cricut expression - review (part 2)

Today I'll start with another small disclaimer. As I mentioned yesterday, I don't do any scrapbooking. I think it's also important to mention that I don't own any other cutting machines. So, I can't tell you if this particular machine is better than any other. So far, I've only used my very high-tech Xacto blade for my work.

The projects (very simple ones):
- This purse/bag was so easy to make. The Cricut did all the cutting and I just scored and glued. Little C and I made and decorated a round version which I forgot to photograph. These would make very cute party favors.

- I told you that the hang tags were fun. This was a quick banner I made with the Provocraft textured cardstock. The longest part of the project was tying the tags evenly spaced out.

- A butterfly that took me a couple of minutes to make turns a fun colorful pencil into something a bit more special.

- This is a shadow box frame that I've added to little C's room. The raspberry colored C is cut using the same dimensions as the white C but with one difference. It was cut out by using the shadow option I mentioned yesterday—very handy. The Cs and the bottom left flower are raised.

- So far, this paper lamp is my favorite project. I can see myself making this over and over again with different motifs, letter and/or numbers. I used the initials of our first names, middle names and last name all combined. It's 12" tall and 4.5" wide. I can add this to my growing list of paper lamp ideas.

White-on-white always makes an appearance in my work doesn't it? I can't help it.

My only concerns with the Cricut are:
  1. The upfront pricetag for the machine and each of the cartridges. My husband suggested that I purchase the previous model (several times) and I simply couldn't bring myself to go for it. Having said all that, I realize that in the long run the Cricut may actually be cheaper than buying all the scrapbooking supplies as individual pieces. It's not something I'm well versed in, so someone please correct me if I'm wrong. For a non-scrapbooking person such as myself the price does seem hefty.
  2. This may be a given but I'll say it anyway. I don't like being limited to cutting what's on the cartridges. I have many more ideas for 3D projects (such as my gift boxes) but I'm always limited by the handmade aspect of what I do. If Provocraft would be willing to make custom cartridges with images I supplied them, that would be incredible. The logistics and costs of making a program like that available to any crafter are probably insane but wouldn't that be fabulous?
  3. Not related to the machine directly - As a crafter that is concerned with being more 'green', one of my first thoughts is related to the scraps and scraps of paper that I now have after making these projects. This isn't to say, that I don't have scraps when I cut paper by hand, but these projects came about at a fast pace so the piles around me got me really thinking. I have a scrap drawer that gets a lot of use and some projects that these are all destined for. I wonder what everyone else does with their scraps.
  4. Speaking of being green. What will happen to the machines that get discarded once a crafter decides to upgrade to this new one?
Regardless of how this Cricut is used, it certainly is a great tool. It also is much, much cheaper than a laser cutting machine I looked into purchasing at one point. I'm really looking forward to exploring what else I can come up with. I know I've only scratched the surface. I also know that we will be able to use it for many projects such as: school projects, parties and celebrations, stationery, wall art and paper lamps. I'm specially looking forward to combining the machine cut pieces with the ones I create by hand. That's going to be exciting. To recap the good points:
  1. Very easy to use
  2. Fast! Saves a ton of time.
  3. Limitless possibilities within the cartridge options.
  4. Educational. My little C was reviewing her alphabet in a fun way. I can see why teachers would love the Cricut.
  5. The Cricut helped us spend some quality crafty time with the kids. Good music + Cricut = fun times.
  6. Although I did state the price as a concern, I can also see how it saves money in the long run. I know it's all contradictory. I guess it depends on how you look at it. If the Cricut isn't in your budget, why not purchase it as a group (among sisters/friends)?
  7. Definitely fun to use.
For those of you that would like to know - The cartridges we used were: Simply Sweet, Jubilee, Plantin Schoolbook, Home D├ęcor Solutions and Stand and Salute. Aside from the white and gray paper, the sheets I used are all sold by Provocraft—see options here and here. I also received rolls of vinyl which I haven't had a chance to get to. When I make something with them I'll definitely post it here.

Once again, thank you to Provocraft and Rachael/Todays Mama for the opportunity of participating in this review. Remember to participate in the giveaway and good luck with the opportunity of winning a cruise.

And... thank you for reading these super long couple of posts after my days of absence. Summer is just moving slowly around here. It's probably this insane heat!


  1. Thanks for this very thorough review, and the projects you've made are beautiful!

    For the record, when we were working the Provo Craft booth at Maker Faire, the number one question about the Cricut was, "...But can I cut my own designs with this thing?"

