Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Noisy Cricut

I got a new toy, you guys, and I need someone to tell me how to play with it.

BEHOLD!!

 
[whispering] It's so beautiful.

(For once we don't mean you, Suki. Sorry.)

The beautiful thing is a Cricut Air 2, for those who - like me - didn't know what they look like.

I've been telling lots of you that I've been thinking about getting a cutting machine for over a year now, but then John caught wind of it, found a sale, and brought home this beauty. I had no idea they came in teal, so... BONUS.

I've been watching a bunch of "instructional" videos on Youtube, and can I just say, most of what I'm finding are pretty bad. But funny. One lady kept dropping the camera, then she'd lose control of the zoom feature so the computer screen would suddenly zoom in 'til you could see the pixels, and where I really lost it was when she spent a solid minute of dead air time scrolling through a menu because she couldn't find a file that *I* could clearly see, so I'm sitting there yelling at the monitor "IT'S THERE! IT'S RIGHT THERE! CLICK IT! CLICK IIIIIT", and by the time John came in I was laughing my fool head off. Not because I could do any better, but because that was the final edit she put on Youtube. Then again, she gets the last laugh because I watched the whole thing, so there ya go.

Anyhoo, once I was armed with over 2 tedious hours worth of "instruction" from Teh Youtubers, I proceeded to watch in horror as John plugged the Cricut in and figured it all out on his own in about 5 minutes.

So not fair.

This is not a review, and I can't say if this will ever be worth the $200, but I will say that within an hour John and I were giddy with the possibilities. We've done a lot of tedious papercrafts here over the years, and most would be a snap to revisit with this thing. In fact, it took John less than 10 minutes to take our existing template of the Hogwarts House Nightlights and have the Cricut cut one:
 
This looks way better than my hand cut versions - and only took about a minute to do. Whaaaaat.
Now I know what all my friends are getting for Christmas next year! (Hint: it's not a Cricut.)

 Here's the machine set up, btw:

 We still have to find a space for it in my office. o.0

The first project on my list for the Cricut is revisiting the Craft That Got Away: the one that so many of you have spotted in the background of my house photos, and have been asking about for years now:

 
 My custom Harry Potter book covers.

 

These faux leather babies were a labor of love, emphasis on "labor". So much tedious sketching, cutting, and stenciling! I hand cut 22 separate stencils for this set (see how tiny they are?), which John and I then had to stick down & spray individually with gold paint. MADNESS. I wanted to make full sets in each of the 4 House colors after this, but I gave up after this trial run, realizing it was WAY too complex for a blog tutorial.

Ahh, but now - NOW - I think I can finally move forward using DECALS! And I can show you guys my secrets for making book covers that look like leather!

I went through a lot of trial and error to get the finish right, and I still have more experiments to try with the sheen, but I'm excited to revisit this. Making the covers was the fun part! (They're thick and pretty durable; I think we made these... 5 years ago?... and they're holding up like champs.)

If this works maybe I can finally show off all the minimalist symbols I drew for the fronts, too, since I'm kinda proud of them. 

This sheen isn't as nice as the red one, but you get the idea. 

Plus I can draw minimalist House insignias for the bottom spine design, so instead of the HP you could have a lion, badger, eagle, or snake. Ohhh, can you imagine? THEY'LL BE SO PRETTY.

Anyway, sorry to hype you up for something that probably won't be on the blog for a while yet, but I am PUMPED. Unfortunately we've already discovered the Cricut brand vinyl won't work - the adhesive isn't nearly strong enough - so John and I are researching more permanent, high-quality vinyls right now. (Any recommendations?) Once we have that I plan to make a bunch more book covers to perfect the process, then I hope to record a tutorial for you guys!

In the meantime, I'm still a total newbie to the world of Cricut, so help a girl out: Who has the best tutorials? What are your favorite kinds of projects? Where do you get your materials? Hit me up with your best tips and tricks. Most of the projects I'm seeing so far are just glorified label-making, but I know there has to be so much more out there, so teach me, oh Crafty Ones!


