The Official Review for the Cameo given to Amazon. Just because.

I currently own my second Cameo. The first I had less than a week before returning it. However, I thought to myself that it was because I didn’t quite know what I was doing and I had tried the Circut Explore for 24 hours. What I mean by that is I brought my new Cricut home, discovered it required the internet to use it, boxed it up, returned it. And came home again with my second Cameo.

I bought this for professional craft work. Even with the learning curve I have to go through, I feel it’s got issues. I think I hate this machine more than my ex-husband. But I am going to give a fair review for those who are looking to purchase a Silhouette brand machine anyway.

USE: I bought this machine primarily to cut shrinky dinks. Now I know the Cameo isn’t strong enough to cut shrinky dinks, but my husband and I did some research before taking the plunge and we simply couldn’t afford this other cutter I covet. There were a lot of bloggers who managed to cut shrink plastic so it was worth a try, we felt, because I primarily make charms to sell and my hand isn’t as good as it once was.

It cuts great through paper, cardboard, cover stock, vinyl and a lot of other lightweight materials. I have tried and failed to find a comprehensive list of what it can cut, so will probably be starting one of my own to put on the internet. With shrink plastic, even though if you look at the sheets they’re no more thick than some of the other stuff the machine will cut, the blade may make a line slightly in the surface if you’re lucky. We even bought a specialized blade with an aluminum case. No luck. I did develop a way to convince the silhouette to cut through the plastic almost to the other side that involved a lot of offsetting and many more cut passes than double cutting, however I don’t recommend you do this to your silhouette every day.

So far I’ve forced my silhouette to “cut” at least one whole pack of shrink plastic and a few other projects. It’s still working. So it tries.

BLADES: The Silhouette blades dull easily, so treat them well. After much research I found that cleaning them off by running them a few times into a bit of folded tin foil helps enormously. Tin foil does not sharpen the blade, btw. It’s softer than the blade itself, so it can’t.

I really like that the blade itself is adjustable. Instead of having to switch between 10 different blades I just pick up the adjustment tool and find a number.

What I don’t like is how dirty the blade get so quickly, and how the blade cartridge housing inside the machine is a dust magnet. Last night I thought my machine had broke forever because so much paper residue had gotten into the casing and it didn’t want to work properly anymore. Keep your machine meticulously clean. Even if you never wash your dishes, clean your machine after every use with an air gun or something.

THE MAT: I hate that **** mat. I hate the mat system period. The mat is one reason why I returned the machine the first time. It dirties too quickly, loses it’s stick the moment you cross your eyes at it, and silently curses your name while you’re feeding it into the machine. There are a lot of tutorials on the internet from other people on how to keep your mat clean, how to redo the sticky, and all sorts of things. I followed them. My mat lost it’s sticky in ONE DAY. I mark this as important because the last time I owned a cameo the exact same thing happened.

You can restick your mat reliably by cleaning the dirt off with goo gone or something like that, putting painter’s tape around the edges where your machine rollers will run, then spraying the inner grid with a *re-positional* spray glue like Easy Tack. The stick lasts longer according to many people than the Silhouette’s original, as well. I say re-positional, because with permanent or anything that says permanent then temporary you’re going to mess everything up. Listen to the voice of experience.

However, I think I’m not asking the Silhouette company too much in asking for some way to redo our mat without having to find someone’s experience tutorial on Youtube… or maybe just find a better way to glue their mats…

INTRICATE CUTS: The answer is yes and no. Oh, my machine tries to do them. It’s even succeeded a few times. The stupid mat was too sticky and ripped them apart. Or the stupid mat wasn’t sticky enough and the machine ate them. I can’t go into my experience with intricate cuts without wanting to punch something with my bare hands.

STICKERS: I’m actually pleased with this one. I took the original Silhouette recommended settings and then adjusted so that I can cut stickers… and only have the sticky part on the top be cut. The bottom half of the sheet stays untouched. The stickers come out nicely. Very good.

ACCURACY: This is one feature of the Cameo I actually love. If you’re making your own designs and want to cut something like, say, a printed sticker the Cameo has a sensor built in. Your printed sheet has marks on the edges the machine will look for, and that’s how it knows where to cut. Sometimes it’s off by a mm or two but I’m still happy considering the machine’s limitations.

SOFTWARE: My machine came with their version 2 of the design software. It’s okay, but the limitations often have me cursing worse than my fisherman father. There are no layers, no lightening, no nothing to control exactly what I need to control in my work. Yargh. So I updated to their version 3. Double yargh. It’s got better features and, most important, is better at selecting cut edges than version 2 (which was a pain) buuuut… unlike version 2 it doesn’t like to try to “register”. What I mean is, you tell it to find the cut lines and start cutting and it wiggles a bit and flips you a sharp, blade-endorsed bird. I have become very familiar with the manual register process because of this…

Which it turns out I prefer. The one single time my machine registered on it’s own two days ago the cuts were crazy and way off. It’s best you do the thinking for this machine. It’s worse than my roommate.

