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Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Take 5: Five Things I’ve Made with My Silhouette Cameo and Why I Recommend it for a MakerSpace

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I’ve had my personal Silhouette Cameo for about a month now and last week, we ordered one for The Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. I’ve only tapped the surface of what I can do with the machine and it has a lot of uses. For example, it can take the place of an Ellison Die Cut machine and the need to store multiple dies for doing displays and name tags.

To give you an idea of why I recommend it, let me share with you five projects I’ve done with my Silhouette Cameo.

1. T-Shirts

When you think of craft vinyl cutters, you are probably thinking t-shirts. This is what they are used most for and I’m not going to lie, I love this! I have made a ton of t-shirts. Each time I make a shirt, I learn more about how to use my machine. I’ve made my kids spirit shirts for school, holiday shirts, and just some shirts that feature their favorite characters or saying.

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I even made TLT t-shirts for all the TLTers.

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2. Tote Bags

It also transfers really well onto tote bags.

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3. Screen Printing

You can do a reverse weed on your cut and make a screen for screenprinting. I am using this process to make screens for a TMS stencil and a Libraries Rock stencil for the 2018 Teen Summer Reading Challenge.

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4. Vinyl Window Clings

You can buy special vinyl cling material to make vinyl window clings. I used this to make gear shaped clings for our Teen MakerSpace windows.

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5. Computer Bling

You can also design and make your own computer bling. Here’s a cut out I designed using a heartbeat font and the shapes feature to celebrate my love of a certain time traveling time lord. Since taking this picture I have also added a Teen MakerSpace cut out.

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As I mentioned above, I am just now learning of the various ways I can use my Silhouette Cameo. You can also cut paper, which is great for doing in library displays. In the Teen Makerspace we will be mainly focusing on paper crafts as well due to the cost of the vinyl versus paper. Though we will also use our Silhouette Cameo for special programs like our annual Summer of T-Shirts events.

Teaching the teens to use a vinyl cutter will help them learn things like layout and design, math (yes, there is math involved in making sure your design will fit onto a t-shirt), and basic technology skills.

The initial investment is quite high. A Silhouette Cameo bundle pack, and you’ll want a bundle so you get the additional tools that you need, is $269.00. And there is an ongoing cost in that you need materials to cut with your machine.

Even if you decide not to let the public have access to a vinyl cutter, I do recommend it for library use. It has a much broader range than cutting tools libraries have used in the past like an Ellison or Accucut and takes up a lot less space.

Here’s a look at some of the guides and reviews I shared early on while learning how to use my Silhouette Cameo. I will say the Silhouette Cameo is not intuitive at first and it doesn’t come with a manual, so you’ll definitely want to start with the Silhouette Cameo 101 post.

Silhouette Cameo 101: The Manual It Doesn’t Come With, But Should

MakerSpace Mondays: The Silhouette Cameo – Vinyl 101

MakerSpace: Using a Silhouette Cameo to Do Screenprinting

MakerSpace Mondays: The Silhouette Cameo – a review

 

MakerSpace: Mixed Media Collage and Recycling Books

For a variety of reasons, libraries are just as much in the business of getting rid of books as they are purchasing them. One, having shelf space for the new means we have to get rid of the old. Many books become outdated, inaccurate, overly worn, and no longer popular. So yes, we discard books. In the Teen MakerSpace, we have been looking at ways to re-use some of these discarded books to make art. I’ve also been exploring the concept of mixed media, which I talked about some a couple of weeks ago.

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As the YA Services Coordinator at my library, I don’t just build collections but I have created our Teen MakerSpace and my job involves exploring, coordinating, and implementing new projects and stations to incorporate into the Teen MakerSpace to keep it fresh, interesting, and truly educational. Lately, because of the interests of our local teens, I have been looking at some more traditional art styles, including mixed media. Mixed media involves using a variety of techniques and tools to create a single piece of art. You can use basically anything, anything at all. For it to be truly mixed media, it has to by definition include more than one type of technique, tool or medium. The final product is often some type of collage. This is the example collage that I created (we have found that our teens like to have examples to help explain the project and inspire them).

