Craft-Time Chronicles Volume 2

Updated: Aug 27

Can we just start by saying that being a maker is sometimes exhausting. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do and that I have the luxury of being paid to do something that I truly enjoy. But sometimes owning a business can be a struggle.


Like everyone I have technical issues and bugs to work through. I have machines that sometimes are glitchy and sometimes things are delayed by the manufacturer and then I am delayed. You know what I mean? Ugh!


Today I wanted to talk about cutters. I'm not going to go in depth into all of the different cutters because there are lots out there and I haven't tried them all. I know you are shocked by this. Today we will focus on the ones that people ask me about the most. These are the two that I am the most familiar with and I have personally used them both.


We will start with the Cricut. Cricut has some great features. And they make a good machine. There are definitely some drawbacks and limitations to a Cricut. Size being a major factor for a lot of users. Cricut has several different machine but the largest comes in at 12". For most users this isn't really an issue but some may need a larger cutting area. Another drawback is the Design Space software program. Design Space has been touted as an "easy to learn" program and while there may be some truth to that the downside is a program that is subpar in it's capabilities. There has been a lot of talk lately in the crafting world about the changes that Cricut has announced to their software ability and I know that a lot of people out there and maybe even some of you reading this use a Cricut machine. If you do, that is great and I would never try to talk you out of your choice of cutter. For those of you that have no idea what I am talking about Cricut recently announced that they will be allowing all users of their machines to upload 20 images per month for free to Design Space and above that they will be charging a fee. Why does this matter? Design Space is an internet based design software and any time you want to create a design you must upload the image into Design Space in order to use it. Now, if you already have a bunch of designs uploaded those are still available for you to use but you will only be allowed to upload an additional 20 images per month before you are charged the fee. If you are a hobbyiest and you don't really use your Cricut that often than this announcement probably isn't going to rock your boat too much. If however, you use your Cricut machine for your small business this could be a game changer for you. Also, if you are brand new to your Cricut and you are wanting to make all the things, like right now....well you may have to temper your enthusiasm a bit or suck up the additional price tag. Why are people so heated about this announcement you may ask. Well a lot of people basically feel as though Cricut is charging you to use a machine you just spent several hundred dollars to purchase.


I personally use a Silhouette Cameo and have several different ones. I recently gifted my 2 to my niece who has just started using a cutter but I have several of the 4s and the Pro. Now don't think for a moment that Silhouettes are without their flaws. (Anyone else drive all over town and sometimes farther looking for a Cameo 4 blade recently?) It was like trying to find toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic. Don't you worry though, my local Craft Warehouse finally got in a huge shipment of blades and y'all know I stocked up! I don't really notice the noise since there is usually some pretty loud music playing in my shop but I have been told the noise of the Silhouette is very loud. If this is something that makes you cringe than this may not be the machine for you. I personally think all mechanical cutters are going to be somewhat loud, I mean there are blades and mechanical parts moving all over the place but hey maybe that's just me.


There are a few things that I love about the Silhouette Machines. The first of which is the diversity of the machines available. Silhouette America currently is on Version 4 of their Cameo and within this version they also carry a Plus and a Pro option. The Cameo is a 12" wide cutting machine and with the use of the built in roller feeder you can make a project that is basically 5 ft long. The Plus is a 15" cutter and the Pro comes in at a whopping 24". This is great if you make large items like Porch signs etc. For most users a 12" is plenty. And finding supplies for a 12" cutter is easy in comparison and is significantly less costly. They also offer the Portrait and the Curio which are a smaller cutter and more suitable for home crafting use and for people who only do smaller scale projects. Silhouette also carries two other machines, The Mint and the Alta. As these are not cutters we will talk about those at a different time.


Let's talk about the Software for a moment. Silhouette America decided to make their software a downloadable program. What that means for you is that you can use the Silhouette Studio design program without needing to be connected to the internet. It doesn't matter where you are as long as you are on your computer you can use your program. How is this different from Design Space, you are never actually "uploading" anything into Silhouette Studio unless you choose to save your files to their cloud via your library. That means you can create a design, cut it out and be done with it if you choose not to save it. The cloud space that Silhouette allows is pretty small and there is not an upgraded cloud storage at this time so I save all of my designs on an external hard drive. Both Cricut and Silhouette offer free versions of their software. Silhouette does have upgraded versions available that you can purchase for a one time fee. This is different from what Cricut is proposing for a couple of different reasons. The basic free version of Silhouette Studio is quite a robust program. The upgraded versions obviously offer more options. They offer three upgrade options, a designer, a designer plus and a business option. You can upgrade one level at a time or go straight to the business addition, the choice is yours. There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing not to upgrade. If you are a beginner to Silhouette I strongly recommend spending some time getting to know the software program first before attempting the advanced options in the upgraded software.


Why did I choose the Silhouette over the Cricut? This is probably the question I get asked more than any other when we talk about cutters. I chose the Silhouette for the capabilities that the software provided me and I felt as though the machine itself more closely met my needs. I also had to weigh the cost of the two machines and when I priced out all of the things I could do with the Cameo that I could not do with the Cricut it was a no brainer to pay a smaller fee for a machine that I felt could do more. Next time we will talk about some tools and features that are super fun and that you may not have known existed.


I know this was brief and you may have more questions than I answered here. Please feel free to reach out and lets talk about any questions this may have brought up for you.


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