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Will I Be Required to Use Cartridges with the Cricut Explore Air 2?

For users of previous generations of Cricut machines (such as the Expression) that are considering making the jump to the newer generation of computer-connected Cricut Explore Air 2 machines, there can be a lot of confusion about whether they still need or can use the library of cartridges they’ve already invested in.

[This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Cricut.]

Hopefully, this FAQ will help clear that up for some people considering making the leap!

If you’ve already using one of the new generation of Cricut machines, skip to the end to see my latest Cricut project!

Cricut Cartridge

Q: Will I be required to use cartridges with the Cricut?

The Cricut Explore Air 2 (and the other machines in the Cricut Explore family) work by connecting to a computer or mobile device that is running the Cricut Design Space software. Content and cutting instructions come to the machine from the computer and Cricut Design Space, instead of from within the machine itself as with previous generations of machines.

Cricut Design Space functions as both the store to purchase content for your machine and the software to design and cut with. Instead of buying cartridges, you can buy individual images or fonts, or purchase a Cricut Access subscription that allows usage of a huge library of Cricut designs.

Q: But can I use my cartridges I already bought with a Cricut Explore Air 2 machine?

This is one of the most common concerns of users of older Cricut machines – such as the Expression – that are thinking of upgrading to one of the Cricut Explore family of machines. Over time, you can build up quite a library of cartridges and don’t want to have to pay for that content again! This is understandable, especially since I’ve met Cricut Expression machine owners who own hundreds of cartridges!

The good news is that you absolutely can use your library of cartridges with your Cricut Explore Air 2 (or other Cricut Explore family machines) by using the slot on the machine to “link” them to Cricut Design Space.

Q: How do I use my cartridges with Cricut Design Space?

To use your cartridges with Cricut Design Space and your Cricut Explore Air 2 machine, there is a simple process to follow to link the cartridge to Cricut Design Space.

To begin, log in to Cricut Design Space, and turn on your Cricut Explore Air 2 machine. Insert a cartridge that you want to link in the slot on your machine.

Cricut Explore Air 2 cartridge linking

Then, from the menu in the upper left of Cricut Design Space, select the “Link Cartridge” option:

Cricut Design Space Link Cartridge menu

Clicking the “Link Cartridges” option will pull up a screen that will walk you through linking your cartridge.

Cricut Design Space Link Cartridges

After you are done following the prompts on the screen, your cartridge will appear as “purchased” in your Cricut Design Space account and you will not be charged for using content from it in your projects. There is even a filter option in the cartridges view section of the image library that will let you view only your “purchased” cartridges! (Fonts from cartridges will appear on your list of fonts.)

Cricut Design Space purchased library

Q: Do I have to put my cartridge in my machine each time I want to use it?

Once you go through the “link cartridge” process with a Cricut cartridge, your ownership of that cartridge is recorded in your Cricut account. You will be able to use the contents of that cartridge directly from your computer anytime you log in to Cricut Design Space, without needing to put the cartridge in your machine. You can put your actual cartridges in a box on a high shelf in a closet, or under a bed, and forget they exist while you create with their contents in Cricut Design Space!

Q: Does linking my cartridge erase it? Can I still use it with other machines?

Linking your cartridge only records certain data about it to your Cricut Design Space account. It absolutely does not erase the cartridge’s contents. You can still continue to use the cartridge with older machines that don’t work with Cricut Design Space, such as the Expression.

Cartridges can only be linked to one Cricut Design Space account, so once a cartridge has been linked it cannot be linked again to another account. Since machines can connect to multiple devices and Cricut Design Space accounts, you do still have plenty of options if you want to use your cartridge on another Cricut Explore Air 2 machine while away from your own machine (such as at a crop). You can either use a mobile device to connect to your friend’s machine while logged into your Cricut Design Space account, or log in to your Cricut Design Space account on whatever device your friend uses with their machine usually.

Q: What if my cartridge was already linked to Cricut Craft Room?

If you have cartridges already linked to a previous Cricut Craft Room account, you need to make sure that you create your new Cricut Design Space account with the same user name and password as your Cricut Craft Room account. If you do this, your cartridges that were linked to Craft Room should show up automatically in your Cricut Design Space account!

Q: Why should I use my cartridges in Cricut Design Space?