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Supplies:

  • Book pages (here I used a couple of ARCs that I have received because you can’t resell them or add them to your collection)
  • Watercolor crayons
  • Watercolor paint
  • Acrylic stamps
  • Speedball screenprinting ink
  • A brayer
  • A Silhouette Cameo vinyl cutter
  • Permanent vinyl
  • Mod podge
  • A blank canvas

The glory of mixed media is that you kind of can’t mess up. I mean, there were individual pieces that I messed up, but then I just cast them aside and tried again. I painted pages and let them dry. After they dried I stamped on them using the stamps and screen printing ink. I ripped pages up and glued them down onto my blank canvas. I mod podged the entire thing. And then after it dried I used my vinyl cutter to make my lettering and then mod podged it again. I can’t draw and I can’t even read my own handwriting, so using stamps and the vinyl cutter let me create the effect I was looking for in a way that was stylish and I could proudly hang on my wall.

The picture of Emma Watson was a black and white illustration from the book What Would She Do? 25 Trailblazing Rebel Women. I used watercolor crayons to give them color. The words themselves are from a couple of pages of other books. It is important when doing something like this that you discuss copyright with your teens. I obviously couldn’t sell this piece, but it’s hanging right now on The Teen’s bedroom wall to inspire and empower her. She’s graciously pretending that she loves it until I hang it in my Teen MakerSpace.

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Taking it to the next level:

Because we are always exploring taking our projects to the next level in the Teen Makerspace, we never end with the creation of a piece of art. We then explore what else we can do with that art, and we like to involve technology if we can. So for every piece of paper art you create, keep in mind you can do multiple things with that art. For example, you can photograph your final piece of art and mix it with digital media tools to create a new piece. Use filters, add stickers and frames and overlays. Then you can take that new creation even further: print it out and make it into a button using a button maker or print them on card stock to make note cards or postcards. With mixed media collage such as the one I made above that include other people’s images you’ll want to be very careful about copyright issues, but on the whole if you create an original piece of art there are a lot of interesting ways you can use technology to enhance it, redefine it, recreate it and redistribute it. Some of our teens our using our TeenMakerSpace to build portfolios for college and create an online following. Teen MakerSpaces aren’t just about dabbling and learning, many of our teens are using the space in powerful ways to build a name and an audience for themselves. It’s not about starting their future, it’s about the here and now. It’s pretty amazing to witness.

And remember, making doesn’t always have to be about technology. If you make something, you are a maker.

MakerSpace: Low Tech, Low Cost Printmaking

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Recently while cruising the craft store I came across two items that greatly intrigued me:

1) A Gelli Printing plate

mono52) Jane Davenport acrylic stamps

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These are two different types of art styles, but I used the inspiration of both and realized that it is a type of monoprinting or printingmaking that is being done here. In addition, when you start adding more layers, it becomes a mixed media collage. There are some really great resources out there for these projects. And if you have teens that like to journal, this type of art is often incorporated into journaling. You can also use this process to make framed art, cards, and tags, to name just a few ways that this technique can be incorporated into other artistic endeavors.

The art of the monoprint – Monoprints

Nine Types of Printmaking You Need To Know – Artsy

Gelli Arts: Monoprinting without a Press!

This is a great YouTube video to introduce the process and share some techniques:

 

I liked the effect that these processes have, but it’s the end of the year and buying a bunch of supplies for something like this for our Teen MakerSpace was a little cost. The Gelli Printing plate itself was around $30.00, and then you need ink, a brayer, etc.

So because it’s a MakerSpace, we set about the task of making something similar using lower priced supplies, many of which we already keep on hand in our space. And we did.

Supplies:

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  • A sheet/page protector (yes, the kind you use in a 3-ring binder)
  • A piece of cardstock (placed inside the sheet protector)
  • A brayer
  • Acrylic paint
  • Stamps
  • Stencils
  • Sharpies, black is preferred
  • A surface protector
  • Baby wipes (to clean up afterwards)

Here’s What We Did

1. Creating a low cost printing surface similar to a Gelli Printing plate

The Gellit Monoprinting Plate is designed to be used over and over again, so we made a low cost version using a sheet protector and a piece of card stock. Insert the card stock into the sheet protector to keep it from moving as much. The sheet protector cleans up easily using a baby wipe and works really well. You can’t get much lower cost than this.

