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Silhouette Curio for Beginners: A Great First Curio Project

I know all you new Curio owners have been waiting for a Silhouette Curio beginners tutorial so today I'm happy to share one with you!  Weekly Silhouette School contributors and my go-to paper girls, Becky and Glenna from My Paper Craze are here with an intro to the Curio.

Silhouette Curio, first project, beginners

I've been so anxious to get started on projects with the new Silhouette Curio, but I'll admit that it's a little intimidating learning a new machine (I know you now what I mean!). So it's been sitting by the front door, still in the shipping box, for five days.  On that fifth day, when my toddler asked me (for the millionth time) to open the box, I gave in. Figures it'd take a toddler's non-stop nagging to get me motivated, right?  So, I want to introduce you to the Silhouette Curio and show you my first (and semi-successful) cut!
First, let's take a look at what comes with your Curio. The machine and cords are pretty self explanatory, they work the same as the Cameo and Portrait.

Silhouette Curio, first project, beginners
In the Silhouette Curio: First Impressions post, Melissa explained the frustration with upgrading the software before using the Silhouette Curio, so I went ahead and took care of that beforehand (thanks, Melissa!).  I went straight to the Silhouette America website and downloaded the latest version. I plugged in the machine, Silhouette Studio launched after the update and voila, I had all my new Curio options ready to go. If you're a little lost at this point, check out Silhouette Curio: First Impressions first.

This Silhouette Curio beginners project is a simple sketch and cut...

In Silhouette Studio, change the design area to reflect the Silhouette Curio size and layout. To do so, select Design Page Settings from the menu, enter the size of your material (I used cardstock for this first project).

You'll also need to change the Cutting Mat to Curio (cut) 8.5 x 6 in. There are several Curio settings, so be sure you select the correct one. Silhouette America has recently released a larger base that is 8.5 x 12 in., but it's a little pricey so I'll wait to see what my needs are.

Silhouette Curio, first project, beginners, Silhouette Studio, design page settingsGo ahead and design the project you want to cut. Although the Silhouette Curio has several new functions available, I decided to stick with a basic design to test out the machine. All the same design functions that we love and used with the Silhouette CAMEO or Portrait are still there, so design away!

After your design is complete and sized to fit the cut area, it's time to look at the cut settings. For my design, I was interested in testing out the Curio's dual blade housing to sketch and cut at the same time.  So for my design, the goal was to sketch the inside design with a Sharpie and then cut the outside line with the blade. 

Here is the view of the Cut Settings menu. The functions work the same, you click on the design element and select which tool applies. One feature I do appreciate is that the cut lines appear in different colors to show which tool will be used for which cut line.

Silhouette Curio, first project, beginners, Silhouette Studio, cut settings

After the designs are set up for the appropriate tool (blade or sketch), you can scroll down in the same window to see the platform settings.  This is new, so let's talk about platforms for a moment. 

Your Silhouette Curio comes with a total of SIX platforms: Two #2 platforms, two #1 platforms, a Cutting Mat (also #1) and an Embossing Mat (also #1). The platforms are stack-able depending on what type of project you are working on. Since the Silhouette Curio offers a higher clearance area for thicker materials, the platforms adjust for the various thicknesses. 

For this project, the cardstock is not thick and needs to have a platform to raise it up to the blade so that it can be sketched and cut.  But fear not, Silhouette Studio will tell you how many platforms you need as indicated below in the red box.
Silhouette Curio, first project, beginners, cut settings, platform

According to Silhouette Studio, this project needs 6 platforms, so let's take a look at how that works. One thing to remember is that your Curio Cutting Mat or Curio Embossing Mat also counts as a #1 platform.  So in this project, with 6 platforms needed, I stacked two #2 platforms, 1 #1 platform and then my #1 platform Cutting Mat. 2 + 2 + 1 + 1 = 6!

Silhouette Curio, first project, beginners, platform

Now let's get ready to cut.  Remember, most of the functions of the Silhouette are still here, such as the same cutting mat style. You still need to peel back the cover sheet to expose the adhesive area.

Silhouette Curio, first project, beginners, cutting mat

Load all your platforms and cutting mat onto the Silhouette Curio base and set to the side. Make sure your machine is plugged in and take a look at the buttons on the side.  The Power and Pause buttons work same as with the CAMEO and Portrait, but let's talk about the Load/Unload button.  When you press the Load/Unload button, the Curio base DOES NOT feed into the machine like the Cameo and Portrait machines do. 

The Load/Unload button simply allows the rollers inside the machine to become loose so that you can slide the base into the rollers. When the GREEN power light is blinking, that means you can Load/Unload the base. If the green power light is solid (not blinking), then you cannot Load/Unload the base and you'll need to press the Load/Unload button to release the rollers. I hope I'm making sense with that.  You'll see what I mean when you give it a try.

Silhouette Curio, first project, beginners

So your platforms and cardstock are all ready to go, you slide the base into the rollers and now what?  Basically you need to feed the base into the machine until the Guide Notch passes the front edge.  Or as Melissa suggests...until the platform is sticking out the back of the machine...

