I am the perfect candidate to write this post because I recently purchased my first electronic cutting machine: the Silhouette CAMEO.
It was during boxing week. I walked into Michaels, fifties in hand, heart pounding, because I knew I wasn't leaving the store without the machine I dreamed about for a year. It was an exciting moment. Did I come home and set it up right away? Yes. Did I play around, try to learn the functions and get the hang of it? Yes. Did I browse the Silhouette store and toss a gazillion items into my shopping cart? Yes, I did all of those things, but do I have any clue how to use my machine properly? I'm almost there.
It's like learning to ride a bike. Learning the Silhouette CAMEO takes time and patience. Lots and lots of patience. I am still learning and making rookie mistakes, but I can tell you which mistakes I've learned from already so that you don't have to make them too. Brace yourself for a long-winded, but useful, post.
Silhouette CAMEO: 5 Beginner Mistakes to Avoid
1. Loading media. This may seem like a no brainer, but you must load your media properly. How do you tell if you didn't? You'll see it with your own eyes, and possibly hear it too. During the cut process, if the media was installed incorrectly, you will it jerking, and that's not a good thing. The media should only move in an up and down motion. Whether you're loading the cutting mat or other media type, like vinyl, make sure you line it right up to the blue line, and don't let go of it when you press the load button. Seriously like don't. Keep a firm grip and make sure it goes in nice and straight. If it doesn't, try again until you get it right. This will ensure a proper cut job, less waste, and less of a beating on your cutting mat. Cutting mats can be expensive, and you don't want to be replacing yours often.
2. Resizing images. So, you know those numbers that appear when you play around with the sizing of your image. Use them. Those are your rulers. I can't tell you how many times I miscalculated the size of an image. Here's a tip - whatever you're printing and wherever it's going, measure the object first. Then, use the rulers to properly size your image.
3. Registration marks. Before you send your project to print, click to view the registration marks. In the tabs - Silhouette - Registration Marks, and click on Type 1 for the CAMEO under Style. OK, so what do they do? Well as I understand, they tell the machine where to cut. And they tell you, the user, where to place your images so that the machine will cut them out properly. And where's that? INSIDE the registration marks.
See those checkered boxes? Those are the registration marks. You'll notice that I placed my butterfly image within them. If I place the butterfly outside the boundary, the machine won't cut out my project properly.
4. Thin fonts.
So you want to cut out the phrase: "You make my heart flutter." You do realize that when you send this to the Silhouette to cut that each letter will be cut individually? You don't say. Boy, how many times did I make that mistake. I mean it's fine if that's what you want. But imagine pasting each and every one of those tiny letters in a straight line. There's a lot of potential for human error in that, and because I make and sell cards, perfection to me is key. You can work around this however. For example, you can adjust the character spacing in the text style box, then trace the word and cut it out as a whole. But you may have change the font, because not every font looks good squished.
If you're using a vinyl and transfer paper, then you don't need to worry as much about this. But if you're a card maker like me, those tiny letters would be a royal pain.
5. Forgetting ink. Um yeah, so the Silhouette Cameo comes with a blade. Check. But it doesn't come with any ink. You can buy ink separately however, you just have to remember that it doesn't come with any ink! And for some people, that might be OK depending on what you're using it for. It may also not be a problem if you have a home printer. But if ink is what you need, you have to go out and buy it. Michaels does sell them. But the manufacturers of your very expensive machine, unfortunately, forgot to toss some in the box.
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Those, my friends, are some beginner mistakes that I made. Not properly loading media, forgetting to pay attention to sizing, not using the registration marks, cutting individual tiny letters when I didn't mean to, and forgetting that the ink wasn't built into the machine. Don't you wish they included all of this stuff in the manual? That's too easy I suppose.
P I N M E !
Not all has been lost on me though...my first project for the blog using my Silhouette was a success from concept to completion. You can check it out HERE (and if you click there you will also receive a FREE cut file!)
I hope I've been of some help today. Thanks for reading along. But, I must know...
What beginner mistakes did you make with the Silhouette CAMEO? I cannot be the only one, right? Please share!