2. Creating your inkscape

The first part of this mono printing process is to put little drops of some type of ink/paint onto your surface and cover the surface using the brayer. We used acrylic paint (it’s cheap) and an inexpensive brayer. The brayer is used to spread the ink around. Be careful not to mix up your colors to much as they will become muddy.

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3. Creating your paper

You then take your paper – and here it is best if you buy a little fancier of an art paper as opposed to using copy paper, which does work in a pinch – and place it face down on the ink smear. This transfers the ink (or paint) onto your paper. You want to make sure your paper is completely dry before you do any next steps with it.

4. Getting creative

You can add texture and white spaces by using things like stencils, Washi tape, leaves and other found objects, etc. For example, to create this spiral white space, I simply hand cut a stencil out of clear contact paper and removed it once my paint was dry. I then added a book quote into the white space.

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Here I used stickers of the word Joy which I removed after my paint had dried. And yes, I wrote the lyrics of Joy to the World incorrectly.

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Here I used a Sharpie and some stencils, hand drawing the seaweed in, to create a type of underwater seascape.

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There are several ways you can make your own stamps using things like erasers and wine corks:

CORK STAMPS : 6 Steps (with Pictures) – Instructables

Make Your Own Diy Custom Eraser Stamps.: 4 Steps (with Pictures)

There are also several ways you can make your own stencils using things like a vinyl cutter (higher tech) or more low tech options using card stock, overhead projector sheets or some other type of plastic, or clear contact paper (as I did above):

DIY: How to Make Your Own Stencil – Project Nursery

Make Your Own Stencil: 5 Steps

A few notes:

If you want to make it more Jane Davenport in style, use watercolor paints instead of acrylic paints.

This is a great craft for the pages of discarded books. You can put a light ink wash across the page and a bold black silhouette and make recycled book art.

And because we believe in having books to support our MakerSpace stations, here are some of the books we have purchased:

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I love the way our creations look and highly recommend adding printmaking into your MakerSpaces.

TPiB: Emoji Fortune Tellers

Sometimes an amazing craft idea has to change direction to make it work. That’s what happened with this project, for a few reasons. First, the inspiration:

How cool is that?! A DIY Magic 8 Ball is something my coworker and I stumbled upon while preparing for our superstition-filled Friday The 13th escape room, and it sounded like the perfect October drop in craft program for my middle school visitors. My coworker went to town creating the piece for our escape room while I just chilled, thinking about how cool it would be for my drop in program later in the month.

Problem 1: cost

When my coworker told me that she had to special order the container from an Etsy seller at something like $6, I scoffed, thinking that surely I’d be able to scrounge something workable up at a lower cost at a craft store. The thing is, for this to work, you need a few particular qualities for the container. It has to be water tight, have round sides AND one flat side. When I started browsing, I realized that I couldn’t find anything quite right, and the things that came close were glass and still over $1 each. Not my first choice. Fortunately, I found some workable metal and plastic containers on clearance at 75 cents each.

Problem 2: drying time

See how in the demo video she draws her words on with paint, then later, at 1:45 she explains how she painted it “in two layers over two days”? Yeah. That’s no drop-in program there. Early on I decided to substitute black duct tape for the paint.

I tried using a sharpie to draw the words and it was a bumpy mess. That’s when inspiration hit. If I had to attach paper to make it legible, why not make it cute too?

I printed off a bunch of emoji pics, cut them to size, affixed them to the cube with double sided tape, then covered it all with book tape.

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Problem 3: It’s not water tight

And I did find it out the hard way. At this point, I was less than 24 hours away from program time and couldn’t buy different containers. The only solution was to seal the gaps in the tin, right? After rifling through my craft cabinet for the E-6000 leftover from a long ago program, only to find that it had long ago dried up, I threw the towel in and headed home for the night. Sometimes you need a little distance from the problem and a good homecooked meal. While measuring out the rice for dinner, it hit me: if I couldn’t change the container, I’d have to change the medium.

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After experimenting with lentils and rice, I settled on instant rice, which my daughters helped me color with food coloring before school. Word of caution: regular long grain rice will take the coloring more easily but takes longer to dry. Instant rice dries fast but has a less even distribution of the coloring.

