The Explore 3 is a popular option for crafting enthusiasts. It boasts capabilities that allow you to design and cut like a pro, as well as wirelessly connect your Cricut machine with other devices in the home. This makes it easy for family members or friends to do their own projects on the same cutting board without interrupting each other’s work flow or knocking over expensive items from the countertops.
The “what is a cricut machine” is an electronic cutting machine that allows users to cut fabric, paper and more. The Explore 3 has the ability to do many different things which makes it perfect for crafters.
I’ve had a lot of craft envy as a parent of two daughters. You’re familiar with those other parents. They’re the ones that make adorable customized coffee cups for teachers as you send yet another crappy Starbucks gift card. Or the ones who offer to tie-dye T-shirts for the whole soccer team, with each child’s moniker neatly embroidered on the back. Or the ones that not only throw ladies’ evenings out, but also give out wine glasses with snarky sayings that appear like they came from the prettiest Etsy store.
It turns out that those Martha Stewart want tobes have a real creative cheat weapon in their arsenals: a Cricut smart cutting machine, which is now on sale.
To get started on personalized designs with the Cricut Explore 3, you’ll need a lot of patience. It ain’t cheap, though, at $300 for the machine plus all the materials, equipment, and membership fees. Anyone with a desire to be more crafty will rapidly get obsessive once they get into the groove of things.
The Cricut machines have grown incredibly popular, as seen by the well-stocked Cricut aisle at your local Michaels or other craft supply shop. Cricuts look like printers but are actually smart die cutters that can make precision cuts on more than 100 materials — delicate foils, vinyl, cardstock, cork, fabric, glitter paper, or even balsa wood — all at lightning speed. There are three current models (the petite Cricut Joy, the popular Explore series, and the pricier, made-for-serious-crafters Maker series). From the convenience of your own home, you can make stickers, greeting cards, iron-ons, signs, and much more.
You’ll need to buy new “smart materials” for the Explore 3 if you’ve been using an older model. They’re a little more expensive than “common” materials, but the good news is that they feed right into the machine without the need for a mat. The Explore 3 is also twice as quick as its predecessor, the Explore Air 2, and can create projects that are 12 inches wide by 12 feet long — ideal for porch signs, banners, or cutting numerous logos at once to produce multiple iron-on T-shirts for a family gathering, for example. In addition, the machine has a pen function that allows you to create typefaces, designs, and patterns on your materials.
We put the Cricut Explore 3 to the test to see whether it might help us improve (or perhaps start) our crafting game.
Although it may sound odd to call a cutting machine lovely, the Explore 3 comes in the sweetest hue of soft mint green and made us grin straight out of the box. It takes up a tiny amount of room and is light enough to move about if you don’t have a specific crafting area, measuring 22.2 inches wide by 7 inches deep and 5.9 inches high (and weighing 11 pounds). It also has a built-in cubby to keep some of the tools you’ll need to purchase separately, as well as a handy tiny docking station to hold your phone or tablet (more on that later).
It takes no time at all to set up the machine: Simply plug it in and connect it to your computer wirelessly by Bluetooth or via the USB cable. The package includes a fine-point blade and a few sheets of practice paper, but you’ll need to download Design Space, the company’s free program for Windows and Mac, to use it (and iOS and Android). It comes with a wide library of photos, fonts, and ready-to-use projects, as well as the ability to contribute your own images and fonts. If you intend to use your Cricut often, you should consider paying $9.99 per month for Cricut Access. It allows you unrestricted access to over 200,000 pictures, 700 fonts, and more, as well as 10% off cricut.com purchases and special offers. (First and foremost, take advantage of the free 30-day trial.)
The Explore 3 also needs “smart materials,” as previously stated. These are specifically designed rolls and sheets of vinyl, cardstock, iron-on paper, and other materials that can be fed directly into the Explore 3 feeder without the need for a dedicated mat, as with prior Cricut models. A 3-foot roll of Smart Iron-On, a 3-foot roll of permanent Smart Vinyl, and a pack of Smart Paper Sticker Cardstock were all on sale for $8.99, $4.79, and $8.39, respectively.
