Having worked with my Silhouette mat day in and day out for several years now—well, [grin], not the *same* mat for all that time…I’ve gone through a few, LOL—I’ve discovered some things about it that either save me time, save the mat, or make it easier to work with materials. So, in my ongoing effort to make Silhouetting easier for y’all, here are my top five things…nay, here are my top five *awesome* things about the Silhouette mat. Maybe some of them will be game changers for you as they were for me.
And if you’re looking for the products I used in this post, I’ve got links for you in a Resource List at the end.
1. The mat can prevent cardstock from curling
Removing cardstock from the mat often causes the cardstock to curl, especially if your mat is on the sticky side. Here’s the trick: don’t remove the cardstock from the mat; instead, remove the mat from the cardstock. Flip the mat over so it’s facing up and the cardstock is facing down. Then bend the mat back onto itself and roll it to reveal the cardstock. The mat is really flexible, so keep the curve small. Go slow. As you roll the mat back, the cardstock will release and stay on the work surface. Use your fingers to help release pieces, or a small craft spatula for super small pieces.
And look at all those bunnies being released at the same time…much faster than the one-at-a-time cardstock-from-mat removal when the mat is on the bottom. And see the faces left on the mat? The cardstock has weeded itself as I removed the mat. Time spent weeding this project? Zero.
This is a particularly good technique when you’re working with smallish pieces of cardstock that you’re transferring from the mat to transfer tape. It’s much easier to control the position of the cardstock when the cardstock faces up; you don’t have to keep peering under the transfer tape to make sure everything’s transferring properly. Here’s how I transferred the cardstock words for the starfish “I love you” nursery art project. Everything stayed exactly where it was supposed to.
Oh, and if this transfer tape looks weird to you, then here’s bonus that will change your world…or at least how you use cardstock. Most transfer tapes are too sticky and will damage cardstock, but this drywall mesh (yellow) has the perfect amount of stickiness to pick up and release cardstock without ripping it or damaging it. The one I use is only a couple of inches wide, which works well for many applications, but for larger designs like the framed starfish nursery “I Love You… above, I needed three strips slightly overlapped. And to keep the mesh strips in place, I attached a single piece of regular transfer tape to the strips so they wouldn’t come apart during the transfer process. See the Resource List at the end for a link.
2. The mat can hold vinyl in place while you weed
It’s SO much easier to weed adhesive vinyl or heat transfer vinyl (HTV) when it’s being held down by a sticky mat—especially for intricate designs such as Miss Zentangle Kitty below—so leave your HTV design on the mat and weed it before removing it.
“But, hey, wait a minute,” you say, “that mat isn’t a Silhouette mat. It’s green.” Okay, yup, you caught me. Miss kitty is on a Cricut mat. A Cricut mat costs MUCH less than a Silhouette mat, so when I cut a vinyl design, I transfer it to a Cricut mat and weed it there. My Silhouette mats last longer and I spend less on mats.
3. The mat fits under the Cameo
It does…for the Cameo 1, 2, and 3. Can you say “found table space”?
One of the biggest challenges in my studio is a lack of horizontal surfaces on which I can put things—tools and materials for the current project, in-progress projects, past projects ready to be put away. I’m always looking for a place to rest something. When I’m not working on a project, I replace the mat cover and store my mat in a drawer, but mid-project when I just need to put it down for a few minutes…under the Cameo it goes, out of the way until I need it again.
4. The mat lasts longer if you keep it clean
…and ~~bonus~~ …things cut better on a debris-free mat. The easiest way to clear off the teensy bits and bobs from the mat is with a Cricut scraper. The Silhouette and 3M scrapers I like to use to apply vinyl have edges that are too rounded, but the Cricut scraper has a sharp edge, perfect for snagging the tiniest specks without removing the “sticky” from the mat.
I use this scraper to remove the weeded bits (as above), and then a quick once over as needed—sometimes in between cuts, sometimes just before putting my mat away. My mats last 6 months or more…and I cut almost every day.
5. The mat is symmetrical
In other words, the mat lines are centered on the mat width-wise, and are the same distance from the bottom edge of the mat as they are from the top edge. This means you can flip your mat and load the bottom into the Cameo and your mat lines will still match up with the mat lines on the screen. So, if you’re like me and tend to cut things in the same part of the mat (hello, left corner, my old fave, you), you’ll get better use out of your mat. When the top starts to wear and lose the “sticky”, flip the mat and use the bottom instead..
Of course, the lesson here is to vary where you place material. As long as you place material on the mat so the mat grid lines match the screen mat grid lines, you’re golden. Use the whole mat.
And there you have it. Will you be using your mat in a different way from now on?
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In case you’re looking for something I talked about or showed above, here is a list of links. These are affiliate links, which means if you click on them and buy something, I will be paid a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you…win-win. Read my full affiliate policy here.
- 12″ Silhouette mat
- 12″ x 24″ Silhouette mat
- Green working mat with yellow lines – I trim my material down to cutting size using a rotary cutter and couple of clear rulers (this one and this one). This 2’x3′ green self-healing cutting mat lives on my work surface so I can cut as needed.
- Drywall mesh – transfer tape for cardstock
- Cricut scraper & spatula
- Cricut mats