Monday, January 27, 2014

In Preparation for a New Machine…

Explore vs. Cameo.  Photos from Google images
Hello, this is a quick little note as a follow-up to my last post.   I have decided that I have been in the dark too long, and since I had one little problem with my Cricut machines, I decided that I am going to get this new thing after I see it at launch on HSN.   I just love the idea of doing SVG files, which brings me to an explanation on why I did not choose the Cameo.  Hold on to your hats, folks, did I say that I was going to buy it on launch preview day?  You have to read between the lines, because I only have seen what everyone else has seen of this little demo on You Tube, and anything else that head honchos at ProvoCraft (PC) have allows them to show.  I still have to do a comparison between the two, a pros and cons analysis of the situation.  I cannot just go by my gut feeling.  Without knowing much about the Silhouette Cameo and too much about the ProvoCraft Cricut line (a pro and con within itself), I have to take me out of it for a minute.  Yes, it will be MY machine, and I have to be happy with what I buy, but on the other hand, I want it to be long lasting, get great support 2-3 years down the road, and I can use it for anything without limitations (other than copyright issues).  So the first thing I have to do in order to prepare for purchasing either machine (I am not rich enough to buy both, besides that, isn't that hoarding?), is to see what I have in inventory.  I enlisted the help of MS Excel and Access for that.  I listed all of my cartridges, what type they are, what current and future machines that can work them. (This is I have and planning to buy-not the whole fleet, which excludes baby, E1, Create, Cake, and Mini).  I also listed Cricut Classroom and Cricut Space, the new one.
You should do that for anything that you do in papercrafting.  You should see what you have in generic stuff.  You all have seen them, the video of a person’s craft room.  Looks beautiful, right?  Until you see that she has 20 rolls of Scor-tape, and all of them are ¼” rolls.  No variety at all.  What is she storing them for?  A nuclear blast?  Armageddon?  The closing of a scrapbook store?  A person should not have no more than two rolls at a time, and that is only if you are doing a big project, or you 20 rolls are of different widths, and you are about ready to run out with the current roll.  OK?       
(Ok, as usual, I got a little sidetracked.  I have been watching way too many YT scraproom makeovers lately).  Shall we move on…?
Anyway, if it wasn't for PC and their way of thinking about a potential new feature after the fact on their current machines, they could have been a great competitor for the Cameo.  Nope, they had to get lawsuits out of the way first.  That is called, “playing nice with the neighborhood children (Sure Cuts Alot and the make the Cut software). 
I am on a couple of Cricut Yahoogroups, and a couple of the ladies on one group thinks that PC is a little late in the game to have a machine that cuts SVGs.  I happen to agree, and I am also putting that as a con on PC’s side.  What I am also putting as a con is PC customer service and support for the last 4 years when it comes to Imagine.  You cannot make a person pay $599 at launch preview date, have all kinds of problems with the machine, give up, and cut people off at the knees when they need help.  The same goes for Gypsy (the little handheld that allows you to design a page, and hook it up to your cricut and then with a touch of a button, it tells the machine to cut.); and the Cricut Cake line (allows cake designers to make all sorts of fondant designs by cutting it with a FDA, food-safe Cricut Machine).  They have also let go of key people who customers have grown to love.
The Pros of getting an Explore is something new (the idea of cutting with cartridges AND SVG files appeals to me), and maybe the price (6 flex pays if I buy on HSN, and I have an account, and I get the machine right away).
The only 2 cons I see to the Cameo is it will be a learning curve for me, but I am a fast learner.  Giving up on being an all Cricut owner would be another, but I can adapt.    The Pro of owning a Cameo would be that it is a tried and true machine, and the owners have not had too many complaints that I have heard of. 
So I have less than a month to decide what to do.  I have finished my research, prep my inventory, and check the finances, and I am ready.

