on December 4, 2012
After hearing about the Silhouette Cameo for a while and seeing what it could do, I was very intrigued but not wanting to spend a couple hundred dollars. I am not a hardcore crafter, but do enjoy the occasional craft every now and then. I wanted to start making my own stationary and realized that it would be handy to have one of these machines. After talking to many friends who own both the Cameo and the popular Cricut, the verdict was clear: Silhouette wins.
When I saw that the Silhouette had come out with a smaller, cheaper version that did the same things as the Cameo, I knew I wanted it. It arrived very quickly and the install was easy. I was pleased to see a simple machine that sat perfectly on top of my desktop computer (it's so petite!). I plugged it in and got started with what I had on hand. The software is very user-friendly and reminds me of working in Microsoft Publisher.
I found it interesting that the Portrait sounds like an old fax machine as it works. It's not loud, but not necessarily quiet. Either way, it quickly did its job and I was satisfied with my first successful attempt at an intricate design.
I can't wait to try the sketching feature and cutting out fabric (for cute hair bows!). I love that you can completely make your own designs, but that Silhouette provides a bunch of great ones as well. They have free designs that are actually useful and a bunch of great videos online.
All in all, I think that this machine is perfect for the random crafter who makes things on a smaller scale. The software is much easier to use and navigate than what I had originally heard, so I am very pleased about that. Again, I also love that the actual machine is very compact and unobtrusive. I highly recommend this to anyone wondering if they should take the dive or not.
on March 17, 2014
1. Blade installation was really simple once I stopped reading the manual which doesn't simply tell you to plop it into the slot and turn the lock to the right. I saw you tube video and it was a snap.
2. Mat was way too tacky and manual doesn't say to remove tack by rubbing it on a low lint pillow or something. My first cut was good but the white residue left over by CS was a mess. Plus the blade setting was set according to the instructions but it gouged through the mat right off the bat.
3. Loading the mat was complete guess work, why no instructions on how to align? If I place it such that my 8x11 mat sits between the two white rollers, it seems to work. There are 3-4 guide lines on the machine front left but no markings on them, not sure what they are for!
4. There are markings for letter size and A4 size material placement on the mat. Align your top left and right corners of paper on the mat using them, they are hard to see but there. This will ensure perfect placement of paper on the mat.
5. Software installation is very easy and using it is intuitive. I haven't played with print/cut or other advanced features yet but will soon.
6. Free 50 designs will come through after software installation and you click on recent downloads (or is it import to library? sorry, can't remember).
7. I cut intricate vines/leaves on Coordinations textured cardstock, it came out very well but for one of the smaller sizes. I put several sizes on one 8x11 CS to avoid wasting CS.
8. Tried a Moroccan lattice background (very detailed) on regular patterned scrapbook paper. The setting was at 3 and it didn't cut anything. I set it to 4 and then it did a beautiful job. So their blade setting recommendation is not an exact science, it's trial and error.
9. Machine is light and portable, make sure you have room on the table for the mat to go back and forth, without it being obstructed by your laptop or wall etc.
10. Silhouette should post some basic videos on their site to show people basic placement of material on the mat, mat loading, blade installation etc. They are seriously lacking in that especially for new comers to die cutting world.
11. I just found out that I don't need designer edition to be able to cut .svg files. You can convert .svg to .studio easily with free software called inkscape. I tried and it worked.
11. Print and cut is a great feature. My first attempt was success (by fluke). Placement of paper where your image is printed and will be cut...is a tricky affair. I had to place it half an inch below the top line. It worked beautifully but the same did not work the next time. Very frustrating!
12. I left a voicemail for silhouette on the print/cut issue but don't know if/when they will call back. I had heard of great cs from them but I for one am yet to experience that. They are open only mon-fri and they are always busy and force you to leave a msg or email them! Not once did I get a person on the phone so far.
13. I am already ordering a spare blade/mat just in case. However, there are two sizes mentioned for portrait which is odd. My original mat is 8x12 but now they also sell a 8.5x12. Why? The 8x12 I saw was a low tack one but I want regular tack 8x12. Again, hoping to ask silhouette customer svc if/when they call me back. Thank God for so many generous folks sharing their tutorials/videos on how to...otherwise I would be sitting around waiting to talk to silhouette.
on July 6, 2013
This machine is AMAZING!!!!! VERY easy to learn/use-I showed my 11-yr old son how to use it in less than 5 minutes! It easily connected to my home PC and has a built in library with maybe 20 or so designs, an intuitive (but powerful) built in design studio. PLUS this machine can recognize any font already installed on your PC and use most basic graphic formats as designs (as in .jpg, .png. and others). It also comes with a $10 gift card to their online store-might not seem like much, but most designs are only .99 cents, plus they give away a free design each week!!
