Monday, May 18, 2015
Working my Cricut
I mentioned a little while ago that I finally bought an electronic die cutting machine. I bought the Cricut Explore Air and now that I've had a chance to use it in a variety of ways, I thought I'd share with you what I've learned so far. This is a lengthy post, so my apologies but if you make it to the bottom, there's a free cut file for you. :)
To date there have only been two downsides for me. First, while it hasn't been an issue yet, I don't like that their design application, Design Space, can only function through their website. That means if their site is down or if you don't have internet service, you can't use your machine. I would much rather it be a program that you install and therefore can be used any time.
Second is the write feature. I loved how my title came out on a recent project, but later I went to try out a design for a card and halfway through writing, the pen (that came with the machine) began showing signs of running out of ink. This was only the second time using the pen, so I was pretty unamused. Not only that, but every time it completed it's path, there was a dark ink dot. I read some blogs that say several other types of pens will work. I tried an Infinity pen by The Write Dudes, and it did work as you can see below, but there was again a dark spot where the pen began and ended writing.
Ok, now that the negatives are out of the way, I can tell you that I'm really happy with how easy it has been to design, cut, and write. Not having anything to compare Design Space to, I have found it clean, simple, and user friendly. The couple of times I have not been able to figure out how to do something, a search on Google has led me to the solution. For right now, the Cricut sits on my desk and I've been quick to turn it on and cut out titles because I can design and cut something in the same amount of time it would take me to go through my letter stickers and decide on a set to use.
I've been quite impressed with the cuts the machine makes, most recently from an inline font called Ariq. I was hesitant to use the font at the size I did because I wasn't sure it would cut cleanly, but apparently I had nothing to worry about. Also, it was cut from a book page which I thought would be more susceptible to tearing, and again, I had no reason to sweat it. I changed the selection dial for material being cut to "Paper" and it that was that. You can see in my photo that I did have a little trouble getting the letters off the cutting mat and so some edges are a little jagged, but that was due to my hastiness.
My experimenting has also included designing my first cut file. The chevron pattern is on a rectangle canvas that I used for a full 9x12 background. This is free for your personal use and you can download it here, via Google Drive, no login needed. The download is a ZIP file that includes a PNG file of the image. If I have more cut files to share in the future, I might look into creating SVG files as well.
So there are my initial thoughts on the Cricut Explore Air. While I'm by no means an expert, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. I'll be back later in the week to share the full layout I made using the cut file. See ya then! :)