PAPER WASTER: That’s right. I feel this thing wastes paper. But I’m pretty sure it’s the software’s fault because version 2 wasn’t as bad. With the current software I use the machine would cut to the edge of it’s cut area. With version 3 it won’t. Even when you tell it to. So yes, you get partial cuts. And you shake your fist at the ceiling and curse the Silhouette CEO’s name. If I could afford it, I would buy one of the other softwares the Cameo works with to see how they do, but I can’t. It took me months just to be able to buy the machine…

Which brings me to COST: I guess you could consider it affordable. With the new machine that has just come out (which looks like it’ll do the same job but with maybe a few more features for cutting lightweight material, no shrinky dinks), well. $300… $350… that’s a lot to a lot of folks, especially these days. However, this price is but a fraction of the cutter I covet and for someone like me it’s a start.

Just beware of your limitations.

Essence of Gelfling

Today is my father’s birthday. I was going to send him a card and maybe a little something, but I’ve been so sick in the past month I think he’s lucky to get a glance his way. This makes me a terrible human being and the worst daughter in the history of time.

Today has also been a very busy day. Like I said, I’ve been sick. We didn’t know what it was at first; just a mysterious tooth ache in teeth that otherwise are happy to be my teeth. It ebbed on and on, sometimes so badly I barely noticed the sniffles and sneezes that had come with it. “Go to the dentist,” my husband kept saying to me. Oh yeah, because we can afford the co-pay… not. Not to mention we haven’t found a local dentist that isn’t a total dickwad yet. I’ve had very bad experiences at the dentist – including spending some time nearly choking on a bit of bone while the dentist snapped at me that there was nothing wrong. So.

I finally figured out what was happening when the burning headache associated with my chronic sinus problem settled in. And it was like, oh. I see. It’s the damn infection, back again. I was very sick by that point and made my way to the doctor up the street, who demanded to know why I wasn’t at the dentist for my headache until she looked at my teeth and backed off. (Yes, I did indeed tell her “I told you so”.) She got offended when I mentioned what herbs I’ve been taking to battle this chronic problem and asked if I was willing to see a specialist.

Hell yes I’m willing to see a specialist; and not the E4 kind. I’d been wanting to see a specialist all these years that doctors have routinely told me, “Lose weight, drink more water” in response to my problem while blowing me off. I also would have liked some antibiotics (something I rarely stoop to) and maybe some other medicine that would help my life a bit. This problem is very debilitating. I’m up to 300 lbs because this problem flairs up and I have to eat 5, 6, and 10 meals a day to protect my stomach while taking painkillers constantly. And it always flairs up when I try to get active. (I just recently started doing yoga again.) I seriously considered filing for disability over this problem this last time because I literally couldn’t think beyond a certain level. Bills? Yeah, my face didn’t give a shit about paying the bills.

The doctor put in the order for a specialist, but because it was Saturday I was going to have to wait for their call. Which means I had my husband give them his number because my phone is currently out of commission. The doctor refused to let me have pain medicines but did give me a new steroid the companies sent her. And sent me on my way.

The specialist still hasn’t called to set up an appointment.

Which means, now that I knew what the problem was, it was once again up to me to treat myself. Isn’t it funny how the doctors get all offended that folks like me treat ourselves and circumvent the chemicals that Big Pharmacy love so much while at the same time refusing to, well, treat us so we don’t have to treat ourselves? Yeah, about that. I doubled down on the treatment, too, so that today just a couple of days later I returned to my normal work schedule.

Which brings me to Essence of Gelfling.

gelfling3There’s this real cute idea I’d been wanting to do all this time and I finally had enough energy to do it. I just put it up in the store today: it’s… Essence of Gelfling. (Picture to the right!) Because, I reasoned, if you ever get a Skesis neighbor you may be able to charm them with this. Just keep it on your person in case of Skesis invasion, and you’re assured a get out of death card at least once.

I’ve also been multitasking: working on this Alice in Wonderland charm bracelet idea I had while trying to catch up on commissions at the same time. (And I still have to get my entry into the Elfquest Fan Art Calendar Contest in by midnight. Oy!) The charms are being made of shrink plastic – and for those who don’t know, that is not the child art it was originally intended to be. No, when I do shrink plastic I tend to go all out. So that it has taken me literally all day just to product ten little charms.

I used the cameo to cut the shapes: this was hard and I slowly invented my own process. The process apparently worked, sort of, and may even have put a little less stress on the machine than the methods other people use. I haven’t perfected it yet so I don’t want to talk about it just now. Just know I wouldn’t recommend cutting shrinky dinks or really any shrink plastic daily with your Silhouette Cameo.

For the artwork I used some illustrations I originally did for a reprint of Alice in Wonderland. The original illustrations are all black and white, so I colored them up a little bit. You should have seen the failed attempts I ended up throwing away. It was so very sad.

Each charm took me at least four parts to make. Yes, four parts. But they’re so much prettier this way. I’m still perfecting the process, but the last batch was good enough for me to stamp it with the okay. I have decided that each of my charms will begin like this and will be ordered as acrylic laser cut charms here and there as I go. That way I still get to make my art and see them come to life while at the same time getting to see them come to life.

One answer I’ve thought up to my cutter problem is to find a source for pre-cut shrink film shapes: circles and ovals, to be exact. I haven’t found one yet, but I’ve only just started looking. If you know of one, please share.

And now, here’s a couple of photos so you can see the fruits of today’s labor: