What we know about the Curio so far

Here is the official info from Silhouette

2015 Product Rollout Info

Curio FAQ

As always, the most important information is between the lines. To sum up, the Curio lets you load and cut/draw, etc. (but not necessarily cut through) thicker materials, while the Cameo lets you load and cut/draw, etc. much larger materials. The Curio is configured for ease of embossing, etching and stippling (but with the same downforce as Cameo is still underpowered for these tasks), while the Cameo is configured for ease of paper and vinyl cutting. The thing you really want to look at if you are considering a Curio is samples by everyday crafters and compare those to what your Cameo can already do, or what other Cameo owners are doing.
There are some great Curio samples at this German blog and some great Cameo samples at Amy Chomas’s blog to get you started. My initial opinion is that the Curio does a tad better embossing on vellum and card stock, but about the same on metal foil. This makes sense because with the same pressure you will still get a slightly better result with the thicker cushioning the Curio’s extra clearance allows its embossing mat to have. Hopefully we will get some side by side comparison samples soon.

Here’s my comparison of the features, taking into account 3rd party accessories people have already been using to emboss, etc with the Cameo.


Download the PDF chart here

I will also add that if your main interest is embossing or engraving, you will likely be better served by a higher pressure machine like the Pazzles, Zing etc. if you can afford it and are not already heavily equipped with Silhouette library images. So be sure to check out samples from those machines, too, if this is your main interest.

August 15, 2015 at 12:39 pm 15 comments

A Cricut policy you need to understand

Imagine if you picked out a new printer, checked the system requirements on the box to be sure it would work with your computer system, took it home, set it up, were happily using it until one day when, without warning, your new printer was disabled by a non-optional, irreversible driver update. Your call to support yields one simple solution … purchase a new computer to support the new requirements of your printer. Say what? You’d be outraged, and rightfully so … yet that is exactly what has happened today to Cricut Explore owners with MacOS 10.6 under Cricut’s policy of changing system requirements retroactively.

On the left are the system requirements that appear on retail boxes for the Cricut Explore and Explore Air. On the right are the new system requirements that quietly appeared in the FAQ’s at Cricut.com after a February update to Cricut Design Space, which is required to run the Explore. As you can see, RAM requirements quadrupled and 4 operating systems were dropped.


System Requirements for Cricut Explore Air per HSN.com screen captured 7/15/15

As of this writing, Mac OS 10.6 users are unable to use their Explores, even though their computers met the system requirements at the time of purchase. Others who do not meet the new system requirements are sometimes encouraged by Cricut’s Customer Care to purchase a new computer when they call about a problem. While it is sometimes possible to update an older computer to a newer operating system, this can be costly, result in performance loss or perhaps resulting in the loss of other legacy hardware or software that may not be replaceable at all (Mac OS 10.6 users should be especially cautious about the 4 OS jump Cricut is recommending to you). I remain a Mac OS 10.7 user by choice for this very reason, yet wonder how much longer my Explore will operate.

I was still holding out hope that this was an oversight until Cricut’s policy on this was added to the FAQs this spring, and until today’s instructions to Mac OSx 10.6 users.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 2.35.46 PM

I know of no other hardware that comes with this kind of caveat. Up to this point, the system requirements on the box have always been assumed to be current and valid for the life of the product. Yes, time marches on and technology improves, but you always have the option to refuse updates to be able to keep your hardware running if that is your need or choice. Cricut is changing the game here in a way that is not consumer-friendly and it’s important that anyone considering an Explore understand that. If you have already purchased an Explore, and especially if you have already been impacted by this policy, please do not quietly buy a new computer thinking this is the norm. It is not the norm, it is unprecedented (and I’m not even sure how it is legal.) Let Cricut management hear from you that this policy is unfair and unacceptable and that there needs to be a way for those that are happy with their current computer to refuse Design Space updates that would render their Explore inoperable.