So here’s where we ended up. They’re definitely not Magic 8 Ball, but the kids seem happy with Magnetic Emoji Fortune Tellers nonetheless. Since this is a drop-in DIY program, I made a quick little photo tutorial with the emoji fortune teller instructions to have at the station, which you’re welcome to use as well. fortuneteller2

MakerSpace: Using a Silhouette Cameo to Do Screenprinting

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This summer as part of our Summer of Shirts, we did a very low-tech version of screen printing, which turned out to be incredibly popular. So I was excited to learn that the Silhouette Cameo can be used to do a more traditional type of screenprinting. It works really well and I HIGHLY recommend it. After being pretty decent with my Silhouette Cameo, it only took me about an hour to make my stencil and screenprint my t-shirt. And since many of the supplies can be re-used for multiple projects, the cost per project is basically under $20.00, though your initial investment will be slightly higher (assuming that you already have the Silhouette Cameo of course).

Thing 2 wearing her screenprinted T-shirt

Thing 2 wearing her screenprinted T-shirt

Supplies:

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  • Silhouette Cameo and PC/Laptop
  • Weeding tool
  • Piece of 651 Permanent Vinyl
  • Scissors
  • Clear contact paper (to be used as transfer tape)
  • A wedge to be used with the transfer tape
  • A 14 inch embroidery hoop
  • Painters tape
  • A sheer fabric curtain (I purchased a white one for less than $5.00 at a local store)
  • Speedball screenprinting ink
  • A foam brush or squeegee (or credit card)
  • Gloves
  • Something to protect your work surface
  • A piece of cardboard to insert between the two layers of your shirt

Step 1: Making Your Design and Turning it Into a Stencil

Tools used in this step: Laptop, Silhouette Cameo, Vinyl 651 (permanent), weeding tool

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You begin by making your design in the Silhouette design studio. You’ll want to think about simple designs to begin with. You then send your design to the cutter unmirrored with your vinyl 651. You want to design and cut your vinyl as you would a normal vinyl project. HOWEVER, when you weed your project you want to remove the design part while keeping the edges in place to create your stencil. For example, I removed all of the guitar pieces and letters and kept the part I would normally remove attached to my vinyl backing. You final screen will look like this.

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Step 2: Turning Your Vinyl into a Printing Screen

Tools used in this step: Vinyl stencil (created in step 1), transfer tape (contact paper), wedge (used for transfer tape), painters tape, embroidery hoop, a piece of sheer curtain slightly larger than your embroidery hoop

You now have a negative image piece of vinyl that has been weeded, so you’re going to use your transfer tape (contact paper) to lift your stencil off of the vinyl backing and attach it to the screen (which is a piece of sheer fabric curtain). If you don’t know how to use transfer tape, there are instructions here: How to Use Transfer Tape for Cricut and Silhouette Projects.

After you place your vinyl stencil onto the screen and remove the transfer tape, you can cut your stencil/screen to the size of your embroidery hoop. The hoop is used to hold your stencil/screen tight for the application phase. You want to leave about 2 inches around the outside of the hoop so that you can keep it pulled tight. Use painter’s tape around the edges to help make sure you don’t go over the edge of your vinyl stencil.

The hoop plus your sheer curtain with the vinyl stencil attached is now your screen for the purposes of discussion.

A "Screen" for Screenprinting

A “Screen” for Screenprinting

Step 3: Doing the Screen Printing

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Tools used in this step: Your screen (which is the embroidery hoop with the sheer curtain piece and your vinyl stencil attached to it), Speedball ink, squeegee, gloves (if you want to keep your hands clean), surface protection, cardboard for in between layers of your t-shirt

Insert a piece of cardboard between the layers of your t-shirt to prevent bleeding through. Place the screen onto your shirt where you want it to appear. You will then put a little bit of Speedball ink onto your stencil and spread it evenly over the stencil using your squeegee. Fill in all the parts and then scrape it clean so that you have a thin layer of ink over the areas where it is supposed to print. Let it dry for a few minutes and then remove your screen.

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Your shirt is now done, but you need to let it dry for about 24 hours.

Advantages to Screenprinting vs. Vinyl Heat Transfer

Once you have created a screen, you can take it out of the embroidery hoop for storage and re-use it. From one sheet curtain panel you can create anywhere from 6 to 8 screens which you can store. This gives you a variety of ready made screens that you can pop in and out of your embroidery hoop to teach teens the basics of screen printing. Would also be great for creating summer reading shirts.

