I love technology. Art + Technology = Love. Every time.
I also love my 5 year old son to the moon and back. All day. Every day. It never stops. Angel + Any Single Minute = Love.
Around the time he was born I decided to give up (for the time being) most art. For me, art usually comes from a dark and maniacal place and I made the decision not to live in that place anymore. For a long time I suffered over this in a lot of ways- I wanted to do something with my love of art, but I wanted to be a good mother. I wanted to be able to smile and laugh and play and swing and bake and and and! And if I was crying all the time as I drew then that stuff wasn’t likely going to happen.
Finally, though, just the last year I’ve been able to start focusing all of the skills I’ve learned toward creating things for my son. And myself. And other people. But my son was my inspiration to change. To go forward. Move ahead. Get straight.
Now there is Art + Angel + Technology = EXPLODED ECHO. Overload.
While designing my last shadowbox project my next one hit me like a bolt. I opened illustrator and drew this-
So. Cool. I mean, really. I’m just going to pat myself on the back here for a minute if it’s okay with everyone.
It was easy. It was fluid. It was something he’d never have if it wasn’t custom made. So I made it. Because it was super fun. And as always, I was more excited than anyone. Bringing my visions to life at my tiny desk is more exciting than I can bear. I am working and learning and every day I am Jeff Goldblum in The Fly- I’m getting… better.
At least, I will be. But for now this is my favorite thing I’ve done with my Cameo and now I’ll show you most of the steps in case anyone else wants to give it a go!
As I mentioned, I started by drawing my idea up in Illustrator. I used the symmetrical character method I’ve referenced many times when sharing my creations. I may do an updated tutorial on the method using stroke paths. It’s a little different and if you’re not a frequent user you may get stumped.
After exporting my .DXF file from Illustrator to Silhouette I added customized cut lines (you’ll see those in action a bit later), set my blade to 2, turned the machine settings in Silhouette Studio to Silhouette brand vinyl (I wasn’t using that, I was using Oracal 651) and sent to Silhouette. The magic of this machine, I tell ya what!
This isn’t exactly a tutorial. It’s more of a walkthrough. If I can do this, honestly, anyone can do it.
I grabbed my picking tool, my spatula tool and my squeegee. I started peeling away the whitespace areas. As you do, you’ll literally have white space!
Ahh, the therapy you wont need after a good weeding session! The pick tool is very important for this. Even though I bent mine within a week or so of buying it is has been indispensable for me. In the right image below you can see where I am weeding with my hands- that is the benefit of extra cut lines. Rather than trying to peel around the curves I simply peeled strips from the center out and did not have any of this excess vinyl stick to the vinyl I needed to keep.
Using your transfer medium (I just use clear contact paper from Dollar Tree. So far, so good! Some people have complained about it but I’ve had zero problems thus far.) peel that from its backing and lay your vinyl (still on its backing) onto the transfer backing, then lay the sticky transfer medium down on top. Use your squeegee (or the handle of your scissors, that works just as well) to scrub all over your vinyl area very well. Slowly peel the contact paper up again. Your vinyl should be stuck to it. GO SLOW! If anything doesn’t stick lay that back down right away and rub over that section again. Sometimes I have to do this several times because I miss areas. It went really well with Spidey, though!
Set your vinyl and contact paper aside, sticky sides UP! Cut the backing from your contact paper in half and lay it down right about the middle of the image. For the second piece, overlap it just a bit with the first piece. This is going to make applying it -so- -much- -easier-.
Backing still on, trim the bottom area beneath the letters so that there is as close to no margin beneath them as possible. I also trimmed around my Spidey so that 1. There was less material to wield and 2. I could see where he matched up on the edges. This was designed and scaled to fit this frame exactly so I wanted it as close to perfect as I could muster! When you’re happy with the placement, use Scotch tape on one half to secure your picture in place. This is where the paper on the back, cut in half and overlapped, comes in so handy!
As you peel the backing, squeegee the design onto the glass.
Hinge method! FTW!
Great job. Have you done this before? ; ) After going over my contact paper thoroughly (but not too roughly, this is glass, man) I peeled it off and it left the vinyl behind. If your vinyl sticks to your transfer medium (it really shouldn’t) just lay it back down and go over as you did to pick the vinyl up in the first place.
Um. The pretty girl in the grad cap isn’t really part of this.
Alright. It’s time to get honest. This is the place where the wheels 100% fell off and I had no idea how to go forward. My plan was super simple- print on vellum, cut with Cameo, affix to back of glass. This would make little gaps sometimes between the outlines and the red silhouette depending on the viewing angle. Dimension. Cuteness.
While the previous steps, the steps that should have made me lose my mind as a beginner with this, went smoothly and beautifully, this next step was a complete nightmare.
I think my Cameo is misconfigured or something. Print and cut sometimes creates a rhombus instead of a square.
… I haven’t been able to get any help with this yet. And while this is a big problem, this is just the problem I have when it finally decides to read the registration mark. Because first it refuses to do that sixteen kabillion times. I’ve tried adding light. The sensor does not seem to be blocked- it just doesn’t turn on in the first place.
So, while I love my cameo, until I can get support from Silhouette (which I will pursue soon) I have to be honest. Print and Cut is NOT my friend. When it works, it is amazing. But usually it does not work.
After a few hours (I’m not exaggerating) effort Spidey silhouette in red finally print and cut. There was a lot of wasted vellum, but fortunately I bought it rather cheaply on clearance. With him printed and the square cut to size I used my Elmer’s Craft Bond Permanent Roller along the back of my outlines (inside the glass, anywhere it went onto the glass where there were not black outlines I simply used a nail to scrape it back inside the outlines), set up a flashlight to shine through the front, carefully lined up my vellum and pressed it into the adhesive.
And that was that. After taping lights from a set of battery powered LED lights along the inside walls (battery box with on/off switch is outside box, I may attach it to the side but have not yet- the cord did not prevent the back from closing) my project was done.
My favorite part of this? My son has the only one in the whole freakin’ world. I mean, I’m sure there’s something similar out there, but this one is HIS.
And an unlit shot, which I think looks just as awesome (the photo is way better as well). You can see more of the shadow and dimension in this photo.
There you have it. I can’t say what number project this is for me with my Cameo, but I’m still very early on. Within the first 10 I’d say. I’ve done 3 cups and 2 shadowboxes before this. A picture frame. I’m not sure what else. I printed and cut a few gift tags. Oh, and birthday invitations.
Most of those will be featured in an upcoming blog post or two.
Have a Silhouetty Sunday!