This month I bought a Cricut Mini and I've been having so much fun coming up with things to cut out. There are definite pros and cons to this little beauty though so I'm going to walk you through what I like and don't like before you go buy your own.
What is a Cricut?
Cricut's are die cutting machines which let you create an image on your computer and then the machine cut's it out for you. This is great for when you want to cut out the same designs multiple times or when you are looking to cut something too intricate for your craft knife cutting skills.
Cricut's Craft Room software is the worst part of this machine for me. Not only do you not get to draw your own designs from scratch, but I've also found it slow and clunky to use. Don't get me wrong - if you buy templates from Cricut and use those as is then it works perfectly but when you start getting arty this is where the problems lie.
As I mentioned you can't draw from scratch but you can weld shapes together to make designs. The Cricut mini comes with a basic font and geometric shapes - I've played around with these shapes and you can make your own designs from them but it can be quite time consuming and sometimes frustrating when it doesn't weld the way you want or freezes. So far I've manged to make a wedding cake, 3d paper flower templates, and a bicycle from the shapes supplied so it's not impossible to do your own images and save a bit of cash.
The mat used to feed the paper into the machine becomes unsticky very quickly and this can lead to problems when cutting out your deign. you can buy more mats at about £5 each but this will get costly over time. I've also seen tutorials on refurbishing your mat but I am yet to try this and apparently it can void your warranty.
I have tried cutting out different materials with the Cricut -some are easier than others and it's not always obvious about what cutting settings should be set. The machine will guide you at a high level of what settings should be used but sometimes this guide still means you end up with cuts in your mat or gaps in your design. On the whole I've been able to cut out some pretty intricate designs and as long as the paper is stuck well to the mat then it does a good job at cutting it out but I have had a few disasters already.
The mini is the "light weight" version of the more advanced cutters in the range. I was able to pack it in my small suitcase and travel with it down to London but it isn't what I would call light. However looking at the other machines available there are not many you would be able to travel with so it isn't all that bad.
The Cricut mini is one of the lowest price die cutters you will find at roughly £99. I found a trick to make it even cheaper for those bargain hunters out there (For those in the UK)
- Go to www.quidco.com and search for Hobbycraft
- Currently you get 10% off anything from Hobbycraft when you go through Quidco
- On the Hobbycraft website, scroll down to the bottom of the page and sign up for their Craft Club which will email you a 15% off code
- Go back to the Hobbycraft site and then put the Cricut machine in your basket
- At checkout enter the promo code to get 15% off your first order
- You will end up getting both the money off vouchers applied giving you a total of £25 off the price ( although it will be £15 at the time and £10 cash back at a later date)
I think you get what you pay for with the Cricut Mini. It is not the best die cutter on the market but for the price and the size I think it makes a great first machine to play around with before splashing out on a more costly device.
The major downside is the fact that you can't draw images free hand and need to pay extra for each set of templates you buy. This is probably good for people who don't want to spend a lot of time drawing themselves but I don't like to be so restricted. However I have liked the challenge of making my own templates from the free shapes they give you and I will export my designs to this blog so that you guys can use them as well. You can download them from this page
Overall I would give it 3/5
I'll be back,