The directions are also on the inside of your Curio lid. If you're looking for the is a shot of the loaded mat going into the rollers. Inside the circle you'll see a barely-there notch (I mean seriously, could it be any smaller? I might mark mine with a black Sharpie). This is the Guide Notch.

Silhouette Curio, first project, beginners, guide notch

Once your guide notch is in place, tap the Load/Unload button. This tells your Curio that you are ready to cut and you should see a little action going on as the machine slides the base in place! 

I know it seems complicated compared to the Cameo and Portrait, but trust me, it's not so bad after you do it a few times.  Now you can load and set up your cutting tools (blade, sketch pen, etc.) as usual.  I even used a popcicle stick method for measuring the Sharpie height, it worked like a charm! 

In case you are wondering, I'm using the Chomas Creations Marker Holder. I have the Pen Holder too and I love them both and am thrilled that I can still use them for the Curio!

Silhouette Curio, first project, beginners

So here's where the semi-successful part came in. I hit Send to Silhouette as always (so exciting for the first cut!) and sat back to watch the magic happen. I was slightly disappointed when I realized what the outcome would be, but I didn't pause it so I could show you guys the lesson I learned. Here's the finished product:

Silhouette Curio, first project, beginners

As you might have guessed, I didn't pay attention when I was setting up my cutting tools so it cut my inside words and drew my outside cut line. I placed the blade and the marker in their holders and didn't think about which side was which (duh!). So here's a nifty tip, look at the top of the dual blade housing.  It has the colors to coordinate with the Silhouette Studio software.
Silhouette Curio, first project, beginners, dual housing

Instead of changing them in the software, I just swapped them around manually, reloaded the machine with another sheet of cardstock and cut again. This finished product is much better. I know it's simple, but it was a great test project to start with the Silhouette Curio. It wasn't too complicated, and now I'm feeling better about experimenting more with the Curio in the next few weeks! 

I can't wait for all the other Silhouette goodies to come out so that we can see what this baby can really do!
Silhouette Curio, first project, beginners, hello talk bubble

Do you own a Silhouette CAMEO or do you plan to purchase one? Leave a comment below!

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine!

Thanks for coming to class today at Silhouette School.  If you like what you see, I'd love for you to pin it!
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  1. I can not wait to get my hands on one!

  2. Probably not. I have a Big Shot and lots of embossing folders in addition to my Cameo. So I'm not sure I could do enough beyond what I can already do to make it worth the price. I love toys but I'm just not sure. Thanks for showing us something it can do, that's what I've been waiting to see.

  3. Am glad that you explained it more, but sounds very scary to me. Too many platforms??? Will wait to see what others do with it.

  4. Thanks for the tutorial (which I saved for "the day when I get this neat machine." However, when I read the article, I was a bit disappointed that you didn't address the embossing, stippling, and etching features. The tutorial was for something I can do with my Cameo. In any event, I look forward to reading future articles that address the other features - and commend you for being the "tester" before I buy!

  5. Tengo una Silhohuette Cameo, y muy pronto una Silhouette Curio. Gracias por este tutorial. Bendiciones

  6. I, too, am disappointed that you didn't go over the embossing feature, which is the reason I bought the Curio. I have been having trouble getting enough pressure to do the embossing

  7. I purchased a Curio as a supplement to my Cameo (which I love). However, I'm having some major issues with the cut settings on it. I'm using the recommended settings for vinyl however it is cutting completely through the vinyl, the backing and into the mat! I have had to reduce the settings on the recommended from 10 thickness to 3 to keep it from cutting through. Some thinner vinyl I have, I had to reduce to 1. I'm currently cutting with the ratchet blade on 1, Speed 5, platform 6 as recommended but there is no way I can use the 10 on thickness that it recommends. What am I doing wrong???

  8. I love my new Curio, and am learning to use the tools. One question I have is about etching. The etching seems so light. Can I "double cut" or alter the depth of the etching?

  9. Thank you SO much for this tutorial! :-) It was very helpful, I did not understand that I had to stack the cutting mats, but now it was a success!

  10. Thanks for the reminder about the update. I got it for Christmas and was just about to ship the thing back. After updating, it works like a pro! :D

  11. I tried for 2 hours to get this thing to cut a stencil for me and couldn't make it work. Apparently, you have to run it through a regular printer to get the registration marks on it? I did not see that in any of the tutorials. I don't see that you did that here. I'm confused! Please help.

  12. my Curio never tells me how many plateforms to use,, I have gone through all the diffrent materials it cuts and all the diffrent setting and never got the number of plateforms to show up in the cut settings menu or anywhere else,,, I have really made a mess of my mats by not knowing how many plateforms to use..thank you for any help\

    1. I have the same problem! Really could use some advice about this...

  13. it appears a bunch of questions have gone unanswered. maybe someone else can help us. ??

  14. Just got my machine today. Still a bit dumb. How many platforms for ordinary 160g cardstock? Please . Thank you


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