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Friday, July 29, 2016

Silhouette - One Color Vinyl Cutting and Application

When I first bought my Silhouette, I was a little bit overwhelmed with the software and the capabilities of the machine, so I decided to go to a local class to become acclimated with it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the software interacts very similarly to Photoshop in design aspects, so I became much more comfortable with it.  The class helped me to figure out the general process for cutting and I wanted to share some basic info with you today, just in case you are new to the machine or need a little refresher course.

The following information is how I cut and apply vinyl to a project, but the general cutting information would hold true for any cutting project.  Two important things I learned about using my Silhouette with vinyl:

**  Glossy Vinyl = Permanent (use on most projects such as cups, etc. that will receive hard use)
     Matte Vinyl = Removeable (use on walls or other short-term projects that you will want to easily change)
**You do not have to use a full sheet of vinyl when cutting.  This may seem self-explanatory to you, but, it was quite freeing for me to know that I could just cut a small piece and save the rest.  Of course, it also means that I can save every scrap because it could be used at a later time. This is especially important when you are doing a design with different colors or several designs at one time, which I often do.

This particular tutorial is for basic, one-color vinyl cutting and application.
Let's get started.

  1.         I always move my image to the upper left corner, to conserve as much space as possible.  Looking at the measurements, I can tell that I will need a piece of vinyl approx. 4"w x 5" tall.

2.     I don’t have a picture of this part, but . . .If you are using a brand new cutting mat, it will be too sticky.  This sounds weird, but turn it face down on a rug or other fabric surface and press down and remove a couple of times to make it a little bit less sticky.  If you don’t do this, you may not be able to get your pieces off after cutting.

3.     Position the piece of vinyl on your cutting mat, in the same spot as your design is located.  

4.     Click on the “Cut Settings” icon in the top right of your Silhouette software.   Here you will see all the settings appropriate for your cut.  Be sure that you have selected “vinyl” as your material type.

5.     Now, take your blade out of your machine by turning the handle to the left so that it will pop up.  Check what number it is set on.  (Mine was set on #3).

6.     Looking back at my “Cut Settings”, I can see that the recommended blade setting is for #1.  Personally, I have found that it does not always cut through at #1, so I prefer a #2 setting. 

7.     To change my blade, I set it in the hole in the front of my machine.

8.     Turn the blade handle until you see the 2.

9.     Drop the blade back in its holder.

10. Turn the handle to the right to secure the blade.  Now you are ready to cut.

11. Load your machine by lining up the left edge of your mat with the raised line on the Silhouette bed.  I keep one hand on the mat while I press the ENTER key.   Occasionally, it will grab the mat and pull it in crooked.  If this happens, press the ENTER key again to unload and try again.  It is important that it load straight.

12. This is what it looks like when it is loaded and ready to go.

13. Be sure that you have clicked “out” of the design boundary, so that the design boundary is no longer showing.  I learned the hard way that if not, it will just cut the portion of the design that is outlined and in some cases, that is not the entire design that you are trying to cut. (this picture shows the design boundary—Click out of this so it is not showing)

14. Press the “Send to Silhouette” button at the bottom of your screen.

15. Once cut, you will press the "ENTER" button to unload the cut.  It is sometimes hard to even tell unless you have really good lighting.

16. Carefully peel away the unwanted vinyl from around your design.

17. Use a pick to get the small inner pieces.

18. Cover your design with transfer tape.  I try to always be sure that I have a straight line at the top and bottom to make positioning easier.
(I have some Main Tape Transfer Tape left from other projects, so that is what you will see me using.  The process would be the same for Cricut brand, Expressions brand or whatever, but they might sheet style, rather than a roll.)

19. Use the side of your fingernail or the handle of your pick to burnish the vinyl to the tape by rubbing all over the design.

20. Carefully lift the tape from the design, making sure that the vinyl adheres in all areas.

21. Place the design on your surface and burnish again with your fingernail or handle of the pick.  Pay special attention to any thin, curly areas of your design.

22. Lift one corner of the tape to be sure that the vinyl is adhering to the surface.

23. Slowly remove all of the transfer tape.

24. If you find an area where the vinyl is not sticking to your surface, place the tape back down and burnish that area again.

25. Remove the tape and Voila’! 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

July Instagram Challenge

Well, here it is  . . . The end of another month.  The summer is passing so quickly, but this year, the swiftness of the day's does not bother me so much because retirement means an "eternal summer" of sorts.   The month of June has been a scorcher here, so I can only imagine what July has to offer.  Let's think cool and have a little fun with these Instagram prompts.  Just like previous months, take a photo each day, interpreting the prompt however you'd like.  If you get behind or need to skip a few days, it's no big deal.  Just jump back in whenever you can.  Be sure to label your photos with the hashtag listed below.

For more information about what I do with my Instagram photos and "photo-a-day" photos once I've posted them, check out this blog post from last year.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Wedding Work

For the last couple of years, I occasionally help my friend Vickie in her florist business, Young Blooms.  She is a small business that operates out of her own home, and she hires friends to help out from time to time.  Her latest project was the wedding of one of our mutual friends' daughter's wedding.  The family has been a family friend of my family for many years and I have watched Alissa grown up from infancy.  About a week ago, I met with Vickie to make last-minute plans and to look for a few floral accessories that she needed.  Allisa and her fiance' had chosen navy, gray and pink for the wedding and they both love roses and peonies (who doesn't, right??).  Then, this week, I spent all day Thursday helping her (and a friend, Megan) prepare anything that could be done in advance.

I was on "bow duty", so as Vickie and Megan completed the boutonnieres, I added ribbon.
and made pew bows.
We also created all of the arrangements for the reception tables before heading down to the chapel to begin work on the requested arch.
The construction of the arch was tricky, but by the end of the day, the chapel was looking like this:
Because the wedding was scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, we needed to have as much as possible in place by Friday night, so we returned that afternoon to place all except the most delicate flowers.  There was quite a bit of engineering involved in counter-balancing the weight of the flower blocks that would be used in the center of the arch, and we were all completely exhausted by the time we left, but everything was beginning to look so pretty!
Saturday morning, I was scheduled to meet Vickie at the chapel at 7 a.m. to put on the finishing touches before heading to reception venue to set up things.  Unfortunately, I set my alarm for the wrong time and just happened to awake at 6:45, jump out of bed and into the shower.  Ron was completely stunned by how fast I got ready---and I was so relieved that the chapel was only a 5 minute drive from my house!!  I made it there before Vickie arrived and was able to place the outdoor plants (beautiful white hydrangeas) before she got there.  
Her husband and I climbed the ladders and wired the centerpiece in place.  Vickie really outdid herself--the chapel looked beautiful!  
We drove back to their house, loaded up both of our vehicles with the sweetest smelling cargo you can imagine!   Vickie joked that it reminded her of the lines in "Steel Magnolias"  when Shelby corrects her mother about the colors of her wedding:
M'Lynn:  "Her colors are pink and pink."
Shelby:  "My colors are blush and bashful, Mother."
Poor Vickie woke up ill Saturday morning, so I was so glad she had planned for me to help out on Saturday--it took a little bit of the load off of her.  I was able to take some photos for her portfolio, which was fun.  Here are few of my favorites.
I love working with Vickie and am beginning to learn some basics about floral arrangement.  One of my favorite elements that Alissa and Kellan included was using their bicycles in the reception decorations.  Vickie designed flowers to go on them while I hand-lettered a sign for the back
and added some wording to the tiny cans that she'd painted.  
The wedding so perfectly reflected the couple.  Their personalities were evident in every aspect of the celebration and I couldn't be happier for them and their families.

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