Cricut Expression – Creativity Beyond Paper

Cricut Expression – Not Just For Cutting Paper

Hey, do you remember that old TV commercial for orange juice? It went something like “orange juice, it’s not just for breakfast anymore” and everyone started drinking OJ at all hours of the day. Well, not really but it was a very successful ad. Provo Craft for the Cricut Expression die cut machine should come up with a similar campaign. It could read something like “the Cricut Expression, it’s not just for cutting paper anymore”. OK, so I guess it would need a bit more explanation. It would explain that there are a lot more exciting materials for scrapbooking and crafting than just plain old paper.

Other than paper, what else will the Cricut Expression cut? Lets look at a list of many of the different materials to “blow your mind” and open up an infinite amount of creative ideas for your next craft project.

The Cricut Expression

The Expression Cuts More Than Just Paper
The Expression Cuts More Than Just Paper

Nice Introduction to theCricut Expression

Lets Go Down The List of Materials

As you can see the list below, there are many different materials that you can use with the Cricut Expression. Think of all of the possibilities and unique creations using these different materials for your scrapbook projects, home decorating, hobbies, etc.

Paper- in all of its different weights, colors, textures, etc

Vellum - solid and translucent

Cardstock - light, medium and heavy

Chipboard - easy to use, lightweight, and inexpensive

Vinyl - adhesive backed vinyl sheets

Poster board - white, colors, and bright fluorescent

Thin magnets - thin printable sheets

Wallpaper- plain, pre-pasted and boarders

Metallic papers - shiny like brushed on metal

For anyone not familiar with the Cricut Expression, it is an electronic die cut machine that uses an electronically driven knife to cut specific shapes, letters, and symbols, etc. The Expression is made by the scrapbooking supply manufacturer, Provo Craft.


Lets Start With PAPER

The Cricut Expression will cut all kinds of paper and different weights of paper. For many, Scrapbooking is an avocation for preserving personal and family history in the form of photographs, printed media, and memorabilia contained in albums, or scrapbooks. Paper in all of its different forms is one of the key materials used to preserve close and personal memories. Scrapbooks should be handed down to the next generation within families keeping alive a family’s history, roots, and genealogy. Serious scrappers should think about the archival quality of the materials they purchase and insist on using acid-free, lignin-free paper. Acid-free products are essential to preserving your scrapbooks. Archival quality products will help to ensure that your scrapbook will be protect against fading, yellowing, or deteriorating. – they are designed to preserve photographs and journaling in their original state.

The paper that most crafters use has a pH level that does not go over 8.0. The ideal level is 6.5 and/or 7.5. In addition, un-buffered paper is the choice for many scrapbookers, yet some recommend buffer paper with alkaline base. Most paper supply stores offer a selection of archival papers, which are sometimes designated as “lignin-free” or “pH neutral.”


Vellum Solid or Translucent

Vellum Solid or Translucent Paper
Vellum Solid or Translucent Paper

VELLUM - Modern versus Traditional

Most people familiar with Cricut electronic die cutters know that the Cricut Expression can cut most forms of paper and vellum. Vellum is an interesting material because of its inherent translucent properties and should be considered by every scrapbooker. Unlike traditional vellum made from animal skins, modern paper vellum is made from cotton or wood pulp that is boiled, rolled and pressed. Today’s vellum is now composed mostly of paper and contains very small thin strands of cotton and plastic throughout. With the newest manufacturing processes, today’s paper vellum is equal to animal vellum for durability and longevity.

Vellum can be used for titles and journaling, photo mats, borders, backgrounds, and embellishments. However you use it, you’ll get the greatest impact by taking advantage of its semi-translucent properties to add depth and dimension to your designs and layouts. Clearly, vellum paper is great for scrapbooking and any paper crafting activities. Synthetic vellum does not require the same degree of care as traditional vellum and can typically withstand a wide range of climate and storage conditions.

Today, vellum paper is available in a wide variety of colors for scrapbooking. It is available in white and cream varieties, as well as pastels with many colors in solid, patterned, and pinstripes. It can be plain or printed, flat or embossed. Also, vellum comes in a variety of weights, and the lighter the weight the more light will pass through. Scrapbooking with translucent sheets of vellum paper will add depth and greater expressiveness to your pages. Vellum paper ranges from lighter textweight at 60 grams per square meter (gsm) to heavy textweight at 110 gsm. Vellum paper can be purchased locally or online at Amazon.

