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Easy DIY Holiday Cards with Cricut Maker

Hello Cricut lovers! The snow is flying up north and cooks across the country are prepping their Thanksgiving turkey menus, so that must mean it is time to talk DIY Holiday Cards!

[Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Cricut, but all opinions expressed are my own.]

Today, I’m bringing you two clean and simple DIY holiday card designs that, with the help of Cricut Maker and a few of my favorite Cricut tools, will make easy work of your handmade holiday cards without sacrificing creativity or style!

Cricut Merry Christmas house card

Supplies Needed:

The first step to making this handmade holiday card is to cut all of the pieces out on your Cricut Maker machine. The card base requires the use of both a Cricut pen and the single Scoring Wheel.

Creating Card Base on Cricut Maker

When you peel the card base off of the mat, some of the waste from those tiny faux stitching spots will cling in the holes. That just happens when a cut is so tiny. The piercer from the Cricut Papercrafting Tool Set is the perfect solution for getting rid of these hangers-on! Just use its tiny point to poke the pieces that need to be removed, and they will pop right out!

Using Cricut Scraper Tool

This homemade holiday card can be infinitely customized to create different looks using different cardstock and patterned papers…and it’s a great way to use up your scraps!

DIY Holiday Cards with Cricut Maker

Using the knife blade to cut basswood is simple if you remember a few simple things. It will cut up to 3/32″ thick, and your cuts can’t be smaller than 1/2″ in size. (That includes interior cuts in your shapes.)

To do the actual cutting, tape your basswood down to a purple (Strong Grip) Cricut cutting mat with masking tape. Make sure it is in the upper left hand corner of the measurement grid, but not outside it. See those little white wheels spread along the middle area of the steel roller bars? Slide those white wheels to the right so they are outside of the area where your basswood will pass under. Then you can load your Cricut Knife Blade in the adaptive tool system, and follow the on screen prompts in Cricut Design Space to select your material and load the mat into the machine.

Cutting Wood Veneer with Cricut Maker

After you have completed cutting all of your pieces, you should have all of these elements, ready to assemble your homemade holiday card! Layer your house together, and adhere it to the front of your card. Your DIY holiday card is complete!

DIY Holiday Card pieces

Mid-century modern, and the pastel Christmas that goes with it, is very trendy. The same techniques and Cricut tools that I used to make that cute country Christmas card above can be used to bring a taste of retro mid-century to your Christmas cards.

Retro DIY Holiday Cards with Cricut

Supplies Needed:

(If you like the design but aren’t a fan of pastel Christmas, try making this DIY holiday card with a dark background, and dark green or silver trees for a midnight on Christmas Eve look.)

To make this card, first cut out all of the elements of the handmade holiday card design using your Cricut Maker machine and the project file. (Follow the instructions above on how to cut out the wood tree from basswood for the left side of the card.)

Once all of the elements are cut out, paint the wooden tree with Plaid FolkArt Pickle Wash following the instructions on the bottle. (I chose that particular paint because it allows the grain of the wood to show through, so the person receiving your DIY holiday card can see that the tree is actually wood!)

Painting wood veneer for DIY Holiday Cards

While your paint dries, grab the Distresser tool from the Cricut Papercrafting Tool Set and get to work rubbing it along the edges of the tree with the sentiment on it! Distressing that edge gives it more dimension, and adds interest to that tree so that it can hold its own in the design with the other two elements.

distressed edge on diy holiday card

Once all of your elements are prepared, you can quickly assemble them.

Cutting the stars out of the Cricut Adhesive Foil means that these small items are easy to adhere. (Plus the foil cuts so beautifully at these miniature sizes!) The paper piercer from the Cricut Papercrafting Tool Set is your secret shortcut for getting perfect placement of tiny sticky items like this! No more getting them stuck to your fingers, or to each other… just pop the end of the piercer under them and use it as a tiny wand to lay them down with! Place them, put your finger on top to hold them in place, and slip the piercer out from underneath. (Do this carefully, because it is a piercer, after all!) Then just press and rub firmly to make sure the foil adheres well!

Cricut paper piercer

I can’t wait to see how you all customize these DIY holiday cards for your family and friends! Tag me at @scrapbookupdate on Instagram to share yours!

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

 

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Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine: First Look

As many of you may remember, I spent a lot of 2015 traveling around the country to various Scrapbook Expo shows to demonstrate the Cricut Explore machine for Cricut. I loved both the chance to interact with consumers around the country, and the machines themselves! So I was thrilled when Cricut offered me the chance to try out the new Cricut Explore Air 2 machine, see how it compared to my current Cricut Explore machine, and tell my readers about it!

What is the Cricut Explore Air 2 machine?