*****


Thanks for using our Amazon links to shop! John & I (and Eva & Suki) love you guys. USA, UK, Canada.

61 comments:

  1. 651 is a permanent vinyl that should do the trick for you. You should join the FB group Fanromly Made and Accio SVG - two great cricut geek crafting groups that share files and projects. I can't wait to see what you two make!!

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    1. Argh... Make that "Fandomly Made" 😁

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    2. Accio SVG is where I got the cute badger I put on my shirt for the Potter Party. ^.^

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    3. Nice! I'll check those out!

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    4. I was just about to recommend the same. Oracal 651 is a permanent vinyl used in the sign industry. Google and see if there is a sign supply store in your area - you can ask them for recommendations for different types of vinyl (glossy, matte, temporary, permanent) and even get a sample book. If they don't carry the right width for your machine, they should be able to cut it the right width. You also will want "transfer tape" in a couple of widths, it's how you can pick up a whole set of lettering and put it down with the right spacing.

      Trying hard not to make this the longest comment ever - I've had a Silhouette for years and have cut vinyl for a LOT of different projects. It's the best thing ever!

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  2. I love Melody Lane for tutorials in Design Space https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPvqhFCBvwhuheWOmex_NHHnNS0cfid2A
    I can't wait to see all the amazing things you come up with!!!

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  3. Oracle 651 for permanent vinyl, siser easy weed for iron on for fabric. You can order both all over but both are also at Michael's if you are in a hurry. 😉 Also I can't believe it took you guys this long to get one. I think with all the projects you do, the investment will pay off. Also. Explore cuts leather. Just saying.

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    1. Hmm, according to info we were given at Michael's, you have to move up to the Maker, not the Air 2, to cut fabric and thin leather.

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    2. My friend tried to cut thin leather with her Cricut Air 2 with poor results. Better to use the Maker for this.

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  4. Oracle 651 for permanent adhesive. Oracle 631 for removable decals (like for a wall). Welcome to a new level of crafting! 😋

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  5. Oracal 651 is more permanent than Cricut vinyl (and easier to transfer, IMO). Oracal also makes higher grades of vinyl that are more permanent. You can also use your cricut to cut stencils.

    Psst... Unless there's a big sale, Cricut's cutting materials are not competitively priced.

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  6. Psst...I think there might be an Epbot robot already designed in the files of the FoE group. :) welcome to the dark side, I love using mine to make stencils to etch glass!

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  7. I second the oracle 651 permanent vinyl. You can purchase it on Amazon or any craft store either online or physical. There are lots of Facebook groups for the cricut. The really good ones answer just about every question you can have no matter how often it gets asked.

    There is a learning curve, so take your time and don't give up! And when in doubt, ask! Some one has probably had your problem before and fixed it and can help you!

    Have fun!

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  8. I have had a cricut for years and years and am so excited for you! I to cut things out by hand for a long time before I had a cricut and it would take me at least a week for one project. Now it's a matter of minutes. I just got the air 2 a few months ago and LOVE it. It and my sewing machine are the only two crafting items that sit out all the time. BTW when I got mine they only had one color. The next week they had so many pretty colors but I couldn't return it for a new one.

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  9. Second for Melody Lane. There's a great Facebook group that she has where Cricut Support people will answer questions. They really do listen. It's also a great place to ask questions about projects you're working on or want to do. Also another vote for Orcal both 651 and 631. The cricut vinyl is vastly inferior IMHO and I've found a lot of them are translucent which was annoying to find out after I was almost done with my project.

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  10. Join the Facebook group "Cricut Newbies and Tutorials". Just do it.

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  11. Another vote here for Oracal when you want permanent vinyl. I’ve done car decals with that. Cricut brand is fine for removable vinyls, but expensive. Siser is my favorite brand, and I particularly like their sport-flex HTV, though easyweed is also good. Here’s my biggest pro-tip: don’t buy transfer sheets! Stock up on contact paper whenever Dollar Tree has it. It works just as well, if not better, and is WAY cheaper.

