Monday, May 26, 2014

Did you know...Cricut Free Images/Project

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Free Images and Featured Projects at Cricut
Sometimes all we need to get the creative juices flowing is a little inspiration, and at Cricut they have just the thing. Each week Cricut posts free images of the week that you can download and use to create hundreds of new projects—from iron-ons for fabric to vinyl stickers for furniture—each one paired with an exciting project that you can make. In addition to the image, they also feature projects from their online community, both easy and moderate in complexity, everything for all levels of DIYers. All of these cutout designs can be made with the Cricut Explore™, a design-and-cut system for making amazing, affordable DIY craft projects. It’s the easiest way to turn an idea into a finished project right in your own home. Check out Cricut to jumpstart your own cutout art.

Here are the free image and featured projects for this week...



Sunday, May 25, 2014

Want to try something new? Register for a mini class.

Try a Free Mini Class at Craftsy
**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Are you looking to take your crafting to the next level, or perhaps branch out and learn a new skill, but aren't sure where to get started? Check out the Craftsy Free Classes, mini classes that allow you to sample everything from food classes (Who couldn't use Complete Knife Skills with Brendan McDermott?), to quilting (How fun would A New Look at Longarm Quilting with Mandy Leins - FREE! be?), to photography (Seriously, Learn How To Take Professional Family Portraits with Craftsy for FREE! could only help us all.) and more! Just register for your Craftsy account and get started!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Making your first project from your new Cricut Explore…

Last month (yes it has been that long, sorry), I talked about taking the machine out of the box.  I have been delayed for a couple of reasons.  1) Life got a little crazy, and 2) I was learning the new machine, which is a little different than what I was used to.  Today, let’s make our first project.
One of the first things you may want to do, is to clear some space on your hard drive for some SVGs if you do not want to grab images from your cartridges all the time (if you are a previous cricut owner).  I will be speaking from the point of view of a person who has never owned a Cricut machine at all.
When you first log into Design Space, you will see this window:

 On the upper left hand corner, click on the green log-in button, and a pop-up screen like this will show up (I am assuming you have already signed up for an account before you get to this point.) If you have another Cricut machine, the information you gave when you first started using Cricut Classroom software (if you decided to hook your machine to the computer), has already transferred that information when you registered Cricut Explore.
Type in your user name and password and click the green button on the lower right-hand side of the screen.  You are now ready to start your first project, and the login screen will disappear and you will be back to the first screen.

Hit the blue square to make a project from a blank canvas, or make a project from the pictured windows below the blue square.
Let’s tackle a ready to make project first.
One thing to say about these projects is there are project for every aspect of your life:  cards, jewelry, flowers, home décor, and decorating your electronic equipment to name a few.  I am going to pick a card.  I am going to be working on an explosion card.



When you first get to the project sheet it will look like this:
Every project sheet will have the name of the project, how difficult it is, and how long it will take you to complete it from start to finish.
The description describes the project, which includes what size the project is supposed to be when you finish it.  Please note, these are all the suggested size, you are welcome to change the project.  More in detail later.
On the right hand side, you will find the materials or ingredients needed to make this project, as well as the instruction.  Oh, I almost forgot the important part of the project, the template, (or images).  It will be listed below the project and what image you will need to cut out.  What I like about this is also tells you how much it will cost to download the image.  In this case, it is free.  If you get the subscription, most of your images are free with your subscription (which is optional).  More on that later as well.   On the right lower part are three things, the price, customize, and Make It Now.  The customize button allows you to determine what size, shape or saying you want.  Make It Now means there are no changes, and you are ready for the cutting mat.   I am going to customize it…
So, at this point, it does not matter if you are going to customize it or now, because now you are on a screen which looks like a cutting mat.  It is your virtual mat, and if you have seen this on Cricut Classroom or on another die-cutting machine program such as a Silhouette, this is where you do all your work from start to finish cut, and it looks like this.  As you see here, the background is white, with tool bars on the top and to the left.   I will explain the screen in further detail in the next post, but for right now, I want to point you towards the editing portion of the screen.   You will also determine how big or small you want you project.  Canvas Properties shows you how big you project will be in width and length, what type of fold to expect, and the size of the card.  Layers shows you the different layers of the card, and what layer you want to cut, write, or score.  Also in the layers feature, you can group and ungroup a project, work on what needs changed, and then attach it to cut, write, and score all on one mat.  I am also going to into this in more detail when I get to make your own project.  I was just introducing you to the canvas.

