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Mmmm foxes

Country-fried

Originally published at Confessions of a Half-baked Talemaker. You can comment here or there.

The first snow of the year happened last night. It’s pretty out there in a deadly, white sort of way…. No I haven’t taken any pictures. Most folks have seen snow before, at least in America. I will tell you that I took my husky hybrid dogs out to play in their first snow ever, expecting they’d be excited like other huskies I’ve had in the past, and they were like… whatever. I was disappointed, I tell you. Disappointed.

Anyway, I’m here to show you a brief tutorial I put up on Youtube. It’s nothing special. Just if you’re curious about what I do, even when I take a moment off, here’s a clue.

Basically I’m demonstrating some of the things I might do to prepare an image to be converted into a cross stitch or bead looming pattern. This may be my last for a long while. The programs I have were all demos and, well, my time with them is up. I’ve no idea where I put that other one I used to have… sigh… anyway. Here you go.

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Cups

Country-fried

Originally published at Confessions of a Half-baked Talemaker. You can comment here or there.

I need to break this blog for a sweetness update.


Nom Nom Cupcakes by spearcarrier on deviantART

MMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

That is all.

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And the Cameo Monster Returns

Country-fried

Originally published at Confessions of a Half-baked Talemaker. You can comment here or there.

To: The Silhouette support team

Re: Their damn machine

 

Dear folks,

In the past you have tried to be very helpful and I greatly appreciate your patience. It is in deference to that patience and your wonderful attitudes that I am going to refrain from using every curse word I ever learned listening to my father work on the car right now. However, enough is enough. And I am calling it enough.

With our last communication, I had told you that after calibrating this Silhouette Cameo, serial number T312A299141, was behaving. Maybe it’s because I tend to take a couple of days between cuts, but that was then and this is my first attempt at cutting anything a little while after that. And once again, it’s simply not behaving.

I have been all over the internet, shaken my head at your manual, looked at your website, and even struck up conversations with perfect strangers that endorse your machine in my various attempts to get it to work correctly. I have followed your advice. I have done all I could.

I don’t want to empty my settings anymore, or uninstall programs, try Make the Cut, calibrate, or do any of those things any more. Because they’re flat out not working. I am attaching a picture of how well your machine cuts for me. As you can see, it at least cuts the paper. It doesn’t cut where it’s supposed to. I realize now it’s just not going to.

SONY DSC

It doesn’t matter if the paper is thick, thin, shiny, metallic, matte, glossy, small, or large. I have tried them all. Typically when I try to cut one simple page of 1 inch to 1.5 inch stickers, it literally takes me all day to get a sheet that isn’t slashed by your machine’s blade. ALL DAY.

The first problem to this, by the way, costs me valuable work time and thus money because I work at home. While I’m fighting the machine to get a simple set of stickers I’m setting other commissions aside.

This is how my process goes. I set up my page. I print it. I send it to your machine. Your machine sometimes refuses to register no matter what I do. Sometimes it will be in the middle of registrating and suddenly stop with a horrible sound. Sometimes it will go through the process entirely and then make that sound and fail registration. Almost always it makes that sound about 3/4 down a standard sized piece of paper.

I have to watch the cut. Sometimes it will start out sort of close and then halfway down it won’t be close at all. Sometimes it will not start out close at all. Less and less common, to the point of being more and more uncommon, it will get a page right. I haven’t had a correct page in a very long time.

I have to register and start a cut dozens of times. Each time it cuts in a different place.

Britny, who works with your help department and was very very friendly and leaped through hoops to reach me, had explained to me that the fact your cutter is a paper waster is a fact of life. To avoid overloading your little machine, I had to keep the amount of data in my cut very low. She told me to never change the default setting on the registration marks (which makes it rather pointless for you to have it so they can be changed). And of course I already knew not to go past the hash marks.

I just cut the amount of stickers on a sheet I normally do to 1/3. That’s about 12 stickers at 1/5 inches high. The photo you see is of my fifth attempt to cut them.

I have even went so far as to put a single sticker in the middle of the page without any success.

