CricutPartyThis last Saturday I invited 50+ women into my home/studio for a crafty afternoon. I was joined by three of my favorite bloggers, Leigh Anne from Your Home Based Mom, Kim from Today’s Creative Blog and Chelsey from The Paper Mama to create a memorable workshop for those who joined. Wow! I had no idea if I could even fit that many people into my house. Yes, it was cozy, and I loved every minute of it. Silly me, I forgot to take photos as I was busy assisting with the crafts. Thank you to those of you who joined in the fun and snapped photos using the #cricutpdx hashtag on Instagram so I can share a collage of these fun pics here. As you can see in the collage, the guest of honor was the Cricut Explore and the main project was to decorate a plain tote with glitter iron-on. So adorable! A huge thanks to Cara and Mallie for joining us from Cricut and bringing all of the machines to make our bags. Which brings me to the subject of cutting machines. . .

I will begin with a little background on how I started using a personal cutting machine. As a paper craft designer I have become “one” with my scissors. I have spent many days and nights cutting out flower petals, paper dresses, anything and everything I am designing and crafting. It was quite a life changer when I bought my first cutting machine. The two options were Cricut and Silhouette and I chose the Silhouette because at the time that was the machine that allowed me to upload my own designs. Of course I had to have that option, so really there was only one choice for me. With my new machine, once I had uploaded and prepared my design I could easily cut a flower, or twenty in just minutes. Brilliant, right? I was completely sold on the personal cutting machine.

It was in the late fall last year that I received a colorful little box from Cricut, with a confetti filled invitation to join them in Salt Lake City in January for their BIG announcement. No hesitation here. . . I would not miss that for the world! I had a sense that their new machine would now allow me to upload my own designs, but I was not prepared for what they unveiled. The new Cricut Explore is more than just a cutting machine. It is a mult-use tool that gives me endless possibilities of what I can create using paper, fabric, felt, leather, vinyl and the list goes on.  As soon as I received my new Cricut, the Silhouette was set aside and I immersed myself in making projects and testing what Explore had to offer. Within one week, I knew it was my cutter of choice and the Silhouette went back in the box and was donated to someone who could use it. To give you the details, here are my top 10 reason why I am in love with my Cricut Explore!

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10) This reason is actually tied for number one so I will bookend the list with both. The Cricut team is the best! I do believe that it takes a great leader to create a great company and Ashish is that. He is a visionary. The Cricut team is extremely helpful and they work hard so that each and every one of their customers will fall in love with their Explore.

9) The machine is pretty! It is definitely a “Mac” not a “PC”. It sits right beside my Mac looking  just as handsome.

8) The team that designed this machine really paid attention to what crafters want in a cutting tool. They did their research! They snuck into our creative brains!

7) This machine cuts extremely precise and can handle small shapes and patterns. The blade rotates with the direction of the cut. I love cutting fine lace patterns so this made me very happy!

6) They have a variety of mats to choose from, some less sticky and some more tacky, so you can choose the right one to suit the material you are cutting. No more torn paper or shifting felt!

5) Not only does this machine cut paper, felt, fabric, oilcloth, leather and more, it also scores and draws. So many possibilities!

4) The German carbide blades last a lot longer than any blade I have used and I am a girl who goes through her blades! Did I mention the blade is super easy to replace?

3) Rather than removing the blade to set it to a cutting depth, Cricut Explore has an easy dial on the top of the machine that is marked with the material settings. Don’t tell them this, but I have even changed it in the middle of a cut.

2) The software interface is easy to work with. Soooo easy. It has a similar feel as Apple or Adobe products which means intuitive and visual. I love that I can jump right in and make a project without spending hours setting up the file. You all know I don’t have time for that, right?

1) My tip top reason: I am a designer so I have to be able to upload my own designs! Not only does the Cricut Explore let me do this without having to read a manual or do intensive training, but. . . drum roll please. . . I am now working on designs with Cricut that will be available to you when they release the new Print then Cut software update. Like. . . hello. . . no more circle punches needed for labels or hand cutting gift tags, or trimming my printables with scissors. This is HUGE! Honestly, I feel honored to be working with Cricut. Just to be transparent, I was also invited to design for Silhouette around the same time Cricut expressed interest and without hesitation I chose Team Cricut!

If you have any questions about cutting machines, please feel free to reach out to me. They are an investment and I promise if you follow along with me and the other creative bloggers out there designing and making amazing Cricut Explore projects, you will put this machine to good use and make your life just a little more handcrafted! ~ Lia

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