Sunday, September 11, 2011

Foam Cutting Experiment

I use a Cricut and try to find new ways to use it as much as possible.  When I saw this month's Counterfeit Kit Challenge, using the September 2010 inspiration kit from Sweet Peach Crop Shop, my eyes were immediately drawn to that set of foam Thickers.  I've been meaning to try cutting foam with my Cricut, so I thought now would be the perfect time to try.

This month's inspiration kit.
My experience is with a Cricut, a Gypsy and a regular blade. Maybe you have a Slice, a Sil, or one of 100 other electronic cutters.  Or maybe you have a deep blade for your Cricut and already know you can cut thicker material.  Regardless of the machine, my thought is google how to cut foam with your machine and give it a try!

To start my experiment I turned to YouTube to see what others have already done with foam. I found this tutorial from Cathie Rigby, and I think it was the most useful for getting started. By the way, Cathie's blog, Creative Cutter Room, is a great resource in general!


So here are the results of my experiments:

Round 1 - Epic fail. I had my machine set to speed 3, pressure max, multi-cut 2, and the blade at 6.  It wasn't enough multi-cuts, and my blade was dragging between letters, so they ended up cut where they shouldn't be. I said bad words and went to bed.

Round 2 - Not to be detered, I tried speed 3, pressure high, multi-cut 4, and the blade set at 4.  Better but not perfect. There was still a drag line, although it got better.  And the extra multi-cut definitely made a better cut through the material. 

Round 3 - Success, sort of. I didn't ever completely resolve the blade drag issue. If anyone has any ideas for that issue, I'll take it! But I tried something suggested in the video - I flipped my image on the Gypsy and that way the right side was stuck to the mat and protected from the overzealous blade. I also found that a quick trip around some area of a letter with a craft knife helped give a great release.

Flipped image using the Gypsy, so the "right side" of the cut would be the side that was stuck to the mat.

My early tries were pretty rough.  The blue examples were my best cuts, and that's when I really felt like I was on the right track.

Round 4 - I tried my letters a little bigger (about 1 1/2" tall), chunkier/less intricate fonts, and some welded words.  Great success! I also played around with running it through the Cuttlebug for an embossed image and changing the color with stickles or ink.  I just wanted to quickly show how easy it is to change the color - you're not stuck with neon green if that's all you have.  I really liked the brown ink on top - it made it look botanical and less like a kids craft item.

It took awhile to work out the kinks, but now that I know what works best on my machine, it will be a quick and practically free process to cut just the letters I need.

One final side experiment note: I have a Sizzix Sizlet alphabet strip (Wingo Zingo) - I found it at a flea market last year for $2. Anyway, I don't enjoy using it in my Cuttlebug because the letters stick in the die, and it's a pain to get them out. But I decided to try it with foam. Oh my gosh, it was so easy! And the letters peeled right out! And it was such a clean cut! I just wish they were bigger. But I can definitely see myself using that alpha with foam in the near future.

Sorry for the dirty craft mat, but I wanted to show the sizes of all my experiments, and this was the only grid surface I could find.

No time for Bonus Round 5 yet, but when I do, I'm going to try more stamping, dry embossing, and glittering. Stay tuned.

Moral of the story:  Play with whatever machine you have, find the settings that work for you, and see how you like cutting foam!

12x18 sheets of foam are around $1 at any craft store and give you lots of room for cutting the letters as you need them. I also found packs of small foam sheets at Dollar Tree - it may be just a hair thinner but nearly the same as what I bought at Hobby Lobby.

If you have any hints or tips for cutting foam letters, please leave a comment so we can all learn more together.  Happy crafting!



  1. Wow thanks for the experimenting for us all. I don't have a gypsy but I'll definitely be giving this a try On the cricut. I don't use it nearly enough. Great job. Thanks!!!

  2. Oh this is a great (human) tutorial - I like how you showed the failures as well as your workarounds and successes!
    I don't have an electronic cutting machine, but I do have three of four Sizzlit alphas and a Sidekick ... and one alpha that would work VERY well with foam - off to have a try - thanks!

  3. How funny - Mary Anne at Inky Sticky Mess had problems with letters not releasing from her die too and then found they were great for foam letters.

  4. SO COOL!!! I never even thought about using my Cricut to cut foam. Oooohhhh, the possibilities :)

  5. Great tutorial!! Thanks for sharing your experiences!!

  6. Love that you documented your attempts! I've never tried to cut foam with an electronic machine, but I have cut it in my cuttlebug with dies. It turned out great for me. I haven't done that in a long time so I must do it again soon. Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Thanks for sharing your trails and errors. I have been wondering about this, but I have the Silhoutte and didn't know if it would work.

  8. I agree totally. Thanks for showing this. I love foam letters. I'm inspired.

  9. Thanks for the link and youtube video... I have wanted to try this but have always been afraid to... Thanks for giving me the push I needed.

  10. Great ideas to try! Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. great ideas! i have used my cuttlebug with my old quickutz dies and used the foam. i like the look!

    thanks for following--did the same!

    go buckeyes!

  12. Great tutorial - I don't have a die cutting machine - yet! Now I want one even more ... :)