One of my Black Friday/Christmas presents to myself was a major haul from Silhouette during their extended Black Friday sale. I had a pretty good idea that my parents were going to buy me a Portrait, so my original intent was to stock up on blades and cutting mats.
One thing led to another, as is the natural course of things, and I became fixated on this curious little machine; a custom stamp creator that uses "thermal printing" (their quotes, not mine), 3D reliefs, and ink to create a permanent stamp that can be used up to 50 times per ink application.
In a method similar to the fabled "I only wanted two things" store trips, I checked out with far more than I had gone in for. On top of the blades and cutting mats, I walked out with a Mint starter bundle and the Super-Special-Awesome-Ultra-Deluxe Exclusive Once-in-a-Lifetime Mint Accessories Bundle. In other words, the Ultimate Silhouette Mint Accessories Bundle.
Please bear with me on these pictures. I decided that 3 AM was a lovely time of day to open up this lovely and the sleepiness coupled with lack of lighting left a lot to be desired in the pictures.
This was the Mint kit fresh out of the box. The only things not shown are the design studio card, the manual, and CD with the Mint program. If you lose your CD or can't find it in you to go through the hassle of an old fashioned CD installation, you can download the program from the website here. The Mint itself is incredibly small: approximately 5x3x1.5 inches in size.
Installation and setup of the machine is incredibly easy. Download, register (if desired), and open up your Mint program. Then connect your Mint to the computer and turn it on. The program should recognize that a Mint is connected and immediately give you access to it's Mint-ey capabilities.
Warning: If you have a lot of fonts installed on your computer, Mint will load all of those fonts each and every time you load the program up. If you have several thousand fonts and/or a slower computer, this may increase load time.
The program itself is easy to use. Between the program and the manual included, it's easy to get your bearings and go through the process of making a stamp.
I decided to make my first stamp using the 15x60mm kit included with the base bundle. The Mint program lets you select the stamp size you're working with and design your stamp from there. My first stamp was simple - my Furianne logo, without all of the decorations. Designing it was as simple as selecting the typing option, typing out "Furianne", selecting the proper font, and adjusting the sizing to fill the stamp.
The Mint program lets you apply a variety of filters to your design to achieve your desired look. This is perhaps best used for things like pictures, so I had no use for it here.
Once my design was ready, I made sure my Mint was on and clicked on the leaf in the top right corner, called "Send to Mint."
Printing the stamp was easy. I took my stamp as shown and placed it in a slightly angled slot on the back of the Mint. It self-fed the stamp through as it printed.
Once the stamp is printed, fold the cardboard casing along the dotted line and rip. Carefully remove the stamp.
The next part was difficult for me to understand. Perhaps it was because of my impatience, perhaps it was because of the way the instructions were written. Either way, I fumbled around for a bit trying to figure out how I was supposed to attach my design to my stamp kit/cover.
A full stamp kit has two parts: The stamp base (the bottom part with the wood) and the stamp mount, which houses the actual stamp.
The stamp mount is a two piece set. You take the topmost part off and there is a covered adhesive underneath. Remove the sticker covering the adhesive and that's where you stick your stamp.
I hope I made sense there. This is the stamp mount and base once attached. The stamp mount is simply uncovered.
From here you need to select what color(s) you will use. In an effort to stray from my norm, I picked purple.
Open your ink and apply a healthy dose over your stamp. It doesn't need to be everywhere - just where the design is. Once that's been done, let the stamp absorb the ink for 10-15 minutes.
Then it's time to stamp/clean off the excess. You can see the bottom two stamps in the middle column where I needed to clean up a little more once the excess ink had been stamped off. I simply used a Q-tip to clean the stamp on the extra areas.
Each stamp set comes with two appropriately sized stickers for you to label and keep track of your stamp. Here you can see it in action.
-Quick set up
-Program is easy to navigate
-Machine takes up very little space
-Stamp creation process is fast. The longest part is designing your stamp in the program, and the time for that is dependent on what you want to create.
-Stamps lasts for a long while after they've been loaded with ink
-Stamps can be reloaded once they've dried up
-Colors of stamps can be changed
-Each bottle of ink will last a long time; very little is needed to load up your stamps
-Can add up in costs between ink and stamp sets
-Unforgiving about mistakes. If you don't like the way a particular stamp prints, that stamp is now useless. No re-prints.
-Storage of Mint accessories is more trouble than storing the machine itself. Seriously, that ultimate set takes up about 10x more space than the machine. LOL
-If you change your mind about a stamp color before the color runs out, it might be a bit of a hassle to stamp a paper continuously to use up the previous color
Overall, I'm quite pleased with my Mint. I really had to stretch to come up with that list of cons, and I'm not that phased by it since I knew these things before coming into this adventure. I already have some cute plans swimming around my head for stamp uses, and I have a fair stash of sizes and inks to keep me occupied for some time. Now, to hone my drawing skills...