embossing plates.

Tiffmc said...

How ingenious of you to create these fabulous embossing folders. Looks like a lot of work for the leaves, but how wondeful it turned out. Thanks for sharing!

Moira said...

Hi Mel,am relatively new in this card making business. I only have one embossing folder. May I ask that you email me the instructions for making my own embossing folders? I tried copying and pasting but was unsuccessful. My email address is Anyone who doesn't mind emailing me these please do so. Nomzamo

paintercrafter said...

I was trying to figure out how to make an embossed plaque & thanks to you, you have solved my problem!

Thank you very much for sharing! Marie

cardsbyleona said...

What a fabby idea. I will try xx

Leona x