I have made sure it is in good lighting. Cleaned it. Made sure I hit “load cutting mat” when loading. Cleaned the blades. Blew out the dust. Kept the cutting files ridiculously low and unproductive. Not changed the default settings. I probably would have rocked it to sleep if that would have helped.

Now, if you please, I’d like you go to http://www.sheet-labels.com/ and take a look at the prices. These are the sheets your machine are destroying. This is how much money it is costing me, and that’s not counting the replacement mat, extra blade, pens I’ll never be able to use, and other paper from the craft store.

The important point that has gotten overlooked time and again throughout this drama is that your machine worked perfectly in the beginning. I could cut some serious sticker sheets with it. Now with each file I’m limited more and more. There’s something seriously wrong with that even Captain Kirk could see.  Sure I had a slight learning curve, but I already knew what I was doing from the OTHER Cameo I used to own. I sent that other Cameo back because it wouldn’t cut what I needed and your company was very gracious. This is something else. Your machine is BREAKING if not already broken. With each and every cut the problem just gets worse and worse. I don’t appreciate that this is being overlooked. Do you expect me to demand my money back? How on earth could I do that when I bought it at Michael’s? No the most I can do is make my dissatisfaction very well known.

Your machine does not work. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it, because selling it to an unsuspecting person would be WRONG. But it doesn’t work. It USED to work and *THAT IS THE POINT*.

I could have sent the money spent on this thing as a partial payment to my car or my house. We could have bought food. Or changed the oil in our car. I was very unsure about buying this machine – call it a bad feeling – but was talked into it. I wanted to hold out for a silver bullet, which comes with a business warranty and cuts what I need to cut. But I was a fool and listened to the elements around me that wanted me to settle for less. You should never settle for less.

All I want to do is make some charms and a few paperdolls. I’ve been wanting to make these charms for over five years now. With the hundreds of dollars your machine has cost me, I could have had at least a few of them MADE in a way that would look a billion times more professional.

I really have no way to sum up what I say in a good manner. So thank you for your time.

Katrina

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No Snow Yet

Country-fried

Originally published at Confessions of a Half-baked Talemaker. You can comment here or there.

Don’t look now, but I think I got the Silhouette Cut It Yourself working right. Since last night I’ve cut about 100 fairies for charms and several half inch labels for another project I’m poking at. It cut as correctly as cheap machinery will allow. Hoozah. Let’s hope it holds.

It promises to be a busy day. I created five “snow globe” bottle charms last night, and today I have to take those half inch labels I mentioned before and get them prepped for attaching. I’m going to dome them with resin, because it would make them more durable. I’ve completely fallen in love with resin, and I’m constantly going over in my head for things I can do with it.

The problem with resin, though, is that it gets all over my art desk – the place where pages of Heavenly Bride are worked on. I read somewhere the resin won’t stick to white paper bags, so I’ve spent some time this morning also inventing a coated anti-resin board. If it works, I’ll maybe sell them. Or give out the instructions. Or both. My guillotine cutters haven’t shown up from the move yet. I’ve written them off as things that “weren’t left behind” and have been trying to cope without them… but without them I’m reluctant to make resin mats to sell. I can’t afford to replace the big one just now. I’d need at least $50, and I need that $50 to try to send at least something to the house payment. It’s been running on 3 months now that we haven’t paid the mortgage.

But now that the Cameo is behaving, I’ve made some real progress on my charm project. This makes me uber happy, even if I haven’t sold a single thing in months. Ha! I’m being inventive, watch me get covered in glitter!

My nose is to the grind on commissions as well. I’ve a large amount of flatting to do right now, and this means Heavenly Bride has been put into the slow lane. I don’t get double flats but maybe every two months, so I normally don’t mind. But right now I sure wish I could get the next page out already.

I think if I were an uber billionaire, I’d still keep myself busy with projects. I just like being busy. Of course, I’d also travel, know twelve different languages, and own a large publishing firm. And maybe go to SCA events and follow the powwow trail.

Oh. And buy cheese. Because we love cheese.

 

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All Bottled Up

Country-fried

Originally published at Confessions of a Half-baked Talemaker. You can comment here or there.

