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Sunday, 26 May 2013

Replacement Blades for the Silhouette Cameo - UK users

From the moment I purchased my Silhouette Cameo I was in love.  The only way I could justify the cost was to start up a business, the only problem with this was the cost of the blades.  I was getting through a blade every few weeks, at just under £16.00 (including postage) for a single blade it was getting very expensive.  I knew that once business picked up I was going to either have to increase prices (never a good idea for new businesses) or take a big knock in profits.  The only solution I could see was be to try and find a cheaper solution to the blades.

I was first made aware of using disposable blades by Ligaya's Creativity Zone.  She had had success with an aluminium (CB09) Blade Holder.  This blog was invaluable for advice on the different angled blades available and suppliers of the CB09 Blade Holder.

The only drawbacks were the seller was based in Asia (have been stung for import taxes before, and it is a hefty amount) and there were reports that the holder actually had to be sanded down to fit in the machine.  I tried to find a UK seller on ebay, but most that stocked the CB09 Holder were unable to offer any advice on using it with the Silhouette Cameo.

I had asked for some advice from the UK Scrappers forum and all replies went against using a none Silhouette blade holder.  I was warned that using another type of blade holder in the Silhouette Cameo would void any warranty I may have had (my machine was second hand with no warranty) and that there was rumors that the extra weight of the holders can damage the machine.  I scoured the net, but couldn't find a documented case where another holder had damaged the machine, but it was difficult to find a lot of information on them being used in the Silhouette Cameo at all.  The UK Scrappers community pointed me in the direction of the genuine Graphtec website, but at £69.30 for the just the Blade holder it seemed like it wouldn't really be saving me money.

Undeterred I set to work contacting various blade holders (for other machines) on ebay to see if they had any advice.  Eventually I stumbled across CNC Blades on ebay.  The seller was actually amazing, I cannot recommend them highly enough.  They recommended a blade that fits the Cameo - the Liyu!

The lengths that these guys went to help me were amazing.  They had said that although the specifications noted it should fit the Silhouette Cameo, they hadn't had a customer purchase it for this use.  They offered me a full refund should the holder not fit!  They also offered to set the blade holder up with a blade so that I knew how to change it when needed.

In my opinion the Liyu blade holder has a better design and seems much more polished than the CB09 holder.  The best part was the price - £16.99 for the holder and £9.99 for a pack of 5 Roland blades - The original outlay worked out at £5.40 per blade - this will fall to £2.00 per blade with the next pack - a huge difference against the Silhouette Cameo Blades!

In my next post I will be comparing the two blade holders; The Silhouette Cameo vs The Liyu

Monday, 20 May 2013

Silhouette Cameo Re-Sticking Mats for UK users

If you are lucky enough to own a Silhouette Cameo and you live in the UK, you probably already know that most of the tips and tricks come from our lovely cousins in the US.  Although very handy, it can sometimes be a bit tricky to find like for like UK materials.

After a bit of trial and error I thought I would share my method of re-using mats for the UK market :)

It is always handy to have more than one cutting mat - the Silhouette mats are a bit on the pricey side, and in my opinion quite flimsy - it is all too easy to cut straight through the mat with the wrong blade settings (particularly if you are new to using the Silhouette).  I recommend using Cricut mats instead :) They are thicker, more durable AND cheaper!  In fact, you can even buy two 12" x 24" Cricut mats for £19.00 and cut them down to four 12 x 12 mats - this works out at £4.75 per mat, versus £12.99 for a single Silhouette mat.

The best place for cheap cricut mats is ebay.

I have had my mats since October and December last year.  As they are used for business use, they have seen quite a bit of action!  Despite this, I have only had to re-stick two once and the other twice!  Not too shabby :)

Materials Needed

  • 3M Repositionable Mount Spray (must be the repositionable kind!)
  • Washing up liquid
  • Scraper or old credit card/plastic voucher
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Masking Tape
  • Mask
  • Outside Space

After a lot of research the adhesive that was most recommended was the 3M Repositionable Spray Mount. Initially I was put off by the price (almost £15.00 for 400ml on Amazon) but after scouring some ebay deals, I took the plunge.  I calculated that you can probably re-spray 10 12 x 12 mats with a 400ml can - £1.50 is a lot cheaper than a new mat.  Please make sure you use a mask when using this stuff and spray it outside.  It is an adhesive, so just imagine what it would do to your lungs if breathed in!

Step One

You will need to scrub down your mats to remove all the paper and glue residue.  I like to use the bath for the 12" x 24" mats as I find it gives me more room (and makes less mess).  I use really hot water and washing up liquid to try and loosen up the adhesive.  The gloves will help to protect your hands from the heat and give you a better grip when scrubbing.  There isn't really a right or wrong way to do this, I use an old Love film voucher card to scrape off the adhesive - be warned you will need lots of elbow grease!
You can use brake cleaner as it is supposed to remove all the adhesive BUT I am yet to use this method.  The thought of using such manly chemicals in my bath is a little disconcerting ;)
Once clean, leave to air dry.

Step Two

If like me you use Cricut mats, you will need to use a Silhouette Cameo mat to see what areas should be taped off.  You can skip this step, but it ensures that your mat matches up with the Silhouette spacings - nothing worse than accidentally cutting off your mat :(

Place the Silhouette Cameo mat over your Cricut mat and note where the lines 'should' be on your Cricut mats.  It is important that you check all sides as left and right is slightly different.