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    1. Oooh, good tip on the contact paper! This comment section is a gold mine, thank you all so much! <3

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    2. Contact paper has a bit more "stick" than the transfer sheets, but you can always stick it to your pants a time or two before using if the adhesive is too strong. Just watch out for pet fur in your projects LOL

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  12. Also, don't bother with the Cricut heat transfer vinyl (HTV), go ahead and buy Siser instead, it is SO much better! :)

    I've used my Silhouette to cut HTV which I then applied to all sorts of things, including leather, for cosplays :)

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  13. I got a Cricut for Christmas! I haven’t really done much yet, but I’m looking forward to figuring it out. And now I look forward to seeing what you two do with it too!

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  14. Like others have said, Oracal 651 is a well-regraded permanent adhesive vinyl, and 631 is their removable version. Siser makes great heat-transfer vinyl (this is what you want for fabric projects, and I believe it can be bonded to leather, too). I got a Cricut a couple months ago and made some really fun Christmas tees for my kids with the Siser HTV. Including one that glows in the dark! 😁

    I can’t wait to see what you make with yours!

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  15. Oracal 651 and Siser are the best I've found. You can find all kinds of tutorials on pinterest. Silhouette School is great and you may get some ideas even though it's a competitor to Cricut.

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  16. I work at a sign shop, and we do cut vinyl all the time, and I would like to echo the recommendation for oracal 651. We use that windows, vehicles, any flat surfaces. If your stuff is more textured or excessively not flat, go for the 751, which is meant to be more conformable, and a little bit of heat (like from a hair dryer) really gets it in the nooks and crannies. Also, their color shift vinyls are GORGEOUS.
    (I also just got a cameo, which is a different brand of home cutter, and am so excited about paper-cutting possibilities!)

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  17. YAY!!!! I’ve been waiting for that tutorial for forever!!! Woot!!! I think you could cut the stencils out with the cricut and then use my embossing powder method! It would look so amazing on that “leather” cover!!

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    1. I definitely want to experiment with that embossing powder!

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  18. I have a Brother Scan N Cut, which I truly adore. The following links are for the scan n cut instead of the cricut, but most of the techniques will work on your machine too. (Side note, the scan'n'cut will cut felt, cloth, leather, plastic, wood veneer, stamping material, thin metal etc and the cricut will cut all/most of those too.)

    My favorite is Julie Balzer: https://balzerdesigns.typepad.com/balzer_designs/scan-n-cut/
    (Imagine embossed HP tin christmas ornaments or a custom veneered box top.)
    https://balzerdesigns.typepad.com/balzer_designs/2018/02/create-wow-wall-at-creativation.html

    I have this one bookmarked because the instructions for dealing with the veneer are so nice and clear. http://coconutrobot.com/2015/01/how-to-make-a-wood-veneer-mobile/

    If you would like an easy stencil for your books, use a removable vinyl. Or, even better, make a silkscreen using vinyl and screen print the designs.

    A couple of my favorite sources for patterns:

    http://www.craftsmanspace.com/free-patterns/symbols-and-historic-illustrations.html

    Monica's Creative Space
    https://monicascreativeroom.se/cutting-files/frames-and-borders/gothic-windows/307/
    https://monicascreativeroom.se/category/cutting-files/3d-models/

    Not a geektastic site, but full of lots of random small things I find useful:
    https://lovesvg.com/2017/01/thank-you-for-reminding-me-what-butterflies-feel-like/

    Potentially useful for you
    http://dan99.blogspot.com/2015/01/a-bumper-pack-of-cogs-gears-and.html

    I like thingiverse too:
    https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:211

    (You need a 3d printer next, just sayin'
    https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3190284 )

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    1. Whoops, forgot May Flaum

      http://mayflaum.com/2019/01/12/scanncutdx-cutting-to-3mm/

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  19. While I adore my Cameo and wouldn't trade it for a cricut, YAY YOU! :) As others have said, 631, 651, & 751 are the way to go depending on what you're sticking it to. There are some GORGEOUS alternatives out there, but stick to known quantities at first. HTV (for fabric) is available in so many places that you can't help but run into some all over the web. Personally I prefer Synergy 17 because Joe is the BOMB. Love him! And while Siser is fine, I really love Thermoflex - it almost sinks into the fabric - but it requires a heat press (mostly siser doesn't, an iron is fine). Which means... a heat press is next!

