Last year my daughter, Jenny, told me about this cool machine her crafty friend Paulina was telling her about.  They were talking about the Cricut Explore Air, a personal electronic die cutting machine.  Jenny told me it could cut paper and other materials to use for all kinds of projects.  We thought it was pretty cool and wondered why we’d never heard of it before, and why we didn’t each own one.

Intrigued, I researched it and quickly decided I needed one.  It could help us make decorations for the 1950’s themed birthday party we were throwing for my mother that summer.  I figured I could use it to cut signs, menu cards, and other things we had on our list.  Now I only had to figure out how to buy one.  I live in Hawaii and the local craft store didn’t carry Cricut brand items and our Walmart didn’t stock them.

I mentioned it to my husband and hinted he should buy me one for Mother’s Day.  I told him he had to order it online.  He clearly got the hint and I got the Cricut Explore Air for Mother’s Day that year!

I was thrilled, and so were my daughters and grandkids.  Jaime suggested I make luggage tags for her and her son Jett.  My grandsons Dion and Devon placed their orders for luggage tags as well.

cricut explore airLast year I had no idea what I was doing but after watching lots of video tutorials I got to work.  I made signs, banners, cupcake wrappers, cake picks, and menu cards for my mom’s party, and the requested luggage tags.

I painstakingly designed, cut, and glued everything together.  My projects came out nice, but it wasn’t easy trying to piece together layers of tiny letters and images.

I knew I could print, but I had mistakenly thought that print was the same as “write” so I loaded Cricut pens into the housing and “printed” words on to my projects.  I was pleased with the results, but it wasn’t exactly what I thought.  The “write” command uses markers to write on the card stock, paper, or whatever media you are using, the letters weren’t as crisp as printing them on a printer.  I knew that I was missing something, but I didn’t have the time to figure it out.  But anyway my decor was a hit, it was just tedious to make.

Cricut Explore Air

Unfortunately I didn’t have lots of time to play with my new toy last year and I was getting a bit discouraged with the time it took for my paper crafts.  Still I managed to make birthday decor for my grandson Jett’s Thomas the Train Party which included a Thomas Photo Booth and Props.

Cricut Explore AirI also made lots of party decor for the twin grandkids’ Onederland Party.  That was fun, but lots of cutting and pasting.

I only wish I had known then what I know now!

After last Christmas when my kids gave me all sorts of crafting gear and Cricut accessories I knew I had to make time to figure out that Cricut Explore Air!

I mean I had this pretty cool, but pricey cutting machine and was getting frustrated whenever I used it.  Who really wants to spend hours peeling off paper letters then pasting each letter to card stock?  I knew I wasn’t using the Cricut Explore to its full potential and was ready to relegate it to the back of my closet!

But after reading a few blogs and watching some more how-to videos (things I should have done from the beginning!) I started getting excited again.  The projects folks were making and posting on Pinterest and Instagram were so pretty!  I knew I just had to master this machine and make those cool things too!

So I got my act together and turned one of my spare bedrooms into my craft room, it was so much easier to have the machine and other stuff set up and ready to use.  Last year I kept having to set it up in the family room, this added to my frustration, setting up then putting away every time I had to use it.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Cricut Explore Air

Stenciled Vase

Once I had my crafting space set up I was ready to go!  I don’t claim to be a master crafter just yet, but I’m pretty pleased with myself.

I’ve learned to use the Cricut Explore Air to make stencils which I used for signs, vases, plates, and other items.  I even stenciled a cabinet for my beach themed guest bathroom![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Cricut Explore Air

Appliqued Lady Bug Dress

I’ve cut out fabric appliques and sewed them on t-shirts and dresses for my grandchildren.

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Cricut Explore Air

50th. Anniversary Card

I’ve even made some pretty awesome greeting cards.  Like this pretty card I made for my Aunt & Uncle’s 50th. Anniversary![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Cricut Explore AirAnd this cool bowling invitation I made for my grandson Devon’s bowling themed birthday party.  For this card I even calibrated my printer with the Cricut Explore Air so it printed out the words and the Cricut cut out the shapes afterwards!  Yay!  No more pasting tiny letters to card stock!  I won’t lie, this took me half the day to figure out, but now that I know how it’s so easy!

Cricut Explore AirThen I made iron on transfers for that birthday party!

In short I fell in love with my Cricut Explore Air all over again!  It really is a great machine.  You can do so much with it!

Yes you can cut paper and card stock to make cards and and scrapbook frills; but it can do so much more!

This cutting machine can cut all types of materials including fabric (it needs a stabilizer like fusible webbing), craft foam, thin wood, and leather with a deep cut housing and blade that’s available separately.  It cuts thin plastic film, vinyl, and the list goes on!

This machine is great for many of your crafting needs!  But it does have some flaws, nothing insurmountable, but annoying none the less!  So here’s my list of what I love about the Cricut Explore Air and what I don’t like about it!

Loves:

The Design Space where you can design and create your projects.  The Design Space is a cloud based app that lets you use images and fonts you upload from your computer and Cricut images, fonts, and projects from Cricut.  Some items are free, others are available with a monthly subscription to Cricut Access, and you can use Cricut cartridges you may have (from older Cricut machines) or can purchase from Cricut and other craft stores and online sources.

I love the fact that you can print then cut pretty much with one click!

You can use Design Space to create from your laptop or mobile devices like your iPad or tablet.

The Cricut Explore Air can wirelessly connect to your devices including your computer, tablet, and printer.  This means you can design projects from anywhere, you’re not tied to your home computer or laptop.  All devices must be blue tooth capable.

You can cut so many different types of material so you can use it for any crafting project.  It really unleashes your creativity!


Dislikes:

You can’t share your designs made in the Design Space with others.

You can’t save your designs made in the Design Space on to your computer, all designs are saved in your online account.  This means you must be logged on to your online Cricut Design Space account to work on anything, whether designing, printing, or cutting.

You need an internet connection to be able to design, print, or cut anything.  So if you don’t have an internet connection you’re stuck.  You won’t be able to work on your projects that are stored in Design Space.

There have been times when the Design Space app won’t work using Chrome as your browser.  This usually happens after a Chrome update.  When this happens you must use a different browser, so if you don’t have a different browser on your device you must install one such as Firefox or Explorer.

When your internet connection is slow then working in design space is very slow, sometimes not possible because your connection times out.

Buying images, fonts, and projects can get pricey (images start at .99 each), and the cost of cartridges can add up too.  The best way to get around this would be to buy a subscription to Cricut Access for $7.99 a month if you pay for a full year, otherwise it’s $9.99 a month and you can cancel any time.  This gives you access to thousands of images, fonts, and projects.  The least expensive alternative is to upload your own images and fonts.

I love my Cricut Explore Air.  In my opinion my list of loves out weighs my dislikes.  Sure it can be inconvenient and frustrating when your internet connection is down for whatever reason, but I’ve learned to be patient and do something else while I wait for a connection.

Whether you’re a serious crafter or just a casual one you should consider this cutting machine.  Of course once you have one it’s pretty addictive.  You’ll wonder how you could have lived without one before!

* These opinions are my own.  I wasn’t paid or compensated for this post by anyone.

Having said all that here’s a couple of videos to show you how I made a graduation card in the Cricut Design Space and then printed and cut out the pieces on my printer and Cricut!

 

 

I’ve also shared some projects I’ve made using my Cricut Explore Air, some even have free template and printables like my Stenciled Glass Vase   and Gilded Photo Hangers.  I hope you’ll check them out and subscribe to my blog to get the latest projects, tips, and more!

Meanwhile happy crafting!