Tuesday Review – Cricut Explore (from a non-crafty person)

I have a deep admiration for crafty people because I am totally not one.  It’s one of the reasons I love Pinterest so much.  It gives me so many ideas which I could never come up with on my own – especially homeschooling ideas.  Well, I was inspired enough to pick up a Cricut Explore when I caught a great deal on it during all the Black Friday specials.

cricutIn a nutshell, the machine is awesome but it doesn’t work miracles.  It didn’t turn me into a craft-savante that churns out Etsy-worthy creations.  Be warned, though.  It’s a money pit.  Besides the materials you’ll use to create, you’ll want/need basics for the machine: more pens, more blades, more sticky mats, etc. It does come with a small stash of goodies when you buy it– just enough to get you hooked.

I recently embarked on an ambitious adventure of creating 25 invitations.  I wanted these invitations to have beautiful, intricate cuts so it would look ornate enough for the occasion.  I also loved the idea of using the pen to write beautiful calligraphy-type writing on the invites.

My crafty experiment was an utter fiasco.

Some of the cardstock I used was some from my craft stash – Lord knows where I got it.  Apparently, my machine did not recognize it as card stock and tore it every time.  When I switched the cut-settings knob to paper, it didn’t cut deep enough.  The paper was just thick enough where it could be sliced and still not cut through.  I wasted so much paper trying to figure out the right settings.

Then, came the writing part.  I really wanted gold calligraphy for the inside of the invitations.  Let me share a secret about me – once I get a visualization of what I want, it’s almost impossible for me to change.  I am really not a go-with-the-flow person.  I was stuck on the gold idea.  The problem was that I needed the pen tip to be fine-pointed enough where the letters would be clear since the Cricut layers the font.  Even picking a single layer font, it still goes back and lines the holes and spaces in the letters which means letters like a, e, d, etc will get their holes filled in if you’re writing with a Sharpie-type marker.  The Cricut pens that are designed for the machine have too thick of a point, so I googled all the awesome sites that give alternative writing tools that still work with the Cricut.  I searched my stash, but couldn’t find any in gold.  So.. I went and bought some alternates.  After several days of trying multiple pens and spending a small fortune on alternative options, I finally gave up the gold idea and decided to go with the Cricut pen only to have it keep popping out of the holder.

cricut2See that port there on the left?  It holds the pens.  You click the gray lever back to hold them in place while in use.  I don’t know if it was because I was trying other brands or if other people have this problem, but my Cricut markers kept popping out about halfway through the writing.  And you can’t just go back and rewrite it.  It never seems to land in the same spot, plus it fills in the spaces in the letters even more.  It was maddeningly frustrating.  Top that with the paper difficulties, and you’ll understand my agony.

On my 580th trip to the craft store, I was loading up my cart again: a bundle of cardstock for $6, another $5 for gold paper background, new Cricut blade for $6.  And, then, I came across a set of wedding invites very similar to these. The best part- they were on clearance for $9.99.

invites I am sure you know what happened next.  All of the items went back on the shelf, and I happily walked out with my clearance purchase.  The pre-crafted invites turned out beautifully, plus it left me with 30 note cards for future use.  My Cricut creations died a sad, pitiful death.

The Cricut Explore is a really cool tool, and the Cricut Design space where you basically pull any image off the web and create a cut file out of it is unbelievable.  But, even the best tools in the wrong hands can make horrible messes.  I can handle really simple cuts.  I’ve cut letters and characters out of scrapbook paper for school stuff for the kids.  I’ve even cut stamps out of plumbing rubber.  Anything more detailed than that I’ll leave to those Pinterest and Etsy mavens.

**If you are a crafty momma, you’ll have tons of fun with the Cricut Explore and since they just released the new Cricut Explore Air, you’ll be able to get a good deal on this one!





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