Thursday, March 15, 2012

Art Nouveau Daffodils

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.

Someone asked me to show how I take photos of my cards.  Here is a quick peek.  I made a mini photo booth from four sheets of white cardstock and I use a couple of daylight lamps that can be angled and adjusted as needed.  I should have something to diffuse the light a bit more since the lamps can create "hot spots" of light.

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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  1. I have to say that I love Samantha Walker Designs and she only makes files for the Silhouette products. I am so tempted!

  2. I love the light box and would love to see you post about it!

  3. I love my Cricut for cutting out basic letters and shapes, and use "Sure Cuts a Lot" software to download and cut other non-Cricit cartridge shapes. However, Cricut recently won a lawsuit and they no longer allow Sure Cuts a Lot to override their machines in this manner, forcing their customers to only use cartridges. I think this was very short sighted and as a result, I have been thinking about switching to the Silhouette (they allow folks to use Sure Cuts a Lot on their machines). As a crafter, I love being able to create my own designs and love not be fully dependent on those expensive cartridges (if I don't have to).

  4. I have a Cricut and a Cameo. I love what each can do. I started with a Cricut and have alot invested. I like that I can grab a cartridge and cut something. I have had the Cameo a few months and love that I can create my own designs. I am lucky to have both machines and I enjoy having a choice. It really does depend on what you will be creating.

    I took some canvas'and hinged them together to make a photo booth but I like just using paper because it can take up less space and is simple.

  5. I also have the cricut and the Silhouette. I use the silhouette more than the cricut. I also would like to see the post on making the light box.

  6. I have the Cricut starting with the Baby and now also have an E. I work 40+ hours a week so I don't have much time to sit and design my own cuts so Cricut works for me. I love to see what you come up with though and maybe when I retire another type of machine would be interesting.

  7. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on both types of machines. I have the Cricut and thought I would be perfectly happy with that as long as I could use a program like Sure Cuts A Lot to design/use a few other images. I feel that the art work for the Cricut is a little more cartoonish (not sure if that is the right word)for my taste. I hope to be able to purchase the Silhouette soon. I, too, would like to know about the light box.

  8. I love your card. I have eyed that Art Nouveau cartridge for a long time but think I will only use a few cuts. Which is what I do with all my cartridge and that make me crazy. I get very frustrated when I want to cut something small and it doesn't cut. I am thinking of asking for a Cameo at Christmas. I never use my cartridges I use my gypsy and I love changing and creating the cuts but the screen is so small and my eyes are not that good. I have SCA and use that for SVG files I buy on line. They seem to cut better than some of my cartridges.
    I really want to see how you have your lights hung and are you using 300w bulbs? I just can't get a good picture unless it is a sunny day outside. Those are the best. Do you use a fancy camera? I use a small digital and I do adjust the white balance. Then still aren't a crisp and clean as yours. I would love all the help I can get.
    Thanks, Linda

  9. I have an Expression and an Imagine and when I have problems with the Expression, I tend to go to my Imagine. It cuts smaller pieces with no problem. I would love to get a computer machine, but as my daughter says, I am "computer challenged". Guess she is right.

    Dianne Bell -

  10. Yes, I'd like to see the construction of your light box. Does it fold up when not in use?

  11. I am a novice when it comes to machines and have only had my Cricut a little over a year. I do enjoy being able to cut a design and then add some dimension via chalking, coloring or embellishments. Thanks for all your instructional posts. They are so helpful to beginners like me and show me what is possible. I would love to see how you constructed your photo booth. Getting good photos of my projects is one thing that is problematic for me. Thanks so much for all you do.

  12. I have an Expression and love it. I'm not very artistic so between that machine and my StampinUp! stamps my friends think I'm a true them fooled! I'm happy!

  13. I started with the Baby Bug in 2007 and have since added the E, E2, Imagine and the Gypsy. I started following your blog because of all the work you were doing with Cricut products and Design Studio. I had that as well, but was so intimidated until I became a follower here. I never thought that I would want to use any other product for my projects, but a few months ago I added a Silhouette Cameo. I am so happy with it and the fact that I can purchase or design my own projects. Their store is full of beautiful cuts, and I have quite a few of them in my Library. While I don't design intricate pieces like you, I enjoy seeing what you have done. I just don't have that kind of talent. I also would like to know more about the light box, bulbs, etc and will be watching for your tutorial. Keep up the good work.

