I have been getting more and more emails from people with questions about choosing between the Cricut and other brands of die cutting machines. Since I have been showing some of the projects I have done using my Silhouette machines, lots of readers have asked if they should "switch" to a different brand.
Last Spring I bought the Silhouette SD and I added the Cameo to my craftroom in January (the SD was the smaller model and is no longer available). There are features and capabilities that the Silhouette machines offer that are not available from the Cricut line. I use the Silhouette Studio software and a variety of other software programs to create my own designs. I have really enjoyed the freedom to design and cut whatever I can imagine.
However, it does take time to make your own designs and some people do not enjoy the process the way I do. There are times when I like the convenience of the Cricut cartridge system, particularly with some cartridges that offer lots of designs in a style that appeals to me. I have a large collection of cartridges that I still use and enjoy (but far less frequently than in the past). I haven't purchased a new cartridge for quite some time, but if I see one that has value for me, I might consider adding a few more to my collection.
Art Nouveau is a cartridge that has been out for a while that I never got around to buying. I didn't see it in my local stores and I thought that maybe I shouldn't buy more cartridges since I am using them less often and have so many already. A good friend recently gave me a copy of this cartridge and I really like it a lot!
I could find free Art Nouveau style images online or in pattern books and do the work to turn them into complicated layered files that I could cut with the Silhouette, but sometimes it is fun to just "plug and play." So I did just that and cut this group of daffodils - one of my favorite flowers.
For images with lots of layers, I still find it useful to look at the handbook to be sure I understand the layering and color options. The newer handbooks make it easier to see which keys to use for each image. This book also gives the recommended sizes for the intricate images - to avoid frustration you should cut at this size or larger.
I chose five pieces of Core'dinations cardstock - three green and a pale orange and a yellow. I set the size at 4 1/2 inches (the minimum recommendation is 3 inches). If I wanted to take the time to trim pieces of cardstock and either move the blade to each color (not possible with the E2) or set up a file, I could have cut all of the pieces at once. It was really just as easy to load and unload the mat with each color for this single sample. If I needed to make a lot of the same image, I probably would create a file that I could save for future use.
Here are the first two layers of green assembled. The Art Nouveau style involves many curves and tendrils and the images on this cartridge have lots of layers carefully thought out to give the interwoven effect.
The third layer of green is the lightest. I didn't have a third green that I liked on the front side but I discovered that the back of one of the Core'dinations whitewash pieces of cardstock was just the right shade.
The layering of this design was simple but you do have to add things in the proper order to get the entwined effect in the foliage. The flower bases pop right into place, just be sure to pay attention and be careful when you flip the pieces over to add the glue - with the textured papers it is pretty easy to tell which is the "wrong" side.
The flower centers have a second piece that is cut in the same color. This forms the top of the trumpet and give a nice dimensional effect.
It only took a few minutes to layer all of these pieces.
The flower on the left ends up with a total of six layers which makes it almost like a chipboard piece. I wanted to do this as simply as possible but I think some chalking would help to add definition to the flower shape. I may go back and give that a try...
I adhered the finished image to a blue card base cut at five and one half inches square. Quick, simple and very pretty.
I can show you how to construct the booth in another post (if you want me to do this, please leave a comment). I found the idea for making the setup a long time ago and I am trying to find the source so I can link it up for you. I do prefer daylight for photos when possible but I am usually a late night crafter!
So back to the questions about choosing machines. Many of the people who read my blog have Cricut machines. If you are happy with the system and enjoy the art styles of the cartridges you don't "need" to change what you are doing. I just want you to know that there are many more possibilities with machines like the Cameo if you want to spend a very small amount of time to learn to use the online store system and the software.
Some people are tired of constantly updating their Cricut machines and have had lots of issues with updates - and some people have the updates work smoothly every time. I also have a lot of issues with the circles and scallops that do not cut correctly on any of my Cricut machines. I tend to make a lot of symmetrical designs and cutting problems become very obvious when the shapes do not line up properly. If I can't get the result I want from one machine, it is nice to have the option to use a different machine.
The best advice I can give is to really think through what you want your machine to do and what method of operation you are most comfortable with. If you hate working on a computer, the cartridge system is probably better for you. If you love to design unique images on a screen, you'll want a machine that can cut whatever you design.
If you can afford to have more than one machine, you will be able to have the "best of both worlds" and use each machine for the particular task that it does the best.
Please leave a comment with your thoughts and questions (and beware the Ides of March!)
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