Using cartridges in Cricut Design Space is so much easier that using cartridges on machines such as the Expression. Contents can be keyword searched, so there’s no more forgetting what cartridge that perfect image for your project is on (or that you have it altogether). There’s no more hunting on a keypad for multiple pieces of a layered image and trying to get them to cut the right size. Images can be layered, colored, and sized in Cricut Design Space so that you can see exactly what a finished item will look like. Designs can be saved to be cut exactly the same over and over. In short, using cartridge designs digitally via Cricut Design Space provides more design power and more visualization of the finished product. It also provides for more precise cutting, so there’s less wasted paper from cutting mistakes!

I will admit that I rarely used my Cricut machine before getting a Cricut Explore family machine and linking my cartridges to Cricut Design Space. It was just too much hassle to use cartridges, I could never remember what I had, and I found it too difficult to get my cuts sized how I wanted. Plus, I rarely found cartridges that I wanted enough of the images on to invest in them. Now, since linking my small collection of cartridges to Design Space, I use those images quite regularly!

I made this small wall art project using a silhouette from my “A Child’s Year” cartridge, which I believe was the first cartridge that I bought many years ago.

Silhouette Child Frame

Supplies Needed:

Normally you’d see silhouettes like this done in black but that feels a bit harsh to me visually. I chose to do mine in bronze metallic foil for a softer warmer look. In the metallic bronze foil, the silhouette is still very dark but also has a glow to it that exudes the warmth of a little girl.

A design like this relies on each of these elements being very precisely sized to work. Using my cartridge in Cricut Design Space makes this infinitely easier, as I was able to lay these elements all out and size them exactly in relation to each other and the size of the frame before cutting. I’d have never even attempted a design like this on my old Cricut machine.

Cricut Design Space

So, if you haven’t already…I highly recommend that you get those cartridges out of their boxes and into Cricut Design Space! It really does expand the possibilities of what you can do with them!

Will I be required to use cartridges with the Cricut?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

Cards | Send a Clue to Someone You Adore with Master Detective

Sometimes, a product lands on my desk that just inspires me to create something, even if it doesn’t fit with my current editorial goals or calendar. When I opened the box from Graphic 45 containing their collection “Master Detective”, I immediately latched onto several pieces that I saw and knew they’d make a really cute card that I just had to drop everything and make. Here’s the results!

[Disclaimer: Some links are affiliate links that pay this site a commission when a purchase is made after a click. Some supplies used in this project were supplied to me by Buttons Galore & Graphic 45. My company manages the social media for Buttons Galore but this is not a sponsored post – I just happen to really like the products that my friend May Flaum designs, so I use them a lot!]

Supplies:

The concept that I built this card around is the piece of chipboard that says “Get a Clue” and then a pocket with an insert that says “Clues”. On the pocket, I stamped “i adore you” and “#HasMyHeart” using two different stamp sets, to create a clue to the sentiment I wanted to convey! It’s so hard to find masculine ways to say “I love you” in a card. This is not only somewhat masculine but also has a sense of fun, too!

The pocket was easy to assemble and the card fits snugly so I’m not worried about it falling out. It’s attached to the card with red liner tape, so it will stay secure while it is handled for the card to be pulled in and out.

Another thing I did on this card is one of my favorite design tricks – using strips cut from a paper’s design as design elements. The orange “I’m dying to see you” strip and the strip of faux stamps are cut from a sheet of the decorative paper in the Master Detective collection, turning them into elements something like sticker borders.

The area of buttons at the bottom of the card serves several purposes. It fills some large empty space, and it also adds some curves to soften all of the hard straight lines that are on the card’s design.

Clue Card-1982-4

Graphic 45 “Master Detective” is a really fun quirky collection that is quite versatile. It will work for literary and film buffs, fun cards, themed parties, and with the spooky elements and the color scheme, be a great alternative for Halloween as well. I expect to get a lot of use out of this little collection!

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Make Geo Heart Wall Art with Cricut Explore Air 2!

A lot of what I cut on my Cricut Explore Air 2 is cardstock for my scrapbooking projects. But there are so many other materials that it can cut, and it’s fun to play with those – and often exciting to see what the machine can do, with the right blade, mat and setting. When I was working Scrapbook Expo shows for Cricut, we had a keychain in the booth with samples of material that had been cut on the Explore machine. It was downright amazing to see some of them, such as leather, craft wood, and acrylic. I’ve actually cut acrylic on my own machine – I just had to try it after seeing that key chain! I’ve also cut fabric (with an iron-on stabilizer backing), and wood veneer paper. Cricut advertises that the Cricut Explore Air 2 will cut over 100 materials…I’m not even sure that I could name 100 materials to try to cut! Perhaps instead of asking “what can I cut with my Cricut?” we should ask – “what can’t I cut with my Cricut?”