Some Uses Of Vellum:

  • · Vellum is perfect for layering over patterned paper.
  • · Use Vellum for backgrounds
  • · Use Vellum for mats and frames
  • · Use Vellum for titles and journaling
  • · Use Vellum to embellish and make accents
  • · Print black-and-white photos on heavyweight vellum for an antique look.
  • · Create tags for gifts.
  • · Print journal entries on vellum and add them to scrapbooks.


CARD STOCK - Light, Medium, and Heavy

Card stock is a paper stock that is thicker, stiffer, and more durable than normal writing or printing paper, but thinner and more flexible than other forms of paperboard. Card stock is actively used in making scrapbooks which require higher durability than regular paper. The surface is usually smooth, but can be textured, metallic, or glossy. It generally has a smoother finished surface. Also, card stock can have a crisper edge and folds more precisely, plus it has a more uniform color to it. Card stock thickness is often described by pound weight. The term card stock is used to describe paper with weights from 50 lb to 110 lb (about 135 to 300 g/m²).

So card stock is smooth like regular office paper but thicker and construction paper has a little more texture to it and less resilience. Card stock is like the subscription cards you get in a magazine with varying weights. Card stock is not very porous. For example, you could run cardstock through an inkjet printer and not worry about bleeding/crisp edges. It is fully compatible with electronic die cut machines like the Cricut Expression die cutter, which automatically cuts shapes and letters using cartridges. Card stock cuts cleanly and is flexible enough to fold and crease neatly.

Card stock is available in almost any color, bright vivid colors varying in hues and shades and texture.  It can be purchased locally from craft supply stores or online through Amazon.  It is available in single color and in multi-color packs. Since card stock is much more "professional" looking and polished in appearance it is highly recommended for paper crafts, greeting cards, and scrapbooks. Finally, It is usually acid-free, comes with either a smooth and vellum (or lightly textured) surface, and is less porous, so that ink applied to it will not bleed.


Stack of Chip Board
Stack of Chip Board

Cutting Chipboard

CHIPBOARD - Easy to use and lightweight

Chipboard is another material growing in favor with crafters and using the Cricut Expression you can cut letters, shapes, frames, and whatever else is needed for those exceptional crafting projects. But wait, what the dickens is “Chipboard”? Well, it is a cardboard-like material, thinner than most cardboard, but thicker than card stock. It is a pressed fiber-board usually made from recycled paper. Its "naked" or “raw” form is the brown cardboard color – similar to the back of a pad of paper. If you want to see an example of chipboard, just look at the back of a pad of paper – that backing is chipboard.

Driving its growing popularity is the fact that it is an extremely versatile product, which also is inexpensive, easy to use and lightweight, plus it can add texture and make your pages stand out. Make sure you get chipboard that is acid-free and thus safe for scrapbooks and any other long life projects.

So raw Chipboard is a beginning point, think of it as a blank page ready to be dressed up and decorated. You can die cut it, paint it, cover it with paper, ink it, sand it, stamp it, glue it, stitch it, decorate it with sequins, beads, stars, eyelets, brads and even rub-ons and anything else that comes to the creative mind.

Thicker chipboard stock can be cut all the way through using the Multi-Cut feature on the Cricut Expression that allows the knife to cut deeper each time with multiple passes. Chipboard can be purchased by the sheet in many arts and crafts stores and online at Amazon. It comes in acid-free sheets in many different sizes ready for use.

A nice example for using chipboard is with frames or photo mats that really stand out when made out of chipboard. There is a nice difference in dimension that chipboard gives to page layouts. Chipboard will help your photos stand out more also.

There are many ways to use chipboard; some of the most popular are:

  • Paint -Use craft paints to paint your chipboard
  • Paper - Decorate your entire page using nothing more than paper over raw chipboard.
  • Stamping - Use a stamp pad to ink directly onto the chipboard piece or around edges, use two different colors for more effect
  • Rub-ons - Use on just a section or as a covering for entire piece. This could be done over pieces already painted or covered with paper.
  • Felt – Glue felt or any cloth material to the chipboard. Either pre-cut the material then glue to chipboard or glue onto material and then cut to size.

Cricut Cutting Recommendations: (using Deep Cut Blade #29-0631)

Chipboard (0.022 up to 0.040" thick) with the recommended settings of:

  • Speed - 3 (medium)
  • Pressure- 4 (high)
  • Depth - 6
  • Multi-Cut - 5


VINYL - Resistant to moisture and humidity

Vinyl is another material the Cricut Expression die cutting machine will handle easily for decorating and craft projects. Vinyl is becoming more and more popular with crafters and interior designers due to its versatility, color selection and self-adhesive backing. A sheet of vinyl can be placed in the Cricut Expression to cut out words, numbers, shapes, symbols, or any types of designs used for decorating and craft projects. It can be applied in so many different ways and applications, such as, stenciling, wall phrases, furniture embellishing, accenting walls and decorating boxes and baskets, etc.