    Offering the ability to customize is definitely the best way to reach the indie craft market, especially with such a hefty price point.

  2. Oh how cute! I love all your projects. The lamp is gorgeous!!!

  3. Donna (onelittlemonkey)Jun 23, 2009, 10:34:00 AM

    I've never wanted a Cricut until I saw all the cute things you made!

  4. First off, your designs are so lovely and inspiring!
    In your review you mentioned that you'd like to be able to customize your designs. There's a machine for that! I have the Quickutz Silhouette ( and I use it with my Mac. I do not use the software they provide but instead I use Adobe Illustrator. The machine will cut any vector image you want. I've made some custom cards from it and use it for scrapbooking all the time. I didn't go with the cartridge machines specifically because I wanted to customize my designs. Anyway, thought I'd pass that along - though I'm sure others have (I didn't read comments in your last post.)

  5. If you want to break the boundaries imposed by cartridges, check out - Sure Cuts A Lot software. This will let you use your computer with the Cricut and design whatever you want without the limitations of the cartridges. There's lots of blogs/websites with info out there and lots of free cut files too! ~chris

  6. This is McKay Brown from Provo Craft. Thanks for taking the time to review the Cricut. I am amazed at the great projects you created in such a short amount of time!

    I appreciate your comment about being "green." Crafting in wonderful in that people can create such great things from raw resources or reuse items to create. Provo Craft is always looking for ways to be more green in our day-to-day business and the products that we offer consumers.

    Your idea about making custom cartridges is interesting and one I've passed along to our product development team.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Sure-Cuts-A-Lot software, for the price of 2 cartridges, lets you cut any true type font or svg (vector format) image. This also speaks to the green issue because you can fit more on a page, and cut only the parts you need.
    Any review of the Expression without Sure-Cuts-A-Lot and Cricut Design Studio is somewhat misleading.

  8. I've looked at both the cricut and the Silhouette (by Quikutz) and have to say, I prefer the silhouette. It doesn't have the portability the cricut does, but if you have a laptop, it's totally doable. With the silhouette you can cut any font (truetype, i think) you have on your computer. No cartridges to buy. So the upfront price tag is more (about $300) but since you dont' ahve to spend $30-60 on each cartridge, in the long run you're saving a TON!

  9. I appreciate the review. I've always wondered about these things - they seem so popular, but I'm not really a scrapbooker, so I guess that I have the same reservations. Thanks!

  10. I am also a graphic designer from texas, deep south texas, Harlingen,TX and I love reading your blog and saw the post about the cricut, I used to use dye cute machine that I bought at Michael's but just like Cricut you had to buy sets of designs, it can get expensive so I discovered the Xyron Wishblade, it works with illustrator and photoshop and can cut anything you want and I mean anything, it is an investment but I felt as a designer it was worth it for me and I have been using it and love it and think it would be a great tool for you, check it out and I hope this helps.

  11. I think that lamp has to be the greatest thing I've seen all week! Swoon!

  12. Thanks everyone! I'm new to this type of tool so that's why my review was limited in scope to the Cricut itself. I really appreciate all the feedback and additional information. I'm already looking into implementing some of the suggestions you've offered here.

  13. My daughter is getting married next year, and we're just coming off a layoff, so our budget is even smaller than it might otherwise have been. I'm giving some real thought to the Cricut as a tool for making the wedding invites, favors, place cards, and so on as DIY as possible. Thanks for the solid review showing me what someone who isn't a scrapbooker can do with this tool!

    Now to figure out whether our budget will support it. :D

  14. That lamp is wonderful! I love the white on white.

  15. fabulous lamp

    wonderful review

    try ebay for a lower priced option - my neighbor picked one up for $130

  16. Wow! Where do I start! I have so much to say in response to your review and in response to comments left on your review. Let me start with... your projects are gorgeous. You have a unique style and I have to say my favorite is the lamp.

    As for the green aspect: I keep my scraps organized by color and get the most use out of them as I can. All in all, I feel pretty good about the fact that I have been able to minimize what actually goes in the recycle bin. I did own the smaller cricut and graduated to the larger one a year ago. My teenage son now owns my small cricut and LOVES it. I was going to donate it to the school, but DS intercepted.

    I am mostly a scrapbooker, but I also love cardmaking, home deco, party planning, organizing, etc and the cricut has saved me more money in those areas than I have spent. The money we saved on my daughter's wedding alone was worth buying the cricut and most of my cartridges. Oh...btw... did I tell you that I own 82 cartridges?!

