Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Silhouette Machine? READ THIS :)

OK – I have the machine – what now???

I don’t profess to know everything the Silhouette machine can do – I have had some version going back 4 years and I have barely scratched the surface of what this great machine can do.  Lucky for us there are some WONDERFUL talents out there that have simply awesome Blogs and You-Tube Videos that can tell us everything you want to know…from basics to far more complicated projects.


Well first thing you do is get your machine out of the box and get it hooked up.  Silhouette runs on software – the software has to be loaded to your computer – IT MUST BE A COMPUTER of some sort with an operating system – a PC with some sort of Windows OS or a Mac with a MAC OS – it will not work on a tablet or a cloud based system, like a chromebook.

If you received a disk with your machine chances are it is not the latest version of the software – you can load it up from the disk and once you have everything loaded the software may prompt you that there is an updated version available.  You can always download the software too directly from Silhouette http://www.silhouetteamerica.com/software/silhouette-studio/

Note there are a few different versions of Studio software – more in depth info can be found on the Silhouette site linked above

STUDIO – this is the basic version of the software and is free, there are currently two versions – the most current version is referred to as V3 – this version saves files as .studio3 files – there is also a legacy version that is referred to as V2 – this version saves files as .studio files.  You can open .studio files in ANY version of Studio, but .studio3 files can only be opened if you have V3 on our system.  All versions of Studio can also open .gsd and .dxf cut files, all are able to import picture files (.jpeg, .gif, .bmp,.tif, etc…) for tracing

DESIGNER EDITION (DE)– this is a “pumped up” version of Studio – there is a cost to buy it – depending on where you purchase it the cost is anywhere from $20-40.  This gives you a few more tools to play with, along with the ability to open .svg files

BUSINESS EDITION (BE) – this is an even greater “pumped up” version that has all the features of the basic and the DE along with even more tools, including the ability to run multiple machines from one program.

OK – software installed, machine ready to go – now what?


Silhouette Manual – yes it can get a bit confusing, but it is imperative you scan through it and get to know the basics through the manual.  It has a lot of good information about the basics – from typing in words to cut, to using the silhouette store, to explaining what all those icons are.

Blogs, Blogs, Blogs & You Tube – there are a multitude of blogs that are fairly specific to the functions of the silhouette machine in general.  While there are many out there I am going to highlight a few of the ones I turn to from time to time when I am trying to figure out how to do something new.

SILHOUETTE AMERICA –  - http://blog.silhouetteamerica.com/ yes Silhouette has their very own blog – did ya know that? – they have a variety of designers that post their own projects using files and materials you can purchase from Silhouette – they also have videos showing how to use the various kits and how to use the various tools in the software -https://www.youtube.com/user/SilhouetteAmericaInc

SILHOUETTE SCHOOL - http://www.silhouetteschoolblog.com/ - a very through blog with tons of tips, tricks and tutorials using a wide array of materials.  Melissa does a wonderful job explaining everything – first things first check out her post for newbies - http://www.silhouetteschoolblog.com/2014/12/silhouette-beginners-and-newbies-start.html

CLEVER SOMEDAY - https://cleversomeday.wordpress.com/ - Kay is a goddess IMO – she has a ton of great information on her blog, especially information pertaining to the technical kinds of things when it comes to Silhouette.  She has an tab on her site that is all about FONTS – something very important in the Silhouette world…love me some fonts – and for those that are in LOVE with Laura Worthington fonts (i.e. the delicious Samantha font) she has some great tips and tricks to get the glyphs working for you in the Studio software – She also has an EXCELLENT You Tube channel filled with all sorts of videos - https://www.youtube.com/user/CleverSomeday/videos - including the must watch Tracing without Tears series

UNDER A CHERRY TREE - http://underacherrytree.blogspot.com/ - lots of tips and tricks and tutorials – especially for print and cut

JOYS LIFE - http://joyslife.com/ has a variety of tutorials available - http://joyslife.com/silhouette-cameo-tutorials/ as well as some great videos - https://www.youtube.com/user/wwwJoysLife

