Recently I got an email from the folks at X-ACTO asking if I would test out a knife and give a few away. I use a craft knife fairly often in my work and I know you all probably do, too. I thought we all might like a few fresh knives to work with so I agreed.
I was interested to learn from their website that X-ACTO started out in 1917 as a producer of syringes and surgical blades. You all are well aware at this point of my love of hemostats (and if you're not, you can watch my hemostat video). The craft blade was created by the company's founder for one of their advertising artists who needed a retouching knife (not sure what a retouching knife is, but I imagine it was something advertising artists used in the days before design software). And this changed their whole product line! I love craft tools that have their roots as medical instruments.
Since then I think it is safe to say that "X-ACTO" has become pseunonymous with "craft knife" the way that Xerox means copy and Vaseline means petroleum jelly. In fact, as I was writing the tools and materials section in my new book last week I had to remember, per the publisher's style guide, to refer to my knife as a "craft knife." That just sounds awkward.
To review this knife I decided to make a small cutwork butterfly.
I made a few large butterflies in March for National Nonwovens to display in their booth at spring Quilt Market. This time I thought I'd make a smaller version that could be hung as an ornament or made into a mobile.
First I drew a butterfly shape on freezer paper, ironed it to a double layer of black felt, and cut it out so that I had two black butterflies. I ironed my freezer paper to a piece of brightly colored felt and cut that out, too.
I placed one black butterfly on my cutting mat and I spent last evening cutting out the interior shapes with my new X-ACTO knife. I like to listen to a good podcast while I'm doing this. This one is about the concept of free, which seems appropriate here, and I found it really thought-provoking.
My new X-ACTO designer series knife has a handle with an especially nice grip that I found comfortable to hold. Having a sharp blade makes all the difference in the ease and accuracy of cutting, just like having a sharp machine needle, so that was nice. I like this knife and it is certainly an upgrade from the dull, rusty-handled, off-brand knife I was using before.
Once I had cut out the interior details on my black butterfly, I used a gluestick to cover the backside of it with glue and then placed it on top of the brightly colored butterly. Then I placed the whole thing on the second black butterfly. I used a zigzag stitch to finish the edges.
I made a little felt body from two layers of black felt, sewed it and turned it right side out, stuffed it firmly, and sewed it in place betweent the wings. Then I threaded a length of wire through its head and glued felted wool balls to the ends to create little antennae. Ta da!
I was interested to learn that there are all different kinds of blades for X-ACTO knives. I'm sure people who do paper crafts or stenciling already know about all the blade options, but I had no idea there were so many choices. There are saw blades and scoring blades, fine point and heavy point blades, heavy duty and contoured blades. My Designer Series handle came with a #11 fine blade which worked perfectly well for this project.
X-ACTO has sent me a few blades to give away. The first is their Designer Series Gripster Knife and the second is their Retract-A-Blade Knife. They both seem to have all-purpose blades that would be appropriate for cutting many different kinds of materials.
If you'd like one of these knives leave me a comment on this post (U.S. residents only) and I'll choose two winners at random on Wednesday, September 21, at 9 am.