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  20. Just bought mine in November and found some of the most useful videos were made by Cricut themselves, youtube. It's another crazy cult so remember other companies do make cheaper supplies. I like 651vinyl.com.

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  21. I am pretty hyped for that book cover tutorial because one of the things I want to make this year is a replica of Sarah's red book from Labyrinth that has an accurate cover! I'm so tired of seeing that one inaccurate design that's floating around (I'm sure you've seen it, the one with the traditional looking roses). A paperback version of the novelization is due to be released soon, so that's what I plan to build it onto!

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    1. YASSSS. I handmade Sarah's book for our Junk Lady to carry around, and was gobsmacked to see all the replicas out there are SO wrong! Oooh, ok, this is for sure going on the project list!

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    2. I can't wait to see the new version! I remember seeing your first take when the Junk Lady post came out! I once did an early take of Sarah's book for a quick prop using a thrift store book, tissue paper, and markers, and I've been wanting to do a nicer version ever since.

      And yes, it's baffling how many replicas use that incorrect design! So far the only place I've seen get it right are the instructions for the Labyrinth board game, where the instruction manual is done up to look like Sarah's book. I am assuming the accuracy is maybe because it was officially licensed by Jim Henson.

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  22. For vinyl stickers, unless you really need the extreme visibility, or want it for presentation purposes as a gift/product, clear transfer tape isn't worth the extra cost, imo. I've been working off an opaque roll of stuff that is essentially XXXXXL size masking tape and it works just fine.

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  23. Transfer tape is worth it to me if I buy the big roll. The adhesive is just the level I need. The big rolls are pretty well priced. It's more than contact paper, but I've found contact paper to be just a bit too strong for some projects.

    I used Oracle 651 and a monster roll of transfer sheets to do this: https://projectsinbedlam.blogspot.com/2015/07/more-vinyl-than-any-one-wall-should-have.html

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  24. Can you give us the short version of your book cover recommendation? I'm a vegetarian bookbinder, and love a good leather substitute. What do you use?!

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    1. Ok, JUST FOR YOU: It's made from a thin chipboard, but you have to treat it with the right mixture of glycerin and water, which I'm still perfecting. There's an old tutorial *somewhere* on YT for a small scrapbook cover that started me down this path, so you can try searching for a "leather-like" scrapbook instruction there.

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    2. So intriguing! Off down a rabbit hole I go! Thank you!

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  25. I get my permanent vinyl from expressions expressionsvinyl.com and i've been pretty happy with the oracal 51 and 651. I've not watched many tutorials so no suggestions there. Enjoy your crafty doodad! I love mine so I'm sure you'll love yours even more since you're crafty at least 50x more often than I am.

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  26. Ooh! I look forward to you learning more about your Cricut. I also got one last month for my birthday and have been using it to cut out fun stuff for my yearly Harry Potter party. Usually, I'm up cutting for hours in front of the TV until I can't feel my fingers. No more! :)

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  27. That's awesome! I got a Cameo and haven't had much time to play with it, I tried once and struggled, so I put it aside...and it got stuck in the closet. lol I did however find a few groups on FB that were for helping people figure the machines and programs out, so I'd suggest looking for those!

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  28. There is good written info at https://thehomesihavemade.com/2016/05/cricut-explore-home-decor-part-1-essentials/

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    1. Also, there are some good classes on Craftsy/Bluprint.

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  29. Oh wow, those are gonna look so good once you get the Cricut figured out!

