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Cricut Explore Tips And More

Updated on April 22, 2020
linfcor profile image

Professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to make family memories into legacies for 20 years.

When the Cricut Explore first came out on the market, I was lucky enough (and smart enough) to get one right out of the gate. I have loved this cutting machine from the first day that I opened the box. Like many of you, I have learned through trial and error what works and what does not. I do have to give kudos to Provo Craft who have done a great job in setting up and getting out lots of information. And the craft world has gone crazy over this machine. So here are the best tips and tricks from my own experiences as well as some pointers that I have gathered. I hope that this information helps you have the best experience with your Cricut and Happy Crafting !

1. How To Unbox Your Cricut Explore Air And Explore One

What you get in your Cricut Explore box will depend on the package that you purchase. The more you spend, the more you will get.

Basics that you will get include:

  1. The Cricut Explore machine
  2. Power cord for your unit
  3. The blade housing and the blade ( already installed)
  4. The pen holder and adapter
  5. Supplies for a sample project
  6. A green mat
  7. A pen
  8. Directions to put it together

Read All The Materials

The first thing that you should do is to read and digest all the materials in the box. It will give you the basics to get started and what the features on your machine are. It will give you the confidence you need to get started

Out Of The Box- Setting Up Your Cricut Explore/Explore 2

2. Get Design Space

Design Space is the computer platform that will help you create projects, cards, scrapbook pages and paper crafts. The very basic Design Space is free to use..

There are three packages that provide design space for use with your Cricut.

You can pay a monthly fee of $9,99. You get 400 fonts and 90,000 images with your subscriptions, You also get 10% off all orders on and 10% off licensed images,

You pay $95.89 annually fee.You get all the goodies offered in the monthly fee. When you pay the annual fee, you get a reduced monthly rate.

The premium membership is available for $119.88 one time annual fee. You get all of the above. You also get up to 50% savings on all licensed fonts, images and ready to make projects. You also will get free economy shipping on orders over $50.

Cleaning Your Machine And Your Mats

Non alcohol wipes are the perfect product to clean your Explore and your mats. Make sure that their is no alcohol, especially when cleaning your mats. The alcohol will dry up the adhesive on the mat

Cricut Design Space For Beginners

3. Upload Your Old Cartridges

if you have some old Cricut cartridges, you still have the option to upload those images. These machines offer the last chance to do so. If you opt to purchase the Cricut Maker, that option is not available.

Linking your cartridges is easy:

  1. Navigate to www,cricutdesign/com and sign into your account.
  2. Once you’ve logged in, click again on the green account button and select “Cartridge Linking” from the drop-down menu
  3. Insert the cartridge firmly into the port on the Explore machine. Make sure your Cricut Machine is turned on and connected to your computer.
  4. Once the cartridge is detected, you will be prompted to link the cartridge to your account. Click “Link Cartridge.”

Cartridges can only be linked to one account. Once they are linked they cannot be unlinked,

Your cutting blade is already loaded into the holder and it will last for quite a while, depending on your use. It is smart to have an extra blade handy, just in case

4. Review The You Tube Videos

You may feel lost when it comes to where to start with your Cricut Explore. Even if you have been using a Cricut for a while, you may be missing on a lot of functions that your Cricut has, without knowing they were there. Not to worry, Provocraft, the maufacturer of the Cricut has you covered. There are also a host of seasoned users who will help you learn and grow with your Cricut.

We have put them in an order that will help you go step by step to learn how to get the most from your Cricut.

How To Clean Your Cricut Explore

If you are working with materials that you have never cut before, always do a test cut on a piece of scrap material to make sure you have the right settings

5. Get The Right Tools For Your Cricut Explore

Your Explore package may come with some tools or may not depending on the offer and the price that you paid. You might have opened the package and found these tools and wondered what they were about.

Here are the tools that you need for your daily use of the Cricut Explore. They can be purchased singly if you only need one or two. Or they can be purchased as a package where you will always get the better value.

  1. Scoring Stylus-Scores folds and lines for cards, envelopes and more
  2. Fine Point Tweezers-Lifts and secures cuts and delicate materials
  3. Weeder-Removes negative or unwanted sections of cuts.
  4. Detail Scissors-Has a detailed micro tip with a cover. Use to snip fine detail on all materials
  5. Spatula-Lifts your cuts from the mat. Prevents ripping of parts of the cut
  6. Scraper- Assists is burnishing materials and helps you clean off the mat

Basic Cricut Tool Set

Cricut Tools, Basic Set (2002050),Multicolor
Cricut Tools, Basic Set (2002050),Multicolor
This set includes every thing that you need to get started with your new Cricut electronic cutting machine. All the basic tools are included in one package, which makes it the best buy over buying them as singles. I have everyone of these tools and use them daily as I create projects.

When cutting paper or card stock remove the mat from the material (rather that the material from the mat). This will prevent the card stock from curling.

Cover Your Mats

Each mat has a cover. Make sure to use them. That way you will keep the dirt and dust off of them. The stickiness on your mat will last longer if the mat is covered,. If the mat gets damaged or you lose it, use a 12 x 12 inch scrapbook page protector.

6.Getting The Most From Your Mats

Your Cricut Explore will more than likely include the green sticky mat. This mat is the most often used mat for general projects, The mats come in 12" by 12" sizes. There is a green mat (medium strength mat) that comes in a 12" x 24" size for larger projects.

