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Making Memories Slice

Reported by: Martha Bonneau

Okay, so after several months of owning the Slice by Making Memories I am finally getting around to sharing my thoughts on this die cutting system. Disclaimer: I am not a die-hard die-cutter. The only other die-cutting system I own is a Quickutz Squeeze that has been sitting in my scraproom collecting dust for several years. Several things appealed to me about the Slice that made me take the plunge and purchase it: first of all I love the Making Memories fonts and designs. Secondly, the size drew me to it. It is small enough to keep out on my scrapping table at all times without being in the way. Lastly, I loved the idea that it is portable and could be charged up and used cordless which would let me bring it to crops. At less than 2 lbs. it is easy enough to tuck it into my rolling tote.

In the box you get the following:

  • Slice cordless design cutter
  • Basic Shapes 1 design card and design guide
  • 6″ x 6″ glass cutting mat
  • 5 blades
  • Blade replacement tool
  • Blade adjustment wrench
  • Power cord
  • Repositionable tacky adhesive
  • User manual
  • Foam applicator brush

Right out of the box, I was using my Slice within minutes…I didn’t even have to refer to the instructions to get started using it. I put in the Noteworthy design card that I had purchased separately, chose a tag design and then chose the size I wanted to cut it in. You can choose to cut each of the fonts and designs 1” to 4” in ½” increments. Unfortunately, I have found that at the smallest sizes of some of the fonts do not cut cleanly.

Before you start cutting you do have to prep the glass mat with an adhesive. The Slice comes with a small tube of the adhesive and a foam brush. You apply a small amount of adhesive to the mat and brush it all over. You do have to wait until the adhesive dries (which is only a few minutes) before you can start cutting. If you put your paper down on the mat with wet adhesive, be prepared to be peeling paper off of your mat as it will be glued in place. Something I haven’t tried yet but have heard works is using a spray adhesive on the mat instead of the Making Memories adhesive. At first I was hesitant about the adhesive thinking I would have to re-apply it each time, but once you apply it, it last for quite a few cuts before you have to wash the glass plate and re-apply it.

As soon as I started cutting my first tag I was startled by the loud, grinding sound coming from my Slice. The tag came out perfect but I still felt compelled to check the blade to see if that was the culprit. At this point I referred to the manual, made a couple of adjustments and went on to cut another tag. Same loud sound. I drove to my local Archiver’s since I knew they had a Slice on display to see if theirs did the same thing…yep, same loud sound.

For my next round of cutting with the Slice, I decided that I would charge it up and try it cordless. I plugged it in and let it charge overnight and got it out the next afternoon to use. I started cutting out multiple scalloped tags and was upset to find that after about 20 cuts, the Slice gave out on me and I had to plug it back in ton continue my project. I plugged it back in that evening for another overnight charging session and the next time I used it I did not run into the same problem and it has held a longer charge ever since. It seems to be a one time glitch with the initial charge.

Speaking of scalloped tags, I made some tags for Christmas that show you the difference in cuts between a scallop punch and the Slice. For these tags the bottom layer is cut with the Slice and the top is punched, the punch has cleaner, deeper scallops and the Slice scallops are more wavy.

I used my Slice throughout the holiday season and at a point noticed that my cuts were not as clean and decided that I needed to change the blade for the first time. The Slice comes with replacement blades and a tool to change them. I opened up my manual, followed the directions and very easily was able to change the blade. I went to make the first cut after changing the blade and nothing happened. I took out the blade, re-inserted it and nothing. I went into the Making Memories site, found a video that showed me how to adjust the blade, and I was good to go.

As far as what you can cut with the Slice, you really can’t cut anything thicker than cardstock. I have cut heavier weights of patterned paper, Bazzill cardstock, manilla folders, and Contact paper. It took me a little while to get over my fear of wasting paper while using my Slice. There was a bit of a learning curve for me as far as where to place my Slice on the paper so I would get the most from my 12×12 sheet. I really like that you can position the Slice anywhere on a sheet of paper to make a cut. That is how I was able to cut the tree on this card.

