Why a new blog on the Cricut Maker?

Here is my story. I debated buying an electronic die-cut machine for several years. I leaned towards the Brother ScanNCut because anything I could print, I could cut. The Brother machine scans the printed image, and then the machine cuts out the shape. However, I just was not sure that I could get the precision I needed to cut out paper pop-ups. Part of my product research included understanding the project workflow, the steps involved in designing, cutting and completing a project. I did not succeed getting my questions fully answered for either brand of machine. I was not going to purchase something so expensive if it did not help me with my primary goal of cutting paper for pop-ups and designs that are too time intensive to cut by hand. I needed to see the machine in action, ideally for the same project.

I download pop-ups from http://robives.com. The author, Rob Ives, has terrific projects for novice and advanced paper engineers. Rob has a Cricut, though he does not regularly use it for his designs. His preference is still scissors. He also designs for the Brother Creative Center. He had both products covered. Based on correspondence with Rob, I still did not have the information I wanted.

In April 2018, my local library (https://www.kcls.org) opened a Makerspace, a dedicated place to create. Besides the typical 3D printer and laser cutter, they have a Cricut Maker and a Cricut Easy Press. The library staff provides limited information on how to use the Maker. I received a demonstration on how to set up the machine and connect a library provided laptop. Then I was on my own. I work in the software industry, so I figured “how hard can this be?” Well, for something that is supposed to be drop dead simple, it was not. My first project was the standard “Smile” card. I am pretty sure I ran into every problem imaginable: I did not load the mat correctly and the first time cutting the paper just cut into the machine, then the edge of the paper caught in the cutter head, and trying to recut the first page resulted in a recut of the second page.

Despite the challenges, I fell in love with the Cricut Maker. I bought my own Cricut Maker two months later. Then, I learned about Cricut’s Mountain Make-A-Thon. A three-day extravaganza hosted in Salt Lake City, Utah, entirely about Cricut products, especially the Cricut Maker. I couldn’t justify spending the money to go to a conference I had just heard about. Sadly, I put going to it out of my mind. Just days before the conference I received an email. I had won a drawing for a free registration to the Cricut Mountain Make-A-Thon, which was two days away! OMG! My fiance used his miles for my airfare so my only out-of-pocket expense was the hotel and food. It was such a great experience I’m planning on going again in 2019, although with a bit more planning.

After the conference, I volunteered to be a Cricut demonstrator. By November, I was invited to teach classes on the Cricut Maker at the same library Makerspace where I had taught myself. Teaching at the Makerspace has led to additional requests for classes at branches across the local library system.

I can cut all sorts of materials, not just standard card stock. It took me some time, but I learned I like the separation of the design process from the print, score, and cut of the machine. It required that I change my thinking in how I usually create things.

I want to share with you my discoveries and help you enjoy your Cricut Maker as much as I do. If you take one of my classes, this blog is a resource for handouts and reference materials. If you can’t take a local class, then I offer my blog as your next best alternative to being there.

I would love to hear from you. Send me an email and let me know how you discovered Cricut and the challenges you face.

Author: Gwen Zierdt

Writer, artist, maker