Bellanca's Reviews

  • Don't let the simplicity fool you... (09 October 2008)

    There are some truly easy to use tools in this kit.

    The MM Tool Kit was an early acquisition for me and has been in constant use for nearly 3 years now. This is a solid box full of tools resting in a flocked plastic tray. The box itself is quite heavy and I stopped carrying it with me to classes and crops once I got the AMM Tote.

    By far I used the hammer, anywhere hole punch, eyelet setter, tweezers and paper piercer consistently. I have never used the small pair of pliers for scrapbooking as I found the tweezers adequately grasped anything I might use the pliers for (I don't use wire on my layouts.).

    The Anywhere Hole Punch is so named because it is a simple metal tube with one of three sizes of hole punch tips screwed into the end. You need a durable mat, or at least a surface you don't care about to use this tool. A single tap of the hammer on the end of the Punch tool is all you need to make a clean hole anywhere in your paper (unlike a traditional hole punch or even the original Cropadile which only let you get so far into the paper due to their design). Unlike a cropadile, this punch is really only good for paper. Thicker papers may require additional taps. This is a hammer tool, so there is some noise when you use the product. I've tried the Silent Setter punch, which also has the ability of being placed anywhere on your page, and the Anywhere Hole punch in this tool kit is both easier on the hands, easier to use, and more accurate in the holes you make.

    The paper piercer is sharp and of just the right diameter. I also appreciated the heft of this tool - it was far more comfortable to use than the oversized push pin I currently use.

    The tweezers must be squeezed to open which helps prevent accidental dropping of tiny little things. For truly tiny applications, say the dot of the I from the Jasmine Cricut Cartridge, I would grasp the dot with the tweezers and use the paper piercer to help push it exactly where I wished it to go. (Another benefit of having a fairly long piercing piece.)

    The eyelet setter has a small raised knob in the center of the end of the setter. You fit this setter into the back of an eyelet pushed through paper, make sure the raised knob is sitting in the eye of the eyelet back, and tap gently with the hammer to bend the back of the eyelet back and over the back of the paper. Some eyelets are easier to set accurately than others - it is important to remember that the metals in the eyelets can vary widely and you should be reserved in how hard you hit the eyelet setter to avoid bending the front of they eyelet as you hammer.

    The two needles can be a little difficult to get in and out of the plastic tray but have decent sized eyes for ease of threading. I do not need a threading tool to put a full strand of embroidery thread into these needles.

    Really, for the use I have gotten out of this tool kit, I normally would give the item five stars. I rated it three stars because my kit has significantly started to deteriorate in the last year. I expect metal tools to be better made. The pliers have actually began to rust in the box, as did the piercer and hammer. Since I'm working with paper I am pretty concerned about rust smudges. I was also not thrilled with the amount of grease on the hole punching tips. I understand that the grease was probably to make sure the threads of the tips worked properly when screwed into the handle, but again, grease is also not something you want to worry about when working with paper, heirloom memorabilia, and photographs. I've had to stop what I was doing to wash my hands several times.

    I probably use the Tweezers the most, and at this point some of the purple plastic grip is separating from the handle and the jaws of the tweezers don't quite line up the way they used to. I have begun looking for replacements.

    The paper piercer broke when I used it to pick a lock. Clearly, we can't fault the manufacturer for that. The piercing part snapped cleanly off right at the base. My only problem with this piercer was the difficulty posed by the lack of any sort of cap to cover the business end when I put the piercer into my tool tote.

    I would gladly pay much more money for these tools would they hold up over time. I do not want disposable tools or tools that you might as well be renting from the company if you have to replace them every few years. I think the simplicity is dead on in this kit. I just really wish some of these tools would last longer.

  • Finally something besides a shamrock.... (28 March 2008)

    The Celtic Felt Fusion Ribbon went into my wishlist as soon as I saw it show up in the superstore. It can be pretty hard to find Celtic/Scottish motifs for my layouts - so many designs incorporate Claddagh and Shamrocks, which are not helpful to scrappers of Scottish ancestry.

    Today I used this product on several artist trading cards. The felt is easy to cut - it does not shift or distort while using scissors. It was minimally tricky to get the paper backing off, but only to start. The adhesive is evenly applied and none of my pieces looked as if they would lift off the paper over time. The backing always peeled away intact - keep that backing! It would make a great mask for later projects. The color is a true black with no brown undertones.

    I was initially worried about the area on the felt that had wrapped around the packaging. When you cut a piece of felt off any section that had wrapped around the packaging looked like it was slightly raised or wrinkled. The adhesive is strong enough and the felt itself bounces back from the wrapping and no visible wrinkle or bubble showed up in any of the cards I made.

