Last week I wrote about the reason I ordered the Cricut Explore (if you didn't see that post, you can find it HERE). A lot of the people who commented on that post or wrote to me directly shared my frustration with the wonky circles and scallops that have plagued the Cricut machines for years. My new Explore is due to arrive on Thursday (fingers crossed that there won't be any "weather delays" since snow is in the forecast again...).
Fair warning - this is a long post!
|odd looking shapes meant to be scallops and circles...|
|nearly perfect scallops and circles!|
In the post last week, I said that this change in the ability to cut proper circles and scallops was the tipping point, the main reason I decided to spend my money when I have several Silhouette machines that already cut these shapes perfectly.
|Expression 2 on the left, Silhouette SD on the right|
It isn't just these simple scalloped circles, it is all of the images with tiny circles or that are meant to be symmetrical but always cut slightly "off" on my older machines.
I did mention that there were other reasons that I would share in another post - so today I want to share other factors that I considered in making my decision. These are some of the things that I believe will be great improvements. Several of them involve a shift in the way we work with cartridges and will take some getting used to, but I think that overall they are good changes.
More recent cartridge handbooks have added pages at the beginning showing the assembled images but the Design Space takes things a few steps further.
Just look at the difference between the keypad black and white image in the CraftRoom and the full color layered version in Design Space. With some of the images that have a lot of layers it can be a laborious task to figure out if you have all of the bits and pieces you need - in the new Design Space you just look at an image, decide if you like it and click - it's on the mat with all necessary pieces.
This bookmark is one of the Make it Now projects from an introductory video. The full set of images comes in, already layered - you can see all of the layers in the column on the right.
When you click to go cut the project, the colors and pieces are sorted out into the number of mats you need. It doesn't get much easier than this if you want to use a image that exists on a cartridge or in a Make it Now project.
Next - the ability to cut and draw in a single operation. The dual carriage is a great idea and something that is not found on any other machine that I know of.
Not only can you draw and cut but you can also score and cut by putting a scoring tool in the second carriage position. Just think how much easier it will be to make lots of rosettes like these seen in the intro video. Scoring the bags with gusseted bases will be so much easier with this carriage and tool.
The Make it Now projects. This was not as much of a deciding factor for me because I like to create my own original designs. However, I can see how useful this would be if you needed to make a project in a hurry. In one of the introductory videos there is a line that states "Instead of figuring out how to make your project you can focus on what you want to make." This is a great concept.
The new machine definitely has an appeal for people who don't have a lot of time or patience to fiddle around with designing their projects or determining the right settings to cut their projects. If they just want to make something pretty or cute and do it quickly these projects are a sort of "creativity in a can" but with the element of choice of color or paper, etc. that makes the user feel creative.
The directions are all spelled out along with the list of materials required. A lot of these projects would also be suitable for children to make (I know that my young friends and relatives love to use the Cricut to make projects).
Cartridges, cartridges and more cartridges - Just like many people who have had Cricut machines for a long time, I have accumulated quite a collection of cartridges. At first, there were only 12 or so cartridges and each new release was eagerly anticipated. As more and more cartridges were made available, it became clear that it was unreasonable for most people to try to collect them all. I haven't bought many cartridges lately but the Design Space structure will certainly allow me to make better use of the cartridges I have. Watching some of the videos I have noticed images that I haven't seen before - they might actually be on cartridges that I own.
The subscription plan will allow you to access all of the unlicensed images (about 25,000 and growing) for $9.99 /month or $99.99/year. This will be a great deal for people that don't have a large library of cartridges. Since I purchased my machine through the HSN launch, I will have a three month trial of the subscription to help me decide whether I will need it. I'll crunch the numbers for you in another post but my instinct is that the subscription will make sense despite the number of cartridges I already own.
The variety of materials that can be cut. My current machines can cut a lot of different materials but the Explore adds even more cutting potential and is supposed to cut things like faux leather, cork and metal. I want to try out lots of materials.
Finally, finally - cutting the computer fonts. This was something asked for from the very beginning of the first Design Studio program. I am not sure why it took so long but it is nice to know that this program will allow you to work with the fonts on your computer. If this had been available a couple of years ago, I might not have purchased the Silhouette machine to make these invitations.
The ability to create with a variety of file types. This is a huge change of course for Cricut and a great way to level the playing field between the Cricut machines and others that have had this ability all along. For me, the ability to bring in my own designs and combine them with Cricut shapes has unlimited potential and I can't wait to try some things that I already have in mind.
