The Slice by Making Memories
Since Qwowi.com now features reviews of the latest and greatest scrapbooking products, it’s only logical that that we make room in our 2008 Tech Gift Guide for the hottest new die cutting machine around: the Slice Cordless Design Cutter by Making Memories. If you aren’t familiar with the lingo, a scrapbooking die cut machine allows you to cut out shapes and letters of varying sizes from paper.
Before I continue, let me make one thing clear: I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on the Slice since I first heard about it almost a year ago, when it debuted at the annual Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) winter convention in Anaheim, CA. Making Memories has carved out a niche in the scrapbooking industry by setting trends instead of following them. With the Slice, that tradition continues.
Making Memories is especially well known (and loved by scrapbookers) for their intricate and original die cuts — whether they be in the form of shaped papers, journaling notebooks or smaller die cut embellishments that coordinate with their collections. So it makes sense that Making Memories would come out with a machine featuring their own unique shapes and fonts. And that scrapbookers and cardmakers everywhere, including me, would want one.
The Slice is different from many other die cutting machines in that it is small, portable and cordless – measuring less than 5 inches square and weighing less than 2 pounds. In other words, it’s easy to grab on your way out to a crop so it won’t just sit and gather dust in your scrapbooking area. With the Slice, you can make letters, numbers and shapes ranging from 1″- 4″. You do need to hold the Slice on top of the paper as it cuts, or else it will not work properly.
The Slice Starter Kit ($150.00) includes the Slice, Basic Shapes 1 Design Card, 6″x6″ glass cutting mat, 5 blades, blade replacement tool, repositional tacky adhesive and a power cord. Additional accessories, including a 12×12 glass cutting mat ($20.00), 7 other design cards ($40.00 each) and stylish storage options are available separately.
After using it for a little while, I understand why the 12×12 glass cutting mat might come in handy; it would be great to have the option to work on a bigger scale. At some point I might also need a larger tube of glue, though I believe the small tube in the kit will last quite a while, since you only need to use a little at a time. (I have read about other Slice users having success with spray adhesive and other temporary adhesives like Hermafix. The key is temporary; there’s no point in cutting out a beautiful die cut to find it permanently stick to the cutting mat.) I also think the chance that I will own all the other design cards at some point is pretty darn high. However, this kit is all you need to get started.
The Slice is pretty easy to use. As mentioned in the easy-to-follow instructions, make sure to charge it for at least an hour before trying it out, and don’t forget to home the blade. Then you put glue and paper (after the glue dries) on the glass mat, insert a design card and scroll through the graphics on the 2″ LCD screen to choose your design. Press a button, and voila. It did not take me long to figure out how to get going, and within minutes I was cranking out my own die cuts, Making Memories style.
1) Shapes, fonts, shapes, fonts, shapes, fonts…Get the picture? By far, the best thing about the Slice — and the #1 reason to buy it — is to have the ability to create signature Making Memories fonts and shapes out of whatever patterned paper (and/or cardstock, vellum, vinyl, acetate and photos) you want, and make them whatever size (from 1″-4″) you want. Sure, there are other die cutting machines, but none of them are made by Making Memories.
2) The size and portability mentioned above. This is perfect for crafters who don’t have room for larger die cutting machines and/or want to take it to crops. After charging the Slice for 1 hour, the charge should hold for about 60-90 minutes, whether the unit is on or off. You can do an awful lot with this machine in that amount of time, and if you need it for longer just plug it in. It doesn’t bother me at all that I have to hold it as it cuts, because it doesn’t take long.
3) Variety. There is something for everyone on the 8 design cards, which feature themes from Halloween to Christmas and flowers to baby. See below for my take on the ones I have used.
4) Price. $150 isn’t chump change, but many scrapbookers spend well over $300 for certain die cutting machines. I think this product is priced fairly for what it can do. Plus, at $40, the additional design cards are quite a deal compared to Cricut cartridges, which retail for closer to $100.