Today has been a very productive day, even though I’m running behind schedule. I’m running behind schedule because a lot of work has come in, which always happens when I put myself on hiatus. Funny old world. But craftwise I am super super pleased because a certain item I’ve been inventing (see: more advanced than simply creating) has decided to work perfectly a few minutes ago. I am the super supreme commander of crafts! (Even if I don’t know that much about all of them.)

To create this item, I had to learn decoupage. It was interesting. I’ll be experimenting further. Meanwhile one of my friends pointed out I should get a patent on this item. She’s right of course, what with the way big business steals things these days and blocks the rightful owners from just about anything. I don’t think I can afford a patent. And the “poor man’s patent” method of mailing things to yourself isn’t even fake insurance. The courts throw it right out.

Meanwhile some items I’d ordered weeks ago finally arrived, and I was able to produce one of the charm ideas I’ve been waiting to hatch. It’s a tiny bottle charm with mini dice in it labeled “Genuine Dice Seeds”. They’re currently available in my etsy shop, and if I can get the OOAKleaf shop to update and cooperate I’ll put it up there as well. I was so happy to finally make these!

But the happiness is pretty dampered with hate and anger at this stupid Silhouette Cameo. I’ve taken to thinking of it as a Silhouette “Cut It Yourself” anymore. The company called me and troubleshooted with me. The girl on the phone was real nice (and actually spoke English). So a few days ago when I hung up the phone with the Silhouette rep, I had hope.

My mistake was waiting a few days to try it again. But what can I say. I’ve been busy. Today was the day – all my future plans are hinged on a cutter that actually works. So I have spent all day preparing and getting set up. The moment came. I followed the rep’s instructions.

The damn Cut It Yourself is once again cutting off the mark.

I mean, I seriously sat in my office in a fugue of real depression. This problem has been ongoing since shortly after I brought the sharp paperweight home. And it’s only getting worse with each and every failed project – and I do mean failed projects. I’ve still YET to be able to finish something using this expensive waste of resources. I tried calibrating it and got nowhere. I reset defaults, I’ve looked and looked for help. I’m convinced the machine is broken, but this late in the game it no longer matters. I’ve lost basically a car payment on an investment that, like everything else, is going nowhere.

So I’m pretty depressed over it. Not “frustrated” or some other meaningless label you want to apply to me. I’m flat depressed. And fed up. If I had the guts I’d stick firecrackers in it and set it on fire in the backyard.

But the bottles are fun to make… so here’s a picture of the little dice seeds. SONY DSCYay dice seeds! I’m looking forward to making more… and then later I’m thinking something that… matters. Heh.

 

Pun? What pun?

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Bottles, Eye Pins… Gold!

Country-fried

Originally published at Confessions of a Half-baked Talemaker. You can comment here or there.

I did it today. I took the plunge. I went to my work website, http://ebookcovers4u.wordpress.com, and I put myself on (mostly) unavailable status. Now before anyone goes and gets their panties in a wad because we’re at a stage where we’re begging for help (thank you, Uncle Sam) and have had to ignore the car and house payment for almost two months now, this isn’t as chancy as it sounds. For a while now, I’ve been doing ebook covers, formatting ebooks, AND I’ve been working on The Heavenly Bride while flatting for others in the comic industry. The flatting work has picked up. I had to step back from something.

I had been looking for someone to literally give my business to for about two years now, but most everyone I found proved to be people who just didn’t want to work or couldn’t take working at home seriously enough to realize it’s not a vacation in disguise…. or that yes, if you have a busy schedule doing a bunch of other stuff you’re gonna have to figure out how to work now and again.  Right now I have two people on my team that are doing ebook covers. I couldn’t find someone to take over formatting. I tried. I really tried. Fortunately the market has a lot of other ebook formatters out there, some with meaner skills than mine, so for the world it’s not a complete loss.

