There has been quite a frenzy of discussion about the new Cricut Explore machine. The initial launch of the machine on HSN sold out. It is very interesting to read all of the opinions that are floating around but there is a lot of bad information so be sure to consider the source of anything you read.
I had a little "inside information" since my friends Joy and Melanie were invited to the Blogger event in Utah. One of the main questions I had for them was "does this new machine cut perfect circles and scallops?" When they assured me that it did, I became much more interested in buying the machine.
I got my first Cricut machine in 2007, a week or two before Thanksgiving. I don't remember exactly how I first heard about the machine, I just remember looking up the Cricut website and watching some videos. It seemed like a wonderful tool to have and I bought a machine bundled with four cartridges from ACMoore.
Shortly after I bought the machine, the Design Studio software was released. I bought a copy for my Christmas present but didn't actually open it and start using it until later in January. These swirls from Accent Essentials were the first thing I welded together.
Next, I added some butterflies to the word "Butterfly" in the Teardrop font and I was hooked.
Along with a few other message board members and fellow Design Studio enthusiasts I couldn't stop creating designs. The shapes from the cartridges could be combined in so many ways to make new images.
I made a lot of full page mesh designs.
I also started welding images inside of frames - and learned all about "burping" the images (if you don't remember that, don't worry - you don't have to do it anymore!).
At that time, scalloped circles were very popular for adding a sentiment to a card or for stamping and coloring an image. I cut scalloped circle after scalloped circle from several cartridges but they never looked right. I designed mathematically accurate scalloped circles and they still cut "wonky." There was always a slant at some point going around the circle and the bumps were uneven.
I decided to create my own scallops using the Design Studio program. I could make perfect scallops with perfect tiny circles inside each bump but they never would cut the way they looked in the software preview.
The bumps slanted and the tiny circles were more like ovals.
This photo mat design looked perfect on the screen but the scallops and circle cuts were very poor when I actually had the machine cut the design.
I even designed some scallops with 1/8 inch holes and then compared the result with punched 1/8 inch hole - the Cricut cut circles are not even close to round.
There were plenty of other things that I liked to cut out so even though the wonky scallops and circles were a problem for me, I kept working with the Cricut. There were not many other choices for machines and they all seemed very complicated to operate.
I continued to buy cartridges and enjoyed a lot of things about the Cricut but the scallops and circles still "bugged" me. I started hearing about other machines and began to pay more attention to what I heard.
Skipping ahead a few years - in 2011 I started hearing more and more about the Silhouette SD and the ability to print and cut designs. I ordered one to use to make wedding items for our older son. Kelly and Will had chosen a certain font for their wedding items and this was the only way I could cut out their font and also do print and cut projects with the font.
In May of 2011, I received the E2 machine that was part of the Cricut Cruise package. I was very excited to try it since it was supposed to cut better than any previous Cricut machine.
One of the very first things I tried cutting were some scalloped circles, with and without the tiny circles in each bump. They were such a disappointment!
Here is the comparison of the cuts I got from the E2 on the left and the SD on the right. Both of these were cut using a design that was native to each system.
I don't know how many other people have a problem with these cuts on the E2. I was surprised to discover recently that the exact same image from the Craftroom cut very differently on the E2 and my trusty old Expression.
I have always had pretty good luck with intricate cuts on the Cricut Expression. This is the butterfly image that I cut at one inch - ridiculously tiny and it still cut the details.
However, the leaning scallops and oval circles still persist with all of my Cricut machines.
Joy has received her Explore from Provo Craft and her beautiful card has something very interesting to me...
Look at that little scalloped circle with small holes - it is close to perfect! And look at the scalloped rectangle - also perfect looking scallops.
Back in November of 2012, I wrote a post with some thoughts about choosing a die cut machine - basically comparing the Cricut machines with the Silhouette machines. You can find that post HERE. There are a lot of things to consider, some of them depend on your personal preferences for crafting. If you want to draw your own designs like this lace cut I created with my Cameo, you will need to do that with another software program. But you may be able to cut it now with the Explore - and combine your original images with the Cricut images - so many possibilities!
If you are as obsessed with symmetry as I am - the Cricut Explore finally seems to have conquered the "wonky circle" problem. There is a long list of other things I considered before deciding to make the purchase - those will have to wait for another post.
But I am finally going to be able to cut images from the hundreds of cartridges I own and have them cut true to the shape as it appears in the handbook.
Scallops and circles might not be enough of a reason for most people - especially if you already own a machine like the Cameo. But it was the tipping point that made me part with my money...well that and Anna Griffin's exclusive designs(!)
The Cricut Explore is controlled by a computer with an internet connection. You can not use it by just plugging in a cartridge. Everything is done through the Design Space online. If you want to see the Design Space in action, there are some new videos on the Official Cricut You Tube channel HERE. Joy has also posted some great videos on her You Tube channel HERE.
About those boxes - I couldn't take a photo of what I plan to add for today. I should be receiving the Explore machine I ordered next week and you can bet the first thing I'll be cutting is some scalloped shapes. Each of the boxes will get an assortment of scalloped shapes for you to see how well the scallops cut and to use in making your projects.
To enter for a chance to win one of the three boxes - see all of the details on the first blog celebration post HERE. Then come back and get your comments in on this post. Remember, if you sign up for the new newsletter (see the box at the top right of the page) I will be choosing one person from the subscribers as a box winner (you don't need to leave a comment here since I can see that list).
Today's question to answer in your comment is:
Are you obsessed with anything the way I am obsessed with symmetry and scallops that are true in shape? What is your crafting pet peeve? Let me know if you think I am crazy to care so much about getting the right shapes!
I really enjoy reading all of your comments - I wish I could send everyone a box. There are still some more great things coming - these boxes are going to be really full!
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