Hi, my name is Dee, and I'm a Cricut Newbie.
Guys, I finally did it – tried out a Cricut. The Explore Air 2, to be exact.
To understand the future, we must explore the past.
A little backstory: I remember first hearing of Cricut in maybe the early 2000's – remember those commercials? The ladies in sensible cardigans sitting around a table laughing, smiling, and crafting what were then AMAZINGLY COMPLEX AND AWESOME CARDS? Cut scene to the one lady walking up the driveway, casually swinging her Cricut by the handle (look how portable we are!), ostensibly to visit the home of a friend. She was barely in the door before she was surrounded, set upon by cooing housewives who let fly their Vanna White caresses and strokes across the machine, faces glowing with excitement. I. Was. Hooked. Was it my ancient DNA coding responding to the ability/need to “create?” Or was it something more superficial, like maybe their marketing team's clever subliminal message that I, too could have sensible cardigans, laughs, and loads of handsy friends?
Priorities and life changes
Whatever it was, it remained out of reach for a twenty-something with a low paying job and priorities other than crafty electronics. Flash forward a few thousand years, and I was introduced to electronic cutters via a Silhouette. Since my Cameo was my first cutting machine boyfriend, I fell in love, HARD. Nothing appeals to me quite as much as making things that don't already exist. Just crap that pops into my head – when I can make it, and put it out there somehow – THAT is my happy place. I became so enamored with the process itself, I began to wonder just what a Cricut could do that was different than my Cameo. Not that one machine needed to stand victorious, boot heel planted on the chest of the defeated other … more in the manner that we all have lots of girlfriends, right? And they fulfill different needs for us. We love them equally, they're simply different from one another. And we always enjoy making new friends to add to our lives.
That pretty much brings us to present
So it came to be that I made friends with a Cricut Explore Air 2. If you're new to Cricut, there are a ton of tutorials out there by MUCH more experienced people, likely to give you MUCH better (and correct) answers than I can right now in the realm of “how-do-I-blank.” What I CAN, and will, do is give you my fresh out of the box impressions of the machine.
Five things I liked, off the top
1. It's really pretty. Yes, the aqua/pale blue/light turquoise/whatever-you-want-to-call-it color scheme is everywhere these days, but with good reason. It looks like a breath of happy spring. There's a built-in cup thingy on top to hold tools, and after you open the door, there are two more storage spots inside.
2. Setup was easy. Unbox, plug the machine into a power source and your computer. There is also a wifi setup if you prefer, but note that you'll need to be within about 10-15 feet of your machine to retain connectivity. My wifi can be spotty during severe weather (which we get a ton of here in NTX), so I typically just plug mine into my laptop. Create a Design Space login & password (if you don't already have one), sign in, choose New Machine Setup from the left drop down menu. You'll be led through making a card with the included materials, which REALLY was easy. Like stupid easy.
3. The pens write like a FREAKING DREAM. The ink flows perfectly, smoothly, and though I was concerned the machine would smear the ink as it moved around – nary a smudge appeared. Either the ink is insta-dry, or Cricut infused some anti-smear juju into the machine itself. Maybe both. I did run into some trouble with the pens that had me ready to throw the machine out the nearest window, though in the end that turned out to be user error and temper control problems- just like most things. I'll get into that in another post, so maybe you don't make the same mistake.
4. Speaking of pens, the Explore Air 2 has a double tool holder. WHAT. It writes, then it cuts, and you just sit there watching in amazement. Blade on one side, pen on the other. Or, blade on one side, scoring tool on the other. There's also a feature called “2x Faster Print and Cut.” I gave it a spin, and it does seem to move faster. It's important to note that it isn't suitable for all materials, so do check before enabling that option. Wasting materials is so frustrating. ASK ME HOW I KNOW.
5. Design Space has a ton of stuff. Over 60k files as of this writing, and growing daily. To make it less daunting, they've included the ability to filter designs depending on what you're looking for. You can also upload your own designs for use, and save individual projects.
There are some things I'm still working through, and some I simply haven't learned yet, some things that aren't my favorite. I'm busy writing those up with a tutorial for a donut themed party invitation. Stay tuned.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.