    The only trouble I had using the felt at all was in applying it in a truly straight line. I was using 3.5 inch pieces and I had to work to make sure I lined up both ends properly - although this is a stronger felt than say the cheap felt you might use as snow in your Christmas village, there was just enough give to make it possible to lay it down in a wobbly line. I think someone more creative (or braver) than I might be able to use the flexibility in the felt in some truly inspired and amazing way. Because of the tight pattern I worked with I wonder if a looser design such as a scroll or thin floral pattern would be difficult to place without distortion. I would definitely recommend trying a smaller piece of felt to get the feel of it before using a 12 inch piece as a border on a layout.

    This experience has definitely made me eager to try other styles of this product. I really can't decide if I should hoard what I have left or stick it on anything that doesn't bark, wear a diaper, or requires a daily shower.

  • Verified Buyer

    A great short term project! (02 January 2008)

    I recently bought this box set to create a mini-album for a relative at Christmas. I thoroughly enjoyed working with this material and would be happy to use it again if the opportunity presented itself.

    The box set includes an accordion album that has 5 pages (giving you 10 total pages when you count front and back), three individual sheets of punch out chipboard embellishments, and a chipboard box that easily contains the raw materials. Although this box set is called All Boy, only a small percentage of the chipboard is definitely geared towards boys. If you like the stars, arrows, tabs, frames, and borders you could just as easily use this material for a more feminine looking project. You will have a lot of chipboard pieces to choose from and have plenty left over to use on other projects. The album is sturdy and well made and the hinges showed no wear even after I finished working on the project, which often required the album to be folded and weighted down in bizarre contortions while my glue dried. My only complaint about the design of this box set was that there was absolutely no way my finished album would fit into the box it came in as the chipboard in the album makes it too bulky. Using any of the chipboard tabs would also make your album to large to fit in the box.

    I found that a few key tools made my project go much more smoothly. My craft knife and embossing tool helped to remove some of the smallest chipboard pieces from their sheet. There is a clear front and back to the chipboard pieces that is usually only visible when the pieces are raw or inked. A craft knife will score the cuts on the back of the chipboard sheet and an embossing tool will help you punch out the itty bitty pieces. I mostly used patterned paper from the Crate Paper Zoom pack, so my Basic Gray Precision File set was very helpful when I covered embellishments with patterened paper - several of the larger chipboard pieces have smaller cutouts (stars, arrows, circles) that would have been very difficult to finish neatly without the files. If you don't have the file set you can always choose to paper over the cutouts in the larger chipboard pieces. The larger pieces of chipboard punched out very cleanly.

    The hinges of the accordion album and the corners of the storage box are finished with a heavy tape that is the same shade as the album. The tape takes color as well as the rest of the album but I would advise against adhering paper flush with the inside hinge. Paper should be adhered with a few millimeters of the hinge tape exposed - this will let the pages lay as close to flat as you can get when you shut the book. Chipboard needs to be placed even further from the inside hinges and you REALLY need to take care not to have chipboard embellishment against chipboard embellishment when two facing pages are shut or you will not be able to fold the album very far.

    I used an UHU glue stic to adhere paper to chipboard for the entire project. I did glue to the very edge of whatever I was working with and then left the item to dry flat with a heavy book on top. None of the pages curled or warped in any fashion from being coated in glue. If I were to do the project over I would adhere all of the background papers first and then go back to add photos and embellishments. I worked page by page and eventually it got harder to get the page I was working on to lay flat on my work table. It can get particularly tricky to fold the book in a way that isolates a single page if you've already added several tabs or have other embellishments sticking out past the edge of the pages.

    This was the first product I've used from Fancy Pants Designs and I was very pleased with the quality of both the raw materials and my finished project. I also love that I have plenty of chipboard and an unfinished box to work on later! I could have easily given this product 5 stars had the storage box been just a little deeper so a finished project would more easily fit inside.

  • Verified Buyer

    Great Clips! (11 December 2007)

    I've purchased several packages of these clips for myself and my mother. I am a papercrafter and my mother is a beader and we've both found uses for these clips.

    The clips come in a heavy duty plastic bag with cardboard hanger. Save that bag! The plastic is tough enough to be used with a clip and hung on your Clip It Up to gather loose objects.