You can purchase adhesive-backed vinyl sheets that make it easy to apply and install vinyl decorations. Plus, the vinyl can be easily removed from any surface without harming paint or the surface of your walls or leaving residue or causing any damage. Because the vinyl is available with self-adhesive backing, you won’t need to use glue.

Vinyl is a strong and durable plastic (vinyl resin) material; it is not a natural substance but environment friendly. It’s made from ethylene (found in crude oil) and chlorine (found in regular salt). Another nice benefit for Vinyl it’s resistant to moisture and humidity that makes it great for crafting and scrapbook projects. Because of its durability, products made from this material have a long life span plus it can be easily recycled. Vinyl is manufactured in many different colors, both transparent and solid.

So to sum up, it seems that vinyl is a great material to use because the Expression can cut it nicely, it is self-adhesive, it resists moisture, it is long lasting and can be easily removed without damaging surfaces.  Plus, it is available in a great selection of colors.

Cricut Adhesive-backed Vinyl Sheets come in the following colors (at Amazon):

Lilac, Lime Green, Billard Green, Beige (Latte), Ice Blue, Pink (Rose Pink), Burnt Umber, Yellow, Black (Raven), Dark Blue, Peacock Blue, Red, White (Cotton), Brown (Light Brown), Grey, and Chocolate.


Poster Board - Bright Fluorescent Anyone?

Poster board is a type of paper based material used for making posters, signs, and for holding or displaying flat printed matter like clippings, photos, etc. It comes in large sheets of varying sizes. It can be particularly light and flimsy, as it is primarily expected to support sheets of paper, photos, glitter, lettering and other small items that are attached or glued onto it.

Poster board is not cardboard and there is a significant difference between them, since cardboard is made out of two stiff thin cardboard panels glued together. Poster board’s properties will hold color without color fade or shift, and since it is heavier than regular paper it is ideal for scrabooking and other paper craft projects. It is stiffer than watercolor paper, yet is flexible enough to be cut with scissors or with the Cricut Expression. Cricut recommends blade - 6 pressure, maximum speed – medium, with a multi-cut of 5.

You can get poster board with fine-quality, clay-coated paper stock with a very smooth, non-glare, matte finish. The surface is excellent for oil-base or water-base paints and inks, permanent markers, watercolor markers, pencil, and crayon. It's available both one-sided and two-sided, in several weights and thicknesses. It can be white or colored on one side, usually available in many different colors even bright fluorescent colors with themed designs. Poster board is durable, large and inexpensive to purchase.

Poster board can be found in art supply stores, office supply stores, drug stores and online like Amazon.

Some Uses For Poster Board:

  • Photo Backgrounds - use it as a photo background.
  • Shapes – Select a Cricut shapes cartridge and cut all kinds of shapes and symbols.
  • Letters - Select a Cricut font cartridge and cut all kinds and sizes of letters
  • Pockets – Make pockets for scrapbook pages.


THIN MAGNETIC - Lots of Uses

Yes, the Cricut Expression die cutter will cut thin magnetic material. Also referred to as printable magnets, it comes in thin, flexible, printable white magnet sheets with white on one side, magnetic on the other. Flexible print magnets can be used with most inkjet printers to create colorful signs and graphics that will adhere to any metallic surfaces. They are ideal for school, home, office and church use. Easily cut to desired size with scissors or knife or using the Cricut Expression die cutter so you can make any size or shape.

These printable magnet sheets can be found in most craft stores an online like Amazon.com. They are ideal for decorations, photo frames, to-do lists, frequently used phone lists, sports schedules and unique invitations. Gloss and Matte finishes are available for vivid color and photo printing.

Magnet sheets are easy to use; you can stamp it, score it or punch it. You can create your own personalized magnets in any color, combination of colors and even exciting full color. These magnetic sheets are safe for most inkjet printers.

The Cricut® magnetic material has a gloss white surface and is 0.035" (0.88mm) thick. Imagine all of the shapes, letters and designs that could be done with magnets cut using Cricut® font and shape cartridges. This is a great idea for preschools, refrigerators, games, and décor. Ideal for decorations, photo frames, to-do lists, frequently used phone lists, sports schedules and unique invitations

Cricut Cutting Recommendations: (using Deep Cut Blade #29-0631)
Magnet (0.035"/0.80mm thick) with the recommended settings of

  • Speed - 3 (medium)
  • Pressure - 5 (max)
  • Depth - 6
  • Multi-Cut - 4


Wallpaper Books
Wallpaper Books

WALLPAPER - Use Plain or Pre-Pasted

Yes, the Cricut Expression can cut wallpaper (both plain and pre-pasted). And it does cut very nicely too. One very important point is that wallpaper is not acid free – so don’t use it for your scrapbooks or any craft project with an intended long life. You can use wallpaper on cards like you would patterned paper. Even the heavy, embossed type wallpaper works great both from rolls and sample sheets. The only difficulty with rolled paper is that it wants to curl up. You need to deal with that but it is a minor problem.