My first project: FAIL! I'd tried to simply type my son's name in the hope of making a little sign for his room (using normal scrapbooking paper). The paper curled and ripped, the mat was WAY too sticky. Second, just as bad (having buyer's remorse for sure). By the third, piece of cake, a very intricate 3d mini lantern, pillow boxes and a mini-stationary set came out PERFECTLY, every minuscule detail PERFECT!! Unfortunately, I'd already cut my mat to shreds-clean through in some areas.
1) Although the instructions very clearly show you how to create a design, load the media, set the blade, and cut, it was only once I started "futzing" with the media thickness setting AND using the "test cut" (it will cut a little triangle in the upper far corner of your selected media to see if it cuts properly-duh?) going from cutting through my mat to not cutting at all in areas that I understood how to compensate for the different media instead of thinking I was stuck only choosing between "printer paper", "cardstock", "heavy cardstock" (hint: I shredded my mat using the "cardstock" setting, which is what the paper is labelled as, instead of choosing that setting, but lowering the media thickness-once I figured out how to adjust this, do a test cut-it was a breeze-just too bad it wasn't BEFORE I'd shredded the mat!!).
2) **Evidently EVERY mat is 'too sticky' the first use/requires some 'breaking in' (not just this brand). I've read many tips about sticking a t-shirt to the surface at first to let the fibers reduce some of the "stickiness" before using paper, (particularly THIN, regular scrapbooking paper as I had for my first few projects). OR, use a MUCH thicker cardstock for the first few projects.
3) USES YOUR OWN INSTALLED FONTS/GRAPHICS!! Plus, you can purchase individual designs at their online store which literally has something like 38,000+ designs-very searchable, and they give away a free design every week. I've seen some of the $50+ cartridges for Cricut, and while there may be 4 or 5 fonts/designs I'd actually REALLY want and use ($4 or $5 worth?) the other $45 could easily be used buying more paper and consumables. This machine allows for that. Plus, it seems to be an "open source" type of library system where individuals can constantly create and upload new designs of their own.
What I particularly liked about this is the "3D projects". I downloaded a fairly intricate 4-sided mini-lantern design. With the included "studio", which came out perfectly and was very easy to put together. I can easily break apart this design (keeping the foundation shape/perforations and cuts) and continue to customize it however I chose!!
4) Has "print & cut" functionality. You can create a design with a printed pattern. Send it to your normal printer, which will add in registration marks to the design, so that you can properly place and cut out the design on the Silhouette! To me, that kind of removes the whole concept of additional "sketch pen" functionality....??
5). One HUGE shocker was that the replacement mat for this is almost double what the Cricut is!? I think the idea was to gain revenue, BUT, I see this FAR surpassing Cricut and other brands both for the versatility AND being more cost effective to own-gaining money on uploaded/contributed designs of their library. The replacement mat (I almost immediately needed) is like $9 for one, and they're VERY "flimsy" compared to the Cricut, of which you can buy two new mini-mats for around $11. With some research, I've discovered that you can use the slightly larger (1/2" overall) Cricut mat, you simply need to apply tape over the outer 1/4" adhesive on each edge so that the Silhouette's rollers don't get sticky (place it over the top of your Silhouette mat with the green protective sheet in place for proper application). You also need to adjust for a slightly thicker media, since the mats are thicker (thus less likely for "cut-through"). I've also seen many "mat refurbishing kits" that consist of adhesive remover (nail polish remover/acetone) and spray cans of repositionable adhesive. You mask off the non-sticky area of your 'naked' mat so that the adhesive only gets applied to the right area.
6) I didn't purchase the additional tool kit. Have used an old credit card as a squeegee, have tweezers, pins, etc. and have been able to utilize other objects. I'm a bit disappointed the tool kit (or even a cheap version) isn't included since it would definitely help, particularly when trying to create projects using normal printer and scrapbooking paper due to the amount of curl.
Overall, I am constantly seeing new possibilities for developing another new "hobby/craft" and this machine makes it so much easier and more affordable!!
on April 12, 2014
I'm gonna get right to the point here and say I'm a bit disappointed with this thing though as I learned how to use it properly, it could come in handy. Here are several things I learned:
1) The cutting mat was supper sticky. I wasted a lot of paper at first because the design would ripped when I tried to pull it out of the mat.
- Solution: Use a piece of cloth (a shirt, a towel, etc.) to wipe the mat until it no longer so sticky. The fabric lint will stick to the mat, making it less sticky. Over time, when the mat is no longer sticky enough, just clean it with baby cleanser
2) The software is not lined up very well with the machine itself.
