Thursday, August 24, 2017

Cricut EasyPress

I will admit, heat transfer vinyl (HTV) has always scared me!  The horror stories of getting burnt (or scorching the vinyl or fabrics) trying to apply it with your home iron or getting burnt from your big heat press....or even worse, spending all that time cutting the vinyl, weeding the vinyl, applying the vinyl...only to have it fall off!!! GASP!!!

So I avoided it. I have lived all these many years relatively happy. I had no idea that secretly I was longing to apply vinyl images to fabric items. And then Cricut introduced their EasyPress. A light weight, affordable, portable, fun way to create HTV projects at home.  And it's really pretty too! They call it 'sky' I call it turquoise. Either way, I love the color!

Mine arrived yesterday morning at around 11 am. I didn't get off work until 3:30 pm. Talk about agony!!!
But the minute I clocked out I was running to the craft room (I work from home, it's a short run lol)

I skimmed the instructions, grabbed the sample materials and off I went.

The first thing you need (besides the EasyPress) is a heat safe, flat, sturdy surface. Cricut will be bringing out a silicone mat later this year but for now they recommend a folded towel or heavy wooden surface.  Oddly enough, I have a huge, 1 inch thick, oak cutting board. I picked it up at an estate sale a few years back for only $1. It was out in the barn so I have no idea what they did with it thus I do not use it for food. I use it to cover my stove top when I have company and need more counter space.

Look at that puppy! It is big and weighs a ton! But it is definitely flat, sturdy and not going to catch on fire!

I did my sample project....I will let you be surprised when you get your own EasyPress. And I did my own project. I made a pillow with Glitter HTV. The iron-on came out great! My pillow was a bit wonky so I will spare you that mess lol

The real reason I brought you here today?  Shoes!

Yep, basic, simple, canvas tennis shoes. Last night I was so antsy. All I wanted to do was cover things with HTV. But the t-shirts I ordered aren't here yet and I wasn't in the mood to make another pillow. Then it hit me, I have a couple pairs of tennis shoes under the bed....way under the bed! lol  I bought them last summer for around $3 at Walmart. I think I wore them each once lol

So after work today I dug out the first pair I could reach. They were so dusty that I couldn't tell they were an eyelet fabric until I vacuumed them off. (I have never EVER said I was a good housekeeper lol)

The eyelet made me pause for a sec. Nothing like putting myself at a disadvantage right from the gate. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. Besides, they only cost me $3 and I obviously am not getting any use out of them right now lol

You  need a firm surface to apply the EasyPress on.  In case you haven't noticed, shoes are flat so I stuffed a small, rolled up dish towel into the toe of the shoe. 

I had an old hand towel from the garage workbench to stuff into the rest of the shoe.

I had to apply heat several times since it is slightly rounded surface but they came out great!

I used the cotton/canvas setting of 270 degrees for 40 seconds. (you can set these on the EasyPress) It heats up really fast and beeps when ready. It also beeps when your timer runs out. It even has an auto shut-off feature just in case you forget to turn it off!

Once the toes were done I thought it needed just a bit more.

It may look like the vinyl is not adhered well but that is an illusion due to the eyelet texture. I tested all the edges and everything is nice and tight. I then bent the shoes all around and nothing popped loose. 

I think I might be wearing some fancy tennis shoes tomorrow!

I think Cricut did an amazing job with the EasyPress. For those of us without room for a heat press, or are intimidated by the process of HTV, this is a great tool!  I was able to use it with confidence and produce perfect results right out of the box.

Thank you Cricut and your amazing design team!

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Crafting!

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Kodak Anna Griffin Verite 6 printer review

HSN all day craft days always cost me a fortune!!!  Their July day was no exception.  I ended up with lots of really cool stuff (which you will most likely see in later posts) and one thing I never even considered.

Anna Griffin gives sneak peeks of all her products every week on her blog. You know long before air time exactly what she is selling. She previewed her printer the week before the big day. I looked and thought....Nope, no need for a printer....and moved on with my life.

