I grew up in a fairly large village, near Bristol. Every summer my Mum would encourage us to enter our arts and crafts in the village fete. Mum always says… “the Fete needs entries so that it will run again next year.” She has several drawers at home dedicated to rosettes, ribbons and certificates, and there’s always space on the mantle piece for a winner’s cup, or two. The fete is still running, and Mum avidly enters categories spanning baking, painting, drawing, photography, vegetables, fruit, flower arranging, jam, poetry writing and short stories etc. She likes as many entries as possible – to improve her chance of winning, perhaps?
Just like my Mum, I’m trying to inspire a sense of creativity with my kids. We’ve all read enough ‘screen time’ scare stories, so lets just talk about getting busy this summer holiday.
Cricut asked us to try out their ‘Explore Air‘. It looks like a printer, but instead of printing, it cuts and draws and scores. The boys and I are planning to create screen printed t-shirts. They’ll create the designs (probably Minecraft or Pokemon Go related) and then we’ll cut out vinyl templates with the machine, apply them to makeshift screens and knock out screen prints.
Lou has already designed face masks for Just So festival in a few weeks ago, and Charlie is designing some stickers for a Lego robot arm that he is making.
The biggest problem I’ve found so far, is matching my expectations against my limited graphic design skills…but with so many projects online already, there is a stack of potential. The ‘printer’ (cutter?) links to your Mac, PC or iPad, and accesses its own online Design Space software.
I’m fairly sure mum would be getting one of these,too, if only it could also bake cakes and make jam.
“…Sorry, what does the Cricut actually do?”
It cuts. Its like a printer that cuts things out. Think fiddly paper cutting, but with ultra precise and repeatable digital technology. The machine itself looks a bit like a modern sewing machine – it has a similar aesthetic, and even has little storage flaps for the accessories. A big shiny rotating knob lets you select between sticky back vinyl, paper, card, fabric and poster board materials and that dictates how much pressure the cutter applies to the material. Other than that, there are just three buttons. Pause. Load material, and Go.
The online Cricut Design Space software performs a bit like a desktop publisher. You can create or import text, shapes and images, or import whole or part projects from the huge Cricut database. There is currently a Captain America tie-in with Marvel, plus no end of gift cards, invitations, table settings, cake decorations and signs, all photographed as if they were featuring on Etsy or Folksy.
So having completed your design, you apply your material to the reusable self adhesive mount board, and load it in the machine. The sticky mount has a grid which lets you line up the material with the software, and the printer takes care of the rest. It really is fool proof, and when you’ve finished ‘picking’ the cut outs from you work, the results are extremely satisfying.
But, it doesn’t just cut – you can set elements of the design to score (not cut) or swap the cutting tool for a pen, so you can draw or write.
With so many ways to use the Cricut, I can see my only limitation is time. We are planning so many craft days and projects, that we need a month off work/school to do them all. Wish us luck!
What would you create with a Cricut?
Collaboration Note: Thank you to Cricut for sending us an Explore Air for the purpose of this review. All words and thoughts are by Dan Taylor, images by Lou Archell. Thank you for supporting the posts that make this blog possible.
Dan Taylor is one half of Littlegreenshed. He writes and photographs with his wife Lou Archell.
When Dan isn’t being Dad, he can be found on micro adventures, mountain biking or in his workshop tinkering. Dan writes articles on adventures, the great outdoors, tech, cars and family life.