Sparkly Unicorn

September happens to be my Mom’s birthday month and I wanted to make her a special card.

I found this Unicorn Hug Gift Card holder from the Silhouette Design store that I had acquired at some time and I thought it would be perfect. I had purchased a couple pairs of earrings from Mags Bonham at our TJC Curio Intensive Retreat last weekend and thought I could slip them inside the gift card pocket.

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I created this card using the following supplies:
Unicorn Hug Gift Card Holder by Jennifer Rush from the Silhouette Design Store
CTMH Cardstock – White & Pixie
CTMH Pink Glitter Cardstock – retired (but they have other new colors)
CTMH Dual Action Glue Pen Z553
CTMH Stamp sets: Birthday Sparkles (B1537) and Happy Heart (A1192)
CTMH Bitty Sparkles Z1263
CTMH Archival Black Ink, Bashful Ink, Raspberry Ink, Blossom Ink
CTMH Clear Shimmer Brush Z3293
**All CTMH products can be found on my website HERE

This was a very simple card to cut & put together. You can read more of the instructions on how to put it together on the designer, Jennifer Rush’s blog HERE.

This is definitely a card that I could create again!

Enjoy!

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For more information on Terri Johnson Creates (TJC) events, be sure to sign up for notifications from her website HERE.

 

Silhouette vs Cricut

That is the question and here is my answer…..

I see and hear this asked all the time and it’s been on my to do list to give you my recommendation.

Now please realize that this post is all my own opinion, no one has paid me to do it and I don’t get anything as reimbursement for this post. I am speaking only as a cutting machine user for many years. There are many, many posts out there comparing the two machines and you can read until your eyes cross, but only you can make the choice on which one is for you. I have many friends who are Cricut users and I have many other friends who are die-hard Silhouette users, like me.

Did you catch those few little words…. I have many friends who are from both sides. No matter what machine you use, you can still be friends. I promise!

Some people have a better time with a certain machine than others. All I can tell you is from my own experience.

So a bit of background on me, the owner behind Silhouette Secrets+. I purchased my very first machine many, many moons ago. It was the original Cricut machine, or commonly called the baby Cricut. It can cut 6″x 12″ and was perfect for a new beginner scrapbooker as myself. I thought it was great that I wouldn’t have to purchase letter stickers anymore for my layouts. I actually used this machine so much that I burned it up… literally, it started smoking & shorted out – it had a good life though & was well used. I then purchased a Cricut Create machine and had also purchased the Design Studio (the original Design Studio – an offline, on your computer software program), which I became very proficient at using and could do a lot in…. however, I felt the software was very limited and was frustrated that it just wouldn’t do as I wanted. I still kept on with it, because I am just that way. If I needed a bigger machine, I would borrow a friends and just kept plugging away with my cartridges.

The friend I borrowed the Expression from had once told me that I should really check out this new machine called a Silhouette and she could see me doing great things with it. I looked it up & at that time just couldn’t afford spending that much on my hobby as a Stay at Home mom. (ever wish you could go back and choose another path – I would have bought a Silhouette machine sooner – lol and she wouldn’t be able to tell me I told you so)

Now fast-forward a few years, we’ve moved to California, I’ve purchased my own Cricut Expression and I win a Silhouette Portrait in a digital scrapbooking contest. Let me tell you, I was over the moon. I fell in love at first use. And I immediately told my husband that this small Portrait wasn’t enough, I needed the bigger Cameo machine. And I did, I turned around and bought it, it was a must have.

That was 5 years ago. There was hardly a bit of information out there on how to use it, how to do this or that in the program. If it was out there, I found it & studied it. I played, I learned, I created…. I played more, I learned more and I created more….. I still love it.

Now, there is lots & lots of information on how to use your machine & how to make projects with your machine… Sometimes I feel there is too much, but that’s a post for another day.