Pros:

  • Easy to use right out of the box
  • Portable, lightweight and cordless
  • Great selection of Making Memories fonts and shapes
  • Able to cut shapes and fonts in different sizes
  • The ability to make a cut anywhere you want on a piece of paper

Cons:

  • Loud
  • Cannot cut paper thicker than cardstock
  • Liquid adhesive that must be applied to glass mat
  • Do not get the cleanest cuts in some of the smaller sizes

In addition to the Slice and the different shape and alphabet design cards available, Making Memories also offers the following accessories: a 12 x 12 glass mat, a binder to store your cards in, a case for the Slice as well as a docking station and other accessories are available. The Slice retails for $149.99.

Have you tried out a Slice? Or have you been wanting to learn all about it? Leave us your comments and questions.

Cricut Expression Personal Cutting Machine

Reported by Sara McKenzie

Okay, so I admit that in addition to hoarding all manner of embellishments, I am a sucker for gadgets. If there is a new way to do something, I’ll buy it and try it. If there is a complete new toy, I might hesitate for a minute, but then, I generally succumb and buy it, too.

Such was the case for my purchase of a Cricut Expression Personal Cutting Machine, made by ProvoCraft. Basically, it is a computer that makes die-cuts. May not sound like much, but think about it: with a traditional die-cut machine, you have to manually put together the correct “sandwich” of materials, and manually crank it through the machine. You cut whatever is in that particular die, which is usually more pieces than you are actually interested in using. And, you cut that one size. One at a time.

I really do hate to sound like an advertisement, but the Cricut helps you get around all of these limitations. You select your image, load your paper, and press a button. It will cut one image, and stop, or you can set it to cut multiples of the same image without reloading. AND you control the size of the image. So your alphabet or embellishment can be 2″ tall, or 12″ tall (no kidding!).

I’ve used my machine recently for two different projects. For one, I was filling an order for 40 Christmas cards, all of which required a 2-1/2″ star cut out of Purely Pomegranate. In maybe 10 minutes, tops, I had all of these cut out of three pieces of cardstock, all while I was doing something else! In the second project, I created a snowflake in two different sizes to use as a stencil. In about 2 seconds (slight exaggeration, but you get my point).

Here are a few pictures. Above, is a head-on shot of the Cricut at work. There is a screen on the top left that allows you to confirm your selections. The key pad on the top, just to the right of center, is how you select your image. In the center right of the photo is a small, gray, triangular shaped object- this is the cartridge that contains the software for the set of images on the keypad. Just to the left of that is an object that has a round, green top- this is the cutting blade assembly.

In order to cut, you adhere your paper or cardstock to a special, tacky mat. In the picture above, the cardstock is white, and the mat is the blue-green underneath it. You insert it at the bottom of the machine, and then press the “Load Paper” button, which is in the same place on each key pad, no matter what cartridge you use. It automatically loads the paper into the correct position. You then need to select the correct blade length (longer for thicker paper and cardstock, shorter for thin paper); the speed of the cutter; and the amount of pressure it needs to apply for cutting.

For the snowflake, which is relatively detailed, I used the #6 setting for blade length (cutting Shimmery White cardstock from Stampin’ Up!), medium pressure, and medium speed. It is, of course, a good idea to practice a couple of times to make sure you have the right selections. Trial and error, in this case, isn’t so bad, since paper is cheap, and it literally takes only moments to test out one combination of settings.

You then select the image of your choice, the size, and the quantity. The machine will tell you how many of the selected size can be cut from the paper that you are using. (Yes, it’s that smart!) The picture above shows the snowflake cut, but not removed from the mat. Below, the cardstock is removed, and the snowflake remains on the mat. The mat is sufficiently tacky that you might have to work a little bit to get your image off. Of course Provo Craft sells a special tool to help you do this, but I find that a fingernail carefully placed under a cut edge was enough to loosen it so I could gently peel off the die-cut.