On craft day, the printer was the daily special. The introductory showing was the opening segment at 12 am (EST). I'm on the west coast so, 9 pm. I stayed up and watched. Uh Oh!

Hubby watched too, he NEVER does that. He started DO NOT need a printer! And we watched as Anna printed on vinyl, and canvas, and magnet what? I don't need to print on those things. And then she did it, she paired it with her Cricut Explore and printed up images, using Print Then Cut, on card stock. Normal, plain white card stock. And the images were Bright and Vibrant!

When I print on card stock using my Brother MFC-JW70DW the colors are dull and muddy. Don't get me wrong. It is a great printer! Images and text are crisp, the ink lasts 'forever'. Color prints on photo paper? Gorgeous. Color prints on paper or card stock....bleh.

The hubs and I were stunned. Was it just the lighting? Was she not really using regular card stock? They showed the printed material from several different angles. It looked fabulous. I looked a hubby, he looked at me. The host said....over 2000 of these are already gone. This is going to sell out in just a few hours. Hubby said, You better go buy it now. It will be gone when you wake up.  

So I did!  :-)

Am I happy I took the plunge? You bet! 

Here it is sitting beside my Cricut Explore Air 2 Anna Griffin edition. It is almost a perfect match. (the Explore is ivory and gold, the printer is white and gold) I am not someone who needs their stuff to match but they do look nice together.

In this picture the back of the printer is actually on the left. I now currently use it with the back facing me since the back slot is where you feed the special materials and heavier card stock.

Since my only issue with my other printer is color on card stock that is what I tested first. If that didn't impress me then back it would go. 

The top birds were printed on the Brother, the bottom on the Kodak.
The difference is noticeable in the photo. In person it jumps out at you!
This is Staples 110 lb white card stock and it now looks amazing.

The printer is compatible with your computer and can connect via wifi (you can hard wire it into your computer too with the USB cord that comes with it).
There is also a Kodak app so that you can print photos directly from your phone or tablet (or so they claim)
Any special materials must be set up via the app which some people are not happy about but that doesn't bother me. What did bother me is that they advertised that you can use Apple or Android apps...which technically is true but you cannot alter the Anna Griffin content unless you use an iPad (at this time)
When buying the printer from HSN, it comes with an Anna Griffin package of pre-designed cards.
If using an iPad, you can change the text on the cards to suit your needs. Once I figured out I had to use my iPad not my Kindle Fire it was very easy to create a card.

I was able to change the text to thank hubby for setting up my printer. He liked the thought but wasn't thrilled with the feminine card lol
The app walks you through step by step showing you which direction to load the folded card base....yes, already folded card to turn it to print the front or back and then how to get the inside printed if you want (you cannot edit the text for the inside - but if you have a Cricut Explore, have it write your message and cut your card base then do the outside printing)

Anna gave us greeting cards like above, ten different ones, ten photo cards which are fancy frames that you can center your own photo within and print, and ten thank you cards. I usually want to make my cards from scratch but if you are in a hurry this is a great alternative and they look very pretty.

This is my crazy girl Minnie on a photo card. Such a silly girl.

From the app you can print photos and envelopes, scan things, copy stuff and print directly from social media. 
I haven't done all those things yet but have tried printing photos. You choose your photo from your device, pick your print size ranging from 4x6 up to Executive (not exactly sure how big that is) you also have a Legal option and borderless options for 4x6 and 5x7.

When I tried just 5x7 and loaded a 5x7 piece of card stock here is what I got.

As you can see, it did not print 5x7, it didn't even print in the center of the card stock.
I tried several sizes and every time it would print up in the corner and smaller than the chosen size.

I found a way to remedy this. I send my picture to my computer, size it in Photoshop to 5x7 or whatever size I want then send it back to my device then use the app to print. Now it is already the size I want and prints correctly.
On the below picture, since I was already in Photoshop, I added a border to match the yellow on the typewriter. Photo and border combined were 5x7.

Now it prints centered (more or less). I still haven't figured out why it won't just print the correct size right from my iPad but I will keep working on it.