So that concludes this segment.  Be blessed my friend, and make something.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Technic Thursday: Cricut Explore

photo by Capadia Designs
It has been quite a while since I have done a review on the Cricut machines, and I realize that I am still getting hits on my article on Hubpages, and there has been lots of changes in the Cricut camp (namely ProvoCraft) since I published it.  For instance, Cricut Imagine has had its issues (such as long software updates), and PC has decided to no longer make it and support it.  This makes it the biggest and the heaviest paperweight I have ever owned.  No love for the Gypsy or Design Studio either.  PC has even replaced beloved key people (like Jinger Adams) with people who could care less if you are happy sending that third machine back to them or not.  People were mad, furious, and they started to gravitate towards the Silhouette Cameo, making it the star of the electronic die cutting world.
Who would blame them?  I, myself started thinking about doing the same thing.  In October 2013, I did a little updating to my condo, by adding new carpet and painti
ng the walls downstairs and my upstairs hallway.  I had to move everything out to do it.  In the process, I lost two major cords; the cord to my musical keyboard (it takes ‘D’ batteries) and the cord to my Cricut Expression 2.  I know, tragic.  It was either upgrade to the Cameo or replace the cord.  I replaced the cord, but I am still thinking about replacing the CI with the Cameo.  That is, until I heard about the new Cricut Explore this week.
I am partial to the Cricut line, so much until I gave a friend of mine the Cricut Expression 1, and I have not looked back.  She loves it.  So what makes this new machine so special that it would make a former Cricut user switch back? We will have to wait and see.  
Photo by
Cricut Explore is being claimed as the easiest design and cut system in the world, according to PC.  You can go from a design in progress to a complete design in just a few clicks (so yes, you will need a computer for it).  This new machine does it all:  It cuts, embosses, it allows you to design with brand new software called Space.  You can cut with the cartridge you already own and will get in the future, and it draws. (Unlike the Imagine which just prints and cuts.)  The main complaint that customer have had in the past with PC was not being able to use SVG file with the machine.  The good news is, with the new machine, you can without buying the special software that PC sued other companies about in the past.  You can even use it with your Ipad and other tablet computers.
Like a kid in a candy store, I cannot wait to try it.  It is supposed to debut on HSN (Home Shopping Network) in Mid-February, stores in March.  Like everyone else who have had problems with their current machines and with customer support on those machines, it is a wait and see for me. I need to see this thing in action.  So it is one thing to have this thing become Cameo’s main competitor, it is another to have this machine work for you on day one.   If I get it on launch day, it will be with HSN’s flexpay.

When I get my new machine, I will do a review on it for those of you on the fence by the time it launches on HSN.  In the meantime, I will once again play with my other two (I can get by without updating the Imagine if I need to cut and print).  And you stay safe and warm in this frigid weather.  Be blessed, my friend, and create something wonderful. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

a crafty 2014...A redo

Happy New Year, Crafters
Today is one of those Q and A sessions, which is part “get it off my chest” and part everything else.   My intention was never to unload, which I am not, but I have to say something.
Do you feel the scrapbook/crafting world and industry is changing?   The reason why I am asking you this question can be answered in 3 problems I see:
1.       Every time I close my eyes, and LSS (Local Scrapbook Store) is closing.   I was on Facebook two weeks when I read a comment from my friend and former manager informed me and anyone who scrapbooks that Archiver’s was closing.   I sat there to let the news sink in and let out a great big, WTF?  Yea, it was that kind of night.  Archiver’s has been in business for 14 short years.  That is a teen for goodness sake.  I should have known this when my hourly salary stopped at $8.15 and I was cut down from 35-40 to 20 to 4 hours a week by 2010, but I thought as I had my last hours as an associate on January 17, 2010 they would bounce back.  I should have known this when the Mall of America location closed in July 2013, making it the first time Archiver’s did not have a Scrapfest in that location since it opened.  The final “nail in the coffin” act was when Memory Lab opened in every location.   They already had a machine that could print out pictures for you.  It was there before I started working there, but in a way, I thought the memory lab was a way of increasing customers who did not have a computer.  I will miss this store.  Now in my area there will only be three LSS other than the Michaels/Joann/Hobby Lobby, which I really do not like to shop at.   I will tell you later.