If there were a DIY hunger games with bloggers and I was forced to play I would not win. Maybe I wouldn’t get knocked out first, but I wouldn’t be the last one standing. It would be Jenny Komenda ) versus John and Sherry ) and they’d rewire and refinish and add trim to things until one of them finally passed out with exhaustion and then the other would whittle a cot for them, and build a difibulator to help shock them back into the next challenge round of wall stenciling (one that I surely would have lost for). Those three are good at the real stuff.
I love easily customizing existing pieces (like Joy’s toe-kick, the embossed heart pillows, the ikea side table or the lucite hanging folders) but when it comes to tiling our new kitchen backsplash, I’m not the girl for the job. I know that I’ll rush it, not do a lot of the very necessary prep work, do a mediocre job and then have to rip it out or worse, be mocked by my imperfections every day while I’m in there not cooking up a storm. I don’t want a bunch of crappy almost good projects in my house. I’m also a decent shopper (now that Hunger Games I might be able to win) and I know where you can get pieces that someone else has made or even better, an awesome vintage version, that is normally cheaper than the supplies for the DIY without any of the labor.
When it comes to the holidays or kids events it’s a different story and I often really want to get my craft/style on but almost always run out of time/money/effort/desire, etc. And then I have all the excuses like, ‘my friends won’t even notice the snowflake chandelier, etc’, so i grab flowers and candles and that’s about it for the decor. But the thing is that people do notice the decor, even if they don’t know it, and it does prove to be a more memorable day – for all of us. Since having Charlie I’ve definitely scaled back anything too DIY (and certainly no parties) because it’s just too time consuming. So that’s why this party was so good for me – a total excuse to do some DIY.
You may have seen Charlie’s Sip ‘n See last week where we made a bunch of circus decorations with the new explorer machine and now I’ll break down what we did but first give you some back story on the process. The machine is basically a higher end cutting/printing machine. It has been around for years and was used traditionally for scrapbooking. Well, their engineers have upgraded it to be able to do a lot more than that now, they’ve rebranded to help reach out to non-scrapbooking makers, and to help show its variety we did a few different projects using the machine.
Here’s how it works – you plug it into your computer (no cartridges needed, but your old cartridges will still work) and open the ‘Design Space’ where you can simply choose a shape/graphic/art that has already been designed, alter any design that already exists (some need to be purchased) or design your own graphic or find one from the internet and import it. It’s actually harder to think of what you can’t do with this machine. Then once finished designing you can cut that design out of paper, fabric, leather, card stock, vinyl, paper, wood veneer, iron-on, (we tried sheets of copper and it worked if you like it hammered because the edges weren’t perfect and peeling it off the sticky mat created ) or you can draw the art instead and create or own original everything. Here are some of my favorites that shows the variety of tools/capabilities.
The options for what you can make with it are seriously pretty endless and the only limitations are mainly size (12×24 is the largest a graphic can go). As far as how user-friendly it is? Id say its like a Mac computer – where at first it seems intimidating but once you get the hang of it its super easy and things start to feel second nature. If you are really computer UN-savvy then there will be a big learning curve – in order for it to have the design and creation options and capacity it has to be kinda complicated. It doesn’t mean that you can’t figure it out, it’s just not a one button push kinda machine. I’m less design program savvy than Ginny and Brady who work with me and I got it, but technology is one of those things that doesn’t come second nature to me – so I need more practice to be fast at it. Ginny and Brady, however, were both really good at it really fast. I’m now the old person who doesn’t know how to use the remote. Soon Charlie is going to know Photoshop better than I will.
Is the Cricut for everyone? Nope. So here’s the deal – if you want some simple shapes cut out, say, like a triangle or square and you don’t need many, then yeah, grab some scissors cut that by hand. If you want to do letters then use some stencils.
But if you want something that has a lot of detail that would make cutting it impossible, (like my strongman icon), something where you need multiples that are identical (even polka dots – circles are hard/annoying to cut), or something where you want to customize your own graphic completely so you have something totally unique (as opposed to buying from Etsy) then this is your machine and its fantastic. Before Charlie I don’t think that I had the need as much (it’s not like I’m making Brian any iron-on tshirts) but with a kid and blog, I know that this is going to come in handy. The precision in this machine is insanely perfect and totally impressive. It even knows the difference between paper and card stock and with one turn of the knob it only cuts that deep.
So that’s my review of the machine, and now I’ll be breaking down the DIY’s that we did for the party this week, starting with the leather circus coasters – designed and cut with the .
Here’s what you need;
1. 2. Navy Blue Leather 3. 4. Iron 5.
1. Start by cutting down your leather scrap to a 12″x12″ piece which will fit on the . (we got our scrap from the fabric store and I think that size was around $40).
2. After you have everything set up in the using the on my you can go ahead and load the machine up, make sure the cutting tool is in place and then the machine tells you what to do after that. And yes , of course you can do ANY shape.
3. Once the has finished its magic you can remove the cutting mat from the machine and carefully peel of the leather from the pad.
4. Load the back up with the gold glitter iron on follow the process of step 2.
5. After the Cricut has finished cutting out the design for the Iron-On transfer. Remove the iron-on from the cutting mat and using the tools, carefully pick away the excess iron on slowly revealing the cut out design.
6. Cut off any excess plastic from the pattern and center the iron-on on the leather coaster.
7. Place a thin piece of fabric (or dishcloth) on top of the leather coaster and iron-on and apply heat for approx. 45 seconds.
8. Once the iron-on has transferred correctly it, the plastic will easily pull off revealing your beautiful new strongman coasters! (if it hasn’t fully transferred apply, replace the fabric and continue applying heat)
Now go make your own leather coaster. Or if you don’t want to splurge on leather then get felt or card stock and use vinyl (with sticker back) instead of an iron on. Everything is all set up for you on , and you can find the template . If you haven’t already bought your own …. you may do so now (or at any time ever)! Click to get everything you need for this project.
In case you missed these little guys in action at Charlie’s Sip n’See, go and take a look at this and watch it all take place.
And if you don’t want circus themed coasters year round (whats wrong with you?) then I think it would be super cute/chic to just do a big cross on it (think swiss, not crucifix, duh) or another iconic shape or diagonal stripes (which I think just end up being normal stripes on a circle, whatever) or maybe a big spade, or heart or clover. You get the idea – something graphic and iconic.
Stay tuned for the rest of the DIY’s this week or check out for all the projects. Also Happy Monday. Thank god The Bachelorette starts tonight, am I right?
This post was in partnership with Cricut Explore.
From inspiration to creation in just a few clicks.
All photos by the lovely team. testtest