Because you are creating a screen that can be re-used, it costs less than using heat transfer vinyl on a large number of t-shirts. Heat transfer vinyl is more expensive than standard vinyl and here you are using one piece as opposed to multiple pieces for multiple shirts.

Many of the supplies and tools can be re-used, which makes this a less expensive project over time.

The t-shirts feel more like authentic t-shirts as opposed to t-shirts that have the stiff feel of vinyl on them.

What the Teens Learn:

  • Design
  • Some basic tech
  • Screenprinting

Here is a really quick tutorial that you can watch on YouTube that demonstrates how quick and easy screenprinting with a Silhouette Cameo is:

Silhouette Cameo 101: The Manual It Doesn’t Come With, But Should (MakerSpace)

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I have spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure out how to use and evaluating the Silhouette Cameo for our Teen Makerspace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH). You can read my initial thoughts here:

MakerSpace Mondays: The Silhouette Cameo – a review

MakerSpace Mondays: The Silhouette Cameo – Vinyl 101

I’m just beginning to tap the surface of how to use the Silhouette Cameo and what types of things we can do with it. The biggest drawback for me has been the lack of a manual or handbook, so I’m in the process of putting one together for myself. I’ve collected and organized a variety of links which I am sharing with you below.

Silhouette Cameo 101

Using you’re Silhouette Cameo comes in 3 steps.

1. Designing your project

2. Cutting your project

3. Finishing your project, which involves applying your vinyl to some type of surface

We will discuss the Silhouette Cameo focusing on these three steps. But first, an introduction to the Silhouette Cameo and what you do with it once you get it out of the box. We’ll end with some hacks, project ideas and instructions, and an additional resource guide including free files and great blogs to consult for additional information.

What Can You Do with a Silhouette

Silhouette America – What Can You Make?

20 Things I’ve Made Using My Silhouette Machine

I got a Silhouette. Now what? Cameo Help, Tips, Tricks, Project Ideas

Silhouette Terms to Know

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Getting Started Out of the Box

Silhouette 101: How to Set Up Your Silhouette CAMEO

Downloading And Installing Your Silhouette Software

How To Use Silhouette Cameo 3: A Beginner’s Guide

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Step 1: Designing Your Project

Images

10 Genius Ways to Use Clip Art with your Silhouette

Silhouette 102: How to Make Print & Cut Files, From Scratch!

See all using the Trace Tool below

Trace Tool

Using The Trace Tool In Silhouette Studio

Transforming Image Files Into the Correct Format

The Silhouette Cameo requires a specific file format known as an SVG.

How to Turn Any JPEG Into a Silhouette Print and Cut

 

Working with Text

All Things Text Tool | Silhouette Studio® Tutorial

How To Use the Text Tool in Silhouette Studio

How to Make Text Curve in Silhouette Studio

Silhouette Studio Word Art Tutorial

Silhouette Studio Word Art: How to Have Text Form a Shape

How to Use Font Glyphs in Silhouette Studio

2 Ways to Thicken Fonts in Silhouette Studio

How to Create “Outlined” Text with Silhouette Studio (Underlay)

How to Turn the Shape of a Letter or Word into Script in Silhouette studio

 

Using Specific Tools and Functions

Every Silhouette Tool: WHAT it is & HOW you use it!

Grouping and Compound Paths

What are Compound Paths and Grouping

Silhouette Studio Compound Paths: Explained! – Silhouette School

Divide Tool

How to use Divide in Silhouette Studio

Make Any Design a Split Design in Silhouette Studio

Knife Tool

Silhouette Studio Knife Tool: How to Use It To Its Full Potential

Silhouette Studio Knife Tool: How to Change the Thickness

Weld

Silhouette: How to weld (joining letters and numbers)

Text Won’t Weld Correctly in Silhouette Studio? Here’s The Fix

 

Step 2: Cutting Your Project

Silhouette Blades…Which Blade to Use When, Why, How?

