Sunday, July 24, 2016

Taking it to the Next Level Using a Silhouette Cutting Machine

A few months ago, I bought a Silhouette Cameo package. The main reason I bought it was because I had been following an artist who started using the Silhouette to carve/emboss metal clay. I'm not a scrapbooker, but this use of a cutting machine intrigued me.

I had first become aware of these types of machines several years ago with the introduction of Cricut. I was intrigued, but at the time, you had to buy cartridges that contained designs in order to cut them. I like the idea of using Celtic designs (obviously) but I couldn't seem to find any Celtic style cartridges and wondered if it would be worth the investment. Later I heard about the Silhouette and that it came with design software so you could make your own designs. I kept on investigating both machines and learned that after a time, Cricut also came with software to design your own images. Cool. Cricut then introduced a wireless version. (Silhouette's Cameo 3, due out this year is also now wireless.)

Then I saw what Wanaree Tanner was doing with metal clays and the Silhouette.  Her artistry is amazing. (You may want to look through her other videos on YouTube). This is the direction I want to head. By the time I contacted Wanaree, she was no longer teaching the technique but she directed me to Cindy Pope and her classes on CraftCast. I still didn't have a Silhouette, but I signed up for the class last November. The rates for these classes are very reasonable. One great thing about CraftCast is that you have a link to the class you can go back to and rewatch over and over. Good thing! I enjoyed the class and I am still learning from watching it.

Business cards cut with Silhouette
So, I got my machine and started playing with it. The software has a bit of a learning curve, and I'm learning as I go. I cut out a small stencil with it and used it to sift powdered frit onto a glass pendant. No picture, the pendant didn't turn out because of another element I added to it, but the stencil worked great. Then I decided to play with my business cards. I had changed my business cards a couple of years ago to a) stand out and b) use them to tag my jewelry with. I had been using a punch I found from a craft store. I loved the shape, but the size I had was just a bit too small. I bought the bigger size, but it was just too big, and I never used it. So, I printed out my business card sheet, found a similar shape of tag in the Silhouette design store and made it just a tiny bit bigger than my prior cards. Very happy with it! I still haven't explored the print and cut option and making use of the registration mark feature, which may actually make it easier to do this, but I do plan on it, and for now, this works!

Wedding Plate
At the Glass Expo in Vegas this year I took a class on adding images with sandblasting. Combined with my Silhouette, this is going to expand my designs in an amazing way! I had already been doing something as a gift for my friends that I call my Wedding Plate. I get leaves from the garden they got married in or held their reception in, used the Fossil Vitra technique to "emboss" those leaves into a glass plate, then etch their names and wedding date onto the plate. I played around and found I could get a fairly decent resist using the Silhouette and it's stencil material. So not only could I blast the wedding plates, I could do some fun dichro designs as well. So I made sure I added a sandblast cabinet to my toys.

There are two different types of stencil material, one a harder stencil like you would use to trace or paint through that I've picked up from the local hobby store, and the soft stencil material that has a sticky back to be positioned and act like a resist which is a Silhouette brand, so you need to plan accordingly. Keep in mind, I've only been playing with the sandblast part for about a month, but I am so happy with it, and I'm learning continually!

Silhouette "stencil" material on dichroic glass
as a resist, then sandblasted

I've got some flattened wine bottles I plan to sandblast this week (I'm waiting for more resist to come in!) and if I can get myself organized, I'll post pictures of those later on.

Sandblast using Silhouette "stencil" material.
First line from a Robert Frost poem.

As far as some great resources I've discovered, one is Silhouette School which has both video and written tutorials and often posts great project ideas. Written with a lot of fun and a sense of humor. She has written several great ebooks on how to use specific features as well.

Another great resource is a series of videos on YouTube called "Tracing Without Tears". Great info on how to transform pictures, etc. into items you can cut on your Silhouette. I highly recommend both resources!

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Design by Duane Miles, beaded by Kerry