Now we’ve moved to Virginia and I’ve had the opportunity to add several things to my resume. I’ve been able to attend a hands on retreat with Terri Johnson & was able to attend to the first ever TJC Licensing event. I felt that since I was now teaching people how to use their machines, as a Terri Johnson Licensed Instructor, that I should also be able to speak a bit on the other machine out there…. so I purchased a Cricut Air. And let me tell you, for months I regretted it…. actually being honest… I still do. It was money I could have spent on supplies to create with….. but, I’m here to tell you why I think that.

So here are my Pros and Cons on the Cricut Explore Air.

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Pros:

  • the Bluetooth connected quickly, very quickly – I learned the hard way that my computer was not equipped with a Bluetooth, so I did have to purchase a Dongle to get it to connect.
  • it is much quieter when it’s cutting
  • the purchased cut file I used worked beautifully
  • Close to My Heart has Exclusive Cricut cartridges and they are AMAZING! Over 700 images on one cartridge. Now that is a great value!!!

Cons:

  • the cut file I used was 12 pages and it had no color designations by paper, so I had to eyeball it and get my papers in order to cut them
  • the software to design & create your own designs is more difficult, it’s not just like other basic programs that you can use shortcuts and copy & paste, etc.
  • it is only accessible online – did you get that? You have to have a high speed internet connection at all times to use the program. That means if you are at a retreat & the wifi is slow…. you won’t be able to use your Cricut machine. Hope you packed other stuff 🙂
  • It will use up your data – something to keep in mind if you are limited to a certain amount of data each month, especially with the latest release of the DS3 software, it uses even more data than before
  • they are doing away with physical cartridges, so you will have to access everything online through their software
  • you can only save your designs to the Cricut program and if they are lost, they could be gone forever
  • the Cricut freebies are only good for a limited time, then you have to purchase the file to use it – many don’t realize this until they try to cut something a week after it was a freebie
  • I found it odd that after you’ve loaded the paper & clicked Go in the software, you then have to push Go on the machine itself…. I mean, really what is the point of the Bluetooth connection if you have to be within arms reach to get the machine to start cutting by pushing the button?

and now the Pros and Cons to the Silhouette machines:

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Pros:

  • I can save my designs where ever I want them – my external hard drive is my safe place… but the point is… it’s my design, I can save it outside of the program – always remember to back up your files to an outside source as well
  • there is a weekly freebie from the Silhouette store & I get to keep it in my Silhouette library forever, it’s FREE and it’s mine – they don’t take it away or make me pay for it – once I’ve downloaded it, it’s mine
  • the software is very much like other software programs – Ctrl + C is copy & Ctrl +v is paste, hold down the Alt button and move an image and it copies it…. so many of the same software things I’m used to are the same in this program
  • I can create my own designs within the program and they are mine.
  • I can work OFFLINE – this is a BIG one for me. I can work anywhere I want that has electricity. If I plan to not have any internet access, I can plan ahead and download any designs that I might think I want. Or I can just work with what I have in my library, my external hard drive, or anything I can create. I love not being tied to the internet access because we all know that it can be unpredictable.
  • You can upgrade your software to unlock additional features within the program – while some would disagree with me that it’s a pro, this is how I think of it. The Basic software is free to download for anyone. It is designed so you can cut any design within the Silhouette Design store easily. However, if you want to use an outside file such as an .svg file type, you would need to upgrade the software to allow it to open it. Much like an upgrade in a vehicle…. for it to do fancier stuff, you need to pay a fee for that.
  • I only need to be connected to the internet if I want to download a design. I can work completely offline if I’d like to.

Cons:

  • it is louder than the Cricut – but it’s a machine, it’s moving & working – I’m ok with that
  • the Bluetooth is still unreliable – I just find it’s much more efficient to plug it into my computer. While the idea of the Bluetooth is a nice feature, I can work around that.

So you are probably asking me “Why do you still have the Cricut? If you don’t like it, why keep it?”

