If you’re a Pinterest user or you follow crafting blogs, you’re probably already aware of Cricut Machines. Even if you’re not sure you’ve heard the name, you’ve seen what they’re capable of. Because of their versatility and the polished, professional feel of their output, you may not have even realized you were looking at home-crafted products. In this article, I’m going to go over the basics of what exactly a Cricut Machine is, and the amazing things you can make with one.
Okay, So What Is a Cricut Machine?
First things first — when I say “Cricut Machine,” I’m actually referring to a line of different products made by the Cricut company. They have very slightly different functionality between models, which I’ll get to in a minute. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus on what they have in common.
I find it’s helpful to think of a Cricut Machine almost like a printer. It certainly looks like one. The main difference is that its primary purpose is actually cutting, not printing. Whereas a printer puts the ink where you want it, a Cricut Machine will cut where you want it to.
Cutting designs into or out of different materials has long been a staple of the crafting scene. If you’ve scrapbooked in the past, you probably have a few bulky devices, each capable of stamping out some specific pattern. Cricut Machines consolidate the task. Instead of buying new cartridges or attachments to get a new design, you simply tell the Cricut Machine to use a new cut file.
Cricut gives you access to a huge library of cut files, and like a regular old printer, you can bring in your own designs. This really beats the old crafting system of buying another set of alphabet blocks every time you want a new font. Their design software makes it easy to dial in exactly what you’re looking for.
While you’ll still want to use a regular printer for a lot of your ink-to-paper work, Cricut Machines do have some printing ability. Specifically, they have a little slot where you can drop in a marker or pen and have the machine do the writing for you. This is great if you’re shooting for perfect calligraphy but your own handwriting isn’t quite up to snuff.
Here’s a quick fan-made commercial so you can actually see a Cricut Machine in action. Try not to get hypnotized by that smooth cutting action.
What’s the Difference Between Cricut Machines?
This all sounds pretty great, right? The question now is which one is right for you. Here’s a very quick rundown of their current models.
- Explore – This is your basic, entry level Cricut Machine.
- Explore Air – On the go? This model rolls in Bluetooth for wireless cutting.
- Explore One – The Explore One is a bit lighter on the wallet. The main omission you’ll notice is the lack of a double tool holder. You’ll have to do your cutting and writing in separate shots.
- Explore Air Two – Like the Explore Air, but has fast mode for double speed cutting.
- Maker – This is Cricut’s top-of-the-line machine. It’s got all the features of the rest, plus a new set of blades and knives so you can work with heavier materials.
What Can I Make With A Cricut Machine?
I’m glad you asked. The possibilities run deep, perhaps endlessly deep, so this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Check these out.
- Scrapbooks – Scrapbooking with Cricut could easily be an entire article. The machines make it easy to create frames for your photos, as well as all the decorative touches you could ask for: hearts, flowers, cutout text, or really anything you can think of. Remember, you’ve also got that marker option to lay down some eye-popping “handwriting”.
- Handmade Cards – I guess we could argue that they’re less handmade than if you were to meticulously cut out designs with an X-Acto knife, but you’ve still got some folding and gluing to do with your own hands. Let the Cricut do the hard work! Your friends and family will still be thrilled by the extra effort you took to make them cards instead of just hitting Walgreen’s on your lunch break.
- Party Decorations – Hey, if you’re giving out cards, you may as well do it at a party. Hanging up letters that spell out HAPPY BIRTHDAY are just the beginning. Signs and table place cards are a snap, too. How about a custom cake topper? With the Cricut Design Space software, you can even make your own gift boxes.
- Stencils – If you’re looking to add a painted touch to your scrapbook, your home, your kid’s lemonade stand or anything else, a Cricut-made stencil will ensure a flawless design. If you’ve got a teenager who’s too cool for crafting, this might change their mind. Check out this tutorial on how to use stencils and diluted bleach to make your own shirts. If you’re ready for some truly next-level crafting, you can even use your stencils to etch glass.
- Wall Decor – A big trend over the last few years has been the emergence of elaborate wall decals. You know the ones I’m talking about: inspirational quotes in flowing text, golden polka dots, cutesy animals in trees for the kids and flowery patterns for the dorm rooms. These can cost you a pretty penny if you’re buying the ones they sell online. Why not save yourself a few bucks? If you’ve got a Cricut Machine, the only other thing you need to buy is some vinyl or contact paper. You can also use the exact same process and materials to make stickers for your car window.
As I’ve said, the possibilities are endless. Once you’ve got the feel for how these machines work, you’ll find inspiration everywhere you look. I’ve also been revisiting this blog and this Pinterest board for even more ideas. What are some of your favorite uses for a Cricut Machine? Let us know in the comment section below.