This is a totally biased and unprofessional review of Ellison Dye machines versus Cricut machines. All opinions are my own, and you should probably not make a decision based on those opinions.
When I was in libraryland, I loved Ellison Dyes! We had tons at my old library and they were so much fun. However having an Ellison Dye is not practical at home, so when I needed to redo some bulletin boards at work, I asked my friend Kathy if I could borrow her Cricut. While the Cricut worked just fine, I'm noticing some differences that I would like to discuss.
Here's the Cricut at work this morning cutting out my bulletin board letters. Why do I have Physics spelled out twice? Wouldn't you like know!
Anyway, the Cricut is great because it's portable (I hauled it in here myself) and the cartridges are super small. Kathy have me three cartridges with hundreds of shapes that I can size up and down and they take up the space of three VHS tapes. Not bad! Plus, you load up the paper and go. I was checking email and such while my letters were merrily cutting in the background.
But, you can only cut cardstock with this thing. I was specifically told not to use construction paper (which was good that she told me because that was my plan). Also, it's kinda slow. It took almost two hours to cut out all the letters that I needed (44 in total), and it's also LOUD! After two hours of hearing that cutting sound I have a headache.
Now the Ellison Dye machine:
Kinda looks like a medieval torture device, right? But it's great! You have these wooden blocks with a blade in them encased in rubber, then you put the dye over the paper, under the press and then work those arms! You can cut several shapes at once too.
That's the dinosaur. Imagine having to cut that out by hand. I did in high school while working at the library and almost lost the use of my right hand. It was very serious.
Here's my opinion of the Ellison. You can cut nearly anything with it. I've personally cut all types of paper, wax paper, fleece, flannel, even tin. It might not be great on the dye, but it works. Plus, I feel like there is less waste because I've learned to fold the paper exactly to get what I need. And it's silent! Just a little whoosh of the handle being worked.
But it takes some arm power. I had serious guns while working at the library because of this thing. Also, it's not portable. I could move the giant machine, but it took some work. I looked like one of those Olympic weight lifters that was trying to deadlift a Toyota. And it's not compact. My former library had tons of Ellisons and they took up one whole section of a rather large craft room. I'd definitely have to have an dedicated Ellison room, but it would be my favorite room in the house!
My overall impression is: Cricut wins. It's portable, more flexible and likely a ton cheaper, even though I didn't really research that part. But if I were given the choice, I would definitely get an Ellison first. It's like would you rather read the physical book, or the Kindle edition. I'm still trying to get on board with technology.
So, there you have it. A totally biased and unprofessional review of Cricut and Ellison, just in time for school. How are your new school year boards coming along? Mine have only gotten as far as the letters, but that will change soon!