Curio And Cameo - What To Expect
Several years ago I wanted to design my own stencils for airbrushing. I remember thinking that it would be great if someone invented an affordable machine for the home that would make it possible. At the time the Cricut® was new but It was not an option for me because I wanted to create my own designs. I did not want to have to pay for cartridges full of artwork that didn’t suit my needs. I longed for a machine with software that would allow me to create independently. I never thought I would see it happen. Then Silhouette America made my dreams come true by introducing a stencil cutting machine. I have been cutting happily ever since and in 2014 I upgraded to the Silhouette CAMEO®. My original machine was adopted into a loving and creative home.
When the newer Curio was introduced around the summer of 2015, I looked forward to learning what it could do. It was confusing at first. Information about the machine at the time was sparse. The lack of online information made it difficult to decide if Curio was something I needed. Of course, that has all changed. Now you'll find abundant information to address most every question you may have.
I guess it was inevitable that the new Curio share space on my counter top along side the CAMEO because, there they are. I have been experimenting and comparing the two. There is a good deal to tell you and many misconceptions to dispel regarding each machine. I am finally ready to share what I have learned, focusing on the questions I had last summer but could not get answered. If you are interested in buying a machine but remain unsure of which would best suit you, I hope this article sheds some light on the subject.
The Big Kahuna
The CAMEO is the king of the hill when it comes to size. With its original 12” x 12” and now 12” x 24” mat it can accommodate oversized projects. Using vinyl, lengths can reach up to 10 feet long. This is ideal for banners and other extended projects.
Curio cannot compete in size. Out of the box, it has a tray that provides space for mats measuring 8.50" x 6”. If you need something larger, there is also a tray you can buy that measures 8.50" x 12" for around $40, as of today on Amazon. Keep in mind, you would then also need the larger cutting and embossing mat. Unlike the CAMEO, there is no way to attach a roll of any kind to create banners with Curio.
This is where the CAMEO moves to the back of the bus while Curio capably takes the driver's seat. CAMEO was originally designed with one job in mind, cutting. Curio is an overachiever, giving you the option of cutting, embossing, etching, sketching, scoring and stippling. While both machines can handle various materials, the CAMEO does not deal with thicker projects. That is one of Curio’s best features. A deep cutting blade available at an additional cost, adds to that feature. Look at the space between the blades and mats on both machines and you will see why the CAMEO cannot process thick materials.
Another difference in capabilities has to do with portability. A USB port allows the CAMEO to function without a computer attached. Curio does not have that option.
Both machines are compatible with Silhouette’s PixScan™ technology which allows you to cut precisely around a printed image or position cut lines in just the right spot on your project material.
In my opinion, the CAMEO is a true paper crafter's machine while Curio is a jack of all trades machine... and master of each of them! There have been discussions about embossing with the CAMEO. It can be done but only with certain materials, and unfortunately not the usual suspects - regular paper and card stock. You can find details at the Silhouette School for embossing metal and thin vellum. It involves adhering a spongy material to a cutting mat and using paper crafting embossing tools in the blade holder. While it can get the job done, the results may or may not be impressive. It depends on your expectations. I have read that third party tools combined with the CAMEO will help with embossing and stippling but I have no experience in this area. Silhouette America does not suggest using Curio tools with the CAMEO machine.
Curio has its own embossing mat, and two different size tools for the job. Although Silhouette America says they cannot guarantee results with anything other than their embossing paper, I embossed a 65lb. card stock with excellent results. With this machine, embossing can be performed on several types of materials successfully including polymer clay and some metals. For my white card stock design I used the score and emboss setting.
The Same But Different
Both machines have some design concepts in common. They each have a carriage that moves left and right and a cutting mat that moves in and out of the housing. They both also have adjustable blade settings. The biggest difference, besides the raised structure of the Curio, is “platforms”. These are thick sheets that are added or subtracted to the tray depending on the type of project you are doing. They easily snap onto the corners. Adding a platform brings your project closer to the blades. Removing a platform lowers your work allowing the blades to only come in light contact. The platforms account for the versatility of this brilliantly designed machine.
One Blade Two Blade
So what could possibly be better than a machine that cuts with one blade? A machine that allows you to cut with two blades or use two tools in one operation. If you are sketching a project that also needs to be cut to a certain shape, both are achieved without removing the mat. Two tool holders allow even more options, like embossing and stippling the same project.
I have read more than one post by new Curio owners complaining that the CAMEO is easy to plug in and use immediately but Curio requires a longer learning curve. Their disgruntled comments are possibly the result of unrealistic expectations. Comparing the CAMEO and Curio is like comparing learning to sew with a needle and thread and learning with a sewing machine. Yes, with Curio there is more with which to get familiar but look at what the machine offers! This is no simple cutter but rather a sophisticated piece of equipment that manipulates wood, glass, leather, polymer clay, vinyl, plastic, paper, and more.
In addition to the wealth of information on the subject at the Silhouette School, you'll find more resources by following blogs and websites like mine. It's a good place to get insights into what other owners are learning and what settings they are using to achieve optimal results. Clay cut Curio, as well as CAMEO projects can be found in the title, "Silhouette" on my navigation bar.
It’s All In The Details
It would be an impossible challenge for Silhouette America to conceive of every single project crafters might want to create with Curio or the materials they might want to use. While the Silhouette Studio® software suggests settings for many materials, you should test them on a small sample to determine if any adjustments need to be made. In my experience, the critical first step is to use the ideal number of platforms. Once that is achieved, changes in settings can be used to fine tune results.
If you own the latest Silhouette Studio® Designer Edition software, you will notice that the embossing and stippling icons appear in the upper right menu bar. You cannot use these icons unless your computer is plugged into a Curio machine and it is turned on. Only then can you explore the many options available.
This article would not be complete without mentioning that the AMAZING Silhouette Studio® software reaches across all their machines. If you buy a new Silhouette machine, even The Mint ink stamp maker, you will not have to learn how to use new software. The software is very user friendly and surprisingly advanced. If you missed my loud announcements, in 2016 I published a full color book myself using nothing but the Silhouette Studio® software.
I have spent many late hours learning Curio's capabilities especially as it relates to polymer clay. I have more publications in the works covering the topics of cutting, stippling and embossing clay with Curio.
Am I excited about Curio? You bet! But I am not myopic enough to think it is the one machine for everyone. Determining factors include the type of projects you create now and will create in the future. My CAMEO and the Silhouette machine that came before it, have teamed up to produce some remarkable projects and hand crafted memories. Although the CAMEO is now sharing counter space with Curio, it is just as valuable to me as it has been in the past. These machines sit idle while I write this article, waiting for my direction, ready to offer me unlimited creative freedom on my next project. Why wouldn’t I be excited!