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Cricut Mini and Craft Room design tool – a re-cap

If you read only one of my week’s worth of posts on the Cricut Mini and the Craft Room design tool, read this one.

Would I buy a Cricut Mini?

No. Not until the price comes more in line with the price I see on the US sites of £50 (ish) with free shipping.  £120+ is just out of line for my pocketbook.

Setting aside price, What functionality is missing from the Mini that informs this decision?

The Cricut Mini can only be used with Craft Room.  I can see no way to plug-in a cart and make it cut.  There is no keypad for selecting the design. So if you buy a Mini you have no CHOICE but to use Craft Room.

Would I be happy to use Craft Room on the Mini or any other Cricut machine?

No.

Using Craft Room has some built-in issues, I have to assume by design, that limit your use of carts you buy.

  • to get the most out of it you need to register your ownership of the cart in Craft Room.  That offers huge benefits – you can use it without plugging in the cart, you can cut a design you created using elements across many carts, and your carts are always available to you, even at a crop, provided you bring a laptop or have an internet connection to use the online-only version of Craft Room. (not tested.) Plus there are the freebies Cricut provides each week.

and to update slightly, I’m told via a UKS comment that you can’t CUT with the online version of Craft Room, only design!

  • registering your cart in all probability kills the resale value of that cart.  Once YOU’VE registered it, can a buyer then register it?  Based on what I have read about a similar situation with the Gypsy, no. So only the original buyer can register the cart in Craft Room.
  • you cannot import a design from any other source (including your font library) and trace>cut nor can you export a design in anything other than the proprietary Cricut .ccr format.

I should mention that the Cricut End User Agreement for cartridges would SEEM to state that you are not allowed to sell a cart on (or share it with a friend, or cut a design for someone else, if my reading of the legal-ese is accurate):

2.6 Transfer of Cartridge and Content. You and Your users will not sell, rent, lease, or transfer, or attempt to sell, rent, lease, or transfer, the Cartridge or Content or any portion thereof (including operating a software‐as‐service, application service provider, service bureau or equivalent service using the Cartridge or Content to any other person, without the prior express written permission of Provo Craft) in any manner whatsoever.

I’m not going to comment on that other than to say I am not aware this has actually been tested in court.  But be aware of it.

Using Craft Room with an old Cricut that runs the original firmware (1.1 for sure and maybe 1.2) that lets you use SCAL (Sure Cuts A Lot – purchased before the legal prohibition on its sale) MAY force your Cricut to update the firmware, making SCAL unusable.  Once you update your firmware I am unaware of any way to revert to the older version. I have a call out for confirmation from anyone this has happened to to get in touch so I can state this is the case unequivocably, rather than state it MAY happen.

NOTE:  I can update this slightly!  a comment on the UKS thread says:

I’ve tried using Craft Room with a Cricut Create that has firmware v1.54 on it. Craft Room will detect that there is a newer version (1.65 for the Create), and gives the option to either upgrade or skip the upgrade. I skipped the upgrade, and was able to cut to the Create without any problems.

Still no confirmation from the original source to say whether the original firmware that works with SCAL ALSO offers you the option to skip the upgrade or not, although the original comment I was seemed to say with that version it upgraded automatically.

Final thoughts:

Have I enjoyed playing with the machine?  Absolutely.  Have I enjoyed playing with Craft Room.  Absolutely. Am I impressed with the ability to create my own unique stencils and stamps in addition to the usual paper cutting? Absolutely.  Why then would I not buy a Mini and buy into Craft Room??

Putting aside everything else, both the machine and the Craft Room Tool are fine, good even.  Problem is I CAN’T put everything else aside.  And the devil is in the details, as they say.

The bottom line is that the reason I have had such a good experience with the Mini and Craft Room  is because I was lent the machine  (at no cost) and more importantly access to virtually every single image on every single Cricut Cart (at no cost.)  I had the entire (impressive) library of images to play with.  Had I had to BUY every cart I used in my play it would have cost me £100s.  My pockets are simply not that deep. Had I been limited to the carts I do own (four, old ones) would I have enjoyed it anywhere near as much? Probably not.   Is Craft Room good enough to give up the increased functionality I enjoy from SCAL? Nope.

Who MIGHT want to buy the Mini and buy in to Craft Room?