Step Three

Using masking tape, section off all the areas that would fall into the adhesive area in a Silhouette mat.  Or if you are using a Silhouette mat, just mask off the areas outside of the grid.

Here I have used parcel tape, because I ran out of masking tape so that you can clearly see the areas on a Cricut mat that would be part of the Silhouette Cameo grid.

Step Four

Pop on your mask, head outside and apply a thin coat of 3M adhesive spray.  Best way to do this is to hold the can about 15cms from your mat and spray in slow arcs across it, making sure all areas are covered.  Take care not to move too slow or quick, and that you aren't trying to spray in high winds.

Step Five

Wait about five minutes and then remove the masking tape - voila, Super Sticky mats again!  Whilst waiting, it is a good idea to scrub down your protective clear sheets with water.  These get super dusty and you don't want that transferring onto your nice fresh mat :)

In fact, you may find that these are a little too sticky for lighter paper or cards.  Making sure my hands are clean, I place my palms repeatedly over the mat to remove some of the tack - perfect :)

My next post is going to feature how to save money on those pricey Silhouette blades - stay tuned!

Reasons for being AWOL

So you may have noticed that my weekly blog posts have trickled to a stop - the last one was two weeks ago :( I have a very good reason though, and so I am sure I will be forgiven ;)

My lovely husband had to undergo a routine operation two weeks ago.  Sadly he developed complications; and what was supposed to be day surgery turned into an eight day stay, and an extra operation.  It was rather stressful and although home now, I have been trying to make sure that all three businesses are back on an even keel - not enough hours in the day!

I am pleased to say that we are finally settling back into our regular routine and so hopefully the posts will be back up and running soon - in fact I already have my next one planned!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Bike Ride to Upton Country Park

It seems that most of my friends have gone bike mad!  Every time I check my facebook feed I learn of a new bike ride, or see some beautiful photographs witnessed during a bicycle jaunt.  Never being able to resist a trend, I dusted off my bike and set to work restoring it to full working capacity.

£13.00 and a lot of elbow grease later, I had this;

My bike may not look very special, but it has led a very interesting life.  In the Summer of 2011 it suffered a flat tyre and was relegated to my parking spot, here it languished unused until a Saturday in October of that year.  I had planned to replace the inner tube and went down to it's usual spot to check the tyre - it had gone.  Our building had suffered a spate of bike thefts and after searching our parking garage from top to bottom I feared my bike had suffered the same fate.  Just over a year later, I was parking my car and saw a flash of metal from the corner of my eye.  On closer inspection it was my bike!  Covered in filth and dust, with the same flat tyre, but my bike nonetheless!  I have no idea where my bike went to, or the adventures it may have encountered, but I am so glad it is finally home :)

I have used my bike twice since fixing it, both times to cycle into town.  Today I decide I would actually go on a bike ride!  The Sun was shining, I had a free bike ride app downloaded to my phone (measures distance, calories, speed etc) and I was raring to go!  I decided to ride to Upton Country Park, a local parkland of over 100 acres, it features a grand house, gardens, gallery and tea room.  This place holds many fine memories for me, and it's free!

I decided to check the new lifting bridge - an amalgamation of design and engineering called The Twin Sails Bridge.  There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this piece, but I can honestly say that after seeing it in action (it was in the up position on my way back) I think it is beautiful :)

Upton Country Park has always been special to me as I spent a lot of my middle school years there with my best friend Sarah.  It was very close to our school and so it was a regular occurrence for all students to be dragged there :)  I can vividly remember members of the class (including me) getting into trouble for jumping down onto the lower gardens from this wall - I double checked it again today and the drop is fairly pronounced ;)

The gardens are filled with beautiful plants and some lovely little seating areas to relax and enjoy

The walled garden is beautiful!  It is a large rectangle with stone paths, bordered with plants and a huge green area in the middle - perfect for sunbathing ;)

In the middle of the green is a large paved area, lots of children seemed to be enjoying games on this

This is the back of the grand house.  Inside is off limits unless there is an event taking place, I have been dragged round the library by many a teacher! 

I love sun dials, such an ingenious invention - just not sure how much use they get with the terrible UK sunshine

I love this tree!  Many a child has tried to fit inside, to my recollection I don't think I've ever managed, but I certainly enjoyed trying :)

This is the large open gree in front of the house.  It is perfect for football and dog walks!

On my way back through the cycle path, I just happened to catch a glimpse of this view back across the bay - beautiful!

During my Twin Sail wait, I managed to get some lovely bay views.  You can just see my first flat on the left, I will miss living in Poole when we move :(

I also enjoyed the free gallery that is housed above the Tea Rooms.  Some pieces were amazing, whilst others were so simplistic and crude I couldn't help but wonder if I was missing some arty hidden meaning.  One thing is for sure, I don't think I will question my prices being too high again!

According to my app Cyclist I covered just under 12.5kms and burnt 224 calories - plus I got to see some beautiful things and enjoy some time in the sun - perfection :)

Strawberry Nail Art

So following on from last weeks post, I am still more than a little obsessed with nail art :)

I use YouTube a lot for makeup, hair and nail art tutorials and one of my favourite nail artists is CutePolish. I have attempted many different tutorials from her range, and although always tempted I never went ahead with her strawberries. Part of the reason is that I feared it was one that looked easy to attempt but would end up resulting in a terrible mess.

I have to say that I am quite pleased with how they turned out!

I did struggle to get the 'leaves' to pop, but next time I think I will use acrylic paint rather than green polish.  If you fancy making your own version, the tutorial is here.