The Silhouette Cameo Mat: All You Need to Know (and more)

Making the First Cut with your Silhouette CAMEO

Using the Print & Cut Feature Successfully

4 Easy Steps to Cutting on the Silhouette

11 Reasons Your Silhouette Is Not Cutting

Cheat Sheet: Settings for cutting various materials on the silhouette

Silhouette 101: All About the Blades

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Step 3: Finishing Your Project

Applying the Vinyl

Applying Vinyl to the Back of a Surface

How to Put Vinyl On Painted Wood Signs

Applying Heat Transfer Vinyl on Glass

How to Use Vinyl Transfer Paper (Vinyl Transfer Tape)

Hack: Use Contact Paper to Transfer Vinyl

Layering

Silhouette Layering Vinyl Tutorial (The No-Fail Method)

Vinyl Layering 101 | A Silhouette Tutorial

T-Shirt Information

Please note: When you send a project to cut you must specify what type of material you are using. If you are using heat transfer vinyl it will ask you if you want to mirror your image and you should choose mirrored.

Chart re sizing of decals for shirts

HTV Shirt Decal Placement and Size Tips and Resources

How to Align and Size Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) Designs

What Size of HTV Do You Need For a Shirt?

Heat Printing Placement Tips | Stahls’

A Beginner’s Guide to Using Heat Transfer to Create T-Shirts

 

Additional Information and Resources

Using PixScan

Silhouette America – What is PixScan™ Technology?

Silhouette PixScan Tutorial for Beginners: Part 1 of 2

Beyond Cutting: Using Your Silhouette Cameo to Draw

Your Silhouette Cameo can be used for more than cutting and it has special markers that you can purchase. Here is some information on that.

How To Use A Silhouette Cameo: Silhouette Sketch Pens

Silhouette Sketch Pens Tutorial for Beginners

DIY Art Print {Silhouette Pen Holder Tutorial}

Hacks

12 Silhouette Hacks You Shouldn’t Craft Without

Doodlecraft: Dollar Store Hacks: Silhouette Cutting Mats and DIY

Tips and Hacks for Saving Money on Cricut, Cameo, and Silhouette

Genius Freezer Paper Hack for HTV Design Placement!

Simple Silhouette Hack for Saving HTV or Vinyl

Heat Press Hacks for Silhouette Users

Project Ideas and Instructions

Silhouette media you didn’t know existed (and fun projects to do with it)

Engraving with Silhouette: 7 Tips to the Perfect Engraving

How to Host a Christmas Ornament Making Party

Secret to Easily Designing Subway Art in Silhouette Studio

How to Screen Print Using Vinyl: Silhouette Tutorial

How to Create a Simple Vinyl Monogram

How to Put Vinyl on Cups and Tumblers So It’s Straight

Silhouette Vinyl on Canvas: 6 Tips to Success!

DIY Stickers Using a Silhouette Cameo/Portrait

DIY Temporary Tattoos: Silhouette Tutorial

Cutting Cardstock with Silhouette CAMEO

 

Resources

Free Font Resources

DaFont – Download fonts

Most Popular Free Fonts – FontSpace

Free .SVG Files

Free SVG Files for Silhouette Cameo and Silhouette Studio Designer

Free SVG Files & SVG Images For All Cricut Projects

10 Places to Find Free Cut Files (more of a tutorial then a listing of sites)

All Encompassing Silhouette Cameo Blogs

The Official Silhouette Blog

Silhouette School Blog

The Pinning Mama

Please note: This is just the tip of the ice berg, there is a lot more out there. This machine is very complex can can do a lot of things. I mean, a lot. This is just to get your started with the basics. Having said all of that, please share your favorite posts, tips, project ideas and resources with me in the comments.

View from the Director’s Chair Part II: Narrative Filmmaking by Lynette Pitrak

Since its inception in the fall of 2014, Downers Grove Public Library’s teens have been busy creating in our Media Lab! Teens have created documentary films in our Viewfrom the Director’s Chair workshop, photography in our Viewfrom Behind the Lens workshop, and music demo recordings in View from the Sound Booth. The creativity, passion, and talent of the participants has been so inspiring each time! In response to requests from teen patrons, IT staff member and filmmaker Ed Bromiel and I created a new filmmaking workshop, focused on narrative films. This workshop began in June and has continued for ten weeks this summer.

View from the Director's Chair Part II, Myself and Instructor in Media Lab-1

Throughout these ten weeks, Ed and I have taken the teen filmmakers through the steps involved in creating a narrative, fictional film from start to finish. We began with camera basics such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings and artistic concepts such as rule of thirds, horizon line, and contrasting colors. We then moved into lighting and sound; Ed had each student practice setting up three-point lighting and camera microphones while I sat as a practice model and interview test-subject. That was a fun exercise, because I was able to answer questions about my favorite Harry Potter character and go-to meal to cook while the students set up lighting equipment around me!

