If you've been following me for very long, you'll probably remember THIS POST about getting my red (thus the name Rosie) CE bug from my hubby for Christmas! I was so excited, and now, one year later I'm even more excited because I've learned so much about the machine this year, but know I have a LOT more to learn!!! Here is Rosie last Christmas . . .
ROSIE in 2010
When I first started using Rosie, I thought I was cooking! But what I was making were very simple things - I guess if I had to give myself a score, I'd say on a scale of 1 - 100, I was about a 3/4 (or .75)! I had so much to learn! But you know something? I still have a lot to learn! But I think if I gave myself a score today, I'd say somewhere around 55 or so, and that is a huge improvement! But when you have a Cricut, not only do you have to learn how to use the machine itself, there are lots of other things you need to learn as well, and today I'm going to share with you the top five (5) things I've learned during my first year with Rosie!
Read the manual, watch the DVD, get online at the Cricut Website (1) and find out every bit of information you can find! The link above will take you directly to the first place you should go when you open the box of your Cricut. Read, Research. Learn. Create!!!
Before you buy cartridges, decide what you need from it, then go to the Cricut Website (2) and look up the cartridge (cart) you are interested in purchasing. The link above will take you to the detail screen for one of my favorite carts - Songbird. Look down to the list of info available and click on Digital Handbook. This will open up a virtual copy of the handbook for that cartridge. Scroll down and see what features it has, what the shapes or fonts look like, and see if these things are what you are looking for in a new cart. PLEASE NOTE! If you are looking at a 'full content cartridge, just looking at the back side of the box only gives you a small . . . TINY sampling of what you can do with the cartridge!!! Look at the handbook and see the full story!
Another of my favorite carts these days is A Child's Year. I have no children or grandchildren. In fact the youngest child in either my family or my husband's is in his 20's! So I didn't need a cartridge with lots of kiddie stuff on it, but then I looked at the handbook and found that it has lots of cards and tags that I can use, and have been using a lot! Check out these Valentine tags I'm making . . .
. . . and the base shapes of the tags were cut using the A Childs Year cartridge. The kitten base was cut using
with the Tag feature, and the base for the puppy tags was made using with the Tag feature. And aren't they adorable!!! So do your homework! Decide what you need, then check out the digi handbooks BEFORE you buy!
Until you are familiar with a shape, cut your first sample out on scratch paper! Set the size you think you'll need, and then cut it out on something that won't be wasted. When I print things out on my printer that I don't file or send out somewhere, I keep it in a stack for using for this purpose as well as applying glitter, etc. You know, when you print a recipe and the last page is about 2 lines of footer information that has absolutely nothing to do with the recipe itself? Stash it for using in your crafts! Anyway, cut out the shape, and then you can adjust the size to fit your needs and you won't have wasted a piece of precious cardstock or patterned paper.
Keep it clean!
- Buy a can of canned air (office supply store) and use it to blow bits and pieces of paper out of the works of the machine.
- Keep your cartridges not in use in their original packaging or a safe place where they won't get smashed or lost! If you have a Cricut Jukebox or Gypsy, more power to you! You've already taken care of this step!
- Wash your mats! They will last much, much longer! Bits of paper fiber and fuzz and lint from the air get down into the crevices on the mats and that keeps the paper from sticking. So here's what I do, but first a couple of pics of a really dirty mat . . .
And here is what I do:
Step One: Place a lint-free towel on your table or kitchen counter - you need the stability. Then top it with your mat. Pour about 1/2 teaspoon of dish detergent (clear, no 'lotions' in your detergent).
Step Two: Using a fingernail brush ($1@ $1 stores), scrub the entire surface of the mat, especially the four sides inside the outer grid where the ruler measurements are placed.
You will see bits of paper fiber, fuzz and lint balling up all over the mat . . . this is a GOOD thing! It means you are getting it all out of the little crevices in the mat! Here is a clean mat before it's been rinsed . . .
Step Three: Rinse the mat(s) well with warm water and stand them upright somewhere to dry. As you can see below, I stand mine in my dish drainer rack, and it works fine! They should dry in a couple of hours. Normally I try to wash mine at night and let them dry overnight so they are dry in the morning, but that isn't necessary. DO NOT hand dry the mats using a towel, cloth or fabric! This will just add fibers back into the crevices!
I have 3 mats that I use interchangeably, and have been using them for at least 7-8 months, and they still work well! DO NOT use spray adhesive on your mats! It gets everywhere, and makes your paper sticky so it's hard to re-store leftover bits. Keeping your mats clean works much better.
NOTE ADDED 10/19/2012: Someone had asked me via comment if I added any adhesive or anything to make the mats more sticky after they dried. The answer to that is NO! You will not need to add anything ... once you get all those paper fibers out of the crevices in the mat, it will be stickier than it was before the scrubbing. Not quite as sticky as a brand new mat, but definitely useable for a long time yet. I have mats that I have had for 2-3 years and they still work just great as long as I scrub them from time to time. In fact, I have a couple that wore out (the sides cracked off) before the sticky wore out. Hope this helps!
NEVER, EVER, EVER pay full retail price for a cartridge, and NEVER, EVER, EVER pay for shipping!!! Get on ebay, search for 'cricut cartridge', then once your search items come up, look on the left side and you'll see some "SHOW ONLY" search options like type of cartridge, condition and "FREE SHIPPING". Click on the free shipping button, the new button, and then look over to the right side, just above the number of bids and amount of time left for the cartridges and click on the drop down box for 'sort by' and click on "Ending Soonest". This will bring up a list of the cartridges with the ones ending immediately first. Now, scan through and see what you like!
How much to pay? I have a personal policy to never, ever pay more than $25 for a full content cartridge, or $12 for a 'solutions' cartridge. And this includes the shipping, which is FREE! My two favorite vendors are proudparents2005 and MemoryMiser. They never charge shipping, and their service is relatively fast, as in a week or less in most cases. Once you find a cartridge you are interested in, go back up to Number Four and go check out the digital handbook to see what you can do with the cartridge. Set your bid, and let it go! If you don't get it this time, trust me, there will be another time! I have about 20 full content carts, and 5 solutions carts, and do not plan on buying more any time soon, but of all of those, not ONE was bought at full retail price! One was bought on sale at a retail store, one was a gift, and the rest were bought on ebay. It really does work!!!
Those 2 pictures just above are of Rosie today! She is a little squeaky, which I think may mean she needs some lubricant of some kind (I'm looking into that) but otherwise she is working like a charm! And I love having her around more than I thought I would! And I have my sweet hubby to thank, because I never would have bought one, but he knew I'd had a bad year in 2009 and wanted me to have something I really wanted. (Love you W!!!)
So that's what I've learned from living with "Rosie" for a year. I hope that my tips will help you in some way, and if they do, please leave a comment and let me know!
Be Joyful!!! Becky