Cricut Explore Air 2If, like me, you are a user of a previous Explore model of machine, you’re probably wondering what is different about this new one from your current model. For users of the original green model of Explore machine like mine, or of the Explore One, you’ll find that the bluetooth is now built inside the machine instead of requiring a plug-in accessory dongle to work. If you currently have an Explore One, you’ll also find that the Explore Air 2 has two carriages – one for the blade and one for accessories, meaning less switching out while cutting.

One other minor change is mostly cosmetic – the setting at the dial on the top of the machine now read “bonded fabric” instead of just “fabric”. This isn’t a change in the machine’s capability but rather a better explanation of them. The previous label, based on postings in Facebook groups I belong to, seemed to confuse people into thinking the machine could cut fabric when in fact it can only cut fabric that has been bonded to an interface backing to stiffen it.

For users of all previous Explore machines, Cricut is advertising that the Explore Air 2 will cut up to 2x faster than the previous machines.

If you are a user of a cartridge based machine (the Expression series and earlier) models, the Cricut Explore Air 2 machine is a whole new eco-system, with the Cricut Design Space software and Cricut Access library subscriptions, and features like the ability to import and cut your own SVG and JPG files. But you might also be asking if a computer based machine is too complicated, or too much hassle. You might be surprised to find that the answer is no.

Cricut Explore Air 2 machine

Although I’m very experienced in setting up Cricut machines from demonstrating them, for this article I decided to try an experiment and see how long it would take me to set up the machine and make the introductory project that is included in the set-up process (pictured above). I used a clean machine that had never had Cricut Design Space installed on it, so I was starting from scratch the same as any other new user – albeit one with a bit more experience under my belt.

I started a timer from the moment that I started to take things out of the box.

Inside the box, I found the machine, power cord, USB cord, a pen, a green mat, paper for the introductory project, and a few instruction booklets.

Cricut Explore Air 2 contents

If you follow the instructions in the box, the next step is to open a special URL on the Cricut website that serves as a tutorial for setting up new machines.

Cricut Explore Air 2 set-up

Then the instructions call for plugging in the machine to the wall and connecting it via cable to the computer.

Cricut Explore Air 2 instructions

Once that is done, there are onscreen instructions in Cricut Design Space to follow to complete setting up your machine. They literally walk you through each step.

When you are done with the set up, the final step is to have some fun with your new machine for the first time! At the 14 minute mark of my set-up process (and that included time taken to take a few pictures for this article like the ones above), I loaded a mat with paper into my new machine for the first time!

Cricut Explore Air 2 with mat

By barely over the 20 minute mark, I had not only set up my new machine, but I had created (along with a few pictures for this article) a fun little card with it!

Tips for setting up a new Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine:

  • Choose Chrome: I’ve used Google Chrome for a long time with my Cricut Explore, and it is highly recommended as the most trouble-free way to work in Cricut Design Space with the Cricut Explore family of machines.
  • Forget Old Machines: For the smoothest install and bluetooth set-up, go into your computer or mobile device’s bluetooth settings and tell it to “forget” your old Cricut Explore machine. You can always re-pair them later to continue using it alongside the new machine.

And that is it…my new machine was up and running – and I’d made something – in less than 20 minutes!

Does the Cricut Explore Air 2 really cut faster?

I ran another test to see – and if so, by how much!

First, I selected a “make it now” Easter card project from the Cricut Access library and set it up to cut on my iPad Mini. This way, all of my cuts would be made from the same file on the same computer device.

Cricut Easter card

Then, I cut the green part of the card three times. The first time, it was on my new Cricut Explore Air 2 machine on the “fast” setting. That setting is available for use on vinyl, iron-on, and cardstock, and can be used just by clicking a box in the cut window. That cut took 1:58 from start to finish.

Then I tried it again on my Cricut Explore Air 2 machine, but this time I unclicked the “fast” box to cut “regular” speed. On this setting, the cut was clocked at 2:45.

Finally I tried the cut on my old green Cricut Explore machine, and it took 2:54.

This was a relatively small, but complicated design file. Other files will show varying differences in speed, of course. But even with this file I saved nearly a third of the cut time moving from my old Cricut Explore machine to the fast speed on the new Cricut Explore Air 2. Extend this time savings to large intricate backgrounds for 12×12 pages, or for large amounts of production cutting, and the time savings could add up, well, fast (pun intended). Especially or machine owners who are running a business with their Cricut, faster cutting means more time for themselves – or more time to make more profit!

Now that I can cut so much faster with my new Cricut Explore Air 2, I’m really excited to take on some larger cutting projects that I didn’t have the time or patience for before, like 12×12 decorative backgrounds for scrapbook layouts, or intricate iron-on shirt designs. Or maybe I’ll even take on some wall-sized vinyl projects…

What would you like to make faster with the new Cricut Explore Air 2?

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