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DESIGN AND STYLE:
The Big shot die cutting machine, made from plastic and metal, has had various designs and changed style and colours, over the years, created by the ever so popular Sizzix Company. The Big shot that I currently own is the one pictured at this current time (Black with pink floral design) but my mother whose I used to use, is the old deep teal colour, with a stuck on rubber Sizzix logo. Both roller designed, unlike my friend who owned one of the first push down machines.
The Big shot is used for a variety of crafts. Depending on the dies, you can cut a variety of mediums and even emboss: card stock, felt, fabric, foam, magnet, leather, craft aluminium, and many other materials.
It measures at approximately 14 1/4" x 12 3/8" x 6 5/8" and has a handle (which you have to attach quickly and easily when receiving your machine for the first time.)
It consists of rollers, which when the handle is turned, it turns the rollers inside.
You have several different plates that you sandwich your dies and card stock between, this is so when the rollers are in motion, it takes it through and over the rollers, pushing the die and card firmly together and cutting your chosen medium into the shape of the dies or embossing it, with the design of the embossing folder. (If you hear a crack that is just it cutting through your medium, it can leave an imprint on your plates, that is the whole point of the cutting plates being used, as well as holding it in place. If it wont roll through you may have the wrong plates in place but do not force it or you may brake your machine.)
DIES AND EMBOSSING FOLDERS:
There are a huge variety of different dies and embossing folders on the market, from so many competitors now. Most other companies dies can fit through the Big shot as long as they are under 6 inches wide.
The dies have the blades on them, these are not very sharp (for safety reasons) this is why you need the Big shot to protect you and to help put as much pressure you need, to be able to cut.
Most embossing folders are plastic plates, which you open and place your medium inside, which then leaves the imprint of the design.
Compared to the other machines on the market, I would say although this isn't fold-able, it is a lot sturdier and can fit more different thickness of dies through, than most other machines, not too big and can be stored easily on the side, on your desk or even in a cupboard or on the shelf. Although if you were to want to create larger products and have a larger space you might want to upgrade to the Big shot Pro (which does the same thing but on a wider scale, made by the same company.)
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
This machine doesn't come cheap, the initial cost of the machine itself with the basic plates is around £50-£80 depending on where you shop.
The additional plates which aren't always needed, depending on the dies you own, are going to cost you on average of £30 - £40 altogether.
The cutting pad plates may need to be replaced after sometime, but might be a year or two depending on how often you are using them, these cost around £8 for the pair.
Each die can vary in price dramatically, singly or in a pack you can be paying around £2-£60. On average I spend £15 on a thick die or on a pack of thinner dies containing on average 6 dies.
Embossing folders are generally £8-£12.
Available in most craft stores, websites and retailers, or you can buy it directly from Sizzix themselves. There is always an offer on somewhere though, so look out for the bargains.
I only have a small selection of dies that have lasted me years and I am happy with my collection, I will be adding to them but having the basic ones and a few other favourites, keeps the cost down, and if I were to sell any products or even make every card or project for people, on their special occasions, I would still be saving money, as cards and certain gifts than can be made, are expensive these days, in stores, it is also the enjoyment of making them and the recipients response which makes it all the better.
I highly recommend this product for anyone who crafts, whether it be paper crafts or haberdashery, there is lots you can create. This saves time and effort, cutting the same shape repeatedly over again, one as perfect as the other, you couldn't do that by hand within the 2 seconds this takes.
If you only want a couple of the same shape and you won't use it again, you are probably better buying the pre-cut shapes and this product probably isn't for you, but you would be surprised how often you would want to use it, if you did own it.
This Sizzix big shot is the first manual die cutting machine I owned. I paid around £50 for it from my local Range store.
When you purchase this piece of equipment it contains the plates you need to use the machine and the machine itself, you have to buy the dies separately and can range from anything between £5 to £50.