I just won’t be taking my name down from Smashwords just yet. And I’ll still baby my website, put things up, that sort of things. And I most definitely will take the odd job here and there because the truth is I really *like* working in ebooks. It’s just working in ebooks has been stopping me from writing my own books. And that’s bad.

big eyeA supply shipment came today. I was so excited! Until I opened the box. Then I was moderately excited. What I had ordered was miniature bottles with eye pins for the corks. Part of my intended stock involves these little buggers… but the eye pins are huge compared to the cork, and that just looks like the corks are trying to overcompensate for something. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the eye pins… but it was a damper on my supplier relationship that I had to go online to try to find the right size eye pins. I found some for not much, free shipping. I have no idea if they’re the right size at this time.

On an upwards note, though, my first upcycled resin piece is complete. I’m not completely happy with it, though… there are tutorials all over the web about getting the resin to dry clear – sans bubbles. If you’re not careful the resin will be filled with tiny bubbles and kind of looks like fizzy soda. Now on some pieces that will look great and I fully intend to do it on purpose. But I also want to create pieces without them. I followed them and researched and even came up with a twist of my own to get those pesky bubbles out.  And with this piece, I thought I had done just that.

Well, further research and a day later I find lots of people who feel my frustration. One person said, “Well, it doesn’t matter what I do. There are going to be tiny bubbles in there. So I’ve decided to just use them as a design element.”

Well, this new piece that I proudly put for sale up on etsy.com a few minutes ago looks good with the bubbles, so it’s not a total loss. And I can see using them as a design element… the truth is I think they kind of look neat while not wanting them there at the same time. I used to really like it when I came across a marble that had a bubble in it. It’s just… neat.

But I’m still going to fight the bubble monster because, well… it’s a challenge. One I’ll probably lose.

So here is my latest masterpiece. It’s going to be only one of a short series. It was created from a broken watch I bought at a yard sale last weekend. I was going to fix the watch, but I soon realized I was missing some parts so couldn’t. And upcycling is a wonderful art, I feel. You can do some amazing things with upcycling.

Why, yes, that is the Third Commandment. Neat, huh?

pendant closeup

 

 

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Adventures in Office Hermitry

Country-fried

Originally published at Confessions of a Half-baked Talemaker. You can comment here or there.

Man, oh man, but when I get inspired for an idea the rest of my world goes to the can.

 

chicken chase lineThe above image, if you can see it, is the planned charm line up for my next craft project. That’s a lot of charms, so having them done as acrylics to start with would be more than we could afford even if we weren’t begging for money right now to pay the bills. (No, we’re literally begging.) But, being as artwork is how I make a living I have to carry on. And this meant I had to find another way.

I’ve been making charm designs and then having them made because I have to have stock to sell. But it’s not bringing in the money it could or should, so I’ve decided to go another way. I’m back to making the charms myself for first runs and ordering an acrylic version once in a while here and there. I’ve always made them myself from shrinky dinks, and this is why we invested in a cutter. Enter my adventures for the last few days.

These adventures involve lots of cursing, much bemoaning, and at one point I went downstairs, threw the cutting mat at my husband, and told him I couldn’t take it anymore.

But beyond that some cool things have cropped up as I return to being an artist and not a work slave. (Make no mistake, this is what I’m doing, all in the name of carving out time to go back to being an author.) I’ve hit on this nifty idea for making the charms, and it involves resin and learning to make my own molds.

At first I started this conclusion by simply putting a domed clear cap on shrinky dink charms. The lady at Hobby Lobby recommended a product called mod podge dimensional magic. So I gave it a shot. This looked really awesome, btw.

SONY DSC

Shrinky dink charms made using a vintage image and domed using mod podge dimensional magic.

That is, they looked awesome on the type of inket shrink film I used – a clear paper made by Grafix. When I printed chickens and Links on some Shrinky Dinky inkjet film I had, well, let’s say I was far far less pleased with the results. Not because of the mod podge. Because of their paper.