You also have the option in the app to "Print Your Own Design". This is the area that allows you to chose custom materials.
You choose your material size and type. You can choose paper, card stock, fabric, leather, canvas, cork, iron-on, magnet sheet, printable vinyl, sticker paper or tattoo paper. Pretty cool right?

I have tried the magnet sheet. (samples of magnet, canvas and printable vinyl came with the printer in the Anna Griffin bundle)
It printed beautifully. It feeds through the back slot so that it never bends or rolls the material.

I haven't tried the canvas or vinyl yet. I can't see myself actually printing on these extra materials that often but it's nice to have the ability to do so if the urge arises. 

But, when you say craft printer and tell me it will print on lots of things besides paper/card stock of course I have to try something off the wall.

This is Tucker (still miss him!). I used the plastic from a Cricut cartridge package. It is a fairly firm acetate. It ran through perfectly and did not smear the ink (that part surprised me)

It laid down a fairly heavy layer of ink. So heavy that 2 days later it was still damp lol

So I blotted it on a blank sheet of copy paper.
The blot dried immediately, the acetate took a few hours to dry.
Both are legible prints and usable in a project.
I am going to have to see if there is something like a "fast print" or "ink saver" mode and try again. But overall, I was impressed that it printed without smearing.

Then someone asked me, is the ink waterproof?
Only one way to tell. This image is one from Anna Griffin. The app has several inspirational quotes you can print up and add to projects.
This is printed on Staples 110 lb white card stock.
When I just ran it under water nothing happened. So then I rubbed my fingers over the ink and tried to smear it. Again nothing. So I let the water thoroughly saturate the paper and let it sit. As you can see the ink did finally begin to bleed, but only the tan not the green.
My impression is, if you accidentally get something wet, if you were to wipe off the water right away, I don't think it would bleed.

My overall final thoughts?

I bought it for printing on card stock for the Cricut Print Then Cut feature and for collage projects. 

Does it do what I expected? Defintely! The prints are clear and vibrant. It works beautifully with my Cricut (without even calibrating - I have the original Explore {as well as the Air 2} and you have to calibrate your printer- usually)

Do I think the ability to print other material types is good? Yes, you never know when you might want to print on something an old Cricut package lol  Although that was not the primary reason I bought it.

Do I think the app works well? Yes and No. It is fun to print right off your phone but the fact that things will not center on the material is annoying. 
I know how to work around that but it takes more steps than they imply...or maybe there is something I still need to figure out (but others online are having similar issues so...)
And I can always print on a larger sheet and then just cut it out but that kind of defeats the purpose too.  More to come on this issue.

Would I recommend this printer?  Yes. If you can get it with the Anna Griffin extra content.
Being able to quickly print beautiful cards and having the option of adding beautiful frames to photos is really nice.
Being able to print on cool things like magnet and canvas is fun.

If all you want or think you will ever need is to print on paper or card stock then no, you can probably find something else that will do that just as well and cost a bit less.

Overall I am happy. There is always a learning curve with any new product and I am sure I will work out the centering issue.
The quality is fabulous and I look forward to printing a lot more projects.

Here is the card I made using those test birds. The embossing folder and die cuts of the cage and branches come from Anna Griffin's Birdcages and Branches set (also from HSN on the July craft day)

I did some more Print Then Cut using Anna's latest cartridge...Her digital library vol. 1. (I told you that day really grabbed me lol)

Aren't these just the coolest????? This picture isn't even that great and kind of dark and yet they are still vibrant!

Here they are on a card.
The card base is from Anna's window box card set (not bought on the July craft day lol). I used the cutting dies included in the set.
The girl is from the new Gorjuss Girls set from that day on HSN (yeah I know lol)
And the Hello border strip is a Diamond Press cutting die.

Don't those shells and crab look great with the little girl listening to a sea shell?

That covers all my thoughts and tests so far. I hope some of the information was helpful to you.
I will share new info and tests as I get them done.

Until then, Happy Crafting!