One cartridge will allow you to create a full alphabet set, upper and lower case, with a bunch of different variations (such as creating a shadow, or cutting it as an outline). Other cartridges might contain only images. Below is the keyboard cover for the “Plantin Schoolbook” alphabet cartridge that came with my Cricut machine. The picture is of the soft plastic pad that comes with each cartridge, and which you lay on top of the actual keys on the Cricut machine. The actual size of keypad is 3″ X 7″, and each of the buttons is a comfortable size, so you don’t have to worry about hitting the wrong one.

Below is the keypad for the “Accent Essentials” cartridge which contained my snowflake. You can see here that every key is for a different graphic design. The snowflake image is “Accent 13”, which is shown also in the booklet that comes with the cartridge.

The booklet that comes with each cartridge (below) gives you an idea of what each image will look like when you cut it in the basic mode, versus using different modes that give other effects. In this example, on the lower left (on the green background), is the basic snowflake image, and just above it to the right is in “Shift” mode- the center of the snowflake is not cut out. On the right-hand side, with the white background, is what happens if you use the “Shadow” mode for the snowflake (the green image). It creates something heavier and larger, so you can create a “shadow” effect underneath the basic image. And, the blue image is the “Shadow” and “Shift” used together. Thus with each key, you have the possibility of four related images.

Cool, huh? But, of course, like all good things, it comes at a price. Not only is the machine pricey (over $300 suggested retail), but the cartridges each run anywhere from $45-$55. You could certainly get along with a single cartridge for quite a while, though, since there are so many effects, and even the alphabet cartridges contain other decorative elements. And, since the big box craft stores periodically have sales on Cricut products, you could collect them over time at a significant discount.

The cost, though, is really my only complaint. The machine was incredibly easy to set up- I was cranking out stars only 10 minutes after getting the machine out of the box. It is so versatile, I believe it will pay for itself over and over again. It is relatively light-weight, and easy to carry around. And they now make a shoulder bag to make it easier to tote your machine to events.

Provocraft has also come up with the “Jukebox” which holds six cartridges and can be attached to any of the Cricut machines. You can attach up to three of these, and have 18 cartridges ready to go at any one time. Please note: I do not have this. In fact, I wonder at the actual practicality of it. You still have to use the keypad that is associated with the cartridge of choice, so you still have to switch out the keypad before you use the cartridge. It seems to me that if you have to do that, it only takes another 2 seconds to switch the cartridge…. plus, the jukebox takes up more area on your work space. I’d love to hear from folks who may have this to see what they think!

Features:

  • Mix and match creative features in the same cut
  • Use the entire library of existing Cricut cartridges
  • Cut portrait or landscape
  • Mat sizes 12″ x 12″ or 12″ x 24″
  • No computer necessary – it is a computer!!
  • Change settings such as language and units of measure
  • New LCD screen that shows exactly what you’re typing for your next cut

Pros:

  • Easy, easy, easy to use
  • Quick to set up
  • Portable
  • Pretty fast cutting
  • Versatile: one cartridge yields many images and effects; you can cut almost any size you want of the same image
  • Lots of cartridges available in a variety of designs and themes
  • Cuts through paper, cardstock, adhesive-backed vinyl, stencil material, magnetic material, and flocked, heat transfer fabric.
  • ProvoCraft also makes pens that can be used in place of the cutting blade, so you can draw the desired image.

Cons:

  • Cost: Retail price is $319.99 (as of 11/15/08). I’ve seen it as low as $229 on line, without any cartridges.
  • It does not have a center carry handle, so without a tote or a box, it requires two hands to move it around.
  • Cartridges are expensive, but you can usually find them on sale.

Overall, I’d give it a 9 out of 10 stars. Its price is my complaint; its versatility is my love!! What do you think? Do you have one? What about the “Jukebox”? Let us know by leaving a comment!