Update: Let me try one more approach to make this clear. With any other diecutting machine (or phone, printer, etc) you can buy it, set it up and continue to operate with your existing operating system, RAM, internet speed etc for as long as you wish or until the device or computer fails. Periodically, you would have the option to update drivers, etc. at your convenience. Until you do, the machine keeps working. WIth the Cricut Explore, this is not the case. When Design Space stops supporting your operating system you must update it or buy a new computer to continue using the Explore. Periodic plug-in updates are not optional, and not at the user’s convenience. Until you complete a Design Space update, your Explore will not operate at all. These are, of course, consequences of the cloud-only system that Cricut has chosen, but it is important to understand what the practical difference will be to the users in terms of life cycle cost.

My intent is to serve the diecutting community of which I am a member both as a long time Cricut and Silhouette owner. If you follow this blog you know that I call out any company or product that I believe is not treating its customers respectfully or performing as advertised. I am going to delete any comments from Silhouette users who wish to bash Cricut because that’s not what this is about. Thank you for understanding.

July 15, 2015 at 11:05 am 72 comments

Free “Chevronizer” template for Silhouette Studio

Free and fully adjustable
How would you like to fill a letter or state shape with a chevron pattern quickly and easily, and be able to adjust the size and position of the chevron and the thickness of the outline? Well, I’ve created a “smart template” for Silhouette Studio that will let you do just that! Download my new free “Chevronizer” file here and watch the video below to learn how to use it to easily add a fully adjustable chevron design to create cut files.

For those of you who like written instructions, you will find them in the margin of the file as shown in the screen shot below.
Chevronizer SS
Download the free Stateface dingbat font here.

June 29, 2015 at 5:21 pm 46 comments

Straight talk about the “required” Silhouette update

What we know is that without a new (3.3.622 or higher)/patched version(2.9.67), after June 22, you will not be able to:

1) Shop through Silhouette Studio

2) Download purchases

3) Activate a new upgrade (to DE or BE)

4) Reactivate an existing upgrade if necessary

5) Restore your library using V3’s File>Library>Import library (this is not confirmed but it does require server interaction)

If you do not update, your existing upgrades and store purchases will remain in place.

Everything else in Silhouette Studio should remain unchanged and run fine (perhaps better and faster without internet interference).

-There was/is already posted a version 3.3.638 for Win that works fully going forward. This is the second third iteration, as version 3.3.622 and version 3.3.632 failed to open for many Windows users.

The latest version for Mac that works going forward is incorrectly labeled 3.3.638 but will install as 3.3.631 (you will see this after install) so autoupdate incorrectly reports a newer version available, when there is not. The current Mac download is correctly labeled but is no different from 3.3.631. An identical to 3.3.631, but now labeled 3.3.638, is available for Mac.

– There are many people on the Windows side who can not get 3.3.632 to open and SA is working that. The problem seems to be related to graphics card drivers. Update: 3.3.638 seems to have solved the opening problem, there are other issues being worked, and limited information as this is brand new.

-3.3.631/2/8 have not corrected existing issues with sluggishness, preference errors, diagonal draw bug, Mac resource hogging, etc. Please keep pressing SA for fixes!

-3.3.632/8 will not work with Win XP

-SA has promised a patch version of V2, to be called the Heritage version, for those who would like to remain with version 2. We plan to hold them to this promise. Update: the patched version of 2.9.45, now version 2.9.67 is available for download here.

Default cut settings for various materials has changed as of 3.3.632. A headsup to those who are not diligent about writing down your own preferred settings (and you know who you are).

My recommendations

-back up your library and license file immediately if you have not already. This way you can restore your own store files and DE/BE license if you need to, independent of SA servers. The location of these files can be found here.

if you do not wish to update your software, you don’t have to. Please let support@silhouetteamerica.com know that you will not be shopping at the store until your preferred version is supported. (If you have a subscription, respectfully request a fee suspension until your preferred version is supported.) Note: You will still be able to support many of your favorite designers through their web sites, Etsy stores, etc. and I hope that you will do so.

-if you do not mind updating, try 3.3.638 and if it works you are good to go. If not, roll back and sit tight for SA to fix things. Windows users may want to make sure their graphics card drivers are up to date first. Really, there is no rush and you can wait and see if things stabiiize if you like.

 -for Mac users it is fairly simple to install more than one version of Silhouette Studio so this is a good alternative. Win users who are computer savvy may want to consider this option as well.

-don’t forget you have plenty of options, including Sure Cuts A Lot and Make the Cut. Do not be pressured to make a change you do not want to make.