Well there are a couple reasons:

  1. I tried to resell it. I couldn’t sell it for anything close to what I had invested in it. I didn’t even have one person interested.
  2. I am a Close to My Heart consultant as well as a TJC Silhouette Instructor – remember me saying you can have friends on both sides – well, I love the fact that CTMH has Cricut cuts that match the stamp sets… I don’t like to fussy cut around images and this is great. Their Cricut exclusive cartridges have over 700 images on them and I use those when I create with my Close to My Heart products and in my monthly card kits. (shhh don’t tell anyone…. I use my Silhouette too)
  3. What is 1 more cutting machine? I’m sure I don’t win the prize but I know you might ask or be curious….. I own…..
    – an original Cricut (in craft heaven), a Cricut Create, an Expression, an Explore Air, a Silhouette Cameo 1, a Silhouette Cameo 3 and just recently (still in the box) a Silhouette Curio. So is 6 cutting machines too many? I guess that is up for each person to decide. Each one does serve a purpose and have some life left in them… I have 3 kids and someday I’ll let them use my older Cricuts when they have a project they need complete themselves.

Now, remember when I said I have Cricut friends and I have Silhouette friends….
well we can all still be crafty friends!!!
Tell me – which one are you? Team Cricut or Team Silhouette?

Whether you are Team Cricut or Team Silhouette, I encourage you to get that machine out and play with it. Create with it, cut with it, make projects with it. Learn one thing and then move on to the next. If you don’t like it, maybe you need to switch sides. You are investing in a machine & it should work for you. Have fun with your machine!!!

Again, please remember this is my own personal views on the machine as an owner & crafter for many years. I am sure that I didn’t mention several pros & cons of the machines & I’m sure that I will think of something as soon as I click on publish. If you think of one, just comment below – I would love to hear your thoughts.

I hope this post helps anyone who is wondering about the differences in the machines. Like I said before, each person is different and will have their reasons why they like a machine. If it works for you & you are using it, that is what matters.

Now, go enjoy your machine!

Get Crafty!

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**Want to find out more on Terri Johnson retreats, Licensing events or find a Licensed Instructor near you, check out her blog HERE!
**Want to find out more on the CTMH Exclusive Cricut Cartridges with over 700 images on them – click HERE!

Quick gifts

I love being able to whip up a quick gift to send to a friend.

I had a towel in my stash & it seemed to be whispering my name. So I went shopping in the Silhouette Design store to find a cut file I liked.


After a measurement error & my 2nd scrap of black HTV, I ended up with a nice, simple gift I could throw in my care package.

Yes, even seasoned Silhouette users make mistakes. And do you know, often times you learn more from making a mistake than not. At least in my experience, I remember things better the next time when I’ve made a mistake or had to research how to do something. Does that mean I won’t make the same mistake again? No! But I may laugh at myself more the next time!

How do you learn to use the machine? You play, you practice, you research, you create!

I love learning what new technique or new project I can do with my Silhouette Cameo.

Enjoy!

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Glass cutting board design

This is a great project for a a great personalized gift.
These glass cutting boards are textured on the top. Personally, I don’t think they make a good cutting board as they are textured on top but it makes a great coaster in my craft room.
Of course, if you have been following my blog or my Facebook group, you know I like wine designs…. wine decor, wine…. well anything wine – lol.

With these glass cutting boards, you mirror your image on the Silhouette software before you cut it and then apply on the back side of the cutting board.
I used Oracal 651 vinyl on this project, so it has a more “permanent” bond.

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Once you have the design cut, you can carefully weed the design and leave the image you want to transfer onto your project. Using your transfer tape to place your image on the back of the cutting board.
Also as a note, vinyl is not food safe, so this is a great reason to apply it to the back of the cutting board.
Next, you burnish your design down really good and carefully peel back your transfer tape.
Done!

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There you go – a quick simple project!
Now, I found this cutting board at our local Dollar Tree… however, they keep getting harder to find.
You can pick up a glass cutting board anywhere and personalize it.
These would be hand wash only as vinyl is not dishwasher safe.
Also as a note, vinyl is not food safe, so this is a great reason to apply it to the back of the cutting board.

Enjoy!
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Classroom decor

One thing I love about having my Silhouette Cameo is being able to help out my kid’s teacher’s with bulletin boards and other projects they have in the classroom.

I feel out teacher’s could use all the help they can get in the classroom and since I have little ones at home, I am unable to be in the classroom and volunteer, so I want to offer my help in other ways.