Projects like this Geo Heart Wall Art are so fun because it gives me a chance to play with a couple of different materials, in this case Holographic Vinyl and Glitter Cardstock, neither of which I had worked with before. It’s always exciting to see what my machine can do with a new material!

Cricut Geo Heart Wall Canvas

Supplies Needed:

Not on the supply list, but an important tool to completing this project, is the Cricut Essential Tool Set. Over the course of completing this project, I used virtually every tool in this kit: the trimmer, scissors, scraper, spatula, and weeding tool. I even used the scoring tool, despite there being no scoring on this project, because it is the perfect size and so smooth for rolling flower petals on!

And bonus – it perfectly matches my Mint Cricut Explore Air 2 machine! (It’s also available in Rose and Blue.)

Cricut Tool Kit

To create the background for my wall art canvas, I used a 12″ by 12″ pre-primed canvas from a major craft chain store. Then I used a large brush to swipe green acrylic paint back and forth across it, but stopping short of the edges by about an inch. Once that paint was dry, I used a stencil to dry brush a design on top of the green in white acrylic paint.

Cricut Wall Canvas background

I’ve been a bit obsessed with geo hearts lately, so I decided to make one in Cricut Design Space for this canvas! The Vintage Revivals cartridge had just what I needed, a geo shape that I could slice. Then I searched and chose a heart that had an outline of about the same thickness. I laid it over the geo shape in a way that I liked, duplicated it and set the duplicate aside (this will be important later), and then used the slice tool to cut the geo shape.

Cricut Geo Heart Construction

Next I removed all of the sliced pieces that I wouldn’t need in my finished piece. This was followed by using the basic shape tool to lay another (this time solid) heart over the remaining geo structure and slicing again. Then I took that heart that I had set aside, and laid it over the geo design, selected the heart and the geo design, and hit “weld” to create my geo heart!

Cricut Geo Heart construction

This ability to experiment and try things (and hit the undo button if they don’t work and then try again) is one of the things I love about Design Space. But if all of that seems like a lot of work to do…here’s the link to my completed Geo Heart file that I’m sharing in Design Space.

Cricut Geo Heart construction

Once I had created my geo heart, I made it 7 inches high and added some 3D flowers from the Flower Shoppe cartridge to my design. If you’d like to be able to replicate my design, here’s a link to the design I created in Cricut Design Space.

Cricut Holographic Vinyl

I’ve worked quite a few times with Cricut’s regular vinyl, but the Cricut Holographic Vinyl is more like foil than vinyl in appearance, and weight. It cut beautifully and just like vinyl on my Cricut Explore Air 2 machine, by using my Smart Set dial on the “vinyl” setting. This pink is dark pink and, depending on the light and angle that you look, will turn almost burgundy. (There’s also a gorgeous lighter pink color that is called Opal.)

Cricut Tools for Vinyl

I’ve always found weeding to be a bit of a zen experience. It can be challenging, for sure (especially when there are small details in a design), but there is something immensely satisfying about the sort of reverse jigsaw puzzle effect of watching the design reveal itself.

Weeding Die Cut Vinyl

Once the design was completely revealed, I laid a piece of Cricut Transfer Tape on top of it and peeled it up and transferred the heart to the upper right corner of my canvas. To press it down on my canvas with my tape, I laid a book underneath the area of the canvas the heart was going onto so that the canvas was better supported and was flat.

Cricut Geo Heart

The Holographic Vinyl is thin enough that it will take on the texture of the item is it applied to, so surface preparation is important! The material is delicate, but the transfer tape held it tightly and then released it perfectly without ripping the vinyl or damaging the painted surface. (I also recently used the Cricut Transfer Tape to apply vinyl to a kraft paper notebook cover and it released from the paper cover perfectly without damaging it when I was done applying my image.)

Cricut Glitter Flowers

Next, I used Cricut Glitter Paper to cut my 3D flowers. I’m normally not a huge fan of working with glitter paper, as it sheds and is difficult to cut without it losing a lot of glitter. This glitter paper is none of those things! The glitter on this Cricut paper seems to be finer than most other glitter papers that I’ve tried, and is extremely well adhered. It cuts absolutely beautifully, and having tried it I will now be looking for excuses to cut glitter things on my Cricut. (Luckily I have a teenage daughter so it won’t be hard!)

