Useful Info


Promarkers are alcohol based pens previously used by illustrators and they give an even colour which can be layered to give depth or they can be blended together.  They have a chisel nib at one end and a bullet shaped tip at the other and because they are alcohol based they don't leave brush strokes and regardless of how often you repeat layers of colour the paper will not tear. 

To achieve the best effects it is important to use a smooth cardstock, we recommend Crafter's Companion Neenah Card or Doolicraft A4 Smooth Card 250gsm.  It is also important that you use a dye based ink pad for stamping your images and our personal preference is Memento Tuxedo Black but you can also use Adirondack Pitch Black or any other dye based ink pads in whatever colour you choose. Versafine and brilliance are also ok to use but must be heat set and then left for a few days to dry or alternatively you can heat emboss any pigment ink either with clear embossing powder or the colour of your choice but don't use any of the metallic powders.

Everyone has their favourite choices for colouring skin, hair, fur etc but I generally use the following:

Baby Pink

Warm Grey 3

Burnt Sienna
Warm Grey 3
Warm Grey 5

Q.  When I first used my machine there was a terrible cracking sound as the plates went through is this OK.
A.   Yes!  Provided you have not used undue force to roll the plates through the machine you will not have done any damage.  The cracking sound you have heard is simply the dies cutting into the plates and nothing to worry about.
This machine will cut Spellbinder dies, Nellies Dies, Marianne Creatables, Go Kreate Dies, Do Craft X-Cut dies, Sizzix dies. n It will emboss all of the above plus the following embossing folders:
Cuttlebug embossing folders
Creative Expressions embossing folders
Sizzix Embossing Folders
Kars Universal Embossing Folders
Do Craft Embossing Folders
Sandwich Options for the Cuttlebug

Spellbinder Dies (Nestabilities, Frameabilities etc)

Cutting Sandwich
1.     Cuttlebug 'A' plate
2.     Cuttlebug 'C' plate
3.     Spellbinders die, blade side up
4.     Paper or cardstock
5.     Cuttlebug 'B' plate
6.     Roll through Cuttlebug

This machine will cut and emboss Spellbinder dies, Nellies Dies, Marianne Creatables, Go Kreate dies, Do Craft X Cut dies, Sizzix Dies and will embossing using all of the above embossing folders.

Sandwich Options for the Big Shot

Spellbinders Dies or any other wafer thin dies such as Go Kreate, Marianne Creatables, Nellies dies and Do Craft X-Cut thin dies

Cutting Sandwich
1.  Multipurpose Platform on Tab 2 (no tabs lifted)
2.  Clear Cutting Plate
3.   Spellbinder Die blade up
4.  Cardstock or paper
5.  Second Clear Cutting Plate
6.  Roll through Big Shot.

Embossing Sandwich
1.   Multipurpose Platform Tab 1 (lift up first tab)
2.   Clear Cutting Plate
3.   Spellbinders die (with cutout insert in place) blade up
4.   Sizzix Silicone Mat (from Texturz Kit)
5.   Sizzix Black Texture Plate (from Texturz Kit)
6.   Roll through Big Shot.

You may also achieve the above by replacing the Sizzix Silicone Mat with either the Spellbinders Tan Mat or Kars Silicone Mat and then using the clear Cutting Plate instead of the Sizzix Black Texture Plate but this will probably need one or two extra shims in place to get a good impression.

Using Embossing Folders

These folders are manufactured by various companies and all will go through the Big Shot.

1.   Multipurpose Platform Tab 1 (Lift up first tab)
2.   Clear Cutting Plate
3.   Embossing Folder containing cardstock to be embossed
4.   Second Clear Cutting Plate
5.   Roll through Big Shot

Occasionally you may find that your cardstock has creased around the embossed image and this can be avoided if you pass the embossing folder sideways through the Big Shot rather than upright.

Cutting with Bigz and Original Dies

1.   The multipurpose platform is not required for these dies
2.   Clear Cutting Plate
3.   Bigz or Original Die blade up
4.   Cardstock or paper
5.   Second Clear Cutting Plate
6.   Roll through the machine.