Many moons ago when I was first getting into things like this, Shrinky Dinks inkjet paper was slick. You had to choose the right side to print on, but beyond that things looked great. When the dinks were shrunk, the plastic was smooth and shiny. They always looked fabulous. And now… not so much. You don’t have to be careful what side you print on anymore, but when the charms are shrunk they’re rough on both sides. This texture makes them ugly. Even domed with the mod podge, they look bad. I wore a frowny face for a long time. I think I’m still wearing it. My shiny slick charms are gone. I have two left from an old batch. I’m keeping those for old time’s sake.

I decided to see if I had other options. No, I do not. And you know what else I found out? Mod Podge products are basically pva glue. That’s Elmer’s glue to you. And this woke the evil scientist in me. Because dimensional magic is expensive, and people were complaining that it was going cloudy a year two days after putting it on their polymer products. One person said it turned yellow after a year. Yeah, fuck that noise especially for the amount of money I paid.

I reasoned that if the other mod podge products, which are white and basically dry clear, are different types of Elmer’s glue then dimensional magic, which starts out clear, probably is Elmer’s clear glue. So I went to the store, got some clear glue, some rubber cement, and I started experimenting. And you know what I found out? Mixing rubber cement and  clear glue makes for a frothy mixture that dries very very hard but has a crapton of bubbles and needs further experimentation. Add polycrylic and it gets real fun.

I also found out that two layers of clear glue on my charms domes just as nicely as three layers of dimensional magic. The major difference was the dimensional magic product dented under my thumbnail. The clear glue did not. And so far the clear glue has not turned cloudy. Neither has the dimensional magic.

Inevitably, this meant I found myself shopping around and looking at doming resins. And learning about them. And deciding, wait a minute I can do a lot of pretty stuff with this that I always try to do with shrinky dinks. The end result is yesterday I spent the day learning how to cast in resin. And this morning I learned what I did wrong. Currently I have three projects curing that may turn out right.

I usually get excited, very excited, when learning a new skill. We’re taught this is a good thing. It’s not. It means you’re never going to do well at work because sooner or later you’re going to learn the entire job, and when that happens you’re going to get very bored. But I digress. Here I am excited and wanting to make stuff!!! And I have to wait because I could only afford the one mold and I haven’t learned to make molds for myself yet. (Coming soon.)

So far I like the look of resin casting far far better than the shrinky dinks. I’m still going to use shrinky dinks, but I suspect it’s going to be for mold making. Well, there are still quite a few very artsy things I can do with them… but if I can get my resin plan to work I hopefully will be revealing a new thing on this website soon. With chickens.

I have a bucket of broken jewelry that I’ve been keeping, because some secret part of myself knew there would be a day when I would call upon those bits and pieces to become new, shiny, glassy bits of jewelry. The pieces jump in the bucket, eager and filled with anticipation…

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Essence of Gelfling

Country-fried

Originally published at Confessions of a Half-baked Talemaker. You can comment here or there.

Today is my father’s birthday. I was going to send him a card and maybe a little something, but I’ve been so sick in the past month I think he’s lucky to get a glance his way. This makes me a terrible human being and the worst daughter in the history of time.

Today has also been a very busy day. Like I said, I’ve been sick. We didn’t know what it was at first; just a mysterious tooth ache in teeth that otherwise are happy to be my teeth. It ebbed on and on, sometimes so badly I barely noticed the sniffles and sneezes that had come with it. “Go to the dentist,” my husband kept saying to me. Oh yeah, because we can afford the co-pay… not. Not to mention we haven’t found a local dentist that isn’t a total dickwad yet. I’ve had very bad experiences at the dentist – including spending some time nearly choking on a bit of bone while the dentist snapped at me that there was nothing wrong. So.

I finally figured out what was happening when the burning headache associated with my chronic sinus problem settled in. And it was like, oh. I see. It’s the damn infection, back again. I was very sick by that point and made my way to the doctor up the street, who demanded to know why I wasn’t at the dentist for my headache until she looked at my teeth and backed off. (Yes, I did indeed tell her “I told you so”.) She got offended when I mentioned what herbs I’ve been taking to battle this chronic problem and asked if I was willing to see a specialist.