SA’s FAQ is here. (Note:This is a fluid document that has already changed at least 4 times that I am aware of.)

June 16, 2015 at 1:13 pm 109 comments

Text Warp in Inkscape

Video tutorial from CleverSomeday plus free shapes!
If you’ve not yet discovered the Bezier Envelope Extension for Inkscape, a treat awaits you. Here’s a video on how to create great shaped text with this cool and easy tool.

Video tutorial on text warping and free shapes from CleverSomeday
To download a free Inkscape template of ready made shapes, click here.

If you don’t already have the extension, here’s what you need to do the first time you want to use it:
1. Download the extension here and unzip the folder. [alternate download link here]

2. To install the extension, copy both the bezierenvelope.inx and the bezierenvelope.py file into the folder/directory indicated.

-In Windows: Copy the two files into: C:\Program Files\Inkscape\share\extensions\
( Assuming that your Inkscape is located at C:\Program Files\Inkscape)

-On MacOS for Inkscape .48 or earlier : “/Applications/Inkscape.app/Contents/Resources/extensions”

-In MacOS for Inkscape .91: “/Applications/Inkscape.app/Contents/Resources/share/Inkscape/extensions”

To get to either location on the Mac, you can use the Finder’s “go to folder” feature, in the Go menu and copy/paste the string inside the quotation marks

If you don’t can’t find the extensions folder using this path, you can open Inkscape and look under Preferences>System>Inkscape Extensions to find your specific path

3. Re-open Inkscape and verify that Bezier Envelope appears under Extensions menu > Modify Path submenu.

If you need more help installing the extension, here are some videos

June 11, 2015 at 4:22 pm 30 comments

How to Foil Adhesive Vinyl

Wait, what??? ... Foil works with vinyl, too! ... Who knew?? I wrote my first article on laser foil back in 1993 and I couldn’t be happier to see the shiny stuff making such a strong comeback. Since a lot of you don’t have laser printers, but you do have diecutters, I want to let you know of yet another method you can use for foiling. Foil sticks to the plastic in adhesive vinyl (gloss finish works best), just like it does to toner, so have at it!

IMPORTANT: Please use caution when using parchment or copy paper instead of the folders. If the combined stack is not large enough or stiff enough it can wrap around the rollers and possibly damage your machine.

May 28, 2015 at 3:22 pm 55 comments

Foolproof Print and Cut with a Silhouette

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 8.29.37 PM

Print and cut on the Silhouette is one of the great joys of life, and if you have a Silhouette and are not enjoying this you are missing out! The idea is remarkably simple: the 3 marks and your images inside them have to be printed at exactly the same size and position as the Silhouette’s eye expects, or your cuts will not match the prints.

In practice, though, there are a whole lot of things we can do to unintentionally foul this up (mostly things that the software should catch but don”t get me started on that), so I’ve attempted to put together a fool proof sequence. Once you learn the basic principle (that the paper has to match the screen exactly) then you will be able to loosen up, but I want you to experience success, so I have included everything I can possibly think of that could trip us up.

I highly recommend that you use plain white card stock while you are learning (or if you are having problems) to rule out paper color/surface finish as the issue (makes it hard for the optical eye to find or read the marks accurately). Also, while 3rd party mats usually work fine, it is best to learn print and cut using a Silhouette brand mat, so as to not introduce another possible source of error. Once you’ve got the process down, there are workarounds for colored/specialty stock and you can feel free to use a different brand mat.

The order of these steps is very important, and what I think has been missing in the instructions coming out of Silhouette America, so step through them sequentially. V2 screen shots have a teal border, V3 screen shots (included only when different) have a white border.