The Slice is not without its problems/imperfections:
1) The Basic Shapes 1 Design Card , which comes with the machine, gave me a lot of trouble. Try as I might (and I actually tried 3 different machines and Basic Shape 1 cards), I could not get small shapes like 1 -2″ circles and stars to cut properly; they came out distorted. This is disappointing to me, and I am surprised that Making Memories did not catch this problem before releasing the Slice. However, it does not bother me enough to make me not enjoy my Slice. The larger shapes on this design card, for the most part, came out really well. Plus, I would be much more likely to cut a small circle or star with a punch rather than a die cut machine.
I spoke to Making Memories several times and was assured that their engineers are working on this problem that many — but not all – Slice customers have reported. It’s a good idea to register your Slice here to insure that you receive new information about the Slice along with any potential solutions to this problem.
Making Memories has a great customer service department, and they seemed very willing and able to help over the phone and via e-mail. If you have any problems, they will help you figure out whether it is the Basic Shapes 1 Card or a defective machine.
***UPDATE June 2009: Making Memories has issued replacement Basic Shapes 1 Cards to everyone who registered their Slice on www.whyslice.com. These cards include a calibration feature, which allow you to “tune up” your Slice so it can cut more precise shapes. After trying mine out, I believe it is a definite improvement. This is yet another reason to register your Slice! If you have registered your Slice and have not received your replacement card, contact Making Memories Customer Service. ***
2) I have also found that some shapes and fonts in smaller sizes (not just on the Basic Shapes 1 card) do not cut as perfectly as I might like. While this too is disappointing, I don’t see this as a huge problem for me; I am much more likely to use larger shapes and fonts for my layouts. The imperfections aren’t enough to drive me crazy anyway.
3) You can only do one thing at a time. More specifically, you cut one letter or shape at a time, manually move the unit and cut the next. With some other machines, you can cut a whole word or more at once. It all depends on what you want. In my opinion, the fonts and shapes (see Pros #1) are worth it.
As of this writing, Making Memories has 8 design cards for the Slice: Basic Shapes 1 (which comes with the machine), Basic Shapes 2, Basic Shapes 3, Noteworthy, Fa La La, Spellbound (Halloween), Fall/Back to School and Animal Crackers (Baby). I’m told they will roll out new cards with new collections.
Here are my impressions of the 3 cards I have been able to try.
Basic Shapes 1 – Besides the problems mentioned above, I can see getting a lot of use out of this card. I really like the fonts and many of the shapes featured here. I do, however, hope that Making Memories resolves the issues so everyone gets what they paid for.
Noteworthy – Just like the line of papers and embellishments that also bears this name, this card is a real winner. From (my favorite) label shapes to flowers and scalloped circles, this card will appeal to everyone. Especially this writer, who has pretty much every piece of the Noteworthy I and II collections!
Fa La La – You might find it surprising (as did I) that I loved the Fa La La card almost as much as the Noteworthy card, given the fact that I don’t celebrate Christmas and am not a fan of winter. But I was so taken with the intricate snowflakes I can create with just the touch of a button, that I will have to force myself to take some snow pictures to scrapbook this winter. And somehow, I am going to have to find a way to use that adorable Santa hat…
Needless to say, I am quite interested to see the design cards that Making Memories puts out in the future, and I will be sure to update this review as I add to my collection.
Tips for Use
1) It might take a little work to get comfortable with this machine. You may have to adjust the blade pressure to make it cut textured cardstock properly. (I did not.) It also takes some time to learn where to place the machine so you don’t cut over shapes you’ve already made but haven’t removed yet. Be aware of where the blade is when you start cutting in order to avoid any problems.
2) Don’t forget to hold the Slice while cutting; light pressure is fine. It shouldn’t be hard!
3) If you have any problems, refer to the troubleshooting guide in your instruction booklet or online. The answer may be as easy as cleaning your mat and applying new adhesive.
In my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons here, and the Slice is a tool that any scrapbooker and/or cardmaker would enjoy adding to the mix. Yes, there are some glitches, but that is quite often par for the course with any new machine. My only real problem with the Slice concerns 1 design card, and I am hopeful that it will be solved.
In other words, for every thing this machine can’t do, it can do a whole lot more. For the most part, Making Memories has gotten it right again.