You’re right if you think there’s a motif here about additional add-ons. Aside from the smart materials, you’ll need a set of tools to “weed” and “burnish” your creations (the Essential Tool Set is on sale for $29.99; see below for additional information on those tools). Other blades, pens, markers, roll holders, heat presses, and other items are also available. Don’t forget Transfer Tape, too. You’re going to need it. Crafting turns out to be a costly pastime.
But, equipped with the necessities for getting started, I was ready to see whether it was worth it.
When you initially turn on the Explore 3, you’ll be asked to complete your first small project, which is to make a basic sticker. I followed the on-screen directions and completed the practice cut with ease, eager to get started. I inserted a sheet of vinyl into the machine after picking a basic mountain picture, and in about three seconds, I had a great new sticker for my Yeti tumbler. Dang. That was simple.
Feeling pleased, I went into Design Space and looked for another sticker picture to use to personalize one of my children’s many water bottles. She chose an adorable dinosaur that was labeled “simple” to build – and it was! I measured the tiny man, clicked the “Make It” button, and followed the steps once again. I easily peeled away the extra yellow vinyl label, then used the “weeder” tool (it has a sharp metal hook and looks like something your dental hygienist uses to dig at your gums) to pluck out any little bits left behind. After that, I coated it with vinyl-adhesive Transfer Tape and polished it with a little tool that looks like a food scraper to ensure it would cling. Finally, I adhered the tape on the water bottle, burnished it once more, and pulled it away. Even after putting it through the dishwasher, the sticker remained on.
It was now time to apply the iron-on transfer. I began with a picture labeled “easy” once again. The words “My star sign is tacos” were written on a thin-shaped constellation in the form of a taco. (I assumed my adolescent would find it amusing.) She didn’t do it. It’s now time for pajamas. But, oh well.) I mirrored the picture (to ensure it transfers perfectly to your shirt), placed my shiny side down paper on top, and voila! The iron-on cutout was completed. I just ironed it on a prewashed T-shirt for approximately 30 seconds after peeling and weeding away the excess. It worked flawlessly.
I decided to develop my own design for another iron-on shirt since I was feeling brazen — and that’s when I went wrong. I’m quite good in PhotoShop, so I felt Design Space would be no problem. I was on the verge of giving up after over two hours. Fortunately, I came upon a YouTube lesson that rescued the day. The cut and iron-on process went well after I got everything to cooperate.
What is the story’s moral? You can pretty much simply follow the directions and wing it if you want to use the Cricut for its previously existing Design Space tasks. If you’re doing anything more sophisticated, you’ll want to follow tutorials and be prepared to learn via trial and error.
I stopped cringing in dread of messing things up after the first few of cuts and peels, and now I feel as if an inner Martha I never knew existed has taken control. I’m cutting stickers for the kids, eagerly accepting iron-on requests, and planning to name everything in my cupboard, and I can’t wait to be my own greeting card designer. Who am I, exactly?
Yes, getting started on unique designs with the Cricut Explore 3 requires a lot of patience. It ain’t cheap, though, at $300 for the machine plus all the materials, equipment, and membership fees. Anyone who wants to be more creative will rapidly get hooked once they get into the flow of things (especially when you consider the expense of greeting cards, customized T-shirt designs, and other items). Then there’s the next ladies’ night out. I’ll be the one bringing the sassy wine glasses with decals.
Frequently Asked Questions
What all can you do with a Cricut 3?
A: A Cricut 3 is a very powerful machine that has many uses. It can cut into wood, fabric, leather and other materials with ease. You can also use it to create designs on paper while using the special mats that come with each product. With a little work you could even use it for engraving or making stencils if you had some extra time and patience
What year did the Cricut Explore 3 come out?
A: The Cricut Explore 3 was released in 2018.
Which is better Cricut maker or Explore 3?
A: It is hard to say which one is better for someone who has not used it. However, there are pros and cons of both choices that you should know about before making a decision. A great tool like the Explore 3 would be perfect for beginners because there are less complicated options available in comparison to Cricut maker.
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