People are getting bitten nationwide by the bug...the CRICUT bug that is! This great machine is changing the life of scrapbookers, card-makers and crafty people in general. Pronounced "cricket", this portable machine works with different themed cartridges to cut shapes and letters of varying sizes onto paper, vellum, even vinyl! You can also use a special pen to draw the shape instead of cutting it out.
This machine will cut shapes from 1" to 5.5" and is perfect for scrapbooking, card-making, decorating classrooms, making signs, party decorations, gifts, and so much more. Each cartridge has a theme, and there are currently about 40 cartridges to choose from. Featuring Disney, many different fonts, puppies, babies, Christmas, birthday, animals, school, etc. you can really get creative mixing and enhancing your cutouts using multiple cartridges.
To cut the shapes, you simply pick a paper to use, you can buy specially cut 6"x12" paper designed for the Cricut, or you can take any 12"x12" paper and cut it in half - or you can even use a smaller size of paper and set the size to match the paper size on the Cricut. The paper goes on a special sticky mat (which needs replacing after the sticky is gone and are about $9 for two mats) that holds the paper in place while it's cutting. You do have to manually adjust the blade depth and speed for different thicknesses of papers, so there's a learning curve there and the possibility of ruining some papers if it cuts too deep and tears the paper, or if it doesn't cut deep enough and doesn't go all the way through the paper. That is one part that I wasn't happy with; there is some guidance as to which level to put it on, but it still took a lot of trial/error on my part to figure out what works best.
After the shapes are cut, all you have to do is remove them (it's a bit difficult when you're using a new mat as it's reallllllly sticky) but they do have tools to assist you in this, the spatula will be your friend! Once removed, you're ready to attach to your scrapbook layout, card, sign, or whatever project you're working on. Be sure to check what you've just cut, there are additional features on the cartridge that you can do with coordinating/contrasting paper to create shadow effects, add detail, create a tag for the image to go on, etc.
The Cricut is easily transportable and you can purchase totes to carry the machine. Since it can plug in anywhere, all you need is a wall socket to get started - you don't have to have a computer or internet access at all! There is also quite a bit of support at cricut.com if needed - from technical questions to an online forum to get additional ideas on what to do or troubleshooting help.
Although a bit pricey, this product is amazing, and if you have the time, you may never have to buy stickers or embellishments again- the one time price of $299 for the machine and $90-100 for the cartridges (can be found online for less than half that on some sites though) that will last the rest of your crafting career.