Monday, 05 December 2022 18:28

If Cricut is not on your Christmas list then it should be and here's why

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If you're looking for Christmas gift ideas - whether the hard to buy for or even the easy to buy for, let alone yourself as a treat - you need to check out the Cricut product range which allows anybody to express their creativity. Here's how to use the Cricut Maker 3 and Cricut EasyPress 2 to make your own personalised T-shirts.

First things first; it's Cricut as in "cricket,” and the brand’s logo even is a cute little cricket. You might have heard of Cricut from friends, family, and colleagues who swear by it. In fact, Cricut is to cutting and crafting that Thermomix is to blending and cooking.

It's an innovative suite of gadgets that convey a simple, humble design almost in stark contrast to its wide range of possibilities. At heart, the Cricut Maker 3 is a smart cutting machine, and the Cricut EasyPress 2 is a heat press. Yet, it’s so much more and empowers you to design and personalise almost anything - cards, apparel, notebooks, T-shirts, nightlights, drink bottles, bags, and laptop decals, and is limited only by your imagination.

The Cricut Maker range works with the free Design Space app for iOS, Android, PC, and Mac. Create your design in the app, then load the appropriate material into the device.

The Cricut Maker 3 can cut up to 3.66 metres in length and handles more than a whopping 300 materials like delicate paper and fabric, through to tougher items like matboard, leather, balsa wood, and more. It includes 13 tools such as different types of blades, engraving and debossing tools, a foil transfer tool, and more.

There are two smaller brothers, the Cricut Explore 3 and Cricut Joy which offer a lighter and slightly more portable experience, at a lower price point, but correspondingly with some caveats. The Cricut Explore 3 will cut over 100 materials and includes six tools, but with 10x less cut force than the Cricut Maker 3, albeit at 2kg lighter and $200 less. The Cricut Joy is the baby sibling which handles over 50 materials like sticker paper, vinyl, iron-on, and pre-scored cards, with three tools. It cuts up to 1.22 metres, but at a quarter of the speed of the Cricut Explore 3. However, it is a tiny 1.7kg and is half the price of the Cricut Explore 3. So, there’s a machine for all budgets and purposes.

You can see more details about materials here, as well as accessories here.

There is a lot of detail we could go into; the Cricut Maker 3 is a powerful, smart, cutting machine that can be used for every craft by every crafter. However, that would be like showing somebody a computer for the first time and saying it’s a machine that executes instructions loaded from a storage device into faster, but volatile storage, and by sequencing these instructions you can do things.

While factually true, that would be a pretty poor description, and ultimately the only way to truly convey or grasp what the Cricut Maker 3 allows you to do is to show it. By itself, it’s a machine, but in the hands of creative individuals with extraordinary imaginations it brings life to dreams; it imprints the mind’s eye onto the physical world; it makes seen that which was unseen.

For instance, out of one machine, you can make a veneer mobile, a 3D animal, a child’s jacket, a vinyl wall decal, an engraved bracelet, and a front porch welcome sign. And that’s only to start. It’s no small wonder there are Facebook communities - such as Cricut for Australians - and a subreddit where like-minded folk share ideas and inspiration, tipping the best bargains on craft materials, showing their creations, and giving helpful advice on how to continually improve your skills.

CricutMaker3 1 VeneerMobile 794x1155auto compress format q 75   CricutMaker3 2 3DAnimal 463x579auto compress format q 75  CricutMaker3 3 KidsJacket 463x579auto compress format q 75
 CricutMaker3 4 GiraffeVinylWallDecal 527x646auto compress format q 75  CricutMaker3 6 EngravedBracelet 794x1155auto compress format q 75  CricutMaker3 7 FrontPorchWelcomeSign 463x579auto compress format q 75 

 

Fortunately, I had Mrs iTWire to take me through the process.

Step 1: Use the Cricut Design Studio to create your masterpiece. Here, we’re making M&M-themed shirts for Halloween.

Cricut01 Design

Step 2: Open the Cricut Maker 3 up.

Cricut02 Open the machine

Step 3: Ensure the Cricut Maker 3 is up-to-date. The Design Studio will look after this for you, connecting to the device via USB or Bluetooth.

Cricut03 Update firmware

Step 4: Select the material; in this case, Cricut Everyday Iron-On, load the material, then print! Well, cut! When the Cricut Maker 3 prints, it literally cuts your design into the material you’ve loaded.

Cricut04 Choose material

Step 5: Open up the tidy little accessories drawer.

Cricut05 Accessories

Step 6: Cut out your design.

Cricut06 Cut material

Step 7: Time to fire up the Cricut EasyPress 2. This is a no-stress heat press with all the convenience of an iron. It makes any heat-transfer project easy. With the EasyPress 2 you can imprint your designs on shoes, stuffed animals, jackets, hoodies, wine bottles, tote bags, and more. It applies heat evenly and has built-in safety features too.

Cricut07 Heat press

Step 8: Press it! Here we imprint the M&M's onto T-shirts.

Cricut08 Press it

Step 9: Simply peel off the plastic backing and that’s one shirt done.

Cricut09 Pressed shirt

Step 10: Now repeat for the second shirt.

Cricut10 2nd shirt

Step 11: Ta-da!

Cricut11 Final products

For those new to it, Cricut has an interactive online resource that many find useful - Cricut Learn Learn, offering live workshops and step-by-step guides on how to get started with different machines and products. It also has interactive guides on how to create certain projects. Be sure to go visit and explore for yourself.

What will you make? The opportunities are limited only by what you can imagine. If you don’t have a Cricut Maker 3 and Cricut EasyPress 2 on your Christmas list, or that of special people in your life, surprise them - or treat yourself - with a gift that will keep on giving.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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