Hell yes I’m willing to see a specialist; and not the E4 kind. I’d been wanting to see a specialist all these years that doctors have routinely told me, “Lose weight, drink more water” in response to my problem while blowing me off. I also would have liked some antibiotics (something I rarely stoop to) and maybe some other medicine that would help my life a bit. This problem is very debilitating. I’m up to 300 lbs because this problem flairs up and I have to eat 5, 6, and 10 meals a day to protect my stomach while taking painkillers constantly. And it always flairs up when I try to get active. (I just recently started doing yoga again.) I seriously considered filing for disability over this problem this last time because I literally couldn’t think beyond a certain level. Bills? Yeah, my face didn’t give a shit about paying the bills.

The doctor put in the order for a specialist, but because it was Saturday I was going to have to wait for their call. Which means I had my husband give them his number because my phone is currently out of commission. The doctor refused to let me have pain medicines but did give me a new steroid the companies sent her. And sent me on my way.

The specialist still hasn’t called to set up an appointment.

Which means, now that I knew what the problem was, it was once again up to me to treat myself. Isn’t it funny how the doctors get all offended that folks like me treat ourselves and circumvent the chemicals that Big Pharmacy love so much while at the same time refusing to, well, treat us so we don’t have to treat ourselves? Yeah, about that. I doubled down on the treatment, too, so that today just a couple of days later I returned to my normal work schedule.

Which brings me to Essence of Gelfling.

gelfling3There’s this real cute idea I’d been wanting to do all this time and I finally had enough energy to do it. I just put it up in the etsy.com store today: it’s… Essence of Gelfling. (Picture to the right!) Because, I reasoned, if you ever get a Skesis neighbor you may be able to charm them with this. Just keep it on your person in case of Skesis invasion, and you’re assured a get out of death card at least once.

I’ve also been multitasking: working on this Alice in Wonderland charm bracelet idea I had while trying to catch up on commissions at the same time. (And I still have to get my entry into the Elfquest Fan Art Calendar Contest in by midnight. Oy!) The charms are being made of shrink plastic – and for those who don’t know, that is not the child art it was originally intended to be. No, when I do shrink plastic I tend to go all out. So that it has taken me literally all day just to product ten little charms.

I used the cameo to cut the shapes: this was hard and I slowly invented my own process. The process apparently worked, sort of, and may even have put a little less stress on the machine than the methods other people use. I haven’t perfected it yet so I don’t want to talk about it just now. Just know I wouldn’t recommend cutting shrinky dinks or really any shrink plastic daily with your Silhouette Cameo.

For the artwork I used some illustrations I originally did for a reprint of Alice in Wonderland. The original illustrations are all black and white, so I colored them up a little bit. You should have seen the failed attempts I ended up throwing away. It was so very sad.

Each charm took me at least four parts to make. Yes, four parts. But they’re so much prettier this way. I’m still perfecting the process, but the last batch was good enough for me to stamp it with the okay. I have decided that each of my charms will begin like this and will be ordered as acrylic laser cut charms here and there as I go. That way I still get to make my art and see them come to life while at the same time getting to see them come to life.

One answer I’ve thought up to my cutter problem is to find a source for pre-cut shrink film shapes: circles and ovals, to be exact. I haven’t found one yet, but I’ve only just started looking. If you know of one, please share.

And now, here’s a couple of photos so you can see the fruits of today’s labor:

dime

SONY DSC

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Sihouette Cameo Review

Country-fried

Originally published at Confessions of a Half-baked Talemaker. You can comment here or there.

We just bought a Silhouette Cameo cutter. I’m aware this particular model has been out a little while, and that this review is a little outdated. However, the reasons why we bought it were 1. It was on sale. 2. I genuinely needed it in order to keep making money, and 3. All of the reviews cast it in such a glowing light that it seemed a good temporary answer while I hold out for the cutter I TRULY need. Oh: 4. The Cricut Explore demanded I be on the internet to use their flash website to cut anything, period. Fuck that cloud noise.

