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The Cricut Cutting Machine cost about £150 and is made by a company called ProvoCraft. It is aimed at Scrapbookers and Cardmakers as an alternative to a die-cutting machine. I purchased mine at a local craft store but several companies sell it over the internet.
What Is It?
I have owned my Cricut now for nearly two years and it is one of the most useful craft gadgets that I have. It is a cutting machine designed for crafters. The basic machine can cut through paper and card and can produce the design from a selection on seperate cartridges that have to be purchased. Its variety of uses to a paper-crafter are endless.
The machine is white and grey and is about 14x7x7 inches. It closes securely and has a handle that allows for easy transportation although it is quite weighty. The electrical lead is a good length. The machine comes with one cartridge called "George and Basic Shapes". It also comes with a cutting mat and two blades.
How to Use It
On pressing the "ON" button the machine gracefully opens (like the old Tracey Island toys!). This reveals three dials,a cartridge slot,an LED screen ,a CUT and a STOP button and a very strange block of pale grey squares sticking up.
On opening the cartridge box the mystery is solved. There is a grey cartridge that fits neatly into the slot and a flexible keypad that fits over the squares. There are many design cartridges that can be purchased seperately and each one comes with its own keypad.
One dial sets the size of the cut, anything from 2.5cm to 14cm. The other dials alter the depth of the cut and the speed of cutting. These are changed depending upon the intricacy of a design and the thickness of the paper and card being cut.
The paper you want to cut is placed on the sticky cutting mat, it takes any size up to 6x12 inches. The mat is loaded into the machine by sliding it in the front and pressing "LOAD PAPER". You then set the paper size by moving the cutting blade using the arrows next to the cut button until the blade is over the corner of the paper.
Next you select what you actually want to cut out. I most often cut letters to make scrapbook titles but I also cut out shapes for embellishments and card-making. You type what you want using the keypad, this shows on the screen. Alphabet cartridges often have an upper and lower case available. Once you have chosen the size that you need you press "CUT" and the machine cuts away, it is not very noisy and is reasonably quick.
If you have mis-judged what you want and it will not fit on the paper the machine will not start to cut, it asks you to change something. This is really useful as there is nothing worse than doing half a title and running out of paper, it would be better to make it a little smaller before you start! As the machine cuts the cutting mat comes out of the back so you must make sure there is at least 8 inches clear behind the machine or it will jam.
Unfortunately the cutting mats lose their stickiness so you have to replace them every four months or so with general use and they are about £6. I have only replaced the blade once and that was £8. If you don't replace the mat when needed the paper or card will slip and just end up not cutting properly.
The cartridges are about £45 but vary depending on the type and the extra features they have. Sometimes there are more basic cartridges available and they retail at about £25. Due to the fact the company is American I sometimes find some of the cartridges are very American in theme, it is impossible to get good Cricket or Football shapes for example.
Due to the way the machine measures size letters and shapes may not come out exactly as anticipated so it is worth doing some trial cuts on scraps of unwanted paper to calculate exactly what is needed.
When the cutting mats are very new they are extremly sticky so it can be tricky to peel the shapes off, sharp fingernails are needed or you can splash out and buy the accesories kit that has lifting tools to help.
Is it Worth Having?
The machine produces perfectly cut images and can also be used to cut lots of the same shape or letter, really your imagination is your only limit!
I love my Cricut and although it seemed expensive when I bought it I now realise that buying Die-cuts is much more expensive and I am useless at cutting freehand. I like the portability of the Cricut and it doesn't use the PC so it is very simple to master and totally portable. It is extremely easy to use.
It is now possible to buy Cricut Pens which fit inplace of the blade (they are very simple to swap over), you use them to draw an outline then you put the blade back in and cut the shape out, this gives a simple but pleasing effect without having to go back and outline everything.
The basic Cricut has now got several flashier rivals such as the Cricut Expression which have some extra features and can cut bigger shapes but I find the basic machine is suitable for all my needs.
The range of cartridges is immense with lots of fonts, animals, decorations and disney themes. I only have four and I have found that they still give me thousands of options for my scrapbooking as there are all sorts of size combinations and shapes. I don't feel the need to keep buying new ones.
If you are not into crafting I am sorry if I have bored you stupid but this really is a nifty little gadget that I would hate to be without!
Provo Craft Cricut Personal Electronic Cutter Machine
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Decorate cakes the Cricut way! Cricut Cake Personal Electronic Cutter creates ... more
professional-looking edible designs with precise, consistent results every time. Cake pros can delight in the ease and convenience, and those new to cake decorating can enjoy taking the time to learn how to turn delicious creations into true sensations. Use the included cartridge to turn your cake into a masterpiece--and use the ones you already own to bring your all-time favorite designs to life in a new form.Cricut Cake Personal Electronic Cutter is specifically designed for decorating cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and confections in no time at all. Just choose a shape, a size, and press "cut". Decorating like a professional has never been faster or easier. The Cricut Cake can cut frosting sheets, gum paste, fondant, and more.Cricut Cake Personal Electronic Cutter includes:* Cricut Cake Personal Electronic Cutter* Cake Basics cartridge* 12" x 12" cutting mat* Blade assembly* Keypad protector* Cartridge plug* Cartridge skirt* Blade cleaning basket* Cleaning brush* Quick Start Guide* User Manual* Instructional DVD* Cleaning Guide