By Christina VanGinkel
I recently bought a punch 'n' bind from Zision, a division of Provo Crafts. It is based on more technical, office-oriented machines, which cost much more. The punch 'n' binds have a suggested retail price of $39.99, and additional comb accessories are soon to be released in a wide variety of colors, such as earth tones and pastels. The machine does use standard comb bindings available at office supply stores, but these are usually available only in white, black, and clear, and you sometimes can find them in the primary colors, such as red, blue, and yellow. The punch 'n' bind is geared for the home market, specifically scrapbook enthusiasts and paper craft artists, and may not be as sturdy as the more expensive machines manufactured for office use, but I feel that it is well worth the price they are asking. The machine itself is neon green in color and highlighted with pink. It can turn papers, cardstock, and other items such as plain old brown lunch bags, into comb bound books. It was recently under a recall by the company for unspecified reasons, but is to be re-released this February. Personally, I have found nothing wrong with mine, and have no plans to return it.
When it first arrived, having ordered it online as I do just about every craft item I own, due top the lack of local suppliers, I opened the box it came in, and then looked at it for three days. It was bigger than I thought it would be, but after having it a while now, I think part of that is an illusion due to the shocking colors. When I finally opened it up, the documentation was sparse, so I again felt a bit intimidated by it, even though I am not normally one to read directions, but more the sort to just jump in with a new tool and have a go at it. The problem was that I had never used any type of comb binding system before, no binding system whatsoever really, so I had not a clue where to begin. I read the short card that arrived with it, and after just a couple of failed attempts at getting it to work, I realized that all I was doing improperly was placing the comb into the machine upside down. Once I turned it the correct way, it slid right down, and with a simple push of the comb to the right, and a flip of the lever on the side, the comb opened right up!
Upon seeing a photo of the soon to be released ones, I did notice a sticker on the front of it that appears to visualize just how to place the comb into the machine. This would have been a great help to me when I first had mine.
As the name of the machine implies, it also punches whatever it is you want to bind together with the combs. One sheet at a time is all it handles, but it is easy and quick to do, and the pages line up quite easily. It will punch a sheet of paper or cardstock that is up to 12" long, so your options are quite unlimited as to what you can create with it. As all I had were the packaged contents that came with the machine, which included three sample combs, one white, one black, and one clear, each twelve inches long, I decided to try out a few smaller projects until I could purchase some more combs. The combs can be easily cut with a scissors, so altering the size of them to fit your project is very easy. For my first attempt at really using the machine, I ended up making a 6X6 mini book of cardstock. I was captivated from this first project, and knew I was going to need more combs, and lots of them!
One of my favorite projects to create with it is to make paper bag albums. You start with a simple brown lunch sack, folded in half. Slide the folded bag at the crease into the machine, and punch down with it. Repeat with three to four bags, and then bind them together with the comb binding. That quickly, you have an album ready to decorate in any theme you want.
Besides craft projects, my youngest son also has used the machine to bind together school projects. I am also planning to put together a family cookbook for my daughter and several nieces, and assembling mini photo albums is easily done in a very short time. One word of warning about this machine: If you buy one when they are released again this coming month, do yourself a favor and order a huge supply of combs right away, because you will have no patience waiting to get more. It is by far one of the most fun tools in my craft room, and we are always finding new projects to do with it.