Cricut Explore Review + Projects Highlighting Its Features

cricut-explore

Being a blogger, I get a lot of amazing opportunities to review products but this is definitely in my top 3.  The Cricut Explore machine is a design-and-cut system for making amazing, affordable DIY and craft projects.  It features Cut Smart technology, a Smart Set dial for easy material settings and the ability to upload your own designs making it the easiest and most innovative design-and-cut system yet.

What comes in the box:

  • Cricut Explore machine
  • Carrying Bag with handles
  • German carbide blade
  • Metallic silver pen
  • USB cord and power cord
  • 12″ x 12″ StandardGrip Cricut cutting mat
  • Getting started guide
  • Black and jade Cricut cardstock
  • Silver Cricut vinyl
  • White Cricut iron-on
  • 2 Duck Tape sheets

What materials can you cut with a Cricut?

Well, this is the fun part, you can cut paper, glitter paper, card stock, poster board, rice paper, vinyl, iron-on, transfer paper, leather, balsa wood, cork board, magnets, fun foam, canvas, washi tape sheets, and more.   Selecting the correct blade length for each project is simple because you just turn the dial to the appropriate material.

cricut-dial

Where do you get images to use for projects?

  • There are already free images in the Cricut Design Space.  To access them, log into your Cricut account and go to Cricut.com/design. Click on “Insert Images” and use the dropdown menu to show “My Image Sets”. The free content for the week will appear in that window.  There are 50 projects that you can make right away including greeting cards, jewelry, gift tags, bows, finger puppets, vinyl stickers, party decorations, pinwheels and more.
  • Each week you will be able to use free images in the Cricut Craft Room.  To access them, log into your Cricut account and open the Cricut Craft Room design software. Go to the Image Drawer at the bottom of the screen and select the cartridge drop-down menu. Select My Cartridges, and you’ll find this week’s special content added to your cartridges list. NOTE: you can only cut this content for free that week.
  • You can buy individual images and sets of images for a particular project or if you are like me, you will want to do a lot of crafts so you might want to sign up to their monthly subscription plan which is only $9.99 for access to 25,000 images. Or save $20 by buying a year subscription for $99.99.

Getting started:

  1. Plug in your Cricut machine and connect the USB cord to your computer
  2. Go to Cricut.com/setup and create an account (or login if you already have an account)
  3. Download the software and complete the registration
  4. Have the software Detect your machine and update software if necessary
  5. Watch the short video on how to import images and use the “print then cut” feature
  6. Now its time to create a project !!!

Halloween-PartyStraw--flags

The first thing I decided to make was some straw flags for our upcoming Halloween party using the free “PARTY” digital file.  I will fill the mason jars with some kind of “brew” for the kids to drink.   This was such a simple project and I was able to cut several words all at once.  The picture below is after I peeled up the black cardstock.

cricut-party

Next I decided to try out a project that included using the pen and blade so I chose the greeting card pictured below from their free files.  The software will break the product into 3 steps: the pen will print the word “thanks” in the first step, next it will cut the card out and then it will have you switch card stock to cut the piece that goes under the top of the card.  This card is actually really pretty in person but getting a great photo to show all the detail was a little difficult.

cricut-greeting-card

One of the best features of the Cricut is the Print Then Cut where you can print full color images with Cricut Design Space and your printer, and then you will cut it with your Cricut Explore machine.  I picked out little pumpkins from their free images and plan to hot glue them onto toothpicks to use as cupcake toppers.  As you can see below, when you print your images from your printer, it will also print registration marks that the Cricut will read so it knows exactly where to cut around your images.

cricut-printcut-marks

As you can see, there are so many great projects that you can do using this machine.  I am going to be showcasing new crafts throughout the holiday season so now would be a great time to buy one.  You can purchase Cricut machines and accessories from Cricut.com, Amazon.cm, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn, Walmart, Overstock and other retailers nationwide.  Also, you may want to go ahead and buy the Basic Tool set which includes a Spatula, a Weeder, a Scraper, Scissors and Tweezers.  These aren’t a must have but they definitely come in handy to help you remove your cut-outs from the board especially when you have tiny items.  I also recommend buying a second mat because many projects have you putting down multiple sheets and it just saves time laying them all out on separate mats.

To follow along with my craft series, make sure you bookmark my Top Seasonal Posts tag.

Disclosure: I was given the products featured in this post to facilitate my review. All opinions are 100% mine and not influenced in any way.

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Comments

  1. If you had to compare this to a Silhouette, which machine do you like best and why? I do like the idea of thicker materials being cut…

    • I have both and now that cricut has digital images and not just cartridges they are very similar however I like select features of each. I plan to do a post on cricut vs silhouette soon. It’s hard to say which I like better honestly. I like that the cricut has a dial and changes the blade length automatically instead of having to remove it manually an d adjusting it. I like that the cricut has storage in it to keep tools and markers. I like how the cricut lines up the mat as you put it through the machine whereas the silhouette you have to just eyeball it. What I like about the silhouette is that the software is a Disc you install so you don’t have to be online to play with your machine. Cricuts software is a website so you have to be online.

      The print then cut features are pretty much the same and they both seems to have a lot of image choices. As far as subscription costs or individual image costs, they seem comparable to each other. I like that the silhouette lets you keep the weekly free image for good whereas cricut only let’s you use theirs for the week it’s free.

      One big thing I like about the cricut is that you can have a marker and a blade in at the same time whereas the silhouette you have to do your pen first and then take it out and put in the blade to finish.

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