This year I have made a few things for my son’s Pre-K classroom including these decorations for the Dad’s Sports Night.

My love for the Silhouette started with paper crafts and has expanded to so much more, but I have not let the paper crafting go. I recommend having a separate blade for each type of medium you cut, such as vinyl, card stock, fabric, etc. I start my blade when it’s brand new as a vinyl blade and when it gets to where it’s not cutting as crisp, I graduate it into a card stock blade and just rotate it to a new job. When it gets to the point it’s not cutting well at all, then it’s time for a new one.

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I found a couple sports related images in the Silhouette Design store and just click buy and start cutting.

One thing that helps when cutting paper is having the right adhesive to glue things down. I love this Dual Action Glue Pen from Close to My Heart when I’m working with small detailed images.

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When working will really small details such as the baseball stitches I love the Xyron sticker maker. As you can see I don’t even use the little “X” part of the machine any longer… I just stick my object in the adhesive roll and pull it out the other end and use scissors to cut it off.

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For all the larger paper areas my favorite adhesive is this tape runner by Scrapbook Adhesive 3L.  It has been my go to for as long as I can remember and I’ve found a great online store to stock up on this as I go through it quickly when making cards. I highly recommend Scrapbookpal.com and order from them when I need to replenish my supplies. They even have free shipping over $25 and it’s quick.

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Here is the titles I made for the classroom door.

I typed out my title and then created an offset around it and welded that offset, so I would be able to cut the outline in black.

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Owning a Silhouette Cameo allows me to be creative and help out in so many ways and I enjoy every minute of it.

What are our working on today?

Enjoy!
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Halloween decor – yes that’s right!

Halloween is of course several months in the past, but when you can pick something up on clearance…. why wait until next year to finish it.
I found a couple signs at Target that were perfect to add vinyl to.

I had a couple files from the Silhouette store & they were perfect for these…..

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With my first design, I weeded the large area first & then I applied my transfer tape & uses a technique commonly called “reverse weeding” in the Vinyl crafting lingo.

How do you reverse weed?

Burnish your design well, so it all sticks to your transfer tape.
Then peel the backing off of your vinyl design & very carefully weed out the bits of vinyl from the delicate parts of your image.
This works especially well if you have small eye pieces or small dots for letters, etc. It does take some practice to get the hang of it.
The first time I did it, I hated it because my transfer tape kept sticking to me.
But, the more you practice & get the hang of it, the more you fall in love with the technique & use it for those delicate designs that you don’t want your pieces moving on.
In my design, I used this for the spider web that was in the center of my “O”.

After weeding my design, I then carefully placed my design on my sign & burnished it down really well. Then I carefully peeled the transfer tape off, watching for any vinyl that did not come off the transfer tape and I would put it back down & burnish it some more to get it to stick.

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And my second design, also from the Silhouette Design Store.

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Now these are ready to pull out for next year and will go perfectly in my dining room that has a wine theme.

Whenever you get the chance to grab some decor items at a discount, grab them, but don’t let them sit around too long without adding all the finishing touches.

Enjoy!
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Quick gift – I love Rhinestones 

Rhinestones – once you start, it’s addictive and you just want to make more.
I held off as long as I could, until I took Terri Johnson Creates hands on retreat last July.
In her class, we designed our own rhinestone design and cut it out. After that one design, I was hooked and started shopping in the Silhouette store for more.
This one jumped out at me and I knew I’d be making some for my nieces in the future.

I had just ordered some supplies from The Rhinestone World and had the opportunity to make these as quick gifts to send with my husband on a trip.

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So with this magic flock you cut the design with your machine and then peel it off the backing – rip it like a band aid gets the best results. If it has cut well, the little holes will stay on the backing and you can just scrape them off…..

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You can then lay the sticky design down on a safe surface, press it and peel it back again to get more of the circles to stick out.

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I then look for any that didn’t come out, remove those and put it back on the backing paper.