When using these dies it is possible to cut through more than one sheet of card (I have used 5 sheets depending on the thickness and weight of the cardstock).

Using Sizzix Texturz and Fiskars Texture Plates

It is possible to achieve similar embossed patterns using the Sizzix Texturz and Fiskars Texture Plates.  Texturz plates are sold as part of the Sizzix Texturz Starter kit and other patterns are available in packs of 6.  Fiskars Texture Plates are available in various designs.
You can also purchase the Silicone Mat and Black Texture Plate separately.

Texturz Plate Sandwich

1.   Multipurpose Platform Tab 1 (Lift up 1st Tab)
2.   Texturz Plate
3.   Cardstock or paper.
4.   Black Silicone Mat
5.   Black Impressions Pad.
6.   Roll through the machine.

Using Sizzlits

1.   Multipurpose Platform Tab 1 (Lift 1st Tab)
2.   Clear Cutting Plate
3.   Sizzlits Die foam side up
4.   Cardstock or paper
5.   Second Clear Cutting Plate
6.   Roll through the machine.

Using Brass Stencils

It is possible to create lovely designs on your cardstock using metal stencils that you may have already purchased for embossing with a lightbox.

1.   Multipurpose Platform Tab 1 (Lift 1st Tab)
2.   Clear Cutting Plate
3.   Metal Stencil
4.   Cardstock or Paper
5.   Silicone Rubber Mat (from Texturz kit)
6.   Black Impressions Pad (from Textuz kit)
7.   Roll through machine.

Important Notice: Using Creative Expressions Embossing Folders with the Grand Calibur

In order to achieve the outstanding depth of impression that they offer, our Embossing Folders are slightly thicker than competitor products. As a result the Folders cannot be put through your Spellbinders Grand Calibur using the standard sandwich combination. Attempting to put them through using the standard sandwich may result in damage to your Grand Calibur machine.

Spellbinders plan to release a new plate for the Grand Calibur early in the New Year to improve its compatibility with our Embossing Folders. However, in the meantime, to use the Folders with your Grand Calibur machine please use the sandwich combination below:
·   Grand Calibur Cutting Plate (C)
·   CE Embossing Folder and paper/card
·   Grand Calibur Tan Embossing Mat
·   Wizard S5 Die Spacer Plate (Part code: WIZW -017)
All other die cutting and embossing machines remain unaffected and are completely compatible with our Embossing Folders.

Tips for Using the Big Shot (Q & A)

Q.   When I first used my machine the die cut into one of the acrylic plates have I damaged it?

A.   No!  It is perfectly normal for your cutting plates to become scratched and this will in no way affect the quality of cuts you will achieve.

Q.  How long will the cutting plates last?

A.  This depends on the amount of cuts and the products you are cutting, but on average they should last about 6 to 12 months or even longer in some cases.  You can prolong the life of your plates by rotating them and flipping them as this will reduce the wear and tear in just one area.

Q.  My cutting plates have 'bowed' despite my rotating and flipping them do I need to replace them?

A.   Not necessarily.  You will know when to replace the cutting places as you will no longer get a clean cut from your dies that have previously cut well.  If your dies have 'bowed' at all then use them so that the 'bowed' area is touching the die.

Q.   Can I cut fabric with my Big Shot?

A.  Yes!  However you may find it easier if you run it through with a piece of cardstock or apply some sort of bonding web first.  I believe it is possible to cut more than once piece of fabric at a time using the Bigz and Original Dies but I have not tried it myself.

Q.   Can I cut chipboard with my Big Shot?

A.  Yes, but do not use Sizzlits or wafer thin dies such as Spellbinders they will not cut through and you may damage your die.

