As a hybrid scrapbooker, there are a few tools for me that are indispensable. I thought it would be useful to do a series of posts leading up to December of some of my favourite tools that I use all the time. Probably the most used tool in my collection is my Silhouette Cameo. I use it for all of my projects including Project Life (Monthly), One Little Word, Week In the Life and December Daily. It is an incredibly versatile machine and I love it.
So … What is a Silhouette Cameo?
The Silhouette Cameo is a programmable cutting machine similar to the Cricut or Brother cutting machines. Although all machines do similar things, the Cameo is, IMHO, the superior machine. There is a reason for that. The Cameo makes designing your own creations as easy as using the many beautiful designs available at the Silhouette Design Store.
The Silhouette machine can cut:
- Adhesive Vinyl
- Heat Transfer Material
- Specialty Media like tattoo paper, magnet paper, wood paper, vellum, transparencies
- Faux Leather
- Sticker paper
- Shrinky Dink sheets
With the 3mm Kraft blade for the Cameo 4, you can also cut thicker material including acetate, craft foam, burlap, balsa wood, and leather. The 3 mm depth is designed specifically to take advantage of the increased clearance the Cameo 4 has to cut even thicker materials.
How does the Silhouette Cameo work?
Using the free desktop app, Silhouette Studio, you can create images, shapes, and phrases to cut with your machine. You can import existing design files you’ve created in Illustrator or downloaded from stock websites, and convert them into cut files that the Silhouette machine can recognize. Shapes and cut files are also available for purchase through the Silhouette Design Store.
Does the software I get with the Cameo give me all the features I need?
When you open your Cameo and you put Silhouette Studio on your computer for the first time you have installed the Basic Edition. This software is all that you need to get started and will allow you to get started. However, it won’t take long before you realise that you can only use designs purchased from the Silhouette Design Store and have limited functionality to change the designs.
The Silhouette Studio has 3 upgrades – Design, Designer Plus and Busines Edition. And each has a range of additional functionality – Comparison Chart
Are the upgrades free? No, upgrading to Designer Edition, DE + or Business Edition is a one time paid upgrade and the price depends on the level of the upgrade.
Do I need to get the upgrade? I personally would recommend anyone to upgrade to at least the Designer Edition. This way you can import designs from outside of the Silhouette Design Store. I personally have the Business Edition. Not that I use it to make money but as I appreciate the features including the ability to export that are only available for this edition.
What create you create with a Silhouette Cameo?
I probably do about 98% of my creating with my Cameo for Scrapbooking projects. I use it a lot to create “Diecuts” from digital kits but also for more interactive and creative elements, especially for December Daily. For me, the Cameo is how i get more of my own personality into the elements that I use.
So what can you create with a Silhouette Cameo outside of scrapbooking items? The amount of things you can make with the Silhouette Cameo is endless. Here are a few ideas:
- Etched glass projects
- Greeting cards
- Iron-on designs for Tshirts, towels and more
- Gift boxes
- Party decorations
- Temporary tattoos
- Personalized items and clothing
- Garlands, banners
- Shadow puppets
I am thinking about using a Silhouette Cameo for the first time with December Daily this year?
That is a wonderful idea. December Daily and December projects are a great way to stretch your creativity and include items that you might not include in weekly or monthly albums like Project Life. I am a fan of foundation pages and find that the time before December is a great time to get creating those pages that just take a little more time.
My recommendation would be to consider getting started with your Silhouette now .. yes in September. Why? The Silhouette Cameo does have a learning curve and I recommend that you give yourself some time to get used to the quirks of using the cameo. Get some additional products that you are prepared to learn with and just take your time and enjoy it.
Too often people get the Cameo in November and want to be creating items that are Intermediate to Advanced level difficulty when they are just starting. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the time to play, experiment and learn. You will be glad that you did.
Is there a way that I can learn more quickly?
Good news. The answer to this is yes. I am a fan of Silhouette School and SilhouetteU (paid subscription). And I personally found the Guides from Silhouette School incredibly helpful and I am sure helped me to learn faster, with less wasted products and better end results.
Where can I get some additional designs outside of the Silhouette Design Store?