There are other mats that you can purchase as singles or in a package. Some of the packages will include one of each type of mat. Others will include several types of the same mat.

  • Blue Mat - is for lightweight materials and paper. You could use this on vellum, thin card stock, vinyl and vellum
  • Green Mat- This is the mat that you will use most frequently, It is the mat for medium materials like card stock, patterned paper, vinyl and iron on vinyl
  • Purple Mat-is a strong grip mat that is used for things like thick cardboard, glitter card stock, magnet materials, chipboard and poster board
  • Pink Mat- is for fabric

You will see a lot of different ideas on keeping your mats clean. However I recommend using the method that the manufacturer recommends. That is to wash your mats in dish detergent and water. You will find that it works just fine. Following their recommendation will not void your warranty. Allow to air dry.

Always pull the mat away from the project, rather than pulling the project off the mat. You will get less curling. You will also have less chance of damaging the project as it comes off the mat !

I have used the product Awesome as seen on the internet and I found that it removed a lot of the adhesive from the mat.

Make sure to load your mat correctly on your Cricut Explore. Both sides of the mat should be in evenly and must slide under the rollers.

Green Mat Tip

The green cutting mat is pretty sticky when brand new! After you peel the plastic cover off, you can place a clean, dry t-shirt over the mat in order to prime it for your first project. It’s really hard to get the cardstock off, even if you have all the tools, when it’s at its full stickiness! It’s easy to damage the project while trying to get it off.


More About The Dial On Your Cricut Explore 2

The dial settings are relatively simple to master.

  • The top button which is a circle with a line in it, is your on and off button
  • There are three buttons on the bottom. The ones with the arrow up and down is the button to accept your mat or remove it. The C with the antenna starts your cut once you have loaded your mat. The two lines together will stop your cut at any time you need to.
  • The actual dial sets the type of material you are going to cut. The customize button is for any material not on the dial. When you get ready to make your cut, design space will give you a list of materials to select.

Do The Test Cut First

If you are not sure if your dial setting is not correct for your material, do a test cut first. That will save you time and frustration.

Making Your First Cut

7.Make The Sample Projects

Jump right in ! I promise the water is fine ! Every Cricut Explore will come with a sample project. Follow the directions and you will be well on your way to your first cut.

Project not cutting or only partially cutting? make sure that you have the right material setting for what you are cutting. We are all guilty of forgetting to reset the dial ! Check your blade to make sure that there is no paper stuck on it.

8. Using The Write Feature

Your Design Space comes with several fonts already loaded into the system. Many of them are free to use. Others may have an extra one time fee. If you opt to purchase a font, and you have the monthly or yearly payment plan, you will automatically get 10% off.

  1. Insert text onto the Canvas by selecting the Text tool from the panel on the left side of the Canvas. On the iOS or Android App, select Text at the bottom-left of the screen.
    • Windows/Mac: The Text Edit bar and a text box will appear.
    • iOS/Android: The font list will open.
  2. Select the font you wish to use. Then type your text in the text box. Use the “Return” key after a line of text if you want to create a new line of text in the same text box. On a Windows/Mac computer, you can type your text before selecting a font. The text will render on the Canvas in a default font.
  3. Select an area outside the text box to close it. Now you can move, size, and rotate the text.
  4. To edit your text, simply double-click or double-tap on the text. The text box will open. Options to change the font, font style, font size, letter spacing, line spacing, etc. are accessed through the Edit bar at the top of the Canvas (Windows/Mac) or Edit tool at the bottom of the Canvas (iOS/Android) when your text is selected.

I love the Cricut pens, But, you can use other pens with your Cricut Explore. You may need to get an adapter for your pen holder.

There are a lot of fonts available on the Cricut Design Space. They are now the full screen size. So much easier to read. You can also upload free fonts from numerous sites.

Heat Transfer Vinyl Tip

Always use the mirror setting when you are cutting heat transfer vinyl for any fabric project. That way when you apply the vinyl, the words and images will appear in the right order.

9. About Your Blades

Your Cricut Explore comes with a blade already installed. The blades do last for a long time, but it is wise to have an extra blade on hand.

When your cuts are no longer going smoothly, it is time to replace your blade.

I also recommend that if you are planning to cut both vinyl and paper, you should have one blade for your paper and a different one for your vinyl. Put a little dot of bright finger nail polish on one to remember which is which

How To Make 3D Flowers With The Cricut Explore

10. Uploading Images

One of the finest things about Cricut Design Space and your Explore is that you can upload any SVG, PNG, or JPG into your program. There are so many free files that can be used for personal projects.

If you are planning to make projects to sell, you can purchase commercial use of the same files.

My Favorite Cricut Explore Tips

Want more Cricut Explore tips? Here are some of my personal tips that I use daily when I make my projects

  • Check your material dial before you start your cut. In my rush to get something started, I forget to check my dial and botch the cut. Place a reminder on your machine to help you remember.
  • Make sure to save your projects. If you want to use a project again or want to go back to a project, make sure to hit that button to save your project.
  • If you don't see the settings that you need or want on your custom dial, go to custom. You will see a lot more settings to choose from. They are easy to use and you will be less frustrated. More options should not drive you crazy, thy should enhance your experience!

© 2019 Linda F Correa

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