Next time, I will show you the finer details of cutting out an already created project.  Oh, you will also find out what a powerful little green button can do to a machine, otherwise known as the little go button.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

How to unpack and get going with your new Cricut…

photo by Gizmag.com
I got a new toy.  Actually it is a helper toy, as that is how I want to look at my new Cricut Explore.   Over the past few weeks, I have explained how I got talked into (for those of you still banning ProvoCraft-snookered) buying this machine, on FlexPay through HSN (Home Shopping Network for those of you not in The States or Canada).  Next, I explained that my newest electronic baby was in the house.   Well now, it is out of the box (after a week of stalling), and I will explain to you how to prep your machine for use.
Yes, you heard me right, prep my machine.   According to ProvoCraft (PC going forward), you should be able to just plug in and go, right?  Not if you have a stubborn system like mine---computer system that is.   Let me explain a little bit about my computer system.
I purchased my computer system in an emergency in 2008.  The reason for the emergency, my last computer crashed without warning.  It was a Dell Dimension system.  Loved it to pieces.   I was not much for being a techie at that time    Anyway, I was working on something, and the computer would not act right, so I turned it off.  Turned it back on moments later, and I got a checkerboard pattern on my screen… not good.
I had something important, and I needed a computer fast.  There was no damage to the hard drive, so the tech was able to transfer everything to this current system.  So now, 7 years later, I need a new system, and so far, so good.
So, what does the computer has to do with the Cricut?  If you have been watching the development of the cricut machines over the years, all machines up to the new one has software that if you choose to, can allow your Cricut machine to cut with or without the computer.  They depend on the cartridges, which cost at least 4 credit card payments, unless you catch them on a sale.  After all, that is why most people who have the machines, love them.  With the new one, it is totally internet dependent.  You cannot work this machine without the use of the computer and internet.  Trust me, I have tried it already.  If you are scare of the computer, I suggest that you stick with the Expressions, Expressions 2, and Mini machine if you do not want to be totally computer dependent.
Well, if you bought into the HSN deal, and you have not registered your little baby, let me guide you the next step:
Once you thank the nice UPS person for bringing your box (yes, mine was nice…after all, this thing weights a ton), it is going to come in the ugly, box, that takes a blowtorch to get into it (do not try this, a nice box cutter or your craft knife will do).   Turn the box over and gently shake your machine out of the box.  Oh look…another box, and this one comes with a handle!!!!  Do not panic, the first box is for UPS (Fed-ex, or whoever does the shipping in your area) to ship your precious machine to your home.  Open the second box, which does not need a box cutter for it, and you will see your shipping label.   This is your return label, in case want to return the machine back to its home (or where the sun don’t shine…Etc…).  The machine is a keeper J
Next, you will find a plastic tray with a set of instructions that says, “Start Here.”  Next to it is a big 12 x 12 folder.   Start here contains the instructions for setting up your machine and the other contains your papers and a mat.  I will get to that in a moment.  Lift that tray out of the box and you will find the star of the show…your machine in a grey bag.  In case you want to show off your newest find, you have something to carry it in.  A first for PC.  Take it out and set it on a flat surface.  Under the machine, you will find a small box.  This contains the USB cable to connect your computer, an electrical cord to plug up your machine (white) and your pen.  Start by plugging your machine up and once you plug it in, turn it on.  I like to do that, in case something go damaged in the shipping.  If anything is wrong (like it won’t turn on), you can call PC, and pack that puppy up and they will ship you a new one. 
Plug in the USB plug.  Now this is tricky if you are not used to plugging up these things.  After all, most electronic devices do come with them.  There is a short stubby end.  Plug that end to the machine itself.  On the other end is a sort of fat, flat metal plug.  Plug that into the computer.  My computer has four USB ports in the front.  One is used my wireless mouse, one for network cable/WIFI, another for my Expressions 2 to connect to Cricut Classroom (more on that software later…), and the last one is for the Explore.
Once plugged, go to www.cricut.com/design to get the software.  One thing to note, this is not software that sits on your hard drive, so no space will be taken up, except to hold your SVG designs.   For that, I suggest you get a free cloud to hold it all.  I am not going to get techie on you, but a cloud software is the latest thing out there.  It is just a big hard drive and like any hard drive, you are given so many gigabytes to store any of your projects, documents, and such.   If you never had an account with PC before, you will be asked to create one.  I have one, so it was a matter of transferring a copy of my information to the new software.   Turn on your machine, and the software will detect it.   If you have taken HSN’s deal to use 2500 images for the next three months, free, it will detect that too.  After the setup, you are finished.   Time to enjoy your machine.

