26 November, 2013

Silhouette Hack 01: 10-cent pen holder

I'm writing a series of hacks for the Silhouette. I wonder if I can reach 99? The first hack is my 10c pen holder.

Why use a pen holder when you can just print and cut?
  1. I don't have a printer
  2. Printers can only print in CMYK. Pens come in glitter, metallic, fluorescent, opaque pastel/milky, UV invisible, colour-changing, etc.
  3. You can use a pen to test designs and save wear on your blade
  4. You can hold other tools to emboss, score and engrave

This isn't really a permanent solution, but it's great if you want to see what it's like first, you don't draw often, or have a pen that fits perfectly. What is the best pen?
  • Slightly less than 14 mm diameter. Too small and you need more foam to hold it in place. It might move and it's hard to get centred.
  • Cylindrical, not tapered body, so it doesn't tend to slide out
  • Short, since it's only going to be gripped by the bottom, and it may wobble
  • Comes in a variety of colours, so you don't need to make holders for every shape and size

Ok how the holder works is it tightens into a circle about 14 mm in diameter (that's why people use the 14 mm blade holders). So the idea is to pad your pen to slightly above 14 mm. I bought an about A4 sized sheet of foam I wanted to try cutting for 90 cents, and only used a bit, so I called this hack 10 cents. You could use any foam, even the wrapping for the Portrait in this picture:
These are the materials I used: foam and pen.
The Copic Multiliner SP is pretty good for this:
  • Cylindrical
  • Comes in a variety of line widths, and colours, I think
  • About the right size
  • The tip doesn't use a ball. (What is this type called? It has a plastic nib, like the Stabilo Fineliner.) This is good because if you've ever tried drawing a line with a ballpen, you'll see gunk builds up on the tip if you keep moving it in the same direction for a long time. This doesn't happen with this type of pen. Also, the tip writes the same in any direction and works pretty well vertically.
0.25 is a bit too broad for the Portrait, though. Since cut lines are so thin, you can space them very closely together, but if you try and draw this, it'll be a mess.

How to do it: cut a piece of foam and stick it in the holder. You might have to put several layers if your foam isn't thick enough. You could also try wrapping your pen with tape.
Put a piece of paper below the holder if you don't want to mark your cutting strip. Try and put your pen in and lock the holder. DO NOT FORCE IT. The holder can break and is irreplaceable. If it's too tight, shorten the foam and retry. If there's more foam on one side of the pen, the pen may be off-centre. For the SP, it worked best when I put about 2 mm of the aluminium part into the holder.

Aside: I think I'll buy the Chomas Creations' marker holder since it's made of metal, while the Silhouette one is just plastic.

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