- Solution: Ignore the guideline on the left hand side of the mat and line up the paper with the right edge of the mat instead.
3) Machine can't cut small detail.
- Solution: Slow down the cutting speed with the software
4) Paper is way too thick.
- Solution: There's an option to "double-cut" in the software
on December 16, 2014
I purchased this during a sale for only $80 which was alot better than dropping $200 on something I probably wouldn't use that much. I love that with the software you can add in your own designs. It doesn't come with any accessories but the mat and cutter. Which kinda sucks because if you didn't buy any vinyl ahead of time you couldn't use it. I used with heat vinyl transfer for baby onesies. I made some designs myself and got some of the others online. Pretty easy machine to work with. The hardest part for me was getting the design ironed on the fabric.
on March 3, 2015
I bought a "Very Good Used Condition" machine from the Amazon Warehouse. The machine was completely ruined. The blade was jammed. The blade size changer knob was covered in wax. The cutting mat was completely unusable and covered in vinyl backing, see pic. The actual unit was gouged and clearly broken. Shame on Silhouette for not checking their returns before vending them back into the Amazon system. This was a huge waste of time, energy and frustration. It makes me question the business ethics of Silhouette.
Just look at this mat?!? And also, no gift card in the machine so I ended up paying EVEN more for a broken product.
on March 9, 2015
I previously bought the Cameo, but sold it because I was just too lazy to use it. I only tried it out once, but I couldn't get the print & cut feature to work. I already had the cricut, so I thought I would be fine without it. Then I wanted to try and cut vinyl stickers with my own computer fonts (I didn't want to be limited to buying font cartridges). So I decided to try Silhouette again, but got the Portrait instead. I figured that if I wanted to use the print & cut feature, I could only print on letter size sheets anyway, so the Portrait would be the perfect size. I LOVE that it is so small. I actually hate bringing out my cricut and taking up all the space on my craft area aka bedroom floor. It worked the first time I cut the vinyl...although it cut the backing too, which I didnt want. Im pretty sure that was my fault, since I was so excited to use it and probably forgot to adjust the blade settings. I cut out lettering to put on water jugs as MVP gifts to some players on my son's basketball team. Awesome personalized gifts for under $5.00 each!
on January 5, 2013
I have been an avid Cricut user for many years, owning several of the machines. I never thought I would even want to venture away from the Cricut world - but I did and am thrilled with the Silhouette! After Cricut discontinued the Imagine, I worried that I wouldn't have another option for a print and cut machine if mine broke. I then looked into the Silhouette, without a lot of hope, as this machine didn't have a dedicated printer, but used your home printer. It works perfectly though. Set up was simple, Software installation on Windows 8 was simple. I love being able to just purchase single images from the online store, as well as creating my own from svg files. The ability to use all the fonts already on my computer is a huge plus. Images are regularly .99, but they often have images on sale for 25 - 50% off. Plus, there is a free image a week available for you to download. Once downloaded it is yours to keep. The Silhouette cuts tiny intricate images far better then any of my Cricuts. Sorry Provocraft, but this new machine by Silhouette has completely won me over!
on October 8, 2013
I was looking at the two different cutter from Silhoutter, the Portrait and the Cameo. As it turns out, the major difference was the paper size, the Cameo is able to cut 12x12 while the portrait works with 8.5x11 size paper. Since I create cards and framed images, I'm placing all shapes and sizes on a normal letter size paper that my printer can actually print that so the Portrait is actually perfect for me.
on March 13, 2014
I'm so glad I found this machine. It's WAY better than a Cricut because you're not held hostage by the expensive cartridges. I used the machine to make a stencil for my dog's ceramic urn, and there's no way I could have done it with the Cricut. I make my designs on Inkscape, covert everything to a path, combine the path, and save as a dxf file. Then I use the free included Silhouette Studio software to open the file and print.
You can also create your designs from scratch with the Silhouette Studio, but I'm more experienced with Inkscape, and it gives you greater flexibility over your designs.
If you want to skip the step of converting your svg to dxf, which can be problematic sometimes if your paths aren't exactly as they want, you can pay for a program. Silhouette has its own software, and there are third party software programs like Make The Cut and Sure Cuts A Lot.
The machine is small--smaller than a typical inkjet printer--and stores away nicely when not in use.
So far, I haven't had any problems with it cutting small detailed work. I haven't tried thick paper or fabric, however.
The only difference I know of between the Cameo and the Portrait is the size. I don't do 12x12 scrapbooking, so having the Cameo wasn't worth the price difference.
The only annoying thing is the cutting mat. It's way too sticky at the beginning, but then it loses its stick kind of quickly and becomes too unsticky. I heard you can revive it with a repositionable spray adhesive.