We just bought a Silhouette Cameo cutter. I’m aware this particular model has been out a little while, and that this review is a little outdated. However, the reasons why we bought it were 1. It was on sale. 2. I genuinely needed it in order to keep making money, and 3. All of the reviews cast it in such a glowing light that it seemed a good temporary answer while I hold out for the cutter I TRULY need. Oh: 4. The Cricut Explore demanded I be on the internet to use their flash website to cut anything, period. Fuck that cloud noise.
The first thing to note about the reviews, I have to add, is that they were each written by people who knew what they were doing and in many cases were professional scrapbookers and crafters. Nary is there a layman review anywhere on the internet, aside from an enthusiastic “I love my Cameo!” comment at the bottom of each professional review. You have to really dig to find the darker reviews, which are still phrased to sound all fluffy and light. For example, today I found one that essentially said, “Do you have a love/hate relationship with your cameo? Then you’re in the majority!” Which means that although a lot of people love their cameo, the majority also HATE their cameo. Stop and consider that a minute. They. Hate. The Machine. They. Spent. A. Lot. Of. Money. On. It doesn’t sound quite as fluffy as it’s phrased to be when you consider the facts, does it.
So that’s what this review is all about. I’m not a professional scrapbooker, although I’ve been doing crafts my entire life. I owned a cameo once before, many moons ago, and it didn’t last a day in my hands before I was boxing it up and sending it back with many a nasty review posted on Amazon.com. With this second attempt I thought that perhaps the problem was in me: I didn’t do something right.
I’ve had this machine about two weeks. I. Fucking. Hate. It. There is no love and hate here. I just simply flat out hate this fucking machine.
The cutting mat: On a scale of 1 to 10 I give it a 0.
These “cheap” personal cutters all pretty much use the same cutting system. They come with a sticky mat you place your paper on, and that mat holds the paper in place while the cutter’s blade does it’s dirty work. I’ve been all over the internet in the past two weeks looking up mat care, and they all said the same thing: been using my mat for years! To take care of it do these things! It lasts quite a while before it loses it’s sticky power!
The pros: I… got nothing.
The cons: Lies. The internet claims are all lies. The first time I owned a cameo, the mat stopped sticking in 24 hours despite my best attempts to keep it clean. This second time with my new cameo, the mat has lasted 24 hours despite my best efforts and oodles of research to keep it clean.
To buy a replacement mat costs around $15. There are no “mat fixit” sprays available, although many people have come up with hacks that involve temporary spray glues. I’ve been having to use the spray glues. Temporary glues tend to become permanent if you don’t move fast enough. It also gets all over your hands, and nasty hands are a pet peeve of mine.
Incidentally, I’ve tried all the tricks. Baby wipes, cleaning, soap, wiping, the works. The mat system just fucking sucks. The end.
The blades: On a scale of 1 to 10 I give them… oh.. .I dunno… a 3.
The pros: The cameo blade is kind of neat. Instead of having to pick between a plethora of different blades for each cut and going back and forth, you simply adjust a length setting on the blade you’re using. It goes up to 10. There are folks out there that have hacked them, and to them I tip my hat because the first time I owned the cameo I tried to hack the blade to go up to 11. I really think it should go to 11.
The cons: The first time I owned a cameo, I tried to cut shrink film. That’s what I bought it for, after all, and the reviews I’d found on the internet all said a cameo could do what I needed. The blade dulled on the shrink film on the first try.
This second time, we chose the cameo because everyone said it could cut shrink film. They all said the cameo had become new and improved, that it was better than ever. Shrink film is why I bought it. So I gave it a shot. It cut the shrink film alright, but not all of the way through despite double cutting as per online reviews and instructions. The lies struck again.
I had bought a second blade (They run about $12.) just in case this happened, so the new blade went into the machine about 10 projects ago. 10 projects later it’s not cutting as well anymore. It’s already dulling, yep. So through all of this I’ve only produced ONE project that has the professional clean quality I desire. Other projects since have torn paper, nicked edges, the works. I tried cutting thin paper this morning to make a Halloween card. Oh my god the mess.