Q.  What other types of media can I use with my Big Shot?

A.  You can use all sorts of things with your machine such as the following:
  1. Mount Board
  2. Adhesive-backed cork
  3. Tin
  4. Thin plywood
  5. Balsa
  6. Chipboard
  7. Plastic canvas
  8. Fabric
  9. Silicone
  10. Bubble wrap
  11. Fine sandpaper
  12. Template plastic
  13. Vinyl flooring
  14. plastic
  15. Funky Foam
  16. Friendly plastic
  17. Vinyl
  18. Suede paper
  19. Shrink plastic
  20. Funky fur
  21. Adhesive and non-adhesive felt
  22. Iron-on fabric
  23. Canvas
  24. Thin leather

    Ink Pad Information

    I am often asked for information on which ink pads to use for which procedure and I thought the following might be useful:


    This is a fast drying oil based pigment ink and works best on matte card but can be heat embossed if used on other surfaces.  There is no bleed when used for water colouring.

    Heat embossing.
    With water colours.
    This is an acid free solvent ink pad and is archival and fast drying therefore not suitable for heat embossing.  Can be used on all porous and semi porous surfaces.
    Stamping on Acetate
    Stamping on Glass
    Stamping on Shrink Plastic
    Stamping on acrylic
    Stamping on metal
    Stamping on leather

    Stazon Metallic

    This is a solvent based, acid free archival and fast drying ink pad for porous and semi porous surfaces.
    Stamping on Acetate
    Stamping on Glass
    Stamping on Shrink Plastic
    Stamping on acrylic
    Stamping on metal
    Stamping on leather


    This is a watermark stamp pad that is acid free and child safe.
    Creating resist effects by stamping on glossy card and then brayering another colour over the card. With chalks
    With Perfect Pearls
    Can be heat embossed.

    ColorBox Cat’s Eye Pigment Ink Pads

    Multi-coloured pigment inkpad. There are 8 different petal-shaped colours in this pigment inkpad, all of which can be removed. The colours in each pad complement each other perfectly.. The inks are high quality archival pigment inks.

    Can be heat embossed
    Can be used for direct to paper techniques.

    The pads can also be used for embossing on coated or non-absorbent papers.
    ColorBox Fluid Chalks

    Archival safe, blendable, permanent, light fast, smear resistant and waterproof when heat set.
    Can be used for direct to paper techniques.  Great for vellum, shrink plastic, foil and clay.

    Ancient Page

    Archival dye based ink pad that is acid free, waterproof, permanent and fast drying
    Use with Water colour pencils and paints.  Not suitable for heat embossing.

    Me To You Dye Ink Pad

    Dye based ink pad in 3 exclusive Me To You Pantones.
    Stamping with Tatty Teddy Rubber Stamps, which can be coloured with ProMarkers.

    Me To You Pigment Ink Pads

    Pigment Ink Pads in 3 exclusive Me To You Pantones.
    Stamping with Tatty Teddy Rubber Stamps that can then be heat embossed.

    20 Mini Pigment Inks

    20 different coloured pigment inks for every occasion.
    Can be heat embossed with rubber stamps and used direct to paper.  Once heat embossed can be coloured with ProMarkers.

    Adirondack Earthtones Raised Felt Dye Pads

    Acid free, non toxic, blendable, quick drying ink pads.
    Great for brayering and can be used with watercolour pencils and paints.  Also can be used with ProMarkers.

    Adirondack Lights Raised Felt Dye Pads

    Pastel Shades of the above.  Acid free, non toxic, blendable, quick drying ink pads.
    Great for brayering and can be used with watercolour pencils and paints.  Also can be used with ProMarkers.

    Adirondack Brights Raised Felt Dye Pads

    Bright shades of the above.  Acid free, non toxic, blendable, quick drying ink pads.
    Great for brayering and can be used with watercolour pencils and paints.  Also can be used with ProMarkers.

    Adirondack Pigment Ink Pads

    Acid free and non toxic.  Opaque coverage that air dries on matte paper. 
    Can be heat embossed.  Can be heat set on gloss paper, vellum, shrink plastic, metal and glass.

