I Have a Cricut / Cameo / Silhouette - Why This?
The short answer is, you can create texture in your cards. While the aforementioned devices are no doubt powerful and create designs that the Empress can only dream about, there's no doubt that emboss machines give textures and creates intricacy that cutting machines cannot compete with. My most complimented cards are not the ones with the most layers or even the most elegant, rather it's the cards with texture. Cricut and other Cutting Machines just lack that ability to create the"feel" of a higher quality card.
Pros of the Empress
I absolutely adore my Empress. For those with arthritis or other mobility issues, a device like the Empress is a god send. Many die cut and emboss machines such as the Cuttlebug and the The Big Shot use hand cranks. Even myself who fancies himself as an amateur bodybuilder, finds the hand cranks sometimes require quite the amount of gusto. Pair that with poor stability and emboss machines feel unwieldy.
The size of the Empress is both a blessing and a curse. This machine is a beast. This is no doubt one of the heaviest machines out there (it will make your Cricut Explore feel petite), but the wide open slot means the Empress can do die cuts that no other device on the market can.
I also appreciate the numerous instructions which are clear and concise. Within a minute of plugging in the Empress, you'll be able to cut and emboss with ease. It's also a fairly quiet machine, with a hum that won't bother any light sleepers.
The Empress sings in quality. It's a sleek looking machine despite its bulk. The handle is sturdy, and storing it is a breeze. The accompanying materials: the die cut, the glass plates and the embossing folder are also similarly high quality.
That said, the Empress has a couple small concerns. The machine is physically heavy. Older folks may need other's assistance to pull out the nearly 15lb device. Portability and the Empress do not go hand and hand. And while most of the materials showcase high quality, the accompanying magnet for die cuts feels flimsy. Almost immediately it started warping in a way my plates haven't. In truth, this hasn't had an adverse affect on my cards, but I'm worried about the longevity of that magnet.
A smaller issue is that there is no tray to catch items passing through the Empress which means you need focus. While this isn't really an issue and more in-line with similar machines, the Big Shot does have a tray that catches.
Most concerning is the Empress is also, hands down, the most expensive die cutting and embossing machine on the market. At $200 to start, you're just getting warmed up. You'll need to purchase the large plate and magnet set which will run you $60. Pair that with dies that cost upwards of $50, and the Empress is one of the priciest card-making investments on the market (yes, even surpassing the mighty Cricut Maker). There's a reason the Empress isn't talked about—it's expensive. But considering the quality and the build, the pros far out-weigh the cons.
If price is not a worry, the Empress will create cards you can only dream of with other devices. Anna Griffin's die sets are the highest of quality. The fact you can create large cards with intricate cuts that are embossed is a dream come true. Almost every facet of the Empress heralds quality.
As one of my ultimate splurges in my card-making arsenal, I'm thrilled with my Empress. Just take a look at some of my results below.
|Easel cards never looked better.|
|There are so many ways to use each die set (this particular die set MSRP for $49.95)|
|Not all sets are created equal. This cut and emboss kit was recently on sale for $30.|
|This gatefold kit is one of my favorite dies.|