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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Silhouette Cameo Blades Update

One of my most popular pages is the one about the Silhouette Cameo replacement blades.  If you haven't read it yet, it can be found here.  I am long over-due for the promised update!  I could pretend that I wanted to wait as long as possible to fully trial the blades, but that just isn't true - life keeps intruding on my blog plans.

So as many of you know I have both a facebook and Etsy shop which means I use my Silhouette Cameo a lot!  It isn't just basic shapes I cut with it, but intricate paper cuts and cards like this;


So any replacement blade that I use has to be both economical, precise and hard wearing.

When I first started using my replacement blades, I encountered the same frustration as figuring out the blade settings when I first got my machine.  Because the blade holder I use doesn't have pre-set lengths, you have to wind it by hand and determine if the blade length is suitable by eye!  A lot of websites I viewed suggested measuring the original silhouette cameo lengths (1-10) on a piece of paper and imitating them with my replacement holder; that just isn't going to work.  Typically the blade has to be more pronounced than the original silhouette blade holder or else it doesn't cut through.

If I am to be completely honest, I didn't think that this would be a viable option in the early days, as when cutting my usual 160gsm card I had to have the blade so pronounced it was leaving score marks when simply moving across the card.  With a little trial and error, I soon found that inverting the image (so it cuts out back to front) meant that any score lines would be on the reverse and therefore not visible once assembled.

The only other negative that I can think of is that when higher pressure settings are being used, (anything above 27) the blade holder has a tendency to slide out of the cameo coupling.  I have found a way round this though - I simply wrapped a tiny bit of chalk board vinyl around the blade holder and it gripped the coupling with no problems at all.

These were the only negatives I have found with the replacement blades and as they were easily remedied they don't really cause a problem at all.  Yes it does take a lot of initial trial and error to find the right blade settings, but after this you are all set to go!

The best thing about this replacement blade and holder is that you can purchase different blade angles for cutting different materials.  Also no annoying bits of paper gets stuck in the shaft as there is a pump mechanism that easily clears any paper blockages.

I am so far only on my third blade and have been using it for about 6 months now.  As mentioned before, it is used almost daily and I am much happier with how long the blades last compared to the actual silhouette cameo ones.

I cannot recommend this highly enough!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Adjusting your expectations for craft fairs

Now I have always thought that craft fairs were for you to sell your items - I mean what is the point of paying all the money for a stand/table, working like a loon in the run up to get as much stock ready as possible and then spending a long old day with a smile pasted on your face engaging with potential customers?

Well according to the latest stream of articles and blogs out there, I have it wrong :( With limited disposable income and everyone trying to look after the pennies, craft fair splurges seem to be a thing of the past.  Don't get me wrong, some people are managing to sell enough to make a living at craft fairs, but for most your expectations are sure to be dashed if you don't change them.

I mentioned in my last post about how I had had a terrible craft fair at the beginning of August, and how my two day bank holiday vintage fair was make or break as far as repeating them was concerned - well sadly it was break :(  I spent 70+ hours revising my stock and trying to gear it towards items that I thought would sell well at a vintage fair and it seems that still it wasn't enough.


I was sure these 1950s half aprons would be a hit!  The feedback on facebook had been immense and so imagine my surprise when not a single one sold.


I knew that Marilyn Monroe was always a firm favorite, especially among vintage lovers and this frame was beautiful!  A layered paper cut of Marilyn Monroe, what's not to love?  Sadly the facebook feedback was a hit, but at the craft fair I had very little interest for her.


I knew from experience that the Rockabilly gang loved to frequent the establishment that the craft fair was being held at and in their honour (and as they are a secret love of mine) I whipped up these Munsters, Herman and Lily layered paper cuts.  There hadn't been much love for them on facebook, but my husband was greedily eyeing them up and at the craft fair I had a couple swooning over them for ages - I was sure I had a sale - sadly not.



I got very obsessed with these reversible hand bags and ended up making 7!  Family and friends were in love with them and I had hints about Christmas presents from all and sundry - when they didn't sell at the craft fair I was really shocked.  There was some interest, but no one even came close to a purchase.

I also whipped up hair bandannas and re-jigged all of my displays - in fact my layout was the best yet!





Over-all the feeback I received was great - my online sales are increasing and I have people from all over the world purchasing my items - the only thing I can think of is perhaps the price puts people off impulse buys at craft fairs - there really is no solution to this.  I barely make minimum wage on most of my items and so it is impossible to lower them - this is after all a business.  I think we are in a society of bargain hunters and handmade attracts the opinion of "well if she made it, so can I" people don't understand how expensive the equipment is or how my experience and design flair is something that has taken a while to build up.

People are being advised to see craft fairs as a way to exhibit your work - the aim should be people taking business cards away and you making a great impression on them.  Personally I believe that my time (and money) may be more effectively spent on online advertising as I should be able to reach a much wider potential audience than I can at craft fairs.  Of course it could just be that I haven't sold at a event that is right for me and my products.

I have 3 more craft events this year that I had previously agreed to - I will be doing these and unless there is a major turn around in buying habits, I think that will be it for me.