    Kaleidacolor Ink Pads

    Rainbow pads with unique sliding system to prevent bleeding of colours during storage.  Acid free.
    Great for brayering and creates a multi-coloured image when used with rubber stamps.

    Brilliance 3 Colour Ink Pads

    Rainbow pads consisting of 3 colours that cannot be used separately.
    Great for brayering or creating multi-coloured stamped images.

    Pallette Stamp and Stick Glue Pad

    This pad contains a clear, heat activated glue solution.
    For applying metal leaf, glitter, chalk and metallic pigments.  Also available in black.

    Colorbox Petal Points Pigment Ink Pads

    Acid free, light fast pigment based ink pads.  Slow drying to allow time to apply embossing powder.  Individual plates lift out.

    For use with rubber stamps and embossing powders.
    Big ‘N Juicy Ink Pads

    Rainbow ink pads with vertical stripes.  Non toxic, acid free, quick drying.  Very wet pads.

    Great for brayering and for stamping multi-coloured images.
    Distress Ink Pads

    These inks are acid-free, non-toxic, fade resistant and are water based.  The 2" x 2" pads are made with a high raised felt base. 
    Perfect for creating vintage cards, altered books, scrapbook pages and just about any paper craft project. They react brilliantly when spritzed with water and are. great for direct to paper techniques.  Also use the pads to tint photos and fibres.

        Are you unsure of how to use any of the following?

        Crackle Accents

        This product creates a crackle effect on most porous surfaces and dries to a hard transparent finish.  This can also be used as glue and is ideal to use to stick glints and glass flat backed beads.  It is non toxic and acid free and has a needle tip for precision application.

        Glossy Accents

        This product is acid free and adds a dimensional glossy effect to projects.  Also works as a glue and dries to a transparent finish.

        Enamel Accents (Black and White)

        Acid Free and non toxic.  This creates an opaque dimensional effect and dries glossy.

        Cut ‘N Dry Felt

        Use this felt with dye based inks and alcohol inks to create interesting backgrounds.

        Cut ‘N Dry Foam

        Use this product with pigment ink pads, viscose inks and paints and glues to create backgrounds.  Also use with distress ink pads to give an interesting edge to cards and backgrounds.

        Cut ‘N Dry Nibs

        These nibs are ideal to use with re-inkers and stamp pads and they give a uniform ink flow.

        Distress Inks

        These are water based dye inks and are acid free, non toxic and fade resistant.


        This is a glitter glue that can be used on paper, wood glass, metal and cloth. It has an easy flow tip and will wash off with water if necessary.

        Mini Misters

        Fill these misters with dye inks, re-inkers, rubber stamp cleaners and colour washes and create very interesting backgrounds for your cards and scrapbook pages.

        Ink Blending Tool

        This is an ergonomic wood handled tool which when used in conjunction with Cut ‘N Dry Foam pads allows you to easily apply ink from your ink pads to create backgrounds.  These pads may be washed in water if Distress Ink has been used.

        Ink Applicator with Felt

        This is similar to the above but is used in conjunction with felt pads to blend alcohol inks, mixatives, and blending solution to create amazing backgrounds.

        Cosmic Shimmer Twinkles

        A sparkling glitter glue that can be used in all your crafting projects.  The fine nozzle tip can be cut at any point to suit your particular crafting needs.

        Cosmic Shimmer Aurora Embossing Powder

        Aurora is a new range of rich and dazzling iridescent embossing powders. These colours are semi opaque and give a brighter glow with superior multi tonal iridescent qualities.

        Cosmic Shimmer Dazzle Paint

        Dazzle paint is an acrylic water based paint especially designed to add shimmering highlights and dazzling details to all porous craft projects.

        A very fine brush is supplied in the cap for application on detailed areas of work.

        Cosmic Shimmer Drawing Ink

        These drawing inks are an acrylic water based colouring system, with a fine brush for precision application.

        Always ensure the top is tightly screwed on and shake the bottle to mix the mica with the ink prior to use. 

