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The Cricut Cutting Machine cost about £190 and is made by a company called ProvoCraft. It is aimed at Scrapbookers and Cardmakers as an alternative to a die-cutting machine.
I have owned my Cricut now for nearly two years and it is one of the most useful craft gadgets that I have.
The machine is white and grey and is about 14x7x7 inches. It closes securely and has a handle that allows for easy transportation although it is quite weighty. The electrical lead is a good length. The machine comes with one cartridge called "George and Basic Shapes". It also comes with a cutting mat and two blades.
On pressing the "ON" button the machine gracefully opens (like the old Tracey Island toys!). This reveals three dials,a cartridge slot,an LED screen ,a CUT and a STOP button and a very strange block of pale grey squares sticking up.
On opening the cartridge box the mystery is solved. There is a grey cartridge that fits neatly into the slot and a flexible keypad that fits over the squares. There are many design cartridges that can be purchased seperately (£45-£60) and each comes with its own keypad.
One dial sets the size of the cut, anything from 2.5cm to 14cm.
The other dials alter the depth of the cut and the speed of cutting. These are changed depending upon the intricacy of a design and the thickness of the paper and card being cut.
The paper you want to cut is placed on the sticky cutting mat, it takes any size up to 6x12 inches. The mat is loaded into the machine by sliding it in the front and pressing "LOAD PAPER". You then set the paper size by moving the cutting blade using the arrows next to the cut button.
Next you select what you actually want to cut out. I most often cut letters to make scrapbook titles but I also cut out shapes for embellishments and card-making. You type what you want using the keypad, this shows on the screen. Once you have chosen the size you press "CUT" and the machine cuts away, it is not very noisy and is reasonably quick. If you have mis-judged what you want and it will not fit on the paper the machine will not start to cut, it asks you to change something. This is really useful as there is nothing worse than doing half a title and running out of paper, it would be better to make it a little smaller! As the machine cuts the cutting mat comes out of the back so make sure there is at least 8 inches clear behind the machine or it will jam.
The machine produces perfectly cut images and can also be used to cut lots of the same shape or letter, really your imagination is your only limit!
I love my Cricut and although it seemed expensive when I bought it I now realise that buying Die-cuts is much more expensive and I am useless at cutting freehand.
I like the portability of the Cricut and it doesn't use the PC so it is very simple to master.
Unfortunately the cutting mats lose their stickiness so you have to replace them every four months or so and they are about £6. I have only replaced the blade once and that was £8. If you don't replace the mat when needed the paper or card will slip and just end up not cutting properly.
The range of cartdridges is immense with lots of fonts, animals, decorations and disney themes. I only have three and have found that they still give me thousands of options for my scrapbooking. I don't feel the need to keep buying new ones.
If you are not into crafting I am sorry if I have bored you stupid but this really is a nifty little gadget that I would hate to be without!
Cricut can cut beautiful designs and alphabets for card making, scrapbooking, and paper crafting.