Thursday, February 13, 2014

Exploring the World of the Cricut Explore

I am a devoted Imagine user as well as a E1, Design Studio, Gypsy and SCAL owner. I have tinkered with CCR a few times, but never actually hooked my machine to the software. I swore I would never convert to a computer driven product and was resentful of the Cricut Mini when it was first introduced as I was sure the Imagine was a casualty to this new platform. That said, I was smitten with the Explore, like a drunken sailor, within 15 minutes of the first presentation on HSN. There were several factors that won me over:
  • No Fuss Dial Settings - the pressure, speed and blade settings have always annoyed me. I've wasted a lot of time and lovely paper trying to get the combination right so I really like that the Explore makes it so simple.
  • Draw using Pen Carriage - I own all of the Cricut markers plus a full set of Cri-Kits gel pens but I just don't use them that often.  It is such a pain switching them out, remembering to place a piece of paper over your project so you don't write on it and I worry that when I replace my blade it is positioned correctly in the carriage so my depth of blade number is accurate. With the Cricut Explore, you have a dedicated carriage making the process super easy and convenient. 

  • Add a Stylus to Score - One of my pet-peeves when I assemble Cricut projects like cards and boxes is that Cricut cuts little dashes to show you where to fold.  Those dashes do not always insure an accurate fold, and one edge of the "dash" often doesn't fold over so you project doesn't look polished.  The Explore allows you to insert a stylus in the pen carriage so your fold lines are scored when you go to assemble.
  • 3 Month Access to Design Space - Having access to all those images and not having to buy them enticed me. Its odd because of my disdain towards CCR but they hooked me with their "Make it Now" feature.
  • "Make It Now" Projects on Design Space- If, in fact, creating these pre-made projects are as simple as Anna Griffin made it look, then !HEL-LO! - that rocks! I have a huge box of cuts that I have made over the years that were to big, too small, flipped the wrong direction or made from the wrong color paper. I would be thrilled to be able to cut those issues to a minimum.
  • Did You Say Leather? - I love that it can cut through so many materials. I know other Cricut machines have made this claim but owning a machine that is (supposed to be) designed specifically to cut materials other than paper is exciting.
  • Cut Your Own Designs - I love that!  I know this feature has been around for a while - it is just a matter of converting images into Vector files, but having it integrated into my Cricut system is one less "language" I have to learn...  It feels so daunting to have to think about scanning the image, opening it in Photoshop or into other software conversion programs to covert it to a vector file and then bring it up into the cutter software and do this and that to make sure it works,  I'd rather scan and then stay in one program for the rest of the process.
It almost seems to good to be true but I really do hope that it is everything Anna Griffin says it is. I will admit that her endorsement weighed in on my decision to buy. She is a very reputable and an extraordinarily detail oriented person, so I don't think she would put her name in front of a product without doing her due diligence. Just look at her designs to see her attention to detail and her HSN Holiday Card Kit is an excellent example of her commitment to quality products.
At the end of the day, I am a Cricut girl- head to toe, I can tell you that I am still using my Imagine regularly and love it just as I did the day I bought it! My Expression and Gypsy see the most action because of the design flexibility. I don't even house them in my art room.  Both devices stay on the floor of my bedroom because I am constantly whipping out a quick cut for one thing or another.

It makes me sad to hear that so many people have had so much trouble with their machines and with Provo Craft customer service. I would have lost my marbles if I had had to navigate the issues so many have written about. I really hope that all the problems will be a thing of the past and that the entire Cricut brand is being reborn moving forward.  I also hope that they do not discard their stand alone business and production of new cartridges. Such an amputation would be unforgivable, even to me, a soon to be computer-dependent-die-cut-machine owner. We will see soon enough.  You know I will be posting my thoughts and experiences as soon as my box arrives. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts and any insight you have about this new realm of the Cricut world...


  1. I love my Expression and my Gypsy. Though I am still trying to master all that the gypsy will do, I still love being able to create on it. I also am a fan of CCR, though it allows you the same options basically as the gypsy, it does come in much larger and when your eyes are getting older it makes for a better picture. I looked at the imagine and just couldnt bring myself to do it. The cost kept me out of the game, with having to replace the ink and still buy carts for it. I read posts where it really took alot of ink and well for me it was just cheaper to buy background paper and continue to use my faithful expression. I guess I have been one of the lucky customers who have not had a problem with their products. I have just had the typical updates and replace blade issues. I have been looking at the exploer though and am not quite sure what to think. I like that it will set with just a turn of a dial to your material type, but it seem a little complicated when it comes to loading images to cut. maybe its just me and I would have to sit down and take a lesson. I love the design and the fact that it is quieter, and has a little light. Maybe I will purchase one down the road after all the bugs have been worked out. Maybe I will just stay a nervous Nellie and a die hard expression fan. I don;t know, but I do know I love my cutter.

  2. I am a total newbie with explore being my first - I am in craft heaven.