Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Writing With your Wishblade from Xyron

By Christina VanGinkel

You heard me correctly, if there was not already enough excitement making the rounds about these ingenious crafting tools, not only do they cut, they also write. For those of you who do not know what the Wishblade, from the Xyron Corporation, makers of many craft related tools and supplies, here in is a quick primer: It looks like a printer, connects to your computer, but instead of printing, it cuts the shape or lettering you want out of paper, cardstock, vinyl, and other various thin materials. Designed along the lines of much more expensive cutting machines, the Wishblade is manufactured with the crafter in mind. Scrapbook enthusiasts, along with various other paper crafters have fallen head over heels in love with this little blue and white wonder. In addition, if the cutting features that it was originally intended for were not enough, some ingenious person has found a way for it to write and draw!

Shipped with the machine is a small green holder that looks similar to the blade attachment itself, but not quite. It has what appears to be a tip on one end, but it is hollow. By taking a pen, you drop it into the holder, tighten down a small screw, and after removing the blade and its holder, you slip this into the machine. Be sure to line it up correctly, or it will not drop all the way into place and it needs to so that the pen tip reaches the material you want to write or draw on. It then draws your design instead of cutting it.

For some reason, the company does not ship any information about this amazing little tool when they send you the machine, they just include the holder, and it rather leaves you wondering why they would not advertise this feature more. Even if all you ever use it for is to double check where your cutting will fall on the paper before actually cutting, it is ingenious. However, take out the regular pen, drop in a gel pen, and you suddenly have a complete new horizon of uses for the Wishblade. Gel pen on paper looks great, but not everyone likes their own handwriting. Just imagine being able to transform lettering from the computer, or those cute little dingbat fonts, into actual drawings that you could then incorporate into scrapbook pages, cards, or a myriad of other uses.

Some pens do work better than others, and a good fit is required for this to work. Do not use pens that are too small, as they will have a tendency to slip to the side, and the ink will skip, leaving bare spaces or no writing at all. A too large barrel on a pen will not allow it to slide all the way in, and it will just not work. Even when you have a pen that fits, you must also pay attention to the pressure setting, but this is easily learned. Some thicker papers will need you to move the pen up a bit, and for very thin papers, make sure the pen is situated all the way in. I have not personally had a problem getting this step right, but I have heard some people say that getting the pen to write consistently can be a problem especially with very thin paper, so be aware if this happens that it will just be a matter of adjusting the settings. Within the software that is includes with the Wishblade is also a place where you can adjust the pressure, so be sure to keep this in mind.

A few pens that have been recommended by users that work well for this delightful feature include the Staedtler Triplus, the Staedtler Metallic, along with the Ultimate Glitter Gels by American Crafts. These supposedly drop right into the holder without any adjustments needed. For the more artistic looks created, keep in mind that metallic and gel pens will offer a lot aesthetically to your projects, while a regular black or blue pen is great to use for finding out exactly where a pattern will cut on the mat. I wanted to try the writing without having to buy additional tools, so I just used a gel pen that I had at home, and though it was a bit small, I wrapped a small rubber band around it until it fit.

If you own a Wishblade, or are considering purchasing one, this is definitely an added bonus that Xyron should be shouting out to its users and potential customers instead of just quietly slipping in the holder leaving everyone wondering exactly what it is!

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