One of the most fun and inspiring classes was our scriptwriting session. Ed and I created three short exercises which would allow the students to practice scriptwriting:  writing dialogue; writing a one-paragraph scene from either a horror, romance, or comedy movie (complete with lighting, sound, and stage directions); and writing character descriptions as if for a casting call. The teens were so inventive and their writing absolutely came to life on their pages. Once this session was finished, it was time for students to get into groups to begin writing their own final scripts. The class divided into four groups of three to write and then storyboard their own original film scripts. The result has been the following amazing scripts: an action-comedy, a horror-comedy, a science fiction thriller, and a psychological mystery. These scripts are unique, imaginative, and polished—more amazing examples of the talent middle school and high schoolers have for creating works of art!

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The groups had the last three weeks of classes to shoot and edit their films; all put in a tremendous amount of work both in and out of classes. At our final class, we screened their rough cuts, discussed as a group, and gave the teens one more week to make any final edits. Then, four films were screened on our library program room’s big screen. We had food, drinks, and a fun photobooth complete with props such as feather boas and fake moustaches. Best of all,  the audience was given a chance to ask the filmmakers questions at the end of the screening.

The students have shot all of their films on Canon EOS Rebel DSLRs and are using iMovie, Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premier to edit their films. For a full list of our library’s Media Lab equipment, please see our website. To view all teen Media Lab projects, visit our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/DGPLnews. For any libraries interested in creating a workshop like View from the Director’s Chair, please feel free to contact me at lpitrak@dglibrary.org at any time. Thank you for this opportunity to share!

Lynette Pitrak is the Teen Services Coordinator at the Downers Grove Public Library. Reach her at lpitrak (at) dglibrary.org

MakerSpace Mondays: The Silhouette Cameo – Vinyl 101

Earlier today,  I talked about the Silhouette Cameo Vinyl Cutter: MakerSpace Mondays: The Silhouette Cameo – a review. So if you buy a Silhouette Cameo, you’ll probably be making a variety of vinyl projects. Not all vinyl is the same, so here’s a little Vinyl 101 brought to you by high school librarian Dani Fouser.

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Oracal 631- Semi-Permanent

Use for walls, windows and anywhere you want to eventually remove your vinyl.

Oracal 651 – Permanent

Use for car decals, cup decals, etc. This is water proof.

Transfer Paper/Tape

Use to transfer an image onto a surface. In a pinch you can use clear contact self-adhesive shelf liner, though it doesn’t work as well as the Oracal Transfer Tape.

How to Use Transfer Paper with Vinyl | The Pinning Mama

Oracal Transparent Vinyl

Use to get a stained glass look. Best prices at www.craftvinyl.com

Heat Transfer Vinyl/Iron On Transfer Vinyl

Use this to do things like making t-shirts. It comes with transfer tape and you need print it mirrored. There are a few exceptions to this rule (like patterned paper) so be sure and read the specific instructions for the vinyl you are using.

Easy Weed Vinyl

Use this for more complicated designs that will require a lot of weeding.

Easy Weed Stretch

Has a little give in the vinyl making this good for t-shirts.

Brand Names

Siser – Most people prefer this brand

Pro-Vinyl – Comparable to Siser

As always, if you have additional tips and tricks, please add them in the comments.

MakerSpace Mondays: The Silhouette Cameo – a review

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This past week TLTer Robin Willis came and spent the week with me and visited my library (The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Ohio) and the Teen MakerSpace. Her visit coincided with the exploration and evaluation of a Silhouette Cameo 3 machine which we are considering for the Teen MakerSpace. Here’s what we learned.

But first . . . here’s Robin with the Teen MakerSpace Manual (which you know I love) and her own Teen MakerSpace bag.

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The Silhouette Cameo is a cutting machine that you program using it’s software and it cuts a variety of things like paper, vinyl and temporary tattoos. It is similar to a Cricut machine which is popular with scrapbookers and t-shirt makers, except you don’t have to buy separate cartridges. This does not mean, however, that there aren’t additional costs, because there are. For example, you can purchase graphics and fonts, though you do so online as opposed to buying cartridges. You can also find a variety of free images and fonts online. In fact, there are Pinterest pages dedicated to this very thing. The initial cost of the machine itself is around $220 and there are some additional tools that you should purchase to help make your projects a success.

