With so many die cutting machines on the market, it can be tough to narrow a decision down to one device. Thankfully, the Silhouette Curio makes a great case for your one and only machine that you’ll need inside your studio.
If you’re invested into your crafting and you’ve been at it for a little while, you’ll get more out of this machine than people just starting out with die cutters. The learning curve is a little steep, but it shouldn’t stop you from getting the most out of the Silhouette Curio.
17.2” X 5.5” X 7”
First Impressions of the Silhouette Curio
The Silhouette Curio is marketed as a jack of all trades for those who use die cutters. You get quite a collection of accessories when you first dig into the box for the Curio. You’ll find the Curio machine, along with included Silhouette Studio software. This proprietary software comes with each Silhouette machine.
You’ll find three pieces of equipment to go with the Silhouette: the regular base, an embossing mat, and a cutting mat. All three measure 8.5” by 6”. Two different tools are included for embossing, one for fine measurements and the other for wide. You get the cutting blade, a folder of 50 exclusive designs to get you started, and a month’s subscription to Design Store Basic.
With a clearance of 5 mm, the Curio can accept a ton of different materials for your projects. You can start out with the typical vinyl, cardstock, and paper before you work your way into thicker materials. If you like working with leather, craft foam, and softer metals such as brass or copper, the Curio will be your new best friend.
If you plan on doing some deeper embossing, you’ll want to stick to thinner materials. The Curio is great to use thicker fabrics but when it comes to embossing, too much of a good thing will wear down the machine quickly. Before you get started, always be sure that the material you are using can get through the clearance of 5 mm.
Width and Software for the Silhouette Curio
An odd feature of the Curio is its blade size. Previous users of the Silhouette Cameo may have gotten used to the 12” X 10” size of the blade. For whatever reason, Silhouette decided to downgrade the blade for the Curio. Now, you’ll be working with a size of 8.5” X 6” right out of the box.
It’s not awful, but the size decrease is a questionable decision on the part of Silhouette. You’ll have to purchase another tray if you want to double the length to 8.5” X 12” when you work on larger projects.
You’ll get a copy of Silhouette Studio packaged with the Curio. Why Silhouette decided to pack a CD in with the die cutter is anyone’s guess, especially since anyone who finds designs typically gets them online. Couple this with the lack of optical drives on many computers and it’s especially confusing.
Fortunately, you can easily download the Studio software directly to your computer. This is what you’ll need to do regardless since it’s the most updated version of the program.
If you want access to stippling and embossing, the Curio must be directly hooked to a computer. This isn’t the most convenient requirement for those who don’t do any crafting work right next to their PC or Mac setup.
Silhouette Studio always has a learning curve, and this will happen even to people who have been working with advanced crafting features for a while. Set aside the necessary time to familiarize yourself with the more expert-level tools included with Studio before you begin using it.
Thankfully, there are over 70,000 readily available designs that you can select with the Curio’s prepackaged portfolio.
Perks of Owning the Silhouette Curio
If you decide to purchase the Silhouette Curio, you’ll love the positive aspects of the machine.
Diversity in Crafting
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For those of you who are interested in creating more than just one type of project, you’ll enjoy what the Curio has to offer. You can do a lot more than simple drawing and cutting with this device.
If you’ve been crafting for a while, you might consider adding the Curio to an already existing Cameo in your studio. This way, you can use the Cameo for all of your regular projects that you’ve already learned. The Curio can be your stepping stone into more complicated and rewarding projects. Etching and stippling will come naturally once you learn your way around the Curio.
Once you get past embossing and debossing, you can find even more features to exploit with the Curio. There are 3 different kinds of embossing techniques alone, giving you plenty of opportunity to experiment with material to see what you can come up with.
None of these features are available on the Cameo. Even if you have already invested in the previous model, if wouldn’t hurt to double down and see what you can do.
There will never be a shortage of projects for you to tackle with the combination of the Curio and the Studio Design software. You’ll create customized designs with all the different materials you can feed into the Curio. If you want to use metal and foils for etching and embellishing, the Curio will work once you upgrade to the necessary tool.
Multicolor designs and detailed sketches are no sweat for the Curio. If you want to use something that’s already installed into the Curio, that works just as well as designing your own pattern. You can also stipple ink projects when you purchase any pens for sketching.
There are delicate materials you can use for embossing and debossing textures. If you feel like carving with wood or thicker canvasses, the Curio has you covered. This is definitely an expert-level machine and not one that is suited for amateurs.
