Tag Archives: silhouette cameo

More bookbinding

Winter is a great time to look outside at the cold rain and bare trees and stay in and bind books instead. Below are three projects from last week.

Book 1

Upholstery fabric makes great book cloth. It’s thick enough that it doesn’t need backing paper to keep the glue from coming through. It’s substantial enough that it doesn’t tend to bubble or warp. And it often has interesting textures that work well for a book cover. I love the fabric for book 1, the way it fits on the cover, the feel, and the sheen. Upholstery fabric can be pricy, but the retail price is similar to prepared book cloth. The fabric for book 1 was an $8 remnant; this project took at most 1/5 of that fabric. That’s not bad at all.

I did a coptic stitch with red waxed linen thread. At $16 a spool, it’s pricey, but it is a lot of thread. I’d estimate one spool could sew very roughly about 50 books of this size.


I did my very first box for this project, following this set of videos for guidance. Sage Reynolds YouTube channel seems like an excellent source for book binding expertise. I’m sure I’ll be back there.bookbind-04049 bookbind-04048

Book 2- Dragonfly journal

For Book 2, I did my first long stitch book. For this binding, you simply sew through the spine. It was quick and pretty painless. I added a dragonfly embellishment to the cover, which I designed in illustrator, and had my Silhouette Cameo cut out. Another use for a favored toy. (Read more on the Cameo.)bookbind-04040 bookbind-04037

Book 3- Mad Scientist Lab Notebook

Book 3 features more raised details. Again, I did a coptic stitch. The endpaper I printed using the Silhouette Cameo’s art pen. It took a long time to draw all those paths, but I am in love with the result. The black slipcase (my second box!) features a mushroom cloud, cut with the Silhouette Cameo.


The cover features a radioactivity symbol. I’m really excited about the mad scientist theme, so I’ll probably do more of these.bookbind-04034


Some More Fun with Pop-Ups

I’ve written a few times about my interest in pop-ups on this blog. I’ve played around with making them and I’ve found some toys with which to make them better. But pop-ups can be hard, and after a lot of play, I found myself a little discouraged. I would try and try, but I wouldn’t seem to approach a working solution. I put my pop-ups aside for a bit.

Then, last weekend, I took a pop-up book class through a local club. The class was instructed by Carol Barton, who has written several pop-up instructional books, as well as produced several artistic pop-up books. We made dozens of pop-ups in the class, ranging from very simple to more complex. We talked about different kinds of folds and cuts. Some of my pop-ups worked, some didn’t. My classmates experimented too. Carol was an excellent teacher, helping us to think intuitively about the pop-up rather than strictly mathematically. I came out of the weekend feeling much more confident. I might still make mistakes, but I work toward a better product eventually.

Below are some of my pop-ups. The two most complex pop-ups are ones I’ve worked on this last week. The last three ones I made in a few minutes in the class with scissors cutting by hand.

If you are interested in learning to make pop-ups, I recommend Carol’s books in the “Pocket Paper Engineer” series. They have excellent illustrations and explanations. Even better, they have pages for you to cut out and work on pre-designed pop-ups. These pages show you all the techniques of pop-up books, starting at the most simple and becoming more complex.


My big project this week: the Old Courthouse and the Arch in St. Louis. I programmed this in Illustrator and used my Silhouette Cameo to do the cuts.


Preliminary work on a pop-up of UVA’s Rotunda.


A simple saddle pop-up, cut by hand in class.


A pop-up made of a series of box pop-ups. It looks fancier than it is– it took no planning and only a few moments of snipping and folding to make.


A series of box folds to make a very simple yet in my opinion really interesting pop-up.

Playing with Paper Cutting on a Silhouette Cameo

On Friday, my Silhouette Cameo came in the mail. This device cuts paper according to an image file; analogously, a printer lays down ink according to an image file. Until a couple of months ago, I had no idea that such a device existed, but now I am full of ideas for it.

When I researched the Cameo online, repeated complaints spoke of how useless the software was. The software that ships with it is woefully inadequate, and, from what I could see, only much good for making circles and rectangles. Silhouette has a wide variety of templates available for purchase, but I don’t want to pay for everything I print, and I want to design my own things.

Fortunately, there is a plug-in available for Adobe Illustrator that allows you to build vector graphics in Illustrator and then export them to the Silhouette Connect program. Unfortunately, this plug-in costs $40. However, to use the machine properly, this plug-in is basically a must, so I treated it as part of the purchasing cost. This plug-in only came out in December, and the previous plug-in was apparently quite out of date.

With this plug-in, I found the Cameo really easy to use. For comparison, it is much easier to work with than a basic desktop printer. You just set the blade to a height appropriate for the paper (thick card stock will obviously require a taller blade than thin printer paper), export the vector graphic to Silhouette Connect, and select the layer you want to cut based upon. You can cut around printed designs; you simply have to include some marks on the print out to help the Cameo optically align.

So, below are some of my first works. The butterfly is not my own design work, but came from a Lynda.com tutorial video; it seemed like a robust test of the Cameo’s accuracy. The second has a design printed onto a yellow background which was then cut out by the Cameo.

photo 1-1 photo 2-1


There are tons of exciting options for the future. I mentioned my enthusiasm for pop-up books many months ago, but it was too hard to reproduce the work. Now the process of making copies is easy. Additionally, I have always loved paper dolls, which seems right up the Cameo’s alley. I admire bookbinding techniques that allow interactions between the pages through cut-outs; this device is perfect to obtain the reproducible results I would want.

Final conclusion… this thing really makes me want to get a CNC machine.

Or at least a 3D printer.