        Cosmic Shimmer Watercolour Paints

        Sets of six shimmering watercolours. These paints are self-blending semi transparent colours which combine with others throughout the range to make a multitude of shades and tints. The paints are non-toxic and archival safe for your art and scrapbooking. Each paint comes in a 5 gram jar.

        Tim Holtz Alcohol Inks
        Amazing inks to make incredible artwork! These inks are acid-free, incredibly fast drying, transparent dye inks and come in a phenomenal range of colours. They can be used on glossy card and paper, metal, shrink plastic, glass, acetate, dominoes and other slick surfaces that can cause a problem for other inks.
        Tim Holtz Grunge Board

        Grunge board is a compressed, flexible sheet of textured material that can be painted, inked, sanded, hammered, or grunged.  It comes as plain sheets or pre cut designs that can be altered to create dimensional embellishments for all your projects.


        An amazing stamping surface! Use for jewellery, magnets or card embellishments.  Stampbord is a 3mm thick board, covered in a smooth stamping surface, that takes ink beautifully. Stampbord can be used with practically all rubber stamp inks, pads and pens. The smooth, absorbent, clay coated surface allows you to stamp perfect images. You can also scratch into the image to create incredible details and highlights on your stamping projects. The  surface allows you to easily erase mistakes when stamping or painting with inks.

        Stampbord Tools

        The Stampbord Tool Kit contains 4 handy tools that can be used to scratch intricate details and highlights into the Stampbord surface.  Scratch Knife
        This is the basic tool for scratching in fine details.
         Fibre Brush
        This is a unique tool for lifting ink and softening edges.
        Line Tool
        This is excellent for cross-hatching techniques
        Steel Wool
        This can be used to erase part or all of your image.

        Memory Glass

        Crystal clear microscope slide glass.  Each packet of Memory Glass contains 24 pieces.  This is perfect to use in paper crafting, scrapbooking, and jewellery making.  Memory glass edges can be left natural or finished with Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel, glues and stickers. The polished surface lends itself to accenting with alcohol inks, wire, beads, rub-ons, embossing powders, decorative glues, and more.

        For anyone who is new to card making and not sure where to start I have put together this brief synopsis and hope the following information is of use to you.

        Basic Equipment for Card Making

        Cutting Mat
        Craft Knife
        Metal Ruler or one with a metal edge
        Bone Folder
        Embossing Tool

        My preferred options:

        Scoring Board
        Paper Trimmer

        Paper and card come in a variety of finishes, textures and patterns and you will soon come to love them all.

        Card blanks may be purchased if you prefer and these are usually pre-scored for your convenience and also come with the correct sized envelope.

        Paper Sizes

        A4 card (US letter)            21 x 29.5 cm (8 ¼ x 11 5/8 inches)
        A5 – or C6 (half of A4)       14.8 x 21 cm (5 ¾ x 8 ¼ inches)
        A6 (half of A5)                   10.5 x 14.8 cm (4 1/8 x 5 ¾ inches)
        Scrapbooking Papers        30 x 30 cm (12 x 12 inches)
        A3 card                             Double the size of A4 card

        Envelope Sizes

        C5                                    Fits A4 card folded in half width ways
        C6                                    Fits A5 card (Half of A4) folded
        DL                                    Fits DL card

        Other sizes are available but the above are the most popular.
        As a rule of thumb, card and paper are identified as A4, A5 A6 and envelopes are identified as C5, C6.


        There are lots of adhesives available to card makers today and this can sometimes be very confusing so here is a brief overview:

        PVA Adhesive                       This is often referred to as wet glue and is excellent for using where a strong bond is required such as for box making etc.  Not a good choice for general card making as it may cause papers to wrinkle and create air pockets.  There is a fine tipped version that is particularly useful when applying glitter or small gems.

        Double Sided Tape               This tape comes in several different widths and is very useful when matting and layering card and paper, although care must be taken as once this is placed down it can be difficult to move again.  Also excellent for adding glittered borders to cards.

        Photo Glue                           Although designed for use with photographs, this is excellent glue for matting and layering card and paper since it allows the paper to be moved for a short time if not quite straight. 

