Sunday, March 30, 2014

Two Card Project Tutorials a Cricut Post Pledge

I was thinking that those of you who don't own a Cricut Explore are probably thinking "Enough with the Explore-centric posts already!"  So, while I am whack-a-doodle over my new machine, I think it is very important to keep with our regularly scheduled programming!  I am going to continue posting about the fun I am having with my new machine but, whenever possible, I am going to try to include how the same projects can be created using a Cricut Expression.  Some of the projects may not be possible because they are "Make It Now" projects in Design Space, but I'm sure a lot can be made in CCR, with your Gypsy and by using your machine keypad. Alas, today's and my next couple of entries will be covering a few "Make it Now" and svg projects that I recently made so please bare with me. I'm going to get there soon.

Now to take care of some unfinished business.  Last week, I posted a couple of projects that I promised to discuss in later posts.  Two of which were Cricut Design Space "Make it Now" projects.  The first was this Happy Birthday Explosion Card:
To make it, you need an Explore.  Just click on the link above and you will be taken to the project screen which looks like this:

From here you will need to grab a mat, a couple of sheets of contrasting cardstock and hit "Make it Now" on the lower right of the page.  Next you will see this screen:

From here you will click "go", load your first sheet of card stock and follow the prompts to cut.  After the interior front flap rectangle is cut, you will unload your mat and the following screen will automatically load:

Next to the "Mat 2" thumbnail, there are 3 circles with images of a scissors, pen and scoring tool inside of them.  These icons mean that Explore will be doing 3 tasks during this stage of the project: cutting, scoring and writing.  However, the order of the icons does NOT reflect the order that the tasks will be completed.  When you load your paper, you will see this screen:

At the very top in the blue bar you will be instructed to insert your midnight pen into the accessory clamp on your Explore.  I missed this when I first did this project so I had to make a mental note to always check the blue bar for instructions when working in Design Studio. HINT - whenever you load your pen, put a piece of scratch paper under the accessory clamp so you don't accidentally write on your paper if you apply too much pressure.

Once the writing is completed, you will see the blue bar instructions change to insert the scoring stylus:

Once the scoring is done, (personally, I would have liked a deeper score.  I will do some research to see if you can increase the score pressure and let you know) Explore will automatically start cutting without any additional instructions or pauses.

The instructions to assemble the card can be found on the original project page on the lower right, but here they are if you are doing the project now.
Making this card was really simple once I had the hang of the "Make it Now" process. I got rave reviews from the card recipient who even asked if she could buy a few!  They are so simple to make - I gave them to her.

The next project I did from the "Make it Now" gallery was the Anna Griffin Butterfly Card

This is not a free project like the Happy Birthday card above.  I have the 3-month free subscription to the 25,000+ images and 200+ fonts that was included with the HSN Explore bundle and this card was included.

Honestly, the hardest part of this project is picking out the papers you want to use.  It took me over an hour to select my palette. I finally decided on a paper from Basic Gray Phoebe for the primary print and then picked matching cardstock.  Remember this collection??

When you open the Butterfly Card project you will see this screen. 

It includes a list of supplies you will need to make the card, a photo and the instructions for assembling it.  I work on a laptop, so I don't know if this is true on all monitors, but this pop up of the project does not fit into my screen and I am not able to scroll down to see the rest of the instructions, so I had to "zoom out" using the zoom option under the "View" drop down menu on the web browser.  If this happens to you, you can also hit "Ctrl" and "-" (the minus symbol on your numeric keypad) to zoom out.

When you select "Make It Now" on the lower right side, you will see the project on the mat briefly, then Design Space will move on to this screen automatically:

You will hit "Go", then follow the prompts on your machine and unload when the cut is complete.  Then the following screen will automatically load:

Again you will hit "Go", load your next mat and follow the prompts.  After Explore finishes this cut, you will unload and the next screen will appear:

Here you can see that there is a tiny scissors in a circle and a score tool inside of a circle next to the cut thumbnail in the "Mat 3" row on the left of the screen.  This means that you need to insert your scoring tool so the machine can do both operations.  You will not need to look for instructions on when to do this as Cricut will move from cutting to scoring without a pause.  If you do not have a scoring tool, the machine will move on to cutting without issue. (The previous 2 mats have scissors only which means that these images will cut only.) 

Once all of the pieces are cut, you will be returned to the initial project screen where you can find the assembly instructions on the right.  I have posted them here also.
As you can see, they are somewhat vague but I used the photograph to supplement.  I altered the element placement, used a sentiment from my stash and inserted a folded ribbon rather then the bow.

I can't wait to show you my next few projects that I made from  I was delighted to learn that their projects work in Explore Design Space.  Check out this page to learn how to do this.  This video is also an excellent how-to!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

FCCB Bye Bye Birdie Challenge

This week's challenge on the Fantabulous Cricut Challenge Blog was Bye Bye Birdie - Make a Project with a Bird.  There are so many choices in the Cricut Image Library to work with.  I mean there is an entire cartridge - 3 Birds on Parade dedicated to bird images plus thousands of other feathered friends sprinkled among the other cartridges.  I did a search on Cricut Design Space "Insert Image" library with the keyword being BIRD and 1,218 images came up. 

Clearly, the most challenging part of this challenge is picking which adorable graphic to work with!

