Last week I got a sneak preview of the brand new Cricut Explore machine, and honestly, I can't remember the last time I was so excited about a new gadget. Ever since, I've been jotting down ideas in my notebook, browsing magazines and Pinterest for inspiration and waiting for my review model to arrive.
I already have a Cricut Mini and whilst that is great for general paper crafts and card making, precise cutting and even the odd bit of vinyl and iron-on vinyl cutting, as a general crafter I do find it a bit limiting.
The main advantages of the new machine are:
- It will cut a HUGE range of different mediums
- from fabric to felt to tin to faux leather - even plasterboard! This opens up a massive range of possibilities to someone like me who loves to upcycle. I have stashes of fabric off-cuts and I literally can't wait to start creating.
- You can upload your own designs
- now I'm not particularly artistic, but I'm really excited about being released from the limitations of the image library gallery. It means I can cut any shape or design I want and customise to my heart's content.
- Writing option
- so many times I've made a lovely item like a card or a gift tag, only to be let down by my shoddy handwriting. I've had to either ink stamp messages or try to run the item through the printer to get a decent message but the new Cricut Explore has a huge range of fonts and will print out messages on your finished item - use the handwriting fonts and pretend you've got the nicest, neatest writing in the world!
- Smart dial technology
- with the Cricut mini you had to manually select the cut depth depending on the thickness of your paper/card etc. This was very much trial and error and for me resulted in a lot of wastage. The new Explore has an easy dial which you simply turn and select the material you're cutting - no more guesswork!
- Pre-loaded projects
Cricut have been working with designers and bloggers to come up with a huge range of projects which you can replicate yourself. Simply by browsing their image gallery, find a project you like and click on it and it will show you exactly what you need and how to make it for yourself. Many you can also tweak and customise to make them more your own. There's also an image library of tens of thousands of images you can buy as you go or by subscription if you want to make your own projects.
Speaking to the team at Cricut, their passion for the product was tangible. They have spent such a long time conducting research, talking to their customers and making everything as simple but effective as possible. They really understand how their customers like to craft, how their homes work and have thought of every detail - like making it super quiet as most people craft in the evening when their kids are in bed or the family is watching TV. They've made the machine sleek and stylish so you'd be happy to have it permanently out in your home rather than have to pack it away after use each time. They've added hidden storage compartments so you can keep all your bits and pieces handy. They're included some materials in the box so you can get started straight away - honestly, I think they've thought of everything!
Here's a few of the designs they had on show at their preview event to whet your appetite. You can see the possibilities are endless - update wardrobe staples with iron-on designs; make wedding decorations and favours; cupcake toppers; embellish cushions; bags - even welly boots!
The new Cricut Explore will be available to buy in the UK from June 2014 priced at £249.99 from Hobbycraft and Amazon.
Please keep an eye on my blog and see what I create with mine, and if you've enjoyed my craft projects this year I'd be really grateful if you'd vote for Me and My Shadow in the Craft category for the Blogging in Brilliance Awards, which I've been shortlisted for.
Disclosure: I attended a preview event with Cricut and will be receiving an machine to review. All opinions are my own.