THE PINNING MAMA -http://www.thepinningmama.com – tutorials – also has a great post that links to other great blogs – check it out  http://www.thepinningmama.com/2014/02/19/blogs-to-find-silhouette-cameo-project-ideas-silhouette-cameo-sale-discount-coupon-promo/

INFARRANTLY CREATIVE - http://www.infarrantlycreative.net/silhouette/ - ideas and tutorials

KENS KREATIONS - http://kreativeken.blogspot.com/ - mainly works with the Cricut Explore machine and software, but has some tutorials that can be used with the Silhouette machine – also has some videos utilizing the silhouette machine https://www.youtube.com/user/hesskr


There are a lot of different blogs and you tube videos out there that cover just about every topic, trick, tutorial out there…there are at least 39 ½ different ones just for those darn glitter ornaments alone.  If you want to know how to do something – just google – type in what you are looking for and viola (although I don’t recommend simply typing in “glitter balls” – not such a good idea) – I usually precede it with “Silhouette Cameo” XYZ.


If you don’t already have a Pinterest account I will wait while you go sign up…go on now – head straight to http://www.pinterest.com/ and sign up.  So once you are all signed up be prepared to lose yourself for a number of hours – if you have small kids, just scatter the cheerios on the floor now.  Pinterest is THE place to go – simply create a few boards – maybe a Silhouette Tutorial Board, Silhouette Idea Board, etc… and start pinning – once you put Silhouette Cameo in the search box it is like the skies open and the angels sing.  You will find a multitude of tips, tricks and tutorials and you can PIN them and refer back to them time after time after time…no more “oh where did I see that” or “gee I wish I remembered the web address for the tutorial to do XYZ” – it is all in ONE place…to get you started you can check out my Silhouette Tutorial Pinterest board – a few to get you started – but there are many, many more… http://www.pinterest.com/jenmouer/silhouette-tutorials/

Monday, December 29, 2014

Adhesive Craft Vinyl

Craft Vinyl
what the heck – where do I start….

for decals, walls, signs, home décor, cups, ornaments, windows, etc….

There are many different brands out there – Silhouette, Cricut, Oracal, Avery, 3M, etc…

Silhouette brand sucks…just don’t buy it if you can avoid it…it will work in a pinch and is great to practice on, but the quality and consistency is lacking

Cricut brand – slightly better than Silhouette – if you are in a pinch – most  bigger craft stores carry this

Avery, 3M – never tried them, others claim they are equal to Oracal

ORACAL – this is the NAME you will hear thrown out ALL THE TIME – while they have a few different types of vinyl, for crafters you really only need to know about 2 numbers – 631 and 651

631 – is a matte finish color, it has a lower adhesive WATER SOLUBLE tack and is best suited for wall applications.  It can be used in other projects – home décor, ornaments, signs.  The key with 631 is ask yourself – how is this being handled and will it be subjected to weather.  If you are putting it on a sign and hanging it on your wall – 631 is fine.  
  • Soft PVC film (80 micron)
  • For short- and medium-term markings, letterings and decorations of exhibition stands and materials
  • Service life in exhibition buildings: 3 years
  • Polyacrylate, removable
651 – is a glossy* finish color (*matte is available in White and Black) – this has a higher SOLVENT adhesive as well as a glossy coating – this allows the vinyl to adhere better and longer than 631.  If you are making car decals or want to put vinyl on cups and mugs that will be subjected to washing – you WANT 651 (note you can use 631 for car decals and even putting on cups and mugs, however due to the adhesive factor it may not stay on as long as using 651 - with using 631 on things like car windows it will break down and fade a lot quicker than using 651.)
  • Special PVC film (70 micron)
  • For short- and medium-term markings, letterings and decorations
  • Outdoor durability:
    • 5 years (black/white)
    • 4 years (transparent / colored / metallic)
    • 3 years (brilliant blue)
  • Solvent polyacrylate, permanent
OK GOT IT – understand vinyl – but how do it get it from here to there…..


Once you cut your vinyl and weed it you are left with your design.  In order to not warp the design and/or move it in one continuous piece you need transfer tape.  The two main types most crafters use.  Note with either type depending on your project you should be able to get 2-3 uses out of one piece of transfer paper/tape

Paper – comes with a backing – you peel the transfer tape from the backing and apply to your vinyl and then peel and transfer – paper is suggested for wall applications and I personally like it better for canvas application– you can usually buy sheets or rolls.