A die is a metal 'shape' that you sandwich between the plates with your paper/card and roll it through the Big shot using the handle at the side. When it comes out of the other side and you remove the top plate you will find the metal has cut through the paper leaving you with the required shape cut-out.
As a cardmaker and general creative person I find the Big shot invaluable and I really couldn't imagine it not being a part of my crafting kit.
The possibilities with this machine seem endless and there are so many variations of dies you can buy and use.
Sizzix is a well known and established company within the crafting world and as you'd expect from a company of their standard, the machine is well built and robust. It is quite heavy though so I wouldn't recommend that it be carted about if at all possible, it has little pads on the bottom of the 'feet' so it doesn't scratch the surface and the weight of the machine is what keeps it steady on a table top for instance.
For the first few uses when you roll the plates through the machine with a die and paper in them you will probably think it's too hard to push through and you may be scared of breaking it but as long as you have followed the correct guides for the die 'sandwich' then don't worry- the pressure and the cracking noises are all normal and is just the result of the metal pushing onto the new plastic plate!
I love to make handmade cards and attend a craft class each week where we all have access to the Sizzix Big Shot machine. I love using this clever piece of kit but as they cost around £74 and the fact I have a die-cutting machine at home means I do not have to fork out the money to have my own.
Sizzix are an American Craft company who are well respected within the craft industry. I've been using their machines, cutting dies and embossing folders for a good few years now and have had no problems at all. The quality is great and their range is quite extensive. Many cardmakers and scrapbookers rely on Sizzix for this reason.
I have seen Big Shots for sale at a lower price but they do not come with the essentials - ie a multipurpose platform and a pair of cutting mats and, bought separately, these can be quite pricey - so, if you are thinking of buying one make sure they are included. Places like Hobbycraft usually have them in stock and they can sometimes be found on eBay (watch the postage though as they are quite heavy)
The machine itself is approximately 14 1/4" x 8 1/2" x 6 1/2" and although portable is still a bit weighty. It is essentially a glorified mangle for crafters but I find the design, although simple, is fantastic.
It comes with a well-illustrated, clear to understand booklet or you can access a short video online to see it in action.
The principle is simple - you just sandwich your card/ paper/ sponge/ craft metal/ acetate/ vellum or fabric (along with the chosen die or embossing folder) between the plates and turn the handle and moments later your masterpiece is revealed the other side! Easy once you have done a few and get to know your machine better.
The dies and folders are easy enough to get hold of and vary in price from around £1.25 (eBay) to £15.99 (Hobbycraft). I like most of the designs although some aren't too useful for my purposes and obviously, as they are an American company. I have no need for Thanksgiving or American flags etc. I do, however, love the Christmas styles and have used a number of these for my cards with great success. Imagine having to cut out, by hand, 50 or more Christmas trees? - no thanks, I can do them in 5 minutes using the die and the Big Shot!
The only drawback to me however is the fact that you can only cut/ emboss (or both) up to 6" shapes. I guess this is why it is termed as a home system?
The aspects that I really like though are the following -
- it is neat, attractive and functional
- it does the job well
- it does not slip around when in use
- needs no maintenance
- has clear instructions
- works with a large number of materials
- meets the needs of fellow crafters and scrapbookers in my class
- well recommended for crafters if you get the chance to try it out
The big shot is one of the well known manual die cutting machines on the market, it uses what are called dies available in various shapes, sizes and alphabets which can be used in card making, crafting and scrapbooking to name a few.
The Big Shot Machine measures approximately 14 1/4" x 8 1/2" x 6 1/2" it is quite heavy for its size about 7lb but this is to help it not move whilst cutting, it comes with a set of standard cutting mats and a multi purpose platform. Prices start from around £50 but it can come as part of a package with dies.
It can cut paper, card and some materials, it also embosses, you can also get extra long cutting pads that will let you make bigger things using the sizzix XL dies, these have boxes, cards in their designs, the big shot is also able to use other makes of die using the instructions printed on the platforms.
Cutting is easy with the big shot and can make your crafting look very professionally finished.