A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Hobbycrafts Show at the NEC, it was my first time there, at a craft show at least, and after I bought the tickets I heard that it was not as good as it used to be, and that not many companies were there these days, the negative comments almost, at one point, made me decide to sell my ticket and not bother going. As it turns out I'm thrilled that I decided to make my own mind up and just go along. I'd read some people complaining that there were lots of dies being sold off cheap, mostly Tonic and Sue Wilson, exactly why there is an influx of these dies cheap I'm not sure, but I took advantage of the some of the deals and got dies that were originally £22 for £8!
I bought a few Tonic dies, some I'd been looking at for a while but didn't want to pay upwards of £20 for, and a couple of the relatively new cat dies. I also found a fabulous 'cogs' die by Joy, a company I'd never encountered before, and also a bunch of different shaped balloons die and a teapot and cups die set. Plus I added the oval and rectangle Presscut nesting dies to the circle and square ones I'd been given for Christmas.
There were as some people pointed out lots of places selling dies, but I also got to visit Lavinia Stamps, Imagination Crafts and several other companies I've been wanting to buy from for a while. There were demos and offers and the bonus was I got to meet up with my sister-in-law who is a big fan of Lavinia Stamps like me, she's been playing with LS stamps for a while though, I was an LS virgin. My SIL Sally also loves sewing, I actually only did the paper craft section of the show, she did all the sections. I enjoyed it so much I'm going to go along to the Christmas one in November, my SIL says its a better show with more people there.
TODO or Not TODO
Whilst I was there I saw a demo of the TODO on the Craft & Create stand, based on the demo and asking lots of questions I parted with £200 to make my foiling dreams a reality. Before I made the purchase I ummed and ahhhed because I already have a Big Shot and a Big Shot Plus, so I knew that I didn't need another die cutting machine. And as I wasn't that impressed with the letterpress aspect of the TODO, the main and only reason I was attracted to the machine was the hot foiling aspect, something I want to do on cards and projects and not having a laser printer I can't use toner ink print outs. However, £200 is a lot to spend in 1 go for a machine, but I figured the cost of a laser printer and toner initially would be more and the TODO wouldn't require toner top ups, so it would be worthwhile and it would work as a back up die machine.
As My priority for buying the machine was to hot foil, I thought it would be a good idea prior to my purchase to ask the young girl demonstrating some questions to find out if the TODO would do what I wanted. First I asked if I could use all of my existing rubber and cling stamps to stamp an image with ink like Versamark on to card and then use the TODO to foil it, she said YES! When I got home I discovered that the answer is in actual fact NO! You can allegedly use your dies to cut out shapes and then foil on to them, but primarily you have to use the TODO hot foil plates that C&C sell, which are not cheap to buy.
Additionally in my eagerness to get foiling, I failed to make a mental note of the fact that the TODO hot foiling plate is only approximately 15cm x 11cm so if you wanted to foil a project bigger than that you're stuffed! The TODO came with a bundle of stuff, mostly embossing folders and some dies, as well some hot foil plates. The girl demoing was doing so using a rose blossom foiling plate, I asked if it was included in the bundle of stuff that came with the TODO, she said it WAS, it WASN'T. What was in the bundle was the die, I didn't want to cut dies of the roses, I wanted to hot foil them on the cards, so I needed the rose blossom foil plate. It would have been an additional cost, and I really didn't want to spend more than I already had done.
I also asked the girl if you could use any foil, she said you could, I came home, and discovered that you CANNOT! You can only use the TODO foils that can only be purchased from Create & Craft in packs of 6 at £14.99 plus postage, and as they come in packs were they dictate the colours I wasn't impressed. The bundle didn't even come with even a small sample of foil to try by the way, which I thought was a bit silly. They could have added one less embossing folder, and including some foil, card etc so that you could play straight out of the box, if you were a new card maker, you wouldn't have everything to hand, but hey ho.
When I tried the TODO, I really wasn't impressed with the way it handled, like the lady above I discovered that with the roller being on top of the machine, it had very little grip and things were sliding everywhere, I found I had to wrestle with things to get them to go through the machine smoothly. The settings they recommend for embossing etc look good on paper, but there was an awful lot of messing about, putting something through, discovering it hadn't worked and putting it through again at a higher or lower setting. One of the reasons I gave up using the Xcut Xpress machine and was happy when Sizzix brought out the Big Shot Plus.
I didn't get to try the hot foiling because I didn't have TODO foil, but I'd seen enough to know the machine wasn't for me, so I returned it. The best thing about the experience was how easy it was to return the machine, I had to wait for my refund, but it finally came through today, hurrah! I tried out a few alternative hot foiling methods and have had some degrees of success and failures depending on what I used and how I did it, but I can now hot foil with an old laminater, I plan writing a post on my findings with photos soon.
I'll be upfront and say that I'm not a big Create & Craft fan, their show bores me, its all about selling and less about creativity and inspiring people to craft, they just want to get people to buy the products they sell at hiked up prices. Their demo's I've found are rushed and they don't really explain techniques and they sell the same stuff by the same companies, there is no variety. I've only bought from them on two occasions before, when I first got in to paper crafting, thinking I was getting a bargain and discovered after my purchases that I could have found the same item cheaper elsewhere.
After the NEC purchase, I received 3 phone calls from C&C informing me that I could have saved £20 at the NEC on my TODO purchase if I was a C&C club member, and they'd fix that for me whilst on the phone if I paid them £20 to join the club. Would they give me the discount back dated on my purchase to make the membership worthwhile? Hell no, they wanted me to give them another £20 making a total of £220 to become a member of a club that I cannot justify being a member of. I wouldn't buy enough from them to make the £20 back in a year and I wasn't interested in their magazine or badge. Which is what I told them the first time they called, so why phone on 2 other occasions?!
As for the TODO, after trying it out I really am not impressed and scouting around the internet I see that there are a lot of people struggling with it, I think for what it does its vastly over priced and under whelming. A few people are getting on with it well, but the fact that lots of people are having problems and no two people get the machines to work on the same settings that the manufacturers give is alarming. At least with my big shot I don't nearly lose a finger trying to hold an embossing folder in place. In my opinion, if you have a die cutting machine already, save your money and invest in a dedicated hot foiling machine. I have one on my wishlist, but I'm waiting for one to come out that doesn't require toner printing first, although the likelihood of that is slim, so I'll muddle through with the laminater for now :)