Tuesday, April 23, 2013
♥ Cricut Mini Review ♥
Recently I got the opportunity to try out a Cricut Mini. I'd heard of Cricuts before, & wanted one, but they were a bit out of my price range (I think about £300 at the time). This mini version is a fair bit cheaper, it retails for £129.99. It's also not as big & bulky as the original, with less buttons. You have to have a computer & internet connection to use this one though, I don't think that's necessary with the original.
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Anyway, I actually got sent one months ago now, but I couldn't for the life of me get it to work. I didn't know if it was the software, or the machine itself. I did email Cricut support for help, but as they won't communicate via email on issues, which I found quite frustrating, as I have telephone anxiety. Because I was reviewing it though, I was eventually put in touch with someone who could help me via email. It ended up being that the first one was faulty, & I got sent a new one.
I was a bit apprehensive by this point, sure it was just me & not really knowing what I would do if I couldn't get the new one to work! Luckily, I plugged it in & it worked perfectly from the get go. Phew! So the first one was definitely broken when I got it out of the box. I do have to say though, if I'd actually bought the machine, I would have been pretty disappointed/annoyed at the lack of customer support, & probably just returned the damn thing & not bought another.
I set about planning what I was going to cut out (after a quick trip to Hobbycraft to buy some scrapbook paper & pink card), I knew I wanted to use the machine to help with labels for my shop, so in Craft Room (the Cricut Mini software), I made these labels for my headbands with some of the basic shapes. This brings me to my second negative point, I didn't realise that you couldn't use your own designs as well as the Cricut cartridges/downloads, so that was pretty disappointing.
Cricut just offers a range of clipart like images, you get a basic selection with the machine itself, & further sets are available off their website, but they aren't cheap. The cheapest is £1.99, for one project, up to around £50 for a font & basic shapes set. This is probably great for scrapbookers, & paper crafters, but disappointing for those that want to cut out original designs.
I made the best with the shapes I had on offer, & designed some simple labels & business cards for Dolly Darling. I do like them, & the headband labels especially are neater than my current handcut labels. It would have been nice to be able to cut out the Dolly Darling name in the same writing as on my website though.
I also tried out one of the basic projects that comes with the machine, these birthday cards, pictured below (you can also cut out envelopes, but I didn't bother). I think I should have changed the depth & pressure though, because the machine tore these a bit in places, despite using the same paper/settings I used for simpler shapes. Or slowed down the speed!
You are supposed to be able to cut fabric, cardboard chipboard, & vinyl with the machine as well as paper/card, although I think these require extra prep. I read up on the fabric at least, & you need to stabilize it before cutting, there are instructions to be found online, which I might try in the future. You can actually even buy a Cricut that cuts fondant icing, for cake decorating, which does sound fun, haha!
Overall, once I had got a working machine, I was happy with the whole process & how easy it was to use, just wish I could cut out custom images. There are other brands on the market which do offer this, so if I were to actually buy one myself, I would plump for one that had those features, rather than just a cartridge based system. If you'd prefer not to the designing work yorself & use it for things like scrapbooking, card making etc, then the Cricut does quite well for this - as long as you don't mind spending extra on the cartridges!