The downside is that, as far as I can tell, the current program has very limited "create from scratch" potential. There don't seem to be any drawing tools, no offset or shadow function and no alignment tools. So this means that I will have to do the type of designing I like to do in another program. At least I will be able to bring my designs in to the program to try cutting them. I hope that these basic tools will be added eventually...
Speaking of tools... I definitely find the overall design of the machine to be very attractive. The design is so carefully thought out and the storage compartments are just one of the little "extras" that shows a great attention to detail. All of the design choices, including the diagram that shows you how to fit the tools in to the storage compartment, are aimed at making the machine good looking and easy to operate.
|some printed and cut items I did using the Silhouette Cameo|
Coming soon - print, then cut and an iPad app. The print then cut capability (print on your printer then load into the machine to cut) is something I am eager to see. This is in the works for later this year. If this was the most important thing to me, I'd probably wait on getting the machine. However, since I already have machines that do print then cut my main reason for wanting this is to possibly reduce the number of machines I have to have accessible in my crafting space. The iPad app is interesting but not as important to me since I have a laptop that I can easily bring to my machine.
Concerns - well yes, I have some, primarily relating to the need to be online to use the machine. I was not able to access the Craftroom for months despite having an up to date computer with lots of memory and a fast internet connection. If I can't access the Design Space I will have a $300 paperweight since the only way to operate the machine is through this online program.
Other concerns will have to wait for another post. I am keeping an open mind so that will be after the machine arrives and I have a chance to do my own tests.
a bit of commentary...
A number of responses to my first post were from people who have moved on to other machines and systems and don't plan to return. There are many reasons that people are unhappy with ProvoCraft over some of the things that have happened in the past few years with the launch and then discontinuation of several machines. I lived through all of the problems with the Gypsy and the Imagine and share some of that frustration.
However, I don't understand accusations that ProvoCraft "just wants to make money" or "they don't care" about all of the owners of the discontinued machines. It is interesting that a product and a company can generate such extreme emotions - crafters are a passionate bunch! But it seems silly to "accuse" a company of wanting to make money - that's what companies are meant to do. That is how they pay their employees and pay taxes. All of us who have a big investment in cartridges and machines should be rooting for the company to be very successful with this machine.
I believe that this new machine is critical to the future success of the company and I see lots of indications that the people at the company from the CEO on down are trying to do everything possible to make it succeed. I was impressed by the speed of the decision to change the original plan to require a subscription to use SVG files was changed after customers spoke out on this issue.
I think this machine might finally bring together all of the functions I am looking for. At CHA in 2010, I had some conversations with people from PC about what I'd like to be able to do with bringing all of my digital content together in one place where I could add digital papers to images and cut both cartridge images and my own drawings. I think they are getting close - I hope that when the print then cut is added I'll be able to use my 27 Imagine cartridges - wouldn't that be great!
I want to remind you that there is some great nuts and bolts information in the white papers that you can find HERE (scroll to the bottom of the page).
Whew! That was a lot to read - thanks for staying with me if you got this far!
Back to the blog anniversary celebration - what did I put in the boxes today? Do you remember these favor bags I made using the Square1 Square1 Printable iron-on Fabric fabric? (The original post is HERE).
I have added five of the little muslin bags and an 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet of the iron-on printable to each box. You don't need a machine that does print and cut to use the iron on - you can print on the fabric and cut it easily with scissors.
How do you play along in the blog celebration giveaway?
To enter for a chance to win one of the three boxes - see all of the details on the first blog celebration post HERE. Then come back and get your comments in on this post. Remember, if you sign up for the new newsletter (see the box at the top right of the page) I will be choosing one person from the subscribers as a box winner (you don't need to leave a comment here since I can see that list).
Today's question to answer in your comment is:
Do you have a "dream machine" - a crafting tool that would make your life easier and more creative? Does it exist already? What features would it have? This doesn't have to be a die cutting machine - I am curious if you have any ideas about any sort of tool that would be help you create more easily. Is there something that you have already that you can't imagine crafting without?
Thanks to all of the people who told me that the newsletter subscription form was giving a "list not active" message. I think I have all of the forms fixed now. The first newsletter will be coming out in a week or so. If you tried to sign up and got that message, please try again. Just a few more days until the boxes are full...
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