The first thing I did was tear open the package and explore each piece. There are four in total - a base plate with slots for the blades, a clear plastic top plate with printed grid and holes at pre-measured intervals (eight different sizes), and two blade tools that create a total of three types of corners - angle (straight), ticket stub, and round. As you can see, the blade tools fit nicely into the plates for safe storage and mobility (the blades don't go all the way thru so you won't cut yourself or anything placed under it). Also, note the five small silver circles, one on each corner and one in the middle - those are magnets that help hold your paper in place. A necessary feature for sure! What you can't see well are the grid lines connecting each set of four corners, labeled with measurements.
The second thing I did was make a quick list of common projects that would benefit from the use of this tool: greeting cards, art journal pages, scrapbook layouts, and ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) were the most obvious. Thinking a little broader, I also included postcards and invitations - to birthday and graduation parties, wedding and baby showers, wedding ceremonies, etc. This is not an exhaustive list, the possibilities are nearly as endless as your creativity, so don't be afraid to experiment! Here are a few tips I discovered that are universal to all project types:
1. The grid on the top plate includes eight sizes: 2x2, 2x4 (business card size), 3x3, 3x5, 4x4, 4x6 (standard photo size), 5x5, and 5x7. It's possible to cut mats for sizes in between these, but it's more difficult (more on that in tip #4). Always cut your mat at least 1/2" wider than each side of your photo or insert. For example, to mat a 4" x 6" photo/insert your paper will be cut to 4.5" x 6.5".
2. To cut the mat, first line up each corner tip in the middle of the hole one size up. For the 4.5" x 6.5" mat, you will place the tips of each corner in the 5x7 rectangle holes. The magnets will hold your paper in place. Next, decide on a style of corner; the curved blade cuts rounded corners using the top of the slots, and ticket stub corners using the bottom of the slots. The straight blade cuts angle corners using the middle of the slots.
3. Once your mat is in place, insert the blade tool into the appropriate slot. Be sure to line up the blade correctly on each side as it will cut thru the clear plastic top piece if you're off even a tiny bit. Next, push down on the blade firmly; when it cuts thru the paper, you will hear a slight click and feel the blade hit the bottom plate. Repeat for all four corners.
4. The eight sizes laid out on the grid are those used most often; however, there will be times when you want to mat something larger or smaller, such as an ATC (which measures 2.5" x 3.5"). This is possible, but difficult. You may want to draw the lines onto the back of your mat with a pencil, lining up the corner tips as mentioned in tip #2.
Here are some photos and basic instructions for the three projects I created. All supplies are availalbe for purchase at Paper Pals, and my samples are there for you to examine as well:
This is the first project I created, with the front of the card above, the back below. To make this, simply cut a piece of Bazzill Basics 12x12 cardstock in Midnight blue to 6.75" x 4.75", and Saguaro green to 6.5" x 4.5". Next, using the Corner Mounter, cut slots for a 4x6 insert as described in tip #2. Instead of a photograph, I used a card from the Albums Made Easy Memo pack, which measures 4" x 6".
Before adhering the green mat, turn over the blue card and cut slots on one side for a 3x4 photo. For this one I used the straight blade for angle corners. Insert the photo into the slots; if you want to replace it with a different one, or make it available for removal by whomever receives it, don't put adhesive on the back of the photo. To the left of the photo, I adhered another journal card from the Memo pack, rounding the corners with a 1/2" corner rounder, and inking the edges with Tim Holtz Vintage Photo Distress Ink. This card measures 3" x 4". It is now possible to adhere the green mat to the front of the card, putting adhesive all the way around the edges of the mat. If you want the insert to be permanently in place, put adhesive over the corners that are stuck thru the slots as well. Be careful not to stick the front piece on upside down!
The next project I made is a typical A2 size greeting card. For this I used more Bazzill paper, in Marigold and Midnight. Cut the Marigold to 8.5" x 5.5" and fold in half on the 8.5" size. You will end up with a card measuring 4.25" x 5.5". Cut a mat in Midnight measuring 4" x 5.25". Using the Corner Mounter and the curved blade, cut stub style slots in the mat using the 3x4 grid lines. I used a third card from the Memo pack as the insert, measuring 3" x 4" (pink and orange chevrons). The stamped image is from the Hero Arts Joy Ride clear stamp set, stamped onto white cardstock and cut to 2" x 3.25", edges inked with Vintage Photo. The sentiment is from the Stampers Anonymous Simple Sayings stamp set, stamped onto a white strip I cut from a journal card included in the Memo pack.
To assemble the card, adhere the bicycle onto the journaling card and insert the journaling card into the slots. Adhere the blue mat onto the front of the orange card. Using dimensional foam mounting squares, adhere the sentiment to the bottom of the journaling card. Finally, cut a piece of orange ribbon (twice the length of the card plus 1", which in this case would be 12") and tie around top flap of card.
For my first two attempts, I used the curved blade to make the round style corners but was unable to get the blade to puncture the paper. As you can see, on the third attempt the top right slot was difficult to pierce. I didn't have this problem with the larger mat sizes, so I'm not sure if the size was the problem, or the round corner style, or something else altogether.
I would have to give it 3.5 out of 5 stars given the frustration with wanting sizes not laid out on the grid, and a few difficulties with piercing the paper; however, it makes it possible to add multiple layers to virtually any project, and would be especially useful for card makers. Overall, I enjoyed working with this tool. When you pick one up of your own, please comment and share your experiences!