The answer I’m given to understand is to buy this off market blade for about $25 that’s made of some durable material like kevlon or outerspace moon rock or something. I really need blades that can do the job, so even though we haven’t paid the house payment lately and our light bill is a month overdue we ordered one. I have commissions that are waiting patiently for this stupid machine to work properly. But for the record, I’d rather find the Silhouette CEO and throw the machine at his face. Hard.
Let’s lower my scale to a 1.
This machine wastes paper. I rate that at a 2.
The pros: I got no pros for this one. The waste of paper is because of their studio program, Silhouette Studio 3. With version 2 the waste isn’t as bad. And if I *lie* to the program about what size paper I’m actually using I can use more space. But. Yeah.
The cons: That’s right, I said it. It’s a paper hog. To make a 5 x 7 card I have to place things very carefully in the middle or the machine may decide not to make all of the cuts. We’re talking paper as big as 12″ x 12″. That’s a lot of wasted paper cast to the side. I seriously dislike that. A lot. If I’m making 2 5 x 7 cards, as far as I’m concerned they should fit one above the other within a 12 x 12 space. Think about it. I’d only need 10 x 7 inches minimum. So I tried that. The machine barfed at me and refused to cut the edges of the card. I changed margin settings, tweaked, played, researched, and wasted a lot of time.
This sort of waste means any project I do has the potential of being an expensive project. Even for personal projects (much less for sale) it’s a waste. It’s cheaper to order from Etsy.com.
The latest software likes to flip you the bird. Rating of 1.
The machine came with the Silhouette Studio version 2. I liked it alright, although I didn’t like some of it’s limitations. With a later release available, I upgraded thinking… yeah… okay. We’ll give this a shot. Now picture me sitting here with anger lines of evil emanating from my body. This is how the latest software makes me feel.
As far as designing goes, the new software is okay. I haven’t fully tested it yet because of one serious flaw: when I tell it to cut using the registration lines (which is how cameo finds paper placement so it can know where to cut) the damn thing won’t even look for them. I print the paper, I place it faithfully on the mat with sticky hands, I put the mat into the cameo in the prescribed manner that worked so well with the older program… and then I tell it to go. The machine bumps a little bit without even looking for the marks and claims “registration failed”.
In order to get a cut going I have to tell it to find the marks manually. Sadly this means the cut is always just slightly off, which leads to… yep you guess it… more wasted paper (and ink).
The older program never gave me that issue. If I said “look anyway you bastard” it did so cheerfully. It loved making me happy. This new software is the pits.
Online store is okay but no ticker tape parades are due. I’ll generously give it a 5.
There’s not much I can say about the online store really. I have no pros and no cons. It connects directly to their program, you can shop and import, and cut immediately. Woo hoo convenience, the bane of our society and biggest symptom of our problems.
Some items you can get and also buy a commercial license. I like that. So far 80% of what I’ve seen is personal use only. I don’t like that.
I downloaded an envelope today for 99 cents. The file is faulty. I am unable to report that. I am unable to file a complaint and say there is an issue with the file. I cannot use this envelope I shopped over an hour to find. I highly dislike that.
I also noted today that rescuing your files from their server if your machine dies is something you can only do 3 times.
That I more than highly dislike. I think it sucks. Fortunately I do backups on stuff so it’s not that big of a threat to me so much as it sucks.
Final Rating: COULD THIS DAMN MACHINE SUCK ANY MORE THAN IT DOES??
No really. That is a direct quote from me today as I labored over a simple Halloween card. It was a premade pattern I’d gotten from their online store. It’s a cute enough card… but add in all of the problems I’ve listed above and picture me trying to make a simple fucking card.
I needed this machine. I needed to get what I’m up to for our survival (and my health) going. The machine I truly want is so far above our price margin I just don’t see me getting it this lifetime, no matter how much I pray and hope. But if I’d had my way I’d have returned this thing after day one. I fucking hate this machine. I’m definitely in the majority of cameo owners.
My advice to you is look into the silver bullet or better. Even if you know what you’re doing. OMFG could this machine suck any more than it does… no wait. Don’t answer that.