Alphabet Soup: a review & spoiler

Ah, PZ Kut! I miss you dearly! The search for your replacement has been long and painful. The anemic, pepto-pink of Speedy Carve gets all my attention now. That’s Pink Stuff, you know.

But then there was Firm Kut. Just something to try, not really a replacement, and try I did. And hated it. So tough to carve my hands ached. So shiny that ink refused to give a good image. Run right back to the Pink Stuff, yep, that’s what I did.

Then I hear news of MZ Kut. In the order of the alphabet, not quite at P, so still not a replacement, but very close. My heart was all a-flutter! I ordered a tiny bit to try it for myself. And here are my experiences and opinions.

The transfer:

20110916-105458.jpg
I use a Xylene blender pen to release ink from a laser printer as my transfer method. You can see that the black from the image is not very intense. Perfectly legible, but PS (pink stuff) takes the transfer much better.

I’d actually started carving by the time I stopped to take that picture. Just a little bit around the face and ears. It’s yellow because I stamped it with a yellow stamp pad before carving. I had forgotten how helpful that is! Carve away the yellow and see the white areas that are completed. No wondering if you’ve finished an area on an intricate carve. It’s plain to see.

The finished stamp:

20110916-114341.jpg

I’ve added a quarter for scale in the photo. The stamp isn’t huge, but big enough to have some fine detail as well as a bit of solid areas.

The top image used StazOn solvent ink. Generally a home run in the good, solid print department. A few areas are a bit light but detail showed up nicely.

The next image was with a fairly juicy Adirondack pigment ink. Ick! Much lighter than I expected – particularly in the more solid areas.

So I did what any frustrated stamper would do. I inked the hell out of that stamp! The nice, dark bottom image is the result. There was so much ink on that stamp that the impression on the paper had a small border of excess ink that squished out. But I got it to stamp black…

So, how was it to carve? Pretty tough. That’s in comparison to the Pink Stuff of course. The old PZ was firmer than PS, but still, not so firm as this. (and neither as difficult as Firm Kut) It took a lot longer to carve than I feel it should have. I also had a number of erroneous cuts where the blade of my gouge slid up and over the stamp. This problem would likely diminish with practice. As my tools are sharp enough to slice into a finger without me feeling it, I really don’t think that’s an issue. (yes, I learn the hard way) At the end of cuts, the rubber was loathe to release the bits that were cut away. (This has been mentioned on the carving board at AQ already.) I’m not sure I could get used to that or compensate for it. One of MZ Kut’s biggest drawbacks.

In conclusion –
Pros:
1. It’s white! (really missed using my yellow ink as a carving guide)
2. It feels durable. I suspect stamps carved from this material might never be damaged in the wild from normal use.
3. Thickness is perfect.
4. While flexible, it’s still firm enough that I bet I would almost never feel the need to back a stamp with foam.

Cons:
1. Too firm. I need just a slightly creamier material. I’m having to put too much pressure on my blades to achieve the level of detail I like.
2. Glossy surface impedes good ink transfer. I used the slightly less glossy back side and still am not happy.
3. Failure to release material after a cut.

Although there are more pros than cons, all three drawbacks are of the deal breaking level. My carving material must have a completely matte surface and it’s going to have to be a bit easier to carve.

This leaping wolf is landing back with the pink stuff for now, but will be watching for the next Z-Kut incarnation with baited breath. And may also land in a letterbox one of these days…

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2 Responses to Alphabet Soup: a review & spoiler

  1. Krystle says:

    I almost bought some of this to try….. kinda glad I didn’t now after reading this. Thanks for letting us all know the results of your test!

  2. Karen says:

    The wolf is fantastic! Sorry the stuff isn’t better to carve with.

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