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Now, sprinkle your rhinestones on top of your template and rub them around until all the holes are full.
Once all the stones are in place, using heat transfer tape, lay it over top of your design and burnish. Carefully life it up and make sure the rhinestones are stuck to the heat transfer tape.

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Place your heat transfer on the shirt where you want it and I used an iron with a board under it and lots of pressure on high heat with a teflon sheet to set the stones on the shirt.

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I love the ability to make a gift up really quickly and hope you enjoy making rhinestone designs as much as I do.

I would highly recommend attending a retreat by Terri Johnson Creates, you will learn so much and be able to try all kinds of new projects.
The possibilities are endless with the Silhouette Cameo!!!

Enjoy!
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Customized cards with my Silhouette Cameo

I love being able to create these customized cards for friends, especially for special occasions…
A friend of mine just received the results of her dental hygiene exam and I thought I would create a unique card for her.
I found all the designs in the Silhouette Store and loved that I could just click buy and then get to cutting.
You can find the Congratulations Pop & Twist card file HERE.
Find the Tooth file HERE.
Find the Dentist tools HERE.

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You can see a short video of how this card works HERE.

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I took the tooth cut file and resized it down to make a bunch of teeth confetti to include inside the pop & twist card. And then I stuffed it into the envelope.
Just a tip… I even measured this card and it was under the weight limit but U.S.P.S still returned it for more postage. You just never know.
Sometimes with these fancy fold cards they can get to be a bit thick and you need to allow for extra postage.
I thought I was good this time, but guess not!

Now while you can find instructions on how to create these fancy cards such as Twist & Pop or Cards in a Box, I still prefer to use my Cameo machine and let it do the work for me.

What kind of fancy cards will you try with your Cameo?
Enjoy!
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Design Class – Lesson 1-3

Last week, Silhouette School announced her new book called The Ultimate Silhouette Guide to Designing in Silhouette Studio and I just had to grab it. I didn’t even wait for her contest to win a free copy to end, I just clicked Add to cart, paid & downloaded it.

Why would you want to make your own designs?
Here are just a few reasons:
– you learn a lot about the software by creating your own designs,
– if you cannot find something that you want to use, you can create your own,
– if you want to sell items you need to use your own designs or purchase Commercial Use products to use in your sale items – don’t forget to research Trademark & Copyrights.
Just because you CAN create it does not mean you legally can use it!!!

I was able to sit down and work through a few lessons this past weekend and thought I’d show you what we did.
We created our own little snowman, from scratch…. just using basic tools.
And we will be adding on to this as we go.
This is the design I had when I finished Lesson 3.

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Now, I’ve been designing or creating my own designs since Day 1 of using my Silhouette machine, but you can always learn new things & new ways to do things.
So I jumped and I’ll tell you what…. I learned new things in the first few pages.
It took all my will power not to skip over the first few pages of the Tool definitions and buttons, but let me tell you DON’T SKIP IT!
I resisted the urge and I learned several new buttons and tools and that was just in the first few pages.
I’ll tell you, I am excited to continue in the class and hope to keep showing you my design as we go.
You can always learn more about your software program!

Enjoy!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Where ever you are, I hope that you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

After hubby asked me if I could make a pop up flower card, I just had to try out several that I found….
In my last blog post, I showed you a card in a box bouquet that I found in the Silhouette store – you can see that HERE. But I found several others….. how do you ask? Well, Pinterest of course!!! That is my go to source for ideas… I’ll either browse the front page or if I’m looking for something specific, I will use the search function and see what cool things it will bring in to my life that I must make. You can find my Silhouette Pinterest page HERE for all thins I’ve pinned Silhouette related, but I also try to keep things organized in folders so I can find things easily when I get the time to make them.

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I used the cut file I found at Paper Pulse for the Rose pop up card and cut the pieces out of card stock. And then I referenced her instructions on how to piece it together and assemble the card.

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I used the CTMH Stamp of the Month from January and colored it in with the Shin Han markers.

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I cut the card base and inside from a retired CTMH paper pack called La Vie En Rose.

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And then I used my Envelope Punch and created an envelope for my pop up card.

I hope you have a wonderful day!

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