    Wait til you start playing with the vinyl... you will LOVE it! Go to to get inspired on wall art. Most of what is in their catalog can be done with a cricut.

    On a last note... I haven't found anything that a silhouette or a wishblade can do that a cricut cannot... but there are things that a cricut can do that those machines can't. I could be wrong, but I sure would love for someone to show me.

    Thanks for reading my LOONNG comment. I love my cricut and have a blog devoted totally to it and the projects I create with it. So, from one Texas gal to another, I'd be happy to answer any questions you many have on the advanced feature keys... some of the are pretty cool!


  17. Thank you so much for your comment Tammy. I don't mind it being long at all. I love hearing other opinions on the subject since I’m a newbie to these machines. Like I said this is the first time I work with one, so I’m still feeling my way around.

  18. Hi, I think your projects are fantastic! I love the lamp!
    I am not a scrapbooker, but I do love card making, and sewing and anything I can get my hands on really. I have been looking at the Cricut but I came up gainst the same problem as you... the fixed designs. I have also been looking at the Creative Cutter Inspiration by Pazzles ( and as it seems more versatile and even allows you to cut rubber stamps among other things, I am thinking this may be better for people who do various crafts. Havent had a chance to trial either yet, but hope to soon.
    Thanks for sharing your experience with the Cricut!

  19. sure cuts alot lets you use dingbat fonts too...

  20. Hey Patricia,

    this is no official Provo thing, but if you can keep the machine and you want to use it for your own designs I deeply suggest to buy and download SCAL.
    As I am an graphic-designer and scrapbooker, too - I wanted to have a digital die-cutting machine for a long time - at least I got the chance to buy one for the retailer price (;
    and bought and installed SCAL, too.
    Only thing: i couldn't get it to run on my MacOS - I had to install it on the PC-part of my mac... );

    Greetings from over the ocean
    Katharina from the BlackForestRegion/Germany

  21. The Silhouettee is the same machine as the Craft Robo, which I have and LOVE. You will never have to buy another cartridge again. You can cut ANY shape you want -- you have to make the outline (I use Adobe Illustrator).

    One thing that the robo can do that none of the other die cutters can do is align to something you print. So I can design something in Illustrator, print it out with registration marks, run this through my robo (which uses the marks to know where to cut) and it cuts it out PRECISELY.

    It really is very amazing.

    Did I mention that I love it?

    There's a bit of a learning curve, but once you get past that you can make it do anything.

    Read this blog posting and see video of it in action:

  22. Sorry... couldn't help commenting in regards to Molly's post above. The Cricut Expression can also precisely cut something you have printed on your computer... it's called CENTER POINT. It will cut any shape or size, all you do is center the blade housing over your print, chose the shape you want to cut and select the size you want it. I do it all the time. No learning curve there... it's a simple button on the Expression only (baby bug doesn't have this feature). Just thought I would share.


  23. Wow, what a thorough review! This is a pretty fantastic machine!

  24. I to would like to cut my own designs with the cricut machine!! I love what you do.. have followed you for quite some time !! Speaking of tea light covers... I have a book coming out ( hopefully soon) on that very subject!!! totally different look.. same concept!.. was fun to see what you did.

  25. Hi! I just bought a cricut expression to make some wedding invitations;AND I LOVE IT! You have so many brilliant ideas, can you please tell me if you have a tutorial for the white on white lamp? It is amazing!! I wish I knew some fellow crafty people like you; I'm always having to convince people that crafts can be classy and elegant, but you prove this with all of your ideas! Thanks for the wonderful inspiration!

  26. I did the lamp project on the fly so I really don't remember how to make it. If I get a chance to do it again, I'll post a tutorial. Thank you for your kind comment! :)

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  28. I just purchased a Cricut Expression and after reading a number of blogs was sent to download Inkscape to turn any giff files into svg files to send to the Cricut Design Software and then right to the Expression to cut out your thousands of fonts or designs. Inkscape lets you stretch, resize, modify, etc. your own work then turn it into an svg file.

  29. I would like to know how to make the frame for the shadow box with the letter C in it. Is it handmade or purchased?
    Thank you!

  30. As for being green, just make your own paper with the scraps. It is another craft your kids would certainly enjoy and something you can all do together. The textured paper you get would add an entirely new dimension to your work too! I have a 12" by 12" deckle to make paper in (my hubby made it for me.) it is great for ornamentation in paper crafts!!!

  31. Poiema - The frame itself was purchased at Ikea.

  32. Wow! You are so creative! You have given me such great ideas. Thanks!