After years of deliberating, and many many hours of research, I finally got myself a Cricut. It’s something I’ve wanted ever since I started doing my own art. I want to make sticker sheets primarily, but the possibilities of what you can do with it are amazing.
For those who don’t know, a Cricut is a digital die cutting machine. You can tell it what shape and what style to cut things in and it’ll do it for you. You can also draw with it if you program it right.
There are three styles of Cricut. You have the Cricut Joy – which is a smaller model and mostly used for making cards. Then you have the Cricut Explore Air 2, and the Cricut Maker. The Maker does a LOT more than the Explore. You can use a bunch of different tools and cut a wider variety of materials. It also costs a couple of hundred quid more. If money wasn’t an issue I’d have gone for that one. But an Explore does everything I want for now.
I ended up getting mine from a website called MDP Supplies. They make signs and things, and sell supplies in the same vein. I ordered it (along with a few extras) late at night so the next day delivery was actually the day after next, but it finally arrived. In two massive boxes.
I opened the bottom, heavier, box first. And there it was!
It was actually in there really snugly. It was hard to get the Cricut box out of the packing box. But Jasper helped.
And finally my beautiful Cricut Explore Air 2 was sitting on my desk.
When you buy the Explore you get with it a light grip mat (there are a range of mats you can buy with different levels of stickiness), the fine point blade, a 0.4mm pen, and some cardstock samples to run the introduction projects.
You download and open up the Cricut Design Space program – which you use to make projects and tell the machine what to do. The sample project that it gives you is a cut. It offers you one of six shapes – I went with this flower. It shows you how and where to stick the card onto the mat, how to feed it onto the machine. And then it cuts.
And then you spot the cat hair that is already on the mat. I knew it wouldn’t be long.
You weed out the pieces of the pattern that aren’t meant to be there, and then you remove your cardstock from the mat. Et voila! A pretty flower.
When I was doing my research I watched a lot of unboxing videos and I don’t know if there used to be a different starter project or if there were instructions to do it, but the samples in the pack also included a long piece of white cardstock and a shorter piece of black. The different starter project was a card that incorporated the pen tool as well as cutting.
So I looked that up in the Design Space projects. Watching it draw is kind of hypnotising.
Once it had drawn and cut, I weeded, and removed from the mat.
Fold the white cardstock, slot in the black bit, and there you have it. Very cute.
Time for the second box.
In this box were the other things I’d got. I bought the Cricut as part of a pack from MDP which included a bunch of A4 sheets of vinyl, a weeding tool, a scraper, and a massive roll of transfer tape.
On top of that I’d bought myself a second mat – not an official Cricut one, but it is compatible, a set of Cricut tools, and a deep cut blade & housing for thicker materials.
Okay. So what to do now? Well, I needed to cut some vinyl. When I’d told my sister on the phone that I’d bought a Cricut she thought I’d said “kraken”, so I decided to cut a kraken shaped vinyl to place on the top of the machine.
I found a free SVG (the sort of file you need for cutting) online and dug out a sample of purple vinyl I’d bought from eBay previously. I measured my sample so I knew what size to make the cut.
I cut on paper first, just to make sure, and then finally cut my first vinyl project.
It looks really good on my Cricut.
Another project I did in that first burst of experimenting was with a free SVG from LoveSVG.
When you draw, it only draws outlines really, but I didn’t mind that. I coloured the inside of the letters with markers and left it in my boyfriend’s bedroom where he’d find it.
I’ve had the Cricut about a week now, and I’ve done a few more projects, with help from Jasper.
After watching many YouTube videos – specifically this one about using vinyl to make an ombre effect and this one about layering vinyl (both by Kayla’s Cricut Creations) – I made a vinyl sticker of one of my little monsters. It’s not perfect – there are lots wrong with it. But it’s certainly not bad for my first attempt.
The Cricut-brand pens are quite expensive, but luckily there are lots of others that fit in the slot. I experimented with all the different pens I have and discovered that Crayola Supertips and Sakura Gelly Roll pens both fit and work perfectly.
I also took advantage of the free month trial of Cricut Access – a huge library of fonts, files, images and such – and did this shadow cut. This is something I’d like to do with my own art in the future, so I was eager to give it a go. Again, it’s not perfect. Mostly with the way I stuck it together, but it looks pretty good for a first attempt.
I’ve done lots more playing around and experimenting, but I won’t bore you too much. Yet.