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  30. A few suggestions I haven't seen yet:
    freezer paper stenciling. You can use the cricut on the parchment paper {it's a custom option} setting (shiny side up, image reversed). I usually prefer it to vinyl because I don't have a heat press and the vinyl starts peeling after a few washes.
    If you have access to Adobe Illustrator, use that to make your cut files then upload to the cricut software. I never design anything directly in cricut if I can help it, though I'm very comfortable with Illustrator.
    Coloring pages make excellent starting points for designs.

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    1. Oo! And stamps from craft foam. I use them to make personalized fabric.https://www.kimdellow.com/2014/06/diy-stamps-tutorial-with-cricut-explore.html

      One final tip: just play around with it and have fun!

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  31. Ooo,something else to know - you can cut fabric with your Cricut. Most tutorials will suggest interfacing and maybe spray starch to stiffen the fabric. I've had my best luck cutting very detailed cuts with something called "Terial Magic Fabric Stabilizer" combined with an adhesive interfacing like Heat n Bond. The Terial stiffens the fabric to feel almost like paper and it cuts very cleanly.

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  32. Another vote for Siser & Oracal, I've experimented with a ton of different brands, but I keep coming back to both of those. Be careful, these cutters are serious time sinks (but in a really GOOD way!), you will find a MILLION uses for them!

    I love cutting out "stencils" to etch glass, and my two sons think I'm just absolutely amazing because I can make them any graphic t-shirt they want :)

    And that's not even getting into just plain old paper cutting. Or rhinestone templates. Or custom stickers.

    I can't wait to see what you and John come up with!

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  33. Something completely different. But I know you like cats. You'll love this story: https://notalwaysright.com/the-cat-is-gone-in-a-creampuff/135595/

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  34. Fantastic! I've had a Cricut Expression for years, and I love it for scrapbooking. It makes cutting out titles and simple pictures so easy! Mine is the old type that you have to use their cartridges for, not make your own templates, so I'm a bit jealous of that!

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  35. Awesome!! I started a woodworking and vinyl business last year, and I love cutting things!! I'm actually going to upgrade to a commercial cutter when I can afford it, because I just can't do everything I want to do with this one. My fave vinyl, just in case you are looking, is Siser for HTV and Oracal for decals. I wouldn't ever use anything else, after much trial and error. And it's way cheaper to buy your vinyl online than in a store. :)

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  36. https://jennifermaker.com/ Great site with directions designed for newbies thru seasoned users.

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  37. See Kate Sew has the fancy new Cricut Maker, but she has some great tutorials for both material and vinyl that you can probably glean something from! https://seekatesew.com/

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  38. When you do put up the house versions... what if instead of keeping the minimalist emblems twice and removing the HP... you keep the HP and the emblems and add the house symbols? That way you indicate all 3: the series, the book title, and the house.

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  39. I think you would appreciate this one: http://www.designsbymissmandee.com/2019/01/die-cut-quills/
    (she has a bunch of Disney and HP cut files).

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  40. Oracle for all the non-fabric things (651, 631..learn those numbers and store them accordingly! Its a sad day when you mix your vinyls up and accidentally put 651 on your wall with an Xmas design and can't get it off in January. Just saying.). I don't have a heat press, so I use sisle for HTV so I can just iron it. However, you can use the Oracle vinyl for screen printing if you think you'll be making a bunch of something. And ink doesn't come off like the HTV does. Silhouette makes a screen printing kit for pretty cheap (goes on sale pretty often for $20) that can get you started with the basics and then you can just make your own bigger/better one :) And I HIGHLY recommend looking for a sign supply store locally. They sell vinyl by the foot. So you can see it in person and get just the right amount of each color/finish without having to have 15 feet of it to store (and maybe never use).

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  41. Jen, like all the others gave said you want to use Oracle 651 for permanent vinyl and Siser HTV firviron on. I order mine from 651vinyl.com Tgey have amazing customer service and ship very quickly. Have fun and enjoy!

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