Cutting Machine Basics: What You Need To Know To Get Started

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In addition to buying images and fonts, you will have the ongoing cost of what ever medium it is you are cutting. Paper, is of course, the cheapest. You can use paper to make things like cards, signs (for example, mod podge them onto a canvas) and more. Vinyl can be used to make a wide variety of things like window decals, drinking cups, and t-shirts. You can buy vinyl at local crafts stores or purchase it at a discount online. Depending on the project, the cost of consumables can get pretty expensive.

To begin with, I first tried cutting some paper projects. The first project I designed using the software. The second project, the Cheshire cat, I found for free online and used so that I could learn how to download a project.

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After this initial success, I then tried t-shirts and hit some snags. To begin with, I loaded my vinyl upside down and it did nothing. I found the instructions hard to read on the vinyl itself and had to call a friend for assistance. Then, because I didn’t have the proper tools, I tore my vinyl while trying to pull it off.

The next day we had more success. It helps that we stopped at the store and bought the tools we needed. When the machine cuts your designs you have to do a process called “weeding” to pull off the insides of letters and things like the Cheshire cat’s teeth. Robin turned out to be really good – because she is incredibly patient – at weeding. The tool you use looks like one of those horrible dentist devices that scrape your teeth, but it’s effective and necessary. Buy the extra tools.

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We then made a variety of t-shirts and book bags.

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I then designed my own t-shirt using the software and an image I purchased through the Silhouette store.

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Overall, I am in love with this machine. So here’s a look at some of my final thoughts.

Pros:

You can do a wide variety of projects using the Silhouette Cameo; it has versatility.

It does exactly what it says it will do very effectively.

There is a great variety of online resources and project ideas to get you started and keep you going.

The end product looks sharp and professional.

High School Librarian Dani Fouser made this great window display using her Silhouette Cameo

High School Librarian Dani Fouser made this great window display using her Silhouette Cameo

Robin and I made these vinyl window clings for the Teen MakerSpace

Robin and I made these vinyl window clings for the Teen MakerSpace

You can convert and scan in images and transfer them to an .SVG image to use them with your cutter, though I have yet to figure out how. But again, there are a lot of online tutorials.

Cons:

The initial cost of the machine itself is a bit pricey.

The ongoing cost of consumables is also a bit pricey.

The learning curve is a bit steep. I was initially told the design software was similar to Microsoft Publisher but I found it to be more similar to Gimp.

The Silhouette Cameo 3 does not come with a user manual so you have to use online help resources to even figure out the basics. If you know someone who can help get you started, put them on your speed dial.

The machine is definitely more of a one on one machine, similar to a 3D printer.

Some Resources for You:

Silhouette America – Silhouette America

Silhouette America – What Can You Make?

Silhouette CAMEO Project, Tutorials and Free Cut Files

Coconut Love: 43 Project Ideas for Silhouette Cameo

19 Amazing Silhouette CAMEO Print and Cut Project Ideas

The Mother Lode of Silhouette Tutorials for Beginners

Silhouette Cameo Projects | Made in a Day

15 Blogs To Find GREAT Silhouette Cameo Project Ideas

10 Best Silhouette Cameo Projects of 2016 – Simply Made Fun

50+ Silhouette Machine Projects to Try Now – MakeUseOf

Over 200 Free Silhouette Projects, Crafts and Tutorials at AllCrafts!

19 Amazing Silhouette CAMEO Print and Cut Project Ideas

Converting Silhouette Studio Files to SVG (Free & No Extra Software)

Silhouette PixScan Tutorial for Beginners: Part 1 of 2 – Silhouette School

34 Cool Things You Can Do with Your New Vinyl Cutter | Make:

Please share your thoughts, your favorite resources and your favorite projects with me in the comments!

SLJTeenLive: Building a Teen MakerSpace on a Budget

This summer I was honored to participate in the SLJTeenLive event (if you have never attended, you are missing out on a wealth of information so put it on your calendar for next year). I also wrote an article about it for SLJ which you can read here. Today I am sharing my slides with you.

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