        Glue Sticks                           This is a multi-purpose adhesive and is available in several sizes.  The larger glue sticks may be used for attaching rubber stamps to acrylic blocks.  Care should be taken when applying to paper since ‘dragging’ may cause the paper to tear.

        Glitter Glue                          This is used for decorative purposes and there are several brands on the market.   We stock Stickles, Twinkles and a version under the Kars brand.

        Spray Adhesive                    This may be used to attach fabric, tissue paper, vellum and intricate die cuts.  It may also be used for acetate and for attaching rubber stamps to acrylic blocks.  Useful for adding glitter to large areas.  Care must be taken when using spray adhesive and manufacturer’s instructions followed.

        Silicone Glue                        This is used for creating 3D toppers and decoupage.  Pinflair Gel is the most popular since there is no odour and it does not go hard in the tube or syringe.  Very easy to apply when using the syringe or a cocktail stick.  There are other brands available and we also stock Stix 2, and Do Crafts.

        Adhesive pads                      These small pads are an alternative to silicone glue and are used primarily for decoupage.

        Adhesive tape runners          These are ideal for card making since a measured amount of adhesive is applied to areas of the paper and card without the need to remove tape.  Provides quick and clean application.

        My preferred options:

        Double sided finger lift tape
        Adhesive tape runners
        Pinflair Gel
        Photo glue


        There are hundreds of different kinds of embellishments available to card makers and you may find that you already have lots of these at home such as buttons, ribbons, small beads, embroidery threads, glitter, sequins, watercolour pencils, felt tip pens etc.  All of these items may be used when making cards and they all can add their own special effects to a plain card.

        You can also purchase peel offs, rubber stamps, paper punches, copper metal sheets, crystals, glitter glues and readymade 3D stickers to enhance your cards.  However, it is not necessary to purchase your embellishments as these are very simple to make yourself.  Often the simplest cards can be the most effective.

        Folding Card

        The easiest method of making accurate folds for your cards is with a scoring board (these usually come with a scoring tool).  However, you may also score card using a ruler and embossing tool or if you have a paper trimmer and scoring blade this is also a method you may use.  When scored a greetings card always has what is known as a ‘leading edge’ and this may fool you into thinking that you have folded your card incorrectly.  However, if you look at any manufactured greetings cards you will see this ‘leading edge’ which is to aid the recipient opening the card.

        There are lots of methods of folding cards which can create very different effects such as:

        Folding an A4 card lengthways will create a very long thin card (envelopes are available for this size of card)

        Folding an A4 Card lengthways and cutting a small amount from the bottom edge will create a standard DL (double length) card (envelopes are also available for this size of card).

        To create a Gatefold card you simply fold in the top and bottom to meet at the centre thereby creating a ‘gate’.

        These are just a few of the different folds achievable and all of these folds are standard on a score board but you will soon be creating your own. 

        There is also a new board that has reduced significantly the need to measure your card using a ruler for various projects and this is called the Hougie Board and is a large board with indents on one side at one inch intervals and on the other side at one centimetere intervals.  This enables you to create projects from written instructions that are available in magazines in either inch or centimeter measurements.

        Matting and Layering

        This refers to the process of layering up several sizes of paper or card to create one or two borders that outline the embellishments on your card.  Depending on how many layers and the colours chosen endless different effects can be achieved.

        There are lots and lots of other products available to enable you to create stunning projects, such as border punches, machines that cut out hundreds of different shapes either with the aid of dies to use with die cutting machines such as the Cuttlebug, Sizzix Big Shot, Sizzix Boutique, Spellbinder Wizard or Grand Calibur or from cartridges if using an electronic cutting system such as the Cricut.

        All of the above are great to own and do allow you to be more creative but initially it is best to decide which areas of card making you enjoy most.  However the most important thing to remember is that it is only card or paper that you are using so don't let any minor mistakes spoil what I am sure you will find to be an amazing hobby!!!