-From a new document in Silhouette Studio Open the Page panel and select your Cutting Mat. In V3 also check Show Print Border and Show Cut Border.

pnc1 pncv3a

-Set your Page Size and Orientation in your Printer’s settings
on a Mac: File>Page Setup select your printer, paper size and orientation and verify it is set to 100%

on a PC: File>Print, select Printer, then Click Preferences, set Page Size and Orientation, then OK, then Apply, then x out. (may differ slightly depending on your printer)


-On the Page panel in Silhouette Studio V2 click Use Printer Setting. In V3 select “Current Printer” from the pulldown menu. You should see the virtual paper on your screen change to match the settings you chose.

pnc3 pncv3b

-On the Registration Marks panel for V2 click Show Registration Marks, and select Auto from the Reg Mark Format box. In V3, select the appropriate style of marks for your machine from the pulldown.
Make sure you have the correct marks for your machine (a square and 2 L shapes for Cameo or Portrait). Click Restore Defaults as it is best to use default positions while you are learning or return to them if you have problems (Especially important in V3).

pnc4 pncv3c

-Prepare your design. I highly recommend you start with a print and cut file from the Silhouette store because all you have to do is place it on the mat. You should have some in your library already. Preparing other types of files is covered thoroughly in other tutorials but basically for a “tag” style (text inside shape), type your text and fill it with a color using the Paint Bucket button (very important), draw tag shape and position, set the tag shape to Cut Edge. Or for a “fussy cut,” Trace Outer Edge to create the cut line. See this video for a detailed tutorial on tracing for print and cut.


-Duplicate and/or position your design(s) on the page verifying that printing does not encroach on the crosshatched area and that the cuts do not extend past red cut margins.
 SS Page Zonespncv3d pncv3i

-Do a print preview to verify that the planned print looks correct.
On a Mac, File>Print>PDF>Open PDF in Preview

Windows users: install a PDF print driver such as Bullzip or PDF Creator if you do not already have a print preview option available.


-Carefully inspect the preview image to check that all 3 registration marks are displaying fully and that all lines and objects you want are visible and complete. Verify that cut lines are not printing.


To correct shapes that are missing either fill them with color (Paint Bucket Button) or check “Print Lines of Selected Shapes” on the Line Styles (button with Black Horizontal lines) panel.


-Do a “cut preview” by opening the Cut Styes panel. Shapes set to be cut will be highlighted by thick red outlines. (If using Advanced settings in V3, thick outlines may be other colors besides red)
Activate/inactivate cut lines as necessary by selecting shapes and clicking the buttons on the right.

pnc7 pnc3e

-Select File>Print and choose print settings to ensure 100% size (not fit to page, etc) and those appropriate for your paper type. Details will vary depending on your printer, driver and operating system. Representative Mac and Windows 7 screens shots follow respectively.



-Load paper into your printer and print.

Important: This is the point of no return. After printing you can not move any objects or change any settings that effect the margins or the mat without jeopardizing your print and cut accuracy. Consider your design frozen and change only settings in the Silhouette Cut Settings panel from here on out. If you need to make other changes you should plan to reprint your file.

-Open the Cut Settings window and set/verify settings appropriate for your media.

pnc8 pncv3f

-Place the print on your mat according to the image on your screen and be sure it is attached firmly.

-Compare the mat/printout in your hands to the image on your screen Did the registration marks print completely? Are the page, design and objects in the proper orientation and relative positions? (Crosshatches and margin lines will not print.)

IMG_3882    pnc9

-Set the physical blade depth according to your material and verify that the rollers on your machine are in the proper position as shown on the screen.

-Verify that Load Cutting Mat(Cameo) or Load w/Carrier(SD) is selected on the machine’s LCD


-Align the mat with the shorter leftmost line on the base of the machine and load the mat (on Portrait use Load Mat button).


-Leave the lid of your machine open and ensure adequate ambient lighting.

-Press the Cut button on the Silhouette Cut Settings panel or click the Send to Silhouette Button.

pnc8-1 pncv3g

if prompted, click to Skip Printing, Continue and Detect Automatically (V2 only).

-If automatic detection fails, try manual detection, following the instructions on your screen.

-Review your results. This should be when the rush of happiness occurs, but if not, don’t give up!

Slight misregistrations are normal and can be hidden with design tricks like printing a bleed area the same color as the outer edge of your design or cutting slightly inside the design. I used this technique on the angel below and cut just inside the black outline.


If your cuts are less than a few mm off, try calibrating your machine according to the instructions in the Users Manual under the Help menu.
If your cuts are 1/4 inch off or more, or get worse as you go down the page, go back though the steps above and/or through the SA Troubleshooting steps.

For really great print and cut tutorials and projects visit Under a Cherry Tree.

May 22, 2015 at 8:38 pm 11 comments

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