I have accumulated lot of Cricut cartridges over the years. There are thousands and thousands of images that I could cut from them. As someone with a "collector" personality I used to think I'd like to have them all. However, the cartridges started multiplying too quickly for me to keep up!
There is a wide range in quality in the cartridges. Some have been beautifully designed and are full of great images and others are rather disappointing in both the quality and complexity of cuts. I dislike a cartridge that is marketed as a "full" cartridge and then has many empty key slots or entire keypad levels that repeat the same shape (one older example is the Sweet Treats cartridge). Some are very specific to subjects that don't appeal to me and some have what I consider to be distorted images (examples are Shall We Dance and All Sports with very oddly proportioned figures).
I have always enjoyed designing with the shapes on the cartridges. I have worked with the Design Studio program and the Gypsy from the time they came out and I have shared and taught others many of the workarounds I have figured out to achieve design goals that are difficult to realize in these programs. Despite years of requests, there are still some very fundamental things that can't be done with Design Studio, the Gypsy or even the new Craft Room.
Lately I have been using other software programs and other machines to accomplish some of the things I can't do with the Cricut machines and software. I am finding ways to get the results that I want from my designing with precision cuts, easy shadowing and a host of other design benefits.
I was thinking about the reasons I still keep using the Cricut now that I have tried some other options. One important reason is that I haven't seen anything that truly compares with the ease of use for creating a multi-layered image. The fact that you can make a very complex and lovely image like the one on this card without using a computer is very appealing (even though I really enjoy working on my computer!).
So, if you have waded through that rather long winded introduction, today I want to share a few tips on cutting and assembling an image that requires many colors and cuts to create all of the parts of the design. This sweet little girl is from the Kates ABCs cartridge. I don't own this one but I was able to borrow it from my neighbor (who was excited to realize she had something I don't! Thanks, Nancy!)
I chose the image by looking through the handbook. With the newer cartridges, the handbooks are a little easier to follow. There is a picture of the main images fully assembled at the top left and just below that is a tiny keypad with the key for this image highlighted in red. The colors given to each layer help you to see how everything is meant to fit together. If you haven't made many of these images it is sometimes easiest to do the first one in the same or similar colors. There are six cuts needed to create all of the pieces for this image.
Whenever you are cutting an image that is made up of pieces cut from various keys, you need to make sure that you cut everything at the same size. Just set your size dial once and then don't touch it again until all of the bits are cut out. I used 4 inches for this cut and it fits nicely on an A2 (4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inch) card. You must be sure that you DO NOT have the "real dial size" button selected when you are cutting images to layer. If you use "real dial" all of the pieces will be cut at the size you chose and the layers will be far too big to work.
Here are all of the pieces that are needed to produce this image. There are 20 individual cuts and some are very tiny! It is a good idea to put all of the pieces on a plain piece of cardstock or even to leave them on an old mat that has a little bit of stickiness to hold on to them until you are ready to assemble the image.
Before you start to glue anything you should do a "dry fitting" to make sure you know exactly where the pieces go and to figure out the order in which they should be added to the base. There are usually tiny webbing cuts on the base of the image to help you see where to put the layers that will be attached.
When you take the pieces off the base to start gluing, be sure to flip them over so the glue is on the back. I use a glue pen (my favorite is the Creative Memories Precision Point Adhesive) and dot adhesive all over the little pieces.
You need to remember to add the layers gradually and build the design up. In this example, there are seven layers by the time you get to the center of the flower by the bow on the little girl's hat. Using a liquid adhesive will help you to make minor adjustments as you put each piece in place.
Once I am sure where each piece goes I flip most of the pieces and add the adhesive. Some are very easy to slide into place but some are a bit more challenging.
Here on the hat you can see the cut marks that serve as guides for placing the upper layers. Sometimes you need to be extra careful to line up the shapes. For example, the flower on this hat is irregularly shaped and only fits properly in one direction.
When you get to the places where there is a tiny dot to add, I find it easier to put the adhesive on the spot where the dot should be placed and then move the dot over and drop it into position.
Adding the glue to the lower piece makes it much easier to keep everything lined up nicely.
Sometimes the reason for a layer is a little bit difficult to understand. The pale pink layer on the bottom hardly shows through the two tiny cuts on the brighter pink coat but the lines do add some depth to the image.
It takes some patience but before too long you will have a lovely multi-layered image that you can use for a card, page or other project. If you want to add more dimension to the cuts you can use chalk or ink to create shadows. I like the clean cut look but it is a matter of personal taste.
There are centers in all of the flowers, however, I decided to add just a few pearls and gems for a subtle shine. This card is a side fold and the blue paper is cut at 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches and adhered to the card front.
Even if you have carefully cut your card base and the top patterned paper layer, you may find that they are a bit off. If so, you can just make a tiny adjusting cut along the edges of the card to make sure that the paper and cardstock are even.
It does take some patience but the entire process from paper selection to final card is not too lengthy. I do wait between steps for my adhesive to turn clear so I am less likely to smear it on the front of my cards.
I hope this was helpful. There are many videos showing crafters assembling cuts but a lot of my readers have told me that they prefer the "words and pictures" style of learning. I do have some videos coming soon - but I probably will not post them until after the wedding. I am also eager to show you some of the things I have been able to make for the wedding using my Silhouette SD and the Silhouette software.
Please leave me a comment if you have any questions or just want to tell me what you think of some of the other die cutting options available to crafters today (or coming soon). I wonder how many of you also have more than one machine and use multiple programs to create.
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