I have been the proud owner of one of these awesome machines for 15 whole days now, although I only got it out on Boxing Day evening. Mr C warned me that the reviews online said it had a lot of settings and could be tricky to use, so I braced myself for a learning curve. I already own a Cricut electronic cutter-one of the early models-so I knew a little bit about these types of cutters. The fact it was a different brand kind of made some aspects trickier as I was so used to the old one (which is now going on eBay!)
My experiences inspired me to write this post about learning some of the basics (and in my case, some of them are REALLY basic!)
- Don’t be scared, just open the box! It’s a pretty box and all that but you’ll never learn to use it whilst it’s in the packaging.
- Download the software as soon as you know you’re getting a machine and then you’re ready to play straight away. Once it’s downloaded, make sure you grab the free designs from the Silhouette store too.
- Adjust the rollers! I (naively) assumed that, because it was a 12″ cutter with a 12″ mat that the rollers would automatically be in the right place. I was wrong, and in the process I managed to cut through the mat as the machine stalled when cutting. (the funds from selling the old machine and cartridges might well be used to buy a new mat!)
- Push the blade right into the holder. I didn’t, because I was afraid of breaking it, and I didn’t get very good cuts at all initially. It was only when I checked a photo online that I realised it wasn’t pushed in far enough.
- Look up beginner tutorials online, check that they use the same version of the software (other wise you will be extra confused), select one that you like and have a go. I used materials that I didn’t mind being wasted if it went a bit pear shaped. I tried out several, just to learn about the settings and the machine itself.
- Following on from 4, just have a good play. Inspiration for projects will come once you know more about the many things the machine can do.
- Before you press ‘send’, triple check the settings. Every single one of them. There are a few to look at, and even with the autoblade you need to make sure you have the right material selected, plus making sure you have chosen the right function (e.g. cut or sketch).
I have managed to create a couple of ‘real’ projects, as well as a lot of mess and a few sheets of wasted card. I’ve yet to try vinyl; I think that’s one for another day.
Within 2 days of having the machine I had made this card. I followed a tutorial from the Silhouette School blog (well worth a look whether you are experienced or a total beginner) to make this pop up card. I then also used the weld function to create the greeting. It’s hardly a tricky card, but it was a great way to explore the machine and make something. I combined the machine made bits with a Forever Friends decoupage kit, and my mother in law quite liked her birthday card.
Remember what I said in point 6 about inspiration coming once you’ve had a play? Well, I made one of the rat bookmarks for a colleague and wanted a gift box to present it in. I searched the Silhouette store for one, and found this amazing wedge shaped truffle box. This sparked my imagination. A wedge shaped box in yellow-CHEESE! Yes, I needed to do it just to see. I was not disappointed, and neither was Instagram apparently as it was my most popular photo in the last 3 months. I then made a tag and got a little bit clever with the sketch pens, which the children (with help from Mr C and Amazon) bought me. In fact I made the machine use TWO TOOLS AT ONCE! I know, go steady. I was most pleased that it worked first time, though I was holding my breath for a little while when I pressed ‘send’. My colleague was also thrilled with her gift, and I have a few more business ideas now.
I know that my adventures so far are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the Cameo 3 can do, so if you have any tips for other things to try I would love to hear them. (I have bought the Pixscan mat but not used it much yet.)