Tape – Tape is usually clear and comes in a variety of widths – from 2” on up – most of the time you will find it being sold in roll form.   It can look daunting and expensive (most places sell it in a 100 yard roll) but it last a LOOOOOOOOOOONG time – a lot of people prefer clear tape over paper for projects because you can see exactly where you are placing the vinyl

BUT – I heard you can just use painters tape or contact paper or other cheaper stuff for transfer paper?
Yep – people have had good success using contact paper, masking tape, painters tape to transfer vinyl – however there are a few disadvantages to using those items – most of those are not see through (unless you can find some clear contact paper) and can lead to you applying things crooked – they are not designed to transfer vinyl and can leave a residue on top of your vinyl, you may not see it right away, but rather a few weeks later when dust has collected in the residue – some have a strong adhesive and you may not have good luck getting the vinyl to apply to the object you are trying to apply it to.


There are a ton of different places you can buy vinyl on-line*** – most places are fairly reliable and have fast shipping – note that shipping is going to depend on where you are located relative to where you purchase from – one person might get their orders in two days, where others it takes 5-6 days.  There are lots of vendors on E-Bay, Amazon and Etsy.  Below are on-line companies that deal with Oracal vinyl – while there are many more I am highlighting ones that have been recommended over and over again  – what is going to be the best really depends on what you are looking for – you might find it cheaper to buy at some place that has free shipping – if you only need a small amount of something

The Vinyl Spectrum - http://www.thevinylspectrum.com/ - Currently sells by the sheet (12x12) and color sample packs available – good place for the small time crafter who needs a variety of 631 or 651

Expressions Vinyl - http://www.expressionsvinyl.com/ - sells by the sheet (12x12 and 12x24) and sells rolls (12” wide) by the yard.  They also sell both paper and clear transfer tape.  Has a rewards program for frequent buyers and free shipping over $75 – can sign up to receive e-mails on specials

API Crafters - http://apicraftersupply.ecwid.com/ - sells by the foot – so if you need 5 ft of one color and 10 ft of another, easily done.  Also sell rolls with price breaks at 10 and 50 yards (rolls are 15” wide).  They also sell both paper and clear transfer tape.  Shipping charges based on order total  *** has matte Black and White 651***

Surry Signs - http://surrysigns.com/

My Vinyl Direct - http://www.myvinyldirect.com/

***Some Joann stores carry Oracal 631 by the sheet

Tips and Tricks

Applying to wood or canvas
Applying vinyl to wood and canvas can be tricky – 651 is the best because of the better adhesive, but 631 can be used.   You really have to rub, rub, rub – on a canvas, flip it over and rub, rub, rub some more…it is best to pull the transfer tape at an angle rather than from top to bottom.  You may find especially on canvases that vinyl will start to lift – go slow- you may have to gently hold the vinyl down as you peel away the transfer tape (one reason I like paper transfer tape for canvas is you can tear away the transfer tape once you get a section adhered down – yes you can’t use it again, but I would rather have my sanity intact).

Once you have your vinyl all down gently warm it with a hair dryer and gently rub push the vinyl into the canvas and/or wood – be gentle as the vinyl can heat up and actually cause you to burn yourself – it also becomes a bit pliable and if you are overzealous with your rubbing you can warp the vinyl.  By warming the adhesive it allows the vinyl to really grip the wood or canvas as it cools down.

DO NOT SEAL the vinyl – a few different things can happen.  As the sealant dries and cures overtop the vinyl it can shrink up and cause the edges of the vinyl to pull.  Some sealents don’t play since with the adhesive of the vinyl, it can seep under the edges and cause the edges to pull up.  Some sealents can yellow over time.  If you are doing a sign for outdoor use it is highly recommended you use any sealers PRIOR to vinyling.

Wet Method

If you are looking for other tips, tricks and tutorials I HIGHLY, HIGHLY suggest getting a pinterest account and search Silhouette Tutorials – there are HUNDREDS of links right at your fingertips – sometimes you may have to try two or three different methods to find what works for you.