My project has a little Cinderella song in it with helpful little birds carrying a bunted banner that says "Sweet".  This is a Thank You card intended for my dear friend Laura.  She bought my daughter the most adorable dress so I wanted to say thank you in a personal way. The message, "you are so sweet" felt a little more appreciative than the standard thanks. 
I used the bunting images from Simply Charmed (there are a variety of flag options in the Font category after they finish with the alphabet) and the birds came from Everyday Pop Up Cards.  We would love to see what you can do with this fun challenge.  Post your entry on the Fantabulous Cricut Challenge Blog for a chance to win a surprise gift from our sponsor, The Robin's Nest

Pop on over to see her fabulous Products and amazing talent.  Her blog is wonderful!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My New Boyfriend, Cricut Explore & Our First Date - Page Pals

 As you know, I am in love.  Head over Heels.  In love.

I will admit, it wasn't love at first sight, but unlike my previous Cricuts, there was such a short "courting period", that within days I was caught in Explore's net...hook, line and sinker.

The Cricut Explore is so much easier to operate because of the preset blade settings, and Design Studio - which, um, has sort of revolutionized Cricut cutting for me.  I never realized it before, but the sizing and "which color for which layer?" and the keeping-track-of-where-you-are-in-your cutting-process gave me a lot of anxiety.  I didn't want to waste paper nor time and the extra brain power I had to strum up to actually focus hurt just a little bit.

That nonsense is now a thing of the past and I am a crafting maniac!  Not only has it reinvigorated my Cricuting mojo, it has got my creativity working on hyper-drive.  Yesterday I pulled out a canvas and my acrylic paints and painted all afternoon.  How about them apples?

So let me tell you about my first date with my Cricut Explore...

In my previous post, I showed you a few projects I made including some of these adorable bookmarks.  They can be found in the "Insert Image" area of Design Studio under Page Pals.  They are a CCR Exclusive set that is included with a Design Studio subscription for $9.99 per month.  Otherwise you can pay $4.99 to own them (available as a digital set only) to use in Cricut Craft Room or Design Studio.

I selected multiple bookmark projects in the Insert Image menu (on right 1/4 way down the page) and when they appeared on my mat, they came stacked on top of one another. I didn't change the size the images came in when Design Studio placed them on my mat.  They worked just fine in a 3.65" width (before folding the side flaps), however, I would recommend making them a little larger so you can really show off their adorableness!  Maybe take them up to 4.25"?

The first thing I did was move them around so I could see each bookmark.  If you want to resize the image, you can do it at this time by selecting "edit" (on the upper right side of the screen) and then  change the dimensions by adjusting the width. The hight will adjust accordingly.  The image is "grouped" and the height and width are locked so you can also increase the size by dragging the corner of the image on the mat.  If you have multiple Page Pals on your mat and wanted to change them all, you can hit "Select All" (center/ top of the mat) and then adjust by dragging the corner. To learn more about resizing an image click HERE.

Since I was cutting 4 different bookmarks, when I hit "Sync" (upper/ right), Design Space told me I needed a lot of different colored papers to do the job.  To simplify, I consolidated colors by dragging a few similar shaded layers into the rectangle of another. You can learn more about this feature by clicking HERE.

Now came the fun part! I hit "Go" and Design Studio sent me to "Mat Preview" where you can see all of the cuts on each colored paper mat.  Next you hit "Go" (on the lower right) and the screen guides you through the couple of steps it takes to cut each design.
Some of my papers were thinner scrapbook paper, and some were cardstock so I had remember to change the materials setting a couple of times, but other than that, all I did was insert the next mat and push cut. I used three different mats so my papers were "preloaded" and I spatula'ed off the layers and reloaded while my Explore was cutting.

I ran all the bits and pieces through my Xyron and was able to assemble these adorable bookmarks in about 15 minutes.  I made three sets of each - one set for each of my kids and one set for the librarian at St. Timothy's.  She was tickled pink.  So was I, because it was so darn FUN!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Cricut Explore is Out of This World!

I am so in love with my new Explore that I have been crafting every day (instead of blogging - so sorry). But I have been taking pictures and keeping notes so I am going to start a Cricut Explore series to share all that I have been up to!  First a sneak peek at some of the fun things I have been working on:

Details, tutorials and more Cricut Explore information coming soon!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cricut Imagine and FCCB challenge

This week's challenge on the Fantabulous Cricut Challenge Blog is to create a project based on the sketch below:

I decided to use my Cricut Imagine since it had been a while since I had played with my big boy.  Originally I had put together a really sweet card using Lori's Garden but wouldn't you know it, my ink was running out so the colors printed weird.  I put in a new ink cartridge and ran my project again but this time the print/ blade calibration was out of whack.  I tried everything short of kicking the machine, but I couldn't get it back on track so I changed my design to graphics that did not require precision alignment like the ornate images on Lori's Garden.  Instead, I used the Imagine Cartridge "Word of Mouth" to make this card:
While it did not turn out as kitchy as I had hoped I think the artwork for this cut is really cute.  I had to do a lot of "fudging" to cover up the exaggerated white edges and short margins that resulted from poor print/ blade alignment.  I used brown chalk ink to cover up the white edges.  In hind sight, I should have gone back and created a larger circle to compensate for the awkward negative space on the right but I was frustrated and kind of sad that my Imagine was declining.

I knew this day would come sooner or later, I just didn't think it would come so soon.  I am praying that the machine will regain its functionality if it stays off for a couple of days. Once I find a bit of time to research fixes online, I will say a little prayer and take another pass at getting the print/ cut alignment fixed.