run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Thursday 19 May 2016

If you've a crafty bone in your body...

Then this machine will change your life. Big talk, sure, especially when you're staring at a white box that looks a whole lot like a plastic printer, and no Inkjet malarky has yet come close to changing anyone's life. But bear with me...

I first came across the Cricut Air Explore at a Hobbycraft press show. Among all the glitter and bright colours elsewhere, it was sitting quietly in a corner, components diligently moving up and down inside its belly. 

I squinted for a closer look, mainly because my sling-bound tiny man seemed keen to find out what the (very quiet) noise was. And then I realised this little machine was laser-like cutting out the most precise pattern, in seconds. 
I am working my way up to this..

When the Cricut guys kindly let me borrow one of their newest models, the Air, something else quickly struck me: what was I doing dropping £40 on papercut initials and prints for weddings and new babies on Not on the High Street et al? (Search #cricutforbaby on Pinterest for more inspo..)

You can buy this machine for around £200 (yes, it's a lot but make 100 easy birthday cards with it and you've made your money back) and it'll cut out as many designs as you want, whilst you're drinking tea.

All you do is use the Cricut website or app (I do it with my iPad and it's so simple); type out a word you'd like cut out, or use one of the 1000s of images and designs they have (some free, most, irritatingly, costing around £4 each, although that's for perennial use), and then two clicks later, the machine is firing up - cutting out insanely accurate words and pictures in as long as it takes me to get out the scissors and cut a single wonky-but-was-meant-to-be-straight-line. 

If you insert thick paper or card, it cuts into that. Insert special sticky back transfer paper, and you can make designs to iron on to T-shirts (I made a name t-shirt for tiny man's birthday, and a matching one for his dad's a few days later.) Insert vinyl, and you can make stickers to put anywhere you like.. 

Cricut + transfer = DIY baby vest
Make a transfer at 1am, have a birthday baby vest at 1.10am.. then GO TO BED silly mummy!
Waaaay better than boring milestone cards
You know that annoying teacher-y phrase 'the only thing you're limited by is your imagination?' That's actually true here. I swiftly began making bunting for tiny man's birthday, and pro-looking personalised birthday cards for all my friends, which looked like I paid £5-a-pop in Paperchase but had actually taken about nine seconds on my Cricut (DON'T TELL...). 

A little research revealed these things are called die-cutters and there are a few brands out there. Hard-core crafters have made a zillion reviews comparing the intricacies of some brands vs others; sorry, but I've just tried this one and fallen in love.

Other good things? There's a free chat facility so if you get stuck, you can go online (I did so at 2am once: got addicted to this thing..) you can instantly speak to a real person, for free (Thanks Arjun, the random very helpful guy who I've sent SOS's to three times) - he's helped me doing multi-layer cuts, and sent over lots of YouTube tutorial ideas too. 

The machine is a slim, pretty good-looking box that won't take over your house. It's Bluetooth-enabled so you don't need to wrestle with cables, for we all know once a baby spots a wire, an ownership battle breaks out immediately. 
Easy birthday decorations (make the design, then 'print' 10 in 2 minutes)
My first Cricut project (oops I haven't pushed all the letters out yet..)
Cricut enters the kitchen arena with jar labelling
And if you're wondering why I'm blogging about a crafty thing on a baby blog, it's because I reckon this is an amazing parental investment: years of birthday decorations, home-made dressing up ideas, DIY personalised Ts, cards, signs, and arts-and-crafts projects are at easy reach. 

It's also great for making baby books or scrapbooks - instead of spending £££ on embellishments and cut-out hearts etc, you can make your own super really easily.

I'm the kind of person who has loads of creative ideas but am about as accurate as a hippo when given scissors or a paint brush: if you are, too, you'll love the Cricut's ability to make the randomest creative idea look pro. Just don't tell anyone my secret. 

* Run Out of Womb was loaned a Cricut Air for review; rest assured we only rave about what we really love.

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