Cricut Glitter Flowers

I used a hot glue gun to assemble the flowers and then also to adhere them to the canvas. Before I glued them in place, I rolled the ends of the petals around the Cricut Scoring Tool to give them a nice curve. For the smaller flowers, the small point of the tool was used for rolling the petals around. I finished the flowers with buttons hot glued into their centers.

Cricut Geo Heart Wall Art

This Geo Heart Wall Art is great for a teen girl’s room. I used my 14 year old daughter’s bedroom wall for some of the photography for this article, and I’m not sure that I’m getting this project back!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

Project | Travel Album: Auf Wiedersehen

Sometimes, for workflow reasons, I like to do things in an album project out of order. That’s the case with the Frankfurt trip album that I’ve been plugging away on for quite awhile. I recently completed what will be the final page of the album, even though I still have a massive section of it to do that deals with the day that I spent in Heidelberg.

[Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links or advertiser courtesy links.]

So why would I choose to do it this way? When I ordered my photos, I actually planned to do it this way. I took a massive number of photos on this trip, so I decided to edit and order them in two batches. The first batch was all of the ones that I took while flying and in Frankfurt itself. This included my photos from the last day at the airport. Then the second batch will be the Heidelberg photos. My reasoning for breaking it down this way was that I planned to scrapbook these two groups of photos with fairly different styles, so it made sense to order and scrap them in batches, even if they weren’t entirely chronological.

travel album back page

Supplies:

This page is pretty simple. All of the cards are from the Project Life “Wander” Core kit, although I embellished a few of them. The today journaling card had a stamp from the Kelly’s Food Coma set added to it that said “#delicious” to make it more food themed. Then I used the Kelly’s Outline alphabet set to stamp “Auf Wiedersehen”  – German for goodbye – on the title card. Hey, that high school German comes in handy sometimes (the three words I remember, anyway).

Besides the stamping, the only other real embellishment was a few phrase stickers from a Tim Holtz sticker set. I used the stickers to create a bit of mini journaling on two of the photos.

travel album back page title

The biggest design feature on this page was actually a functional feature. I used my Fuse tool and added an extra pocket as a flap on the bottom left of the page. On the front, my boarding pass from my flight is visible. But if you flip if up, there is a white card with typed journaling telling the story of my trip home while I battled an unwanted souvenir – the flu.

travel album hidden journaling

In addition to hiding the journaling, the add-on pocket also hid the photo that I had put on the bottom left. While I enjoyed the novelty of my German chicken nugget box and wanted to record it, it really didn’t match the rest of the layout. So obscuring it behind the pocket for the boarding pass was a good way to include it without it looking too out of place.

Now that the Frankfurt section of my album is done, it’s time to move on to the Heidelberg section…I guess I better make that photo order!

Check out the rest of the album so far:

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Telling A Story With A Must-Scrap Picture

Every so often one of these pictures comes along that you know you just must scrapbook. For me, this relatively ordinary looking image of my daughter is one of those pictures. There’s a story behind this snapshot!

[Disclosure: Graphic 45 provided some of the product that was used in this layout, and my company is the social media manager for 28 Lilac Lane’s manufacturer. Some links in this article are affiliate links that provide a commission to this site when a purchase is made after a click.]

Our daughter has always had really long hair. But recently, it had become very dry due to her medical treatments. Her hair being so dry led to really nasty tangles that were virtually impossible to get out, especially since one of her autistic sensitivities is having her hair brushed. Many battles were fought and tears shed. We finally decided that long hair was not worth the trouble and reluctantly took her for a haircut.

We weren’t prepared for the result…our little girl grew up right before our eyes in just a few minutes! She adores what she calls her “Taylor Swift hair” and there’s no more tears when it comes time to do her hair!

A couple of days later, I had her model a t-shirt for me that I’d made for a website project. My normally awkward and shy in front of the camera child flashed a rock star smile and posed like a pro. Where did this grown-up kid come from?

I’ve been dying for a reason to use this Portrait of a Lady collection that Graphic 45 sent to me, and this seemed the perfect reason! It’s even covered in roses, and Rose is my daughter’s middle name. The pink on the t-shirt was a bit bright for this collection, but since this image isn’t about the t-shirt, I just printed the photo in black & white. Problem solved!

Hello Beautiful scrapbook layout

Supplies:

Patterns like the large roses are gorgeous but can be visually overwhelming. I prefer to use them in small doses, like this vertical strip that takes up 1/3 of my layout. The roses are carried over to the right side of the layout in the borders of the two cards that I used on that side, to create balance.