The 5mm clearance on the Curio is something to behold. You’ll be cutting through materials that measure up to 2mm thick with no issue. Most of the time, die cutting machines max out at 1.5 mm.
The additional Deep Cut Blade is a must if you plan on working with thicker materials in the future. Not only is it more powerful, but you’ll run the risk of wearing out your existing blade if you try to cut too deeply with it.
The Deep Cut Blade is made of a tungsten alloy, which ensures that you have the most durability and depth that you could want out of a blade.
With the Curio, you have access to two different cartridges. This allows you to do two things at once, reducing the amount of time it takes to get your projects off the machine and out the door. If you want to cut and draw all at once, the Curio can pull it off.
Even though this is a more common feature in recent die cutting machines, it’s still worth mentioning when companies go out of their way to include it. If you came from a much older machine and upgrade to the Curio, you’ll feel like you leapt forward in time. You can forget about having to change your tools when your project is half done.
Disadvantages of the Silhouette Curio
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The Silhouette Curio is not for everyone, and that doesn’t just refer to those who have been crafting for a while. There are a few problems that need to be addressed for people on the fence about purchasing one of these machines.
Accessories Not Included
Silhouette figured out how to make more money by not including a number of extra tools that you might not realize you need. Just as you’re deep into a project, it might occur to you that you need another blade, or a second cartridge.
A stippling/etching tool, extra mat, and the Deep Cut Blade all add up very quickly in space and cost. This isn’t a cheap machine to begin with, and the money adds up when you start realizing how many different tasks need their own tools.
On top of everything already listed, you need to have an active subscription to Studio Design to maintain access to many of the designs. The only way to continue working on your project once you lapse your subscription is to re-up for whichever amount of time you prefer.
Lack of Design Space
Even if you purchase the extra tray, the Curio limits you to a cutting space of 8.5” X 12” for your projects. This is unfortunate by itself, and the relatively low cutting power of 210 grams doesn’t help matters.
For anyone who doesn’t use their Curio for more than a personal cutting machine, this might not be a big deal. If you’re considering a larger project, the Curio might not be enough for what you’re creating.
Learning Curve of Silhouette Studio
This has been a complaint for years, but Silhouette doesn’t’ seem interested in addressing it. There doesn’t seem to be any getting around the learning curve of Silhouette Studio, despite the consistent feedback from everyone who has used the software.
Needing to keep your Curio hooked up to your internet-enabled computer is both a hazard and an annoyance. It means you’ll have to drag your entire setup over to your computer if you expect to get any of the designs working properly.
Where to Purchase the Silhouette Curio
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The Curio can be purchased on Silhouette’s official website. Most of the time, the price on their website will be higher than what you could find elsewhere. You can also buy the Curio on Amazon, where orders typically qualify for free Prime shipping. If you need a replacement, this is a great option for those who are in business and need to fill out orders right away.
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Finding Support for the Silhouette Cameo
Looking through forums for support in the Curio community isn’t too much of a chore. There’s a vibrant and active community for the machine throughout Facebook and other social media platforms. If you need help working with the device, a number of tutorial videos can be found on YouTube.
If you’re in need of inspiration, you can look into Pinterest and Instagram for the appropriate designs you need. There’s always something to find, and you might even start a blog yourself for your own designs. Networking with other people is the best way to put your name out there when using the Curio.
Final Score for the Silhouette Curio
On its own, the Curio is an incredible die cutting machine. It has deep penetration, gives you access to a bunch of designs and features, and lets you use material that you might not be able to use on other low-end machines.
However, the odd choices by Silhouette prevent a full recommendation of the Curio. The blade has been reduced so that, seemingly, Silhouette can charge more for the deeper cutting version. There’s also the lack of any significant sizes for cutting mats, and all of the needed accessories that don’t come with the machine.
If you’re a professional crafter who runs their own business, the Curio works great for niche projects that can’t be found by most Etsy or local crafters. For those just starting out with crafting, there might not be much you can do with the Silhouette Curio.
Alternatives to the Silhouette Curio
If the Curio doesn’t do what you want, you could consider other options. Silhouette also makes the Cameo, a more beginner-friendly die cutting machine. By default, you get access to a bigger blade and a consistently high-rated machine.
To this day, the Cameo is more popular than the Curio. Users typically rate the machine higher thanks to more included accessories and the bigger cutting length of the included blade. For those who are just getting started, the Cameo might be a better choice.