You can use rolled wallpaper or take it from sample books (from old sample books or any no longer in use). Use wallpaper for making greeting cards, party favors, goodie bags and wall hangings. Experience proves that cutting wallpaper on the Cricut Expression works best with the glue side down and it cuts great. Besides it is best to cut with the patterned side up so that you can cut at a specific point in the design of the paper.

Most wallpaper cuts like nice quality scrapbook paper. So anything that you would make from scrap paper, you can make with the wallpaper, plus there are so many different textures. Utilizing wallpaper is so exciting because there are so many types, such as, vinyl coated, flock, patterned, foil, and more.

The Many Types of Wallpaper:

  • Basic Printed wallpaper - the general category of manufactured wallpaper with printed patterns
  • Vinyl coated wallpaper – vinyl surface some have raised texture that you can feel
  • Flocked wallpapers - have patterns with a raised felt-like fiber that resembles velvet
  • Foil (or metallic) wallpaper - has shiny reflective surface, can be silver, gold, etc.
  • Cork-faced wallpapers – the real feel and look of cork
  • Grass cloth/burlap wall coverings – can have very authentic cloth or burlap look
  • Satin wall coverings – a sheen is achieved on the paper from polishing or glazing before putting the design on it.


Some wallpapers can be a little thick so pressure and depth settings need to be adjusted accordingly, some may require using the Cricut Expression multi-cut feature.

Suggested settings are:
Wallpaper (0.0415"/1.05mm thick) with the recommended settings of :

  • Speed 2 (medium)
  • Pressure 4(high)
  • Depth 4.9
  • Multi Cut 1

These settings should be considered as a starting point – after a few sample cuts make any necessary adjustments. The settings will also depend on the texture of the wallpaper. Keep the mat really sticky to avoid slippage.


Example of gold and silver metallic paper
Example of gold and silver metallic paper

Metallic Paper - Shiny Brushed Metal Look

The term "metallic paper" refers to paper that has been coated with very finely ground mica crystal particles. The particles cannot be felt and the paper is very smooth. Mica-coated papers reflect light and have a beautiful unique shimmer or pearlescence. The look is almost metallic - the reason that these papers are referred to as "metallic papers". However, no metallic substances are used. If you want to add some excitement to your next project consider these bright shiny papers! They look of brushed metal that only looks expensive.
You can find metallics in a soft, shimmery pearlescent finish and also a glossy silvery embossed finish.

Some important features:

  • Features a smooth glimmering finish
  • Each sheet is coated on both sides
  • Acid Free (Archival)


Cutting Fabric on the Cricut Expression

THERE ARE MORE?

Here are some more materials to think about for use with the Expression and your craft projects.

  • Fun Foam
  • Stamp
  • Sponge
  • Styrene
  • Flocking
  • Felt
  • Fabric paper
  • Cloth fabric
  • Grunge paper
  • Sheet frosting
  • Contact paper
  • Window cling material

I bet there are many more materials that the Cricut Expression can cut.


Comments 10 comments

cheryll 5 years ago

Just wanted to tell you I thought this article was brilliant with lots of detail and information. Much appreciated for a beginner starting out on paper crafts :-)


All Info Now profile image

All Info Now 5 years ago Author

Hi Cheryll,

Thanks for your comments. The Cricut Expression really is an amazing machine.


Sandyksk profile image

Sandyksk 5 years ago from Sanger

Thanks for the info! I'm going to get one, and was glad to find it cuts all these materials. I'm still wondering if it could cut foam board nicely, and for photo mats, if it makes bevel cuts...?...thanks again for the info! :)


openarms169 4 years ago

CAn vinyl sheet work on fabric?


Liesl 4 years ago

Does anyone know if you can cut fun foam with the CRICUT and if so how?

I can think of so many kid crafts I could use it for, if so.


Megan 4 years ago

I have had my expression for two years and I had no idea how to use it. This website is vey helpful and thanks for elaborating on all the fun stuff the cricut can do. I bought the cricut because I love to scrapbook and for decorating my new house. Thanks for the information. ;)


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