Cutting Masks with the Cricut mini

Carrying on.  Being able to see all the images on all the carts in a fast and easy way, and the SEARCH function in The Craft Room was very helpful when I was looking for things not for a specific PROJECT but for future use as masks and stencils.  There are so many things in the Library, if you look at them with a different end goal in mind, all of a sudden you can see the possibilities.

I wasn’t at all surprised that the Cricut Mini cut the report cover plastic quite easily.  First, there is a setting for vinyl, for cutting wall or car decals, so the ability is built-in.  I also already know my old Cricut cuts it fine so I expected to have no more than the usual problems (i.e sometimes the vinyl peels up and cuts itself) and that was the case. That might have been due to the heavy use the mat I got with the machine for review. It has been used A LOT so it is nowhere as sticky as it was when I got it.

Check out some of the masks and stencils I cut:


That is from the Ribbons and Borders cart.  I think if I cut the outline (right) one so all the borders have at least one EDGE then I can use them with the Gelli plate.  As is, it would be easy to use them with mists. Like I said, it’s a matter of looking at the images critically and thinking outside the box.

And I am so loving HANDS of all kinds.  These will be fun to use – they are from the American Sign Language cart (except the fist – that is from Indie art):


Bear in mind the report cover plastic is super floppy,  Sometimes with the Gelli plate it can be hard to place – and if it flops down on the paint filled surface then you will get a mark on the print.  Far easier to use them on paper or card.  Outline ones will work great with mists, not so much with inks, if you try to sponge them on. They simply are not sturdy enough, like commercial stencils are.

There are also some carts with images that make fab overall stencils.


The one on the left is one I designed, just sizing and welding simple images.  The one on the right is a Paper Lace image that I just stretched to fill the page.

This is what they look like with the Gelli Plate:


Cool, humm?

And a couple more:


The interesting thing is the surround can be effectively used to create an edge mask.  I think I will use that a lot – I’m imagining using Distress ink on the edges of a pull, a bit like the border punch idea.  And cutting a mask that is exactly sized for ATCs would be nifty too!



That last (pink) one? The finger is actually a fun foam STAMP that I cut with the Mini – more about that tomorrow! I worked out a method that very nearly cuts a stamp, with a little X-acto knife help at the end.

One  benefit is that you can cut in a variety of sizes.  Look back – the fist is HUGE in the bottom pull, but there is a smaller version in the shot of just the masks.  One fits the 8×10 plate, the other is sized more for the 6×6 plate. And following on from the comment the other day about commercial stencil that EVERYONE is using makes your work less unique, comes in to play here too!  I designed the circles stencil so unless someone else likes it and does the same, I am the only one who will have that stencil on my work.


Now, a couple of further points on the Mini and the Craft Room software.

A comment from Bev tells me that the virtual carts are, in fact, cheaper than the real ones.  Perhaps not quite as MUCH cheaper as I expected.

I’ve just checked and you have to buy the whole cartridge, but it is cheaper than the physical cartridge. (The one I checked was $39.99 for a physical cartridge, and $29.99 for a digital download)

and that answers the question of whether you can buy a single image or not too. That’s equal to  £18.89 in UK £s.  The physical cartridges range in price, but in the UK they seem to be around the £30 mark.  No pricing as of yet for the virtual carts bought from the UK.  BUT there was a comment on a thread on UKS to say that:

And if Cricut ever get their act together and sort out being able to take UK credit cards then there’s a wealth of digital images I can buy too.

So if Cricut can’t take UK credit Cards,  UK customers can’t buy virtual carts but have to buy the REAL carts. That puts using the Craft Room into the not so great category from a price perspective. Bearing in mind that I can’t test this theory/comment without trying to use my UK credit card to buy a virtual cart (although since I am, in fact, American, and have a US credit card I could certainly use THAT to buy) I don’t know if it is still the case or not!

As I said yesterday, deciding to use The Craft Room without the real monetary and time benefit (i.e. being able to buy a cheaper virtual cart and access it instantly) but instead having to insert the cart or register it in Craft Room before you can cut (potentially killing any resale value if you register your carts then sell your machine in the future and no longer need said carts) should be a considered decision.  Once they sort out taking UK cards that will change.  That doesn’t affect the OTHER benefits (like instant access to all your cart images if you register them or insert them) and the virtual (layered) mat, and there is still the benefit of seeing ALL the carts even ones you don’t own.

But I also note that the physical carts are on sale in a big way. I mean dirt cheap by comparison.  A recent email from Cartridges & More has them discounted up to 50%.  What does THAT mean for UK customers? Not being able to buy virtual carts as a way for the manufacturer to shift what must be a stockpile of physical carts with retailers in a certain market? Gotta wonder…

It is wildly complex really.  IF you are happy to own only the use of the images (and thru Craft Room only) with a virtual cart, with zero resale value, the price difference and instant access might appeal.  IF you don’t care about not being able to take your machine to a crop without also dragging along a laptop, to access all the carts, virtual and physical, you own, fine.  IF you aren’t in the habit of sharing carts with a crop group or scrapping friends, then virtual might be great.  But I think there are many issues to consider before buying in to the Craft Room concept. I hope I’ve highlighted some of them.

Lastly, yesterday I mentioned issues with the speed (or NOT) of the Craft Room design tool.  The lacy medallion mask here is the item I was designing (if you can call duplicating, flipping and welding a single image designing!)


That took FOREVER to accomplish.  I said it took 5 seconds to shift the flipped image over one right-click.  Simple single images happen FAST. Complex, multi-images, especially if welded, are very very  slow to process. And the cutting?  OMG.  Seriously almost 15 minutes, and if you look carefully you can see some of the areas (look at the inner-by-one ring of swirls and you will see three missing) where the blade peeled up some of the design and cut back on itself.  It’s not a deal-breaker but something to be aware of.

Tomorrow I’ll show you my trick for fun foam cutting.  It might surprise you. It’s not perfect, but it does expand the capabilities of the machine and doesn’t require the deep-set blade housing.