Many crafters who read this blog will have embossing machines. Well, the good news is that if you run a piece of craft foam through it without any decorative plates, you may be able to compress your foam to make it easier to cut. It won't necessarily bounce back to full thickness, some will, some won't but you may be able to cut it afterwards. I used 2mm foam and ran it through my Evolution at a setting of 8 and that worked really well.
When trying to cut more delicate items, I have found it easiest to use a CB09 holder with one of the 45 degree blades that fit it. These are much finer blades, so there is less drag. For Silver Bullet and SCAL users, I have mine set to a blade offset of 60 and an over cut of 1mm and that seems to work well. You can see the teddy stamp I cut from the foam, the lines are quite fine. That bear has an outline of about 1mm. To get your blade depth, put it against the material after compressing, it should not be any deeper. I cut with a speed of 300 and a force of 200 to get the result below.
If you are careful about the font you use, sentiments can be cut too. My tip for these is to choose a very fine font and make it big, rather than a chunky one made smaller. A big but fine font looks great stamped, a small chunkier one doesn't come out so well, you tend to lose detail. I've come to the conclusion that if you want really fine small stamped sentiments you had better just buy them, unless you are prepared to experiment with shrinking them (see below).
Before sending anything to the cutter, if using SCAL, check the number of nodes. I cannot stress enough, how important this is. Editing images with the eraser, adjusting paths etc can increase the node numbers a lot. Use the simplify option to make sure you get a good result.
Enough of the cutting, have you ever thought of decorating your foam cut outs? I did a bit of experimenting and got some interesting results.
You can use coloured 3D glues to add another dimension and gloss, like this
It comes out really juicy looking, would be great for holly berries and santa hats! Of course, you are not limited to red, other colours work just as well, but match dark foam to dark colours and pale foam to pale colours. It is added AFTER cutting.
I did try some clear PVA but that didn't do too much for it.
My favourite though was a black metallic nail polish, loved the result of this one!
The great thing is that the brighter, more garish polishes are often the best bet - and the ones most likely to be found in the cheap bargain shops or on sale!
Alternatively, you could paint on some glue (or just rub it on with a finger) and use glitter.
Did you know you can shrink foam?
Foam will shrink up considerably if you heat it, the quickest way is with an embossing heat tool, but you have to keep it still and it will curl up if you are not careful.
You can use an iron. Put the foam between some baking parchment and iron it for a few seconds at a time. Only use a low setting, the highest I used was 'silk'.
These were all cut the same size, but shrunk to different levels.
To stop it curling, turn over and iron on the reverse as well. (The black marks on the one on the right are just ink stains from the back when stamping with it).
Oh, and before you ask, no, don't shrink it before cutting. It doesn't work. Believe me. I tried it!
I hope this has inspired you to try it out, it's great fun. I think that red foam with a red nail polish on it would look spectacular on Christmas cards...