Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mastercarve

I must admit that when I was asked to review the Mastercarve tools and blocks I was apprehensive, but after some thought, I liked the idea of the challenge.
When I received the products, the carving tools were neatly packaged in a plastic case that could easily be used for storage. The carving tools come in three tip sizes (1V, 2V, 5U) and the blades are permanently attached to lightweight plastic handles. According to the instructions, the blades can be easily sharpened with fine sandpaper and should only be cleaned with a cloth.

The 2 ½ x 2 ½-inch latex-free, vinyl carving blocks were individually packaged in a plastic wrap with a cardboard band. The vinyl blocks make it easy to carve fine lines without breaking or crumbling and it also allows for multiple sides to be carved. If necessary, you can also easily cut the blocks into smaller pieces.

Very minimal instructions were included with the carving tools but the basic principals were there. I could easily tell that the amount of creativity and time would depend on the individual person and their artistic abilities.

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The first thing I needed was to decide what type of image I wanted and get it onto the vinyl carving block. In order to do this you first need to trace around the block and then draw your image. Next, you place your block over the image and press firmly down and this will transfer to your block. But what if you are like me and can’t even draw a stick figure correctly?

I opened my Word application and pulled up Pea Stacy’s Doodles font and found a cute little flower. I made it large enough that it would fill the area of my block, then printed it out with my ink jet printer. Next, I laid the block over the top of the printed image and the image transferred very nicely.

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Once the image was transferred I used the 2V tool (Medium blade) and began cutting out around the flower. I used the 1V tool (small blade) to cut out the swirls in the flower center and finished carving out the background with the 5U tool (Larger blade). As I was working with these tools lots of memories from my childhood came back. I remember being on a Girl Scout campout and we were told to bring an extra bar of soap with us for a project. We used our knives to whittle away at the soap to create an image. I think I remember mine being a duck or something like that. A few years later in art class, we would use tools very similar to this to create transfers only we used wood blocks. Both of these methods were hard and tedious, but the Mastercarve vinyl blocks are so soft and pliable that it makes carving your images a breeze. Even with the problems I have with my hands, it was very easy, and actually enjoyable, to cut through this soft material.

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And here is my finished stamp! I really liked it but I didn’t like how some of the black transfer lines were still showing. I grabbed a baby wipe, and after a few swipes, the lines were gone and the stamp was pretty and white!

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Of course my flower would need some petals so I decided to try and draw them myself. Using the method described in the instructions I carved out several petal sizes on the reverse side of the flower stamp. Of course I couldn’t stop at just the top and bottom, so I decided to carve out a stem on one of the edges too! I was able to get six images out of one block!

One thing to note: The pencil lines would not wipe away like the ink jet print would but it did not hinder the performance of the stamp in any way.

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Title: 1944
Products used: Cardstock (Bazzill Bling)
Patterned Paper (Creative Imaginations)
Stamps (Mastercarve tools and vinyl blocks)
Chipboard Heart (Cosmo Cricket)
Foam Numbers (Dollar Store)
Paint (Making Memories)
Ink (Ranger)
Sticker (Creative Imaginations)
Glitter (Amy’s Magic)
Markers (Tombow)
Adhesive (Adhesive Tech, Permanent Bond Glue Runner)

After seeing what I had made with these blocks, my 15 year old son shocked me by asking if he could do one also. I happily let him have at it after giving him some very basic instructions. Art is definitely not one of his strong points, and he knows it, but every once in awhile he will get the urge to make a scrapbook page or some other little crafty item. Of course, it usually always revolves around tractors or farm life, but I still encourage him to try things that stretch his abilities.

I took pictures of both sides of his stamp that he created and placed it at the top and bottom of the strip on the left. In between the two pictures is a stamped picture using the two stamps created by my son. To finish the layout, I used a die cut as a pattern for my flower stamp. I then used it to stamp on patterned paper, embossed, and cut out to create the layered flowers.

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Title: Just A Whittlin’
Cardstock (Bazzill & Bazzill Bling)
Patterned Paper (Heidi Grace)
Stamps (Mastercarve tools and vinyl blocks)
Ink (Ranger & Versamark)
Embossing Powder (Tseuniko)
Marker (Tombow)
Paper Flowers (Prima)
Paint (Making Memories)
Brads & letters (Misc)
Fonts (Pea Leigh Leigh, Pea Karen’s Doodles, & Sans Serif)
Machine Stitching
Adhesive (Adhesive Tech, Permanent Bond Glue Runner)

After working with the Mastercarve tools and blocks by Staedtler I can relate to the older gentlemen that you see sitting on the front porch; knife in one hand and stick in the other. When you ask these individuals what they are making, usually they will comment, “Oh, nothin’ much, just a whittlin’; that’s all”. I know I will never become famous for my little works of art that I make with these tools and blocks, but I have found that it is completely relaxing! Maybe now I understand why those older gentlemen seem so relaxed and content to just sit on the porch and whittle. So if you decide to stop by and you see me on the back porch with the Mastercarve tools and blocks and you ask me what I am making, you just might here, “Oh, nothin’ much, just a carvin’; that’s all”.

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