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You could try this:

create the objects to be cropped in another canvas.

Select all, then go to Edit > Copy as... in the menu and select PDF

Paste the PDF into your original canvas. Effectively, this pasted object is treated as an inserted image - so you can change the shape and size of its container, as well as adjusting how the image sits inside the container (size, positioning, tiling).

Better yet, if you doubleclick on the inserted PDF it will open in a new "linkback" document. You can edit the objects there. Saving the linkback will refresh the image in your original document.

See attached, PDF of a diagram "masked" by a thought bubble.
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Last edited by nickel; 2013-03-18 at 09:16 AM.. Reason: typo