Shadowboxes! They are gorgeous and look like a million bucks and a million hours spent.
In fact they are quick and easy to make if you know what to use. I’ve been making these for a while and after much experimenting (and hair pulling) this list of papers and settings is what I stick with.
I test all of my templates personally. If the template comes with SVG and other machine cutting files I have cut it myself on my Cricut to make sure it will cut well for you.
I’m sharing with you here the papers and cut settings that I use on my Cricut Explore Air to get fabulous results almost every time. (Almost… because sometimes the paper cutting odds are not in our favor.)
Keep in mind the list below are the things that I use. Your machine and the items you like to use may be different. This is just to give you a point of reference and to assure you that my intricate boxes can be cut with a craft machine. (I promise… if you can’t get a good cut… it’s not the file. It’s either your machine settings, your mat or your paper.)
Machine I use for cutting:
Cricut Maker. She’s a sexy beast.
Fine Point Blade. (I replaced the fine point blade after 6 months of heavy papercutting use. They last a long time. I only use it for cutting paper.)
Blue or Green mat, made by Cricut – Brand new Blue is the best, slightly used Green is good too – I lay a sheet of paper down and pull it off a couple of times. Some people do it with a t-shirt or soft fabric.
If the mat is not sticky enough small intricate cuts will shred. The paper lifts off the mat and tears. Swearing ensues. (I wash my mats with dish soap and water when they get too unsticky and it brings them back almost to where they need to be.)
Papers I use:
Neenah 67lb Exact Vellum – white
I buy the 11 x 17 size, but it’s also available 8.5 x 11
I buy it from Amazon here: NeeNah Paper
This is my go-to paper for a lot of things. Works well for hand cutting. I use it to print coloring pages too. Takes colored pencil like a boss and it’s fairly inexpensive.
Used for this Heart Shadowbox Template.
Neenah Astrobrights 65lb cardstock from Amazon. It’s the bees knees. 250 sheets 8.5 x 11 lots of colors.
Springhill 65lb cardstock from Amazon. Also the bees knees. 250 sheets 8.6 x 11 beautiful pastel colors.
Cricut brand Cardstock – 12 x 24″
I buy it here: Find it on Cricut.com
Not the glittery kind, nothing fancy, just plain old cardstock.
Fabriano Tiziano paper – Find it here at Blick
Comes in a big sheet 22 x 28″ that I cut down to the size I need
Great color selection. Also great for cutting by hand.
So important as we all know.
As I stated above – I use a Cricut Maker. Use this as a reference starting point for the machine you are using.
Note: Many use the intricate cardstock setting with the Maker. It cuts twice and lots of people swear by it. I don’t use it.
For the Neenah 67lb paper and other 65lb papers I cut on Light Cardstock setting. It is just about perfect. (If you are using a different machine, find the setting on your own machine that seems the closest to what this would be.)
Some colors like black and red require the Light Cardstock with More and sometimes I cut it twice – press the C cut button again without removing the mat. Just lift a corner of a cut area to see if it needs to be cut again.
For Cricut Card I cut on the Cardstock setting.
Often I have to leave the mat in and push the button to cut a second time. If the cut setting is too deep, some shredding and frustration can happen.
Fabriano Paper – Cardstock setting and cut twice if needed.
The paper needs to be non-fibrous and have a sort of crispness about it.
If you are using cardstock that leaves dusty bits of stuff on the mat and shreds when attempting small cuts – that’s the stuff that doesn’t work well. It’s a bummer.
If you think you might need to change your blade… you might need to change your blade. First, though, check the blade housing- holder thing- to make sure there’s not paper or vinyl or anything else in there jamming things up.
I encourage you to try different papers.
Experiment with your settings.
Test on small scraps of paper before wasting an entire ream of full size sheets. (I feel your pain!)