If this your first time in the world of Cricut, I have a review of one the other machines.  You can view it here.   You can also find all sorts of reviews by just search for Cricut.  The machines have been around since 2005 or so.  So I hope that has been educational as well as entertaining.  I thought I was banning it because of the Imagine boo-boo, but nothing can tear me away from this thing called The Cricut Explore Die Cutting Machine. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

“Graphic 45 Design Team 2014 Audition

Normally, when I submit a post to my blogs, I will type up my post in MS Word, proofread, then put in the finishing touches on Blogger (or WordPress), but for a post like this, I am typing as I go along.  Why?  Because I am applying for a position on the Graphic 45 Design Team.  It is a wonderful honor to participate, and I have always wanted to be part of a design team for a company.  I have made things (mostly cards) for a blog, but I had use my own supplies.  I have also designed for Archiver's, but I was also an employee, and the rules changed shortly thereafter.  Since I was not an instructor, I could no longer make the demo cards and layouts needed for the store.
Baby Antics
I love to create, and I look forward to what I can creates further, especially with the new machine I just got.   I also love to show people any ideas they need for a layout or card.

Baby Antics Layout.  I will admit that my camera did what most camera's do, create red eyes.  I played on that affect, and made it look like that my niece and older nephew was picking on the baby, then acting like they did not do a thing.   I used a decorative sheet of paper and letters from American Crafts Thickers collections.  The only other thing that I put on the layout is the journal block explaining what was going on in the layout.
Photo by P.Lynne Designs



Next on the list is a blank layout.  This is just simply Mickey, and I used a Minnie paper, and cut Mickey's head out with the Cricut machine.




Walk down the Middle of Main Street
U.S.A  Photo by  P.Lynne Designs

Another Disney layout, this time I centered a photo I took in 2004.  The way I positioned it was to have everything surrounding it was what you could do back in 2004.  I also showed that you do not have to use embellishments to  make a layout work.  I cut up brochures to make a point.  I also took a white pen and made stitching and wrote my journaling in white.




Cards....

I love making cards.  You can save tons of money by making cards.

Photo by P.Lynne Designs
 This is a real simple graduation card.  I folded a card and made a pocket on the inside.  I took a tag from Ranger and EK Success's Grad stickers and place them along the bottom.  I took a big "E" from my stash (which happens to stand for Excellent, The school the student graduated from and his last name) and put it in the middle of the card.  I stuck another EK Success Grad sticker on the top of the card.  I also decorated the card and the envelope the same way.


Photo by P.Lynne Designs
Even though I love Graphic 45 papers, to my regret this is the only card I have in my stash where I used the papers.  I cut the flower out from the Cricut Pagoda Cartridge, placed black ribbon and lace behind the flower.  This is a thank you card.  I did distress the lace up a bit with Tim Holtz's distress inks.

Photo by P.Lynne Designs
The last card I made was a set of papers from Close to my heart.  I wanted to help a friend out and get her business started as a Close to My Heart Rep, so I made these cards for her to place on her blog.  She sent me the packet, which was a Summer 2013 pack, and I these cards, as well as the holder for it.   The circles are popped up for interest.
Thank you Graphic 45 for allowing me to showcase my work.




Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cricut Explore is in the House

Photo by ProvoCraft
This is a short post.   My Cricut Explore is here.  It arrived yesterday by UPS.  Just in time, because of the following reasons:
  • I was on a 4-day vacation from last Thursday until Monday.  If I was scheduled to come back home yesterday, No telling where my Explore would have gone.
  • I checked my funds Monday, and according to my bank, $59.99 was taken out of my account by HSN via Paypal.  Good thing I had cash with me.
  • I started watching YouTube videos non-stop since Saturday.

So there is no doubt that I will enjoy this new machine.  Now I have three again, and I am going to use them in different ways:
  1. For my Expression 2 machine, I am going to continue to design with Cricut Classroom, especially if the project I am making does not require me to alter much with the cartridges.
  2. With my Explore, I am going to use SVGs, the carts, anything that is allowed with the Cricut Design Space software.  The only thing I do not like about it so far is if my internet service goes down, so does the ability to design with the software.  Other than that, I am excited to try this software.
  3. Now for the elephant in the room, my Imagine.   I do have one thing to say about my Imagine, and Cricut lovers, do not take this the wrong way.  I love my Imagine, and I was very excited when I got the machine (used), I could not wait to use it.  I did not have any problems updating it the first time I got it.   In fact, I updated it two or three times before March 2012.  I have not been able to update since then, but that is OK, because I decided that instead of calling and screaming at ProvoCraft, I will be hooking up my Imagine to Cricut Classroom ever again.   I am OK with that decision.