    Each clip consists of three pieces - the two pieces of the clip connected with a spring and a hook. I have yet to have a clip malfunction. The tension on the clip is quite strong and fragile embellishments should not be directly clipped as there is a good chance the teeth on the clip will leave marks or actually puncture these items. I used to empty my embellishments into my old storage containers - now that I am using these clips I will be more likely to keep original packaging where possible. (Look carefully at your packaging - it seems like many scrapbooking packages in rectangular cellophane bags can be opened from the bottom by lifting the flap away from the back of the package.) You can separate or cut away the cardboard topper and just clip the original plastic package most of the time. If you don't have that opportunity and can't wait until your order of extra envelopes arrive from The Superstore you can use ziplock style baggies - the top part of a ziplock bag is tough enough to hold up to the jaws of the clip.

    I needed about 100 clips to get almost everything hung. If you are purchasing the Clip It Up base you will get 80 clips - I would recommend purchasing at least another package of clips if you have a small to medium stash. If your stash is larger you will need to buy more packages.

    The only negative aspect of this product is a tendency for the clips to get fairly tangled up in the original packaging. This is really just an irritant when you are excited to get everything put in its new place - you just need a little patience to untangle clots of clips here and there and should not sway anyone against purchasing these clips. For those of you who may want to use the project with a beading supply collection you will need to plan to clip your supplies on something other than the beads - I am pretty certain that the jaws could cause scratching if the clips were used to hang strands of beads.

    The clips are tied with my BG precision file set and my AMM Tote 2 as favorite new item of the year as far as innovation, quality, afford ability, and usefulness go.

  • It's all about the spin... (03 December 2007)

    This tote, in all its incarnations, is clearly very popular. The next time you are at a big convention play a little game while you are resting against that giant potted fern in the hotel lobby: Count the AMM Totes as they go by.

    I don't leave my house to scrap very often, so it took awhile to convince me to even think about this tote. Last winter my LSS demonstrated the new features on the Tote 2 and they are what made me put this thing on my "Wouldn't it be nice" wish list. Two of the biggest changes are the ability to open the handle using as one of the O rings is actually a carabiner that pinches open. You don't need this feature all the time, but it is very nice to be able to peel the tall edges of the tote back when packing a lot of stuff into the tote.

    The second major enhancement is the inclusion of a spinner that is placed under the base of the tote allowing you to turn to the tool or compartment you need with ease. I originally bought this after a frustrating convention class where I was unable to pull what I wanted out of my canvas tote bag. It is the spinning ability that made it a justifiable purchase because I immediately began using it at home and constant use is the sign of a truly great tool.

    I have heard rumors that the bottom tray was also made sturdier from the previous model - I can't say if it was needed or not. I don't use this part of my bag at home as it is easier to get the things I would store in it out of the drawers I was already using. I do use it when traveling to hold the little bits like my back up trimmer blades and the like.

    There is a "waterbottle pocket" and a cellphone pocket and I don't think either of them are easy to use for their advertised purposes. The bottle pocket is very narrow and not many bottles would easily fit inside. I do use it to stuff an oddly shaped item as the mesh is very forgiving. If you use a really tiny cellphone you can probably use the cellphone pocket. I find the shape to be wierd and don't usually use it at all. The black patch behind the cellphone pocket is a series of elastic tool holders. Many of these pockets are quite narrow and can require two hands to put something into them.

    I am grateful for the large center pocket and extra tall handle as these features make it possible to pack a trimmer easily. There are elastic loops inside this area that can be used to more securely pack a trimmer for travel. I use some of the loops on the tall handle piece to secure my perfect layers ruler.

    You can stuff this tote with absolutely everything you might need for a crop (as far as tools go) but you will likely have trouble easily getting stuff out of the tote - no problem at a crop, but something to consider if you are packing for a fast paced class. The tote is too large to sit on top of most of the tables I've ever sat at during a convention type class. The spinner works easily and quietly but sometimes requires you to fiddle with placement to keep the tote from wobbling when it gets unbalanced. The spinner is several inches wide and you do have to leave space inside the tote when you travel. If you don't like to use the bottom drawer it might fit in there with the drawer removed.

    The only thing I wish this tote had was rings to connect a shoulder strap - it holds a lot which means it weighs a lot and can be inconvenient to carry through a vendor hall by the handle only. I don't feel comfortable keeping a wallet in this as there is no way to seal the inner pockets shut. I like to use rolls of glue dots and I find they appropriate a lot of room in the tote - some of the inner pockets are just a smidgen off shape or size wise to easily store a couple of these boxes.

    Despite the few things I mentioned as being less than ideal I am very satisfied with my purchase - it met several needs and is useful to me at home and when traveling. The quality of the materials is worth the price of the item and the addition of the spinner makes this product extremely useful and convenient.