Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cameo First Try

I bought the Silhouette Cameo. The temptation exceeded my ability to resist. It came yesterday, but the vinyl I ordered still has not arrived, so I decided to experiment with paper.

I sprang for the Designer Edition software because I primarily want to import historic stencil designs and make my own stencils. For this, the software works great! It was pretty easy to figure out. I watched one YouTube video on converting pdf files to Silhouette files and then I was able to figure out everything else by poking around the program.
I cleaned up the stencil and made the pieces more "uniform." Basically, I deleted the elements on one half the page and copied the remaining side and flipped it. Then once I had the image figured out, I added registration marks on top.

Then I split the image into two different stencil layers.
So far, so good. I loved it.

But then I tried to cut it. Disaster (at least at first). The Cameo comes with a cutting mat with a very aggressive adhesive layer (at least when it is new) to hold the paper in place. I first tried cutting the design with regular copy paper. When it came out of the machine, you could see the beautifully cut image, but separating the paper from the cutting mat proved to be impossible. The paper was basically shredded trying to remove it from the adhesive.

Next, I tried cardstock. It worked better. Again, the paper was curled and damaged trying to separate it from the cutting mat. It's really not clear to me how you're supposed to separate the two layers. On the cardstock, you can see the cut design, but it wasn't cut deep enough to completely come apart.
Next I tried mylar; that was a complete disaster. I don't even have something to take a picture of. The attempt damaged the cutting mat because it would not feed correctly and eventually the cutter ran off the edge of the mat. I'm sure my mylar was too thick, because I found at least two websites where folks said they were able to cut mylar. I'm not sure how thick my stuff is. I thought it was 7.5mil (standard stencil thickness), but it might be 10. Whatever it is, it is too thick with the cutting mat and blade I received with the machine. So, my next plan is to buy some 4mil mylar and see if that will successfully cut.

Then I got to thinking I should try the cardstock again, but set the cutter slightly deeper. It worked. And now that I've cut 6 different items, the adhesive layer is not working quite as well. The corners of the paper are still curled, but the paper came off more easily.
Now, I just need to find a plastic I can cut to make this work.
I cut this one because I could =)
Cutting mat with leftover bits still attached
For the record, this stencil design was lifted from a Gibson stencil catalog from 1913.
My plan is to stencil this design on the dining room table linen runners I made last month.

And now that I have an easy way to make period stencils, I need to work on some of my "wouldn't it be nice" stencil projects.


  1. Try cutting your mylar with no backing or use a piece of contact paper behind it so it has something to grip onto. Take contact paper, peel off the sticky side, press your hands or a towel on it several times to make it not quite as sticky (season it), lay your mylar down on the sticky side and load it into the machine on the setting that calls for no mat. You don't use a mat to cut vinyl either. You just load it straight into the machine. I have an older Silhouette and I love it. I use it to cut applique pieces for quilts.

    1. Thanks for the advice. I will definitely experiment some more with it. And perhaps they have better resources at their website that will help with this problem. I didn't spend much time cruising their tutorials yesterday.

  2. Thank you for all that information. It looks like you will have a great tool to use with a little more work. I am still thinking about investing in one but your problems have not talked me out of it yet.

  3. I've successfully cut stencils out of thick plastic with my Silhouette. I used the stencil plastic sold for making quilting templates. Be sure to increase the cutting depth of the blade so it goes through. Also, I figured out an easy way to get all those little pieces off the cutting mat without sacrificing my fingernails; it's on my blog (

    1. I set my cutting depth at 7 on the plastic, so I thought it was thick enough. Now I'm a little afraid to experiment because of the damage I caused to the mat last night.

      I've been buying my mylar from stencil sellers who sell rolls of the stuff, but I will definitely look for the plastic sold for making quilting templates. I can at least figure out how thick it is.

  4. you certainly are persistent...

  5. I will definitely be looking forward to your upcoming projects!