The first thing to note about the reviews, I have to add, is that they were each written by people who knew what they were doing and in many cases were professional scrapbookers and crafters. Nary is there a layman review anywhere on the internet, aside from an enthusiastic “I love my Cameo!” comment at the bottom of each professional review. You have to really dig to find the darker reviews, which are still phrased to sound all fluffy and light. For example, today I found one that essentially said, “Do you have a love/hate relationship with your cameo? Then you’re in the majority!” Which means that although a lot of people love their cameo, the majority also HATE their cameo. Stop and consider that a minute. They. Hate. The Machine. They. Spent. A. Lot. Of. Money. On. It doesn’t sound quite as fluffy as it’s phrased to be when you consider the facts, does it.

So that’s what this review is all about. I’m not a professional scrapbooker, although I’ve been doing crafts my entire life. I owned a cameo once before, many moons ago, and it didn’t last a day in my hands before I was boxing it up and sending it back with many a nasty review posted on Amazon.com. With this second attempt I thought that perhaps the problem was in me: I didn’t do something right.

HA!

I’ve had this machine about two weeks. I. Fucking. Hate. It. There is no love and hate here. I just simply flat out hate this fucking machine.

The cutting mat: On a scale of 1 to 10 I give it a 0.

These “cheap” personal cutters all pretty much use the same cutting system. They come with a sticky mat you place your paper on, and that mat holds the paper in place while the cutter’s blade does it’s dirty work. I’ve been all over the internet in the past two weeks looking up mat care, and they all said the same thing: been using my mat for years! To take care of it do these things! It lasts quite a while before it loses it’s sticky power!

The pros: I… got nothing.

The cons: Lies. The internet claims are all lies. The first time I owned a cameo, the mat stopped sticking in 24 hours despite my best attempts to keep it clean. This second time with my new cameo, the mat has lasted 24 hours despite my best efforts and oodles of research to keep it clean.

To buy a replacement mat costs around $15. There are no “mat fixit” sprays available, although many people have come up with hacks that involve temporary spray glues. I’ve been having to use the spray glues. Temporary glues tend to become permanent if you don’t move fast enough. It also gets all over your hands, and nasty hands are a pet peeve of mine.

Incidentally, I’ve tried all the tricks. Baby wipes, cleaning, soap, wiping, the works. The mat system just fucking sucks. The end.

The blades: On a scale of 1 to 10 I give them… oh.. .I dunno… a 3.

The pros: The cameo blade is kind of neat. Instead of having to pick between a plethora of different blades for each cut and going back and forth, you simply adjust a length setting on the blade you’re using. It goes up to 10. There are folks out there that have hacked them, and to them I tip my hat because the first time I owned the cameo I tried to hack the blade to go up to 11. I really think it should go to 11.

The cons: The first time I owned a cameo, I tried to cut shrink film. That’s what I bought it for, after all, and the reviews I’d found on the internet all said a cameo could do what I needed. The blade dulled on the shrink film on the first try.

This second time, we chose the cameo because everyone said it could cut shrink film. They all said the cameo had become new and improved, that it was better than ever. Shrink film is why I bought it. So I gave it a shot. It cut the shrink film alright, but not all of the way through despite double cutting as per online reviews and instructions. The lies struck again.

I had bought a second blade (They run about $12.) just in case this happened, so the new blade went into the machine about 10 projects ago. 10 projects later it’s not cutting as well anymore. It’s already dulling, yep. So through all of this I’ve only produced ONE project that has the professional clean quality I desire. Other projects since have torn paper, nicked edges, the works.  I tried cutting thin paper this morning to make a Halloween card. Oh my god the mess.

The answer I’m given to understand is to buy this off market blade for about $25 that’s made of some durable material like kevlon or outerspace moon rock or something. I really need blades that can do the job, so even though we haven’t paid the house payment lately and our light bill is a month overdue we ordered one. I have commissions that are waiting patiently for this stupid machine to work properly. But for the record, I’d rather find the Silhouette CEO and throw the machine at his face. Hard.

Let’s lower my scale to a 1.

This machine wastes paper. I rate that at a 2.

The pros: I got no pros for this one. The waste of paper is because of their studio program, Silhouette Studio 3. With version 2 the waste isn’t as bad. And if I *lie* to the program about what size paper I’m actually using I can use more space. But. Yeah.