The way I look at it is this:  Yes, so many people are disappointed with PC, but to me, PC does not hold my tomorrow.  I KNOW who holds my tomorrow, and it is not a man-made company.  This company can go bankrupt any moment now (despite the new machine coming online and hitting the stores for everyone else in April).  I can move on from this.  Yes, I am sad that the Imagine, Gypsy, Cricut Cake, and the baby Cricuts are no longer supported, but that is just the way business, ANY business works.  People change, companies change.  When the Explore was introduced last month, I watched like everyone else, and yes, I did consider the Silhouette Cameo, but I wanted to stick with the same company. 
I looked at pricing (which Cameo did come out ahead slightly than the Explore), subscription price (OK, I have to give a slight edge to ProvoCraft with their deal with HSN/Anna Griffith), and if it supports sending projects to the printer or not (available right now for Cameo, coming later for Explore).  The biggest edge was to have the ability to cut SVG files and to see how the new president of ProvoCraft was going to handle everything.  This is his first project, and I hope when I open the box, read instructions, put it through “Patricia” paces (my cute little saying for seeing how the machine works with me), the machine will live up to the name “Cricut”.  If it does not work out, it is going back on the first train smoking, and I will get a Cameo sooner than later.   

So, if I have the time tonight, I will open the box, but for now, it is protected.   I need to clear some space, and set it up.   I also need to register it (I already downloaded the connector software to Designer Space), and start playing.  I hope that this machine does not become another Imagine that does not have the support after it does not perform up to par with PC’s customers.  I need it to come out of the box and do its thing, just like the Expression 2 did when I first took it out of the box. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

An update to the last post and a cute little heart you will love to make…

Photo by Update-directory.net
OK, now that all the crafting negativity is out of my life, I can make a decision that I know that some people will not like, but I know deep down I made the right one for me and my readers.  I decided to go ahead and buy the Cricut Explore, but first I had to make sure this was the right decision.  I had finished watching most of the YouTube videos on the machine, and now it was the matter of money and timing.  I had not used my Cricut Expression 2 machine in 4 months, partly because I had lost my power chord when I remodeled, and I really was not in a crafting mood.  I made Christmas cards, but I made a very simple, non-die cut card, which was a departure for me.  True be told, everyone was starting to say that Christmastime was the one time of the year that a Cricut (either my Expression 1, baby bug, Expression 2, or Imagine) was always attached to my hip.  It had been 6 months since I used my Imagine. Then I prayed, because this is what I do when I come into a decision I needed to make, no matter how small it was.
So, midnight came, and like everyone else who made the decision to buy one, I watched the presentation.  You know what?  HSN (Home Shopping Network) always have the heavy hitters out for a premier event, because they want to make sure that they can tell you why you need it.  Well buddy boy, I had already made that decision BEFORE you ever started talking.  So, I am not that type of person.   Cricut was having a party, and the guest of honor, besides the machine itself was Designer Anna Griffith.  She had partnered with ProvoCraft on some design cuts exclusively for anyone who is going to buy the machine.   Now for the PSA:  host announces how many they have left in stock, and I have not looked on my computer yet, I was just watching the presentation.
Next, they threw in the hook (you know they always need a hook.).  A 3-month free subscription to their SVG files.  Even though you do not need it, because you can cut out any SVG files on the internet, they decided to throw it in anyway.  Now it is down to fewer than 1,000 machines, and I am still watching.   I finally ordered when they were down to 500 machines, and I saw a cute rosette on the wall.  Welcome, home décor, come to mama!!!  So click, click, click I went on the keyboard and mouse, making sure that I have my account pulled up, and that all of my info is correct from the last time I ordered something (E2).
Did you know you can link up your Paypal account to HSN now?  Great option for anyone with one, and take the flexpay option, which I did.  Now, all I have to do is wait on my paycheck to hit today, and I am set.   The machine arrives on March 18th.  I will have a review shortly after I get it.  In the meantime, enjoy
this cute little heart for Valentine’s Day.