  • People who already own a lot of Carts may love Craft Room as it’s the only real way to “design” with carts. Craft Room supports many versions of the Cricut. Craft Room is a decent design tool.  Sometimes it’s slow to enact commands, but what you can DO with it is pretty impressive.
  • People who are happy with the limited use of carts and the price structure, and never plan on selling their carts on
  • People who want to design ONLY with Cricut cart images, and don’t have any other design tool  or machine
  • People who need to replace their old Cricut machine with a new version – the Expression is £350ish. The Mini is clearly a cheaper option at £120ish.  The Mini cuts fine.  It’s not hugely loud, the cuts are clean and accurate, from my experience, and the size of the machine is perfect for my room.  It works with a Mac – that is huge for me.

If you have read all this and nothing that I see as an issue is an issue for you,  you will probably love both the Mini and the Craft Room design tool.  Go for it and enjoy it.  I hope all my comments have at least made you think about the machine and the design tool rather than jumping to a quick decision. If I’ve done my job, at least you will be making an informed decision!


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Cricut Mini stamps – and warning for SCAL users

Let me give the warning first.  It has been mentioned to me that some people who have old Cricuts, running the oldest firmware (the version that is required to be able to use SCAL, if you bought it, like I did, before they were legally prohibited from selling a version that worked for the Cricut) may not want to use Craft Room.  I have heard as yet unconfirmed reports that running Craft Room with your old machine plugged in, may update your firmware without asking you if you want to do that, thereby making SCAL unusable.  I’ve asked the person who mentioned this to put me in touch with someone who had this happen to them, so I can verify the info and perhaps ask a few more questions about it.  Please do let me know via a comment (or email if you prefer, in the About Me section at the top)if it has happened to YOU.

Now, the stamp cutting. It is actually way easier than I thought.  The trick is don’t use sticky backed fun foam (ok, well maybe you can but I have to find some first to try it) and before you stick it to the mat to cut it, compress the foam by running it thru your die cutting machine, between two plates.

compress

Can you see how much thinner the light pink foam is??

Now I would not suggest trying to cut a hugely intricate shape, but I didn’t want to do just a triangle, so I did one of the American Sign Language hands.  It’s a bit complex but not super detailed.

When it is on the mat, you can look at the image and decide if you want to cut the whole thing.  That HIDE CONTOUR button will allow yo to edit the image – thanks to a comment and a blog link I now understand how it works!

stamp

When you click it you will see the image like so:

stamp3

If you click on the lines you want to delete, then will not cut!

stamp2

I used max setting for everything, and cut 4 times. See how the palm crease is missing from the cutting file?

cutsettings

Yes, the rollers will crease the foam, but just like the compressed foam springs back, the roller indents will spring back too.

howitcuts

Now, it is not cut 100% thru but it is very close.  See when I flex it?

howitcuts2

All it needs is a light tracing with a knife to complete the cut.  Easier for simple shapes, but even this took me only maybe 2 minutes. See the roller indent?

howitcutshelp

Just make sure the side of the foam that has the blade cut is the stamping side, and you stick the stamp to your “mount” on the rougher side.  That side is a bit raggedy.

howitcutsback

The foam does stretch, with these thin lines, but I just formed it around the cut out bit when I stuck it down.

howitcutsshape

I think they stamp just fine – I would say limit the rigorous washing (just blot with a baby wipe) and don’t let paint dry on them if you plan to use them for Gelli play or paint stamping.

stamped

I have some more tips on mask cutting coming up….

Oh, and et me also mention one other odd thing that happened.  I am using a Cricut machine and log in to Craft Room that was sent to me. Because the first one didn’t appear to work, I was sent a second log in.  The first one then did work, and I used it for all of my play.  Testing out something,  I had to close Craft Room then open it again and when I did, I used the second log in by mistake.  I got a strange message that said something like “You already have 2 machines registered with this account.  You may not link anther machine until ??? 2015” (not the exact wording, I closed it down and went back to the other log in before I thought to capture it, but that is pretty close to what it said.) I am guessing because that is a review/testers account maybe a few people have been given it, which is why it came up for me.  I suppose it might be strange if someone had 3 different machines but it is worth noting that there is a limit on the number of machines that can be tied to a Craft Room account.