The cons: That’s right, I said it. It’s a paper hog. To make a 5 x 7 card I have to place things very carefully in the middle or the machine may decide not to make all of the cuts. We’re talking paper as big as 12″ x 12″. That’s a lot of wasted paper cast to the side. I seriously dislike that. A lot. If I’m making 2 5 x 7 cards, as far as I’m concerned they should fit one above the other within a 12 x 12 space. Think about it. I’d only need 10 x 7 inches minimum. So I tried that. The machine barfed at me and refused to cut the edges of the card. I changed margin settings, tweaked, played, researched, and wasted a lot of time.

This sort of waste means any project I do has the potential of being an expensive project. Even for personal projects (much less for sale) it’s a waste. It’s cheaper to order from Etsy.com.

The latest software likes to flip you the bird. Rating of 1.

The machine came with the Silhouette Studio version 2. I liked it alright, although I didn’t like some of it’s limitations. With a later release available, I upgraded thinking… yeah… okay. We’ll give this a shot. Now picture me sitting here with anger lines of evil emanating from my body. This is how the latest software makes me feel.

As far as designing goes, the new software is okay. I haven’t fully tested it yet because of one serious flaw: when I tell it to cut using the registration lines (which is how cameo finds paper placement so it can know where to cut) the damn thing won’t even look for them. I print the paper, I place it faithfully on the mat with sticky hands, I put the mat into the cameo in the prescribed manner that worked so well with the older program… and then I tell it to go. The machine bumps a little bit without even looking for the marks and claims “registration failed”.

In order to get a cut going I have to tell it to find the marks manually. Sadly this means the cut is always just slightly off, which leads to… yep you guess it… more wasted paper (and ink).

The older program never gave me that issue. If I said “look anyway you bastard” it did so cheerfully. It loved making me happy. This new software is the pits.

Online store is okay but no ticker tape parades are due. I’ll generously give it a 5.

There’s not much I can say about the online store really. I have no pros and no cons. It connects directly to their program, you can shop and import, and cut immediately. Woo hoo convenience, the bane of our society and biggest symptom of our problems.

Some items you can get and also buy a commercial license. I like that. So far 80% of what I’ve seen is personal use only. I don’t like that.

I downloaded an envelope today for 99 cents. The file is faulty. I am unable to report that. I am unable to file a complaint and say there is an issue with the file. I cannot use this envelope I shopped over an hour to find. I highly dislike that.

I also noted today that rescuing your files from their server if your machine dies is something you can only do 3 times.

That I more than highly dislike. I think it sucks. Fortunately I do backups on stuff so it’s not that big of a threat to me so much as it sucks.

Final Rating: COULD THIS DAMN MACHINE SUCK ANY MORE THAN IT DOES??

No really. That is a direct quote from me today as I labored over a simple Halloween card. It was a premade pattern I’d gotten from their online store. It’s a cute enough card… but add in all of the problems I’ve listed above and picture me trying to make a simple fucking card.

I needed this machine. I needed to get what I’m up to for our survival (and my health) going. The machine I truly want is so far above our price margin I just don’t see me getting it this lifetime, no matter how much I pray and hope. But if I’d had my way I’d have returned this thing after day one. I fucking hate this machine. I’m definitely in the majority of cameo owners.

My advice to you is look into the silver bullet or better. Even if you know what you’re doing. OMFG could this machine suck any more than it does… no wait. Don’t answer that.

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Darling

Country-fried

Originally published at Confessions of a Half-baked Talemaker. You can comment here or there.

WebimageWell it’s done, sort of. I’ve got Project Darling underway.

I’m offering her for sale, but I’m also giving her starter kit away. What I mean is: you can download her and assemble her for free… or you can buy an assembled stand up doll from me. And this is just the beginning.

As promised, she’s not really for children. Right now all I can offer is cardboard and perforated pages for her clothing – which can be a little revealing and will continue to be that way on occasion in the future. I hope to offer more clothing for free in the future as well as offer some things for sale.

Go here: Darling: Not Your Daughter’s Paperdoll

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