  14. I set my photos up in a similar way and would love to see your tutorial for this light box.

    I too, have an Expression and would love to add a Cameo to my fun. I love the never ending SVG files from places like Lettering Delights and would love a little more freedom than the Cricut allows. I think it was a big mistake to sue SCA and MTC because I'm not buying cartridges anyway. Now, instead of wanting the next level of Cricut, I'll be looking elsewhere.

  15. I would love to know how to make a light box. thanks and BTW your projects are GREAT.

  16. I'd love info on your card photographing techniques - I have an awful time with that.

  17. Diane, I love daffodils and the Art Nouveau cartridge! You just added one more reason why I should get it! I have also been grappling with the decision of whether to stick with my Cricut or go with the Silhouette. I'm OK with the cartridges, I have lots of them and because of bloggers like you have learned lots of tricks of how to make my own designs in Design Studio while using the cartridges. I guess I've got so much invested that I'm staying with the Cricut for now, but if they discontinue support of Design Studio, I will be switching to Silhouette because I like working on a larger screen than the Gypsy offers and I don't always design where there is internet so I don't want to do Cricut Craft Room. Thanks for giving your thoughtful evaluation of both machines. I really think that if Silhouette had done as good a job with marketing that Provo Craft has, I would probably be a proud owner of a Silhouette SD and then be wondering if I should move up to a Cameo!

  18. I love following your blog and find so much inspiration in your posts. You are an incredible artist!

    I have both the Cricut expression and Pazzles. Since SCAL3 I've been using mostly Pazzles. I have yet to unlock this machine's true design capabilities in the software - maybe one day in retirement. Like some, I use the Cricut for quick cuts from my Gypsy. I also like to get my kids into crafting when I do so they use the Cricut more and like pressing the buttons.

  19. I'm very happy with my Expression. Until recently, I only had 12 carts in my collection and was able to make anything I could imagine for my cards with the occasional help of Design Studio. If I had to connect to a computer every time, I'd never use it. It's just more convenient to pop in a cart and create.


  20. Diane, I, too, have both a Cricut Expression and Silhouette (original) and use both regularly. I agree with you in that it really depends on what you are creating and how much time you want to spend. I would eventually like to purchase a Cameo just if for no other reason that to have the advantage of the bigger cutting mat, but that is way down on the wish list.

  21. Love the daffodils!

    I so identified with your post today. I own a Silhouette plus 3 Cricut machines and way too many cartridges. I have not purchased a cart in many months because I can usually find what I need in the Silhouette Store. I still love my Cricut machines, but since getting the SIL, I don't feel compelled to buy a cart because I like a few images on it.

  22. Wonderful post. I have a Cricut Expression and 40+ carts, all of which I do love... however I purchased a Cameo as soon as they came out (presales) and it's been the best purchase I've ever made for crafting. I had no experience with designing or .svg's etc when I bought it and I'm amazed at how much I've learned and how much I LOVE Silhouette Studio (designer edition) that said I Art Nouveau was the last cart I purchased (and likely will be the very last one I purchase, I couldn't find such beautiful layered images anywhere else that were like these) and I bought it after getting my Cameo. I love having both machines, though to be really honest my Expression is dusty as I haven't touched it in months and use "cami" daily. If you have a cricut and love it I say keep it and enjoy, but consider buying a Cameo too!

  23. I bought the Baby Bug in 2006, upgraded to the E in 2008, bought the Gypsy in 2009, the Imagine in 2010, and then the AE2 in 2011. I've used SCAL in between too, yet also amassed a ton of carts throughout the years too, mostly off eBay at crazy cheap prices. However, when I bought the Cameo in December 2011, I hardly use any of my PC products. I am not getting rid of my Cricuts as I have a lot invested on them and still use them some days. I love the print and cut features of the Cameo! The Imagine does not even come close. I haven't bought any carts since December (if you don't count the Circle carts) and find that I've spent a lot less on crafts overall. I have a premium subscription to the Sil Studio store for $16 a month - certainly a lot less than a single cartridge.

    Oh BTW I would like to know how you made your photo box and the type of lamps you use.

  24. Love the Art Nouveau cartridge. All the cuts are beautiful.

    I'd really love to know how you designed and set up the photo booth. Maybe I can get better photos. I always have trouble with shadows.


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