Ack, it's been a while since I've posted! Unfortunately this year has been a little rough on me, I lost both of my dogs so motivation has been a little low for me :( I still get things done, but it's usually the bare minimum, so I'm working on getting back up there though!
A while ago I got interested in cut paper art (I don't know if there's a more elegant term for that?), and was interested in making some pieces that way. The trouble is that I have a bit of tendonitis trouble, so working with the exacto blade to cut that paper was painful and difficult. Because of that I had difficulty getting smooth lines, and overall just wasn't happy with the finished product.
I was surfing on Joann's website when one of their sales pages pointed me to some discounted Cricut die cut machines. I'd heard of them since I have a friend whose mother buys her all kinds of things from QVC, but never seen one in person. It got me interested in the idea of being able to use the machine to get perfect curves out of cut paper, as well as being able to produce multiples!
I did a lot of research into it, and although Cricut seems to be the most heavily advertised (as well as offering some of the most reasonably prices machines) they also had the most stringent rules about printing. It was a real disappointment to learn that you really can only print using their images which are expensive to purchase. Since I wanted to use it for my own images, it seemed like it just wasn't going to work, since any savings that I would get buying a cheaper Cricut machine would be lost in me buying expensive 'bootleg' software (which Cricut fights to keep off the market).
I ended up choosing the Silhouette Portrait. It's their lower end model, their higher end one being the Silhouette Cameo. I bought it for $160 from Amazon and it comes with the machine, one blade, one cutting mat and Silhouette's software; Silhouette Studio. Their software allows you to easily upload your own images and make your own cuts, just what I was looking for!
It looks a lot like a regular printer on the inside, but instead of ink it's a blade!
I couldn't find much information online about how small it can cut, but it's actually incredibly detailed! It can go down to about 1mm in my experience. This was a little test piece using one of the free designs Silhouette provides. I was a little surprised that they sell designs for 50 cents a piece, but if you want to use them in anything for sale they start at $8. Not a problem since I wasn't going to use their designs anyways, but I guess I wasn't expecting it.
It's a little hard to see, but this is a page after it's cut. It's still stuck to the sticky cutting mat.
I usually peel off the outside waste paper first, and I got this little Cricut spatula to help peel off paper. You can't really grab one end and peel it off or it comes off curly (try it on the waste outlines first, see what happens), so you have to kind of carefully unstick it.
I just stick the edge under and shimmy it down to the end. The mat is really sticky, and unfortunately some of the stickiness comes off too :( It gets goo on the spatula, and a little on the back of the paper too so the pieces have a little stick on the back too. So definitely stick paper to the mat back side down, or your front side will end up with goo.
All the pieces for a bench! This is enough for two benches, so as not to waste too much paper I designed a page to hold two bench parts. I designed the page layout in Photoshop first, since Silhouette Studio has very limited tools for creating shapes, not to mention not capability for layers (at least not that I could find). So I figured out the page size I'll be using, opened a file in Photoshop that size, and moved all the pieces around on separate layers until they fit. Then I opened it in Silhouette Studio and set up the cut outline, then printed out the page, and sent it through the Portrait!
To make sure that everything ends up in the right place I printed out a page with a silhouette of the drawing. This way everything will end up where it's supposed to go! Since this one has a ton of little pieces that need to fit together perfectly it's important I get them all together right, or else nothing will fit right.
Since this is all automated I'm able to recreate each image over and over without having to labor over each one with hand cutting! :)