Haha - I amuse myself! A Cricut machine (pronounced Cricket - not circuit which I kept saying at first) is a multi function cutting and plotting machine. I got one for work last year because I could see so many potential uses for it. I went for the top-of-the-line and got the Cricut Maker which gives plenty of options to swap out cutting tools. I also bought the large easy press (a fancy digital iron - who knew ironing could be so high tec?)
The big plan was to use it to carefully cut around iron-on transfer paper (fashion illustrations) for a really professional finish. Unfortunately, I didn't end up teaching that class - but I still think that it would work and I still think that it would be worth the hassle... that's right hassle.
I say hassle because I did use it with a design class to make stickers, and to get it to first print, and then cut, in my work environment was really slow and a lot of work for me. The students' computers didn't have easy access to "Design Space", the online interface where the designs are prepared. Their work then needed to be sent, firstly, to a photocopier, and secondly, to the Cricut machine. It was too many stages and too reliant on me. I'm all about getting students to learn to do things for themselves, so this did not make me happy. I really could bang on about this for a while but honestly the issues were more about the limitations of the school environment than the effectiveness of the Cricut machine.
The Cricut machine is actually awesome. I've used it to cut stickers, t-shirt transfers, fabric, vinyl, paper and even leather. For an at home maker or small business the possibilities are endless and the finish is professional.
Last week I cut a vinyl design and used the "negative" space to make a silkscreen stencil. The results were pretty great and some fine lines were achieved. I used the stencil multiple times, and I ran of things to print on before the stencil showed any signs of breaking down.
I will be getting my Year 12s to have a go at this next year. It's a small class so I think that some of the technical issues will be resolved. I still want to try the fashion t-shirt transfers - maybe.
Recently another art teacher asked me if I think the Cricut would replace the Riso machine (RIP relic from the past) and my answer is straight up "NO, no way, not even close". I was told earlier in the year that a digital version of the Riso will be released in late 2019 but I believe that the release date has been and gone. I will be keen to try it out when it is released but I seriously fear that the cost might be crazy.
Speaking of costs... The Cricut maker is currently on sale at Spotlight for about $500. All accessories (of which there are a ton) are available through Spotty.
There are loads of youtube tutorials on how to use the various tools. This lady regularly reviews the new products and clearly demonstrates how to set up the machine.
If you are a local teacher you might be interested in coming to a Cricut machine PD. It will be at work this term...You can get in contact with me through my department email to find out more.
Everyone else... let me know if you want me to run a workshop (and I can use that as an excuse to buy my own machine for home).