The secret to layering visually busy papers is to create the pattern version of contrast. Layer a pattern with a light base over a pattern with a dark base (such as the pink text paper in the photo mat being layered over the rose pattern). Or layer a more open pattern over a more dense pattern (such as the green text paper that is over the tan background pattern). And of course you can layer different sizes of patterns to create visual contrast, as well.

Hello Beautiful scrapbook layout

To enhance the visual divide between busy patterned papers, I like to ink my paper edges. Sometimes I just barely run an ink pad along the white edge of the paper to darken it. Other times, such as on the photo mat on this layout, I shade more in from the edges to create more of an edge.

What’s your favorite trick for working with busy patterned papers?

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Easy Happy Father’s Day Shaker Card with Cricut Explore Air 2

One of my favorite things about the new generation of Cricut machines is the way that Cricut Design Space makes it easy to visualize what I am cutting on my Cricut Explore Air 2 machine, and to place your cut shape precisely where you want it in relation to other elements. Without that ability, this Father’s Day Shaker Card would not be possible. With it, the card can be created and cut perfectly in a matter of minutes!

Cricut Father's Day Card

Supplies:

This card is created from several colors of Cricut cardstock, along with two other specialty items from the Cricut supply closet. One (which I am totally in love with) is the black 0.8 gel glitter pen from the black Multi Pen Set. And because that just wasn’t enough glitter, I also decided to use the gold sheet from the Classic Sampler of Cricut Glitter Cardstock!

Cricut Father's Day Card supplies

I designed this card from scratch in Cricut Design Space, and it’s surprisingly easy! It’s simply a series of basic shape and text elements layered together and with their properties set to make them behave a certain way to create the design I want. Below on the right side, you can see all of the layers of the design.

Since I wanted to make a 6×6 card with a 1/4″ border showing all of the way around this blue center part, I started by setting my canvas to be a 5.5″ square. I colored it cream – that is what you see peeking through the large star.

Cricut Design Space screenshot

To create my background “paper” I first drew a square exactly on top of my canvas, and colored it blue. Then I added my 3 stars to the top of the card front’s design, making two varying smaller sizes and one larger. (We’ll get to that really big blue star in a minute.) I colored the smaller ones a bright yellow to signify the gold glitter paper.

Once I had the three stars in place how I wanted them on the card front, I turned off the visibility of the smaller ones. Then I drew a box with my mouse around the blue paper and the large star on the card and hit the “slice” button. This cut the star out of the blue background, and I moved the blue star that it created off of the card front and to the side. Once there, I enlarged it quite a bit to serve aa a backer for my shaker box.

Finally, I added my text elements. For the “one of a kind” I made sure to choose a “writing” style font and set my text to writing. I chose a nice clean sans serif Cricut font in a deep red color to cut the text for DAD. Then I turned off the visibility of the “DAD” letters, drew another box around the blue background, the star cut out, and the “one of a kind” writing, and clicked “attach”.

I made the yellow stars and “DAD” text visible again, and the card design was done. I hit my “Go” button and started feeding my different papers into my Cricut Explore Air 2 machine. I almost forgot to insert my pen in the machine before cutting the blue piece, but fortunately Cricut Design Space is smarter than I am and reminded me!

After my pieces were cut, I just assembled them into a shaker box. A piece of scrap page protector went on the back behind the star opening to serve as the front of my shaker card. Then I began cutting pieces of foam adhesive tape to place two layers around the edges of the star shape on the back of the card (with the page protector scrap between the cardstock and the foam tape). After building my foam tape “walls” for my shaker box, I filled it with the metal colored sequin mix, peeled the backer tape from the foam tape, and pressed the large blue star down on top of it to seal the sequins in.

Cricut Father's Day Shaker Card-1371

Once the shaker was done, it was easy to adhere the rest of the elements (DAD text, glitter stars, and a few star sequins) to the front of the card. Then with a little more foam tape put along the edges of the back of the blue cardstock, I adhered it to a brown card base. (I made the 6×6 card base by folding a 6×12 piece of cardstock in half).

Cricut Explore Air 2 Father's Day card

This fun and easy Father’s Day shaker card will delight Dads and Granddads (and the kids too)! This same technique can be easily adapted to working with other shapes to make shaker cards for a variety of occasions and I can’t wait to see how many other variations I can make. I also look forward to trying this technique to write titles and make “peek a boo” windows in elements for my 12×12 layouts.

Don’t underestimate the basic shape tools in Cricut Design Space. They may be “basic”, but with some imagination, their possibilities with your Cricut machine are limitless!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.