So your thinking about buying a new crafting machine, but which one should you buy?
Aren’t they all pretty much the same? No, no they are not. They do have some of the same features and similarities but no my friend, these 3 machines in my eyes are all very unique all on their own.
Today I will be talking about the Cricut Explore Air 2 the Minc 12″ foil applicator by Heidi Swapp and my new found favorite the BIGkick by Sizzix. Please note that these are all my own personal opinions as an owner of all 3 machines. I decided to do a post on all 3 at once. When crafting I find myself using all of them for different things on the same projects.
This is not a full introduction to any of these machines. It’s just a quick “help” guide for those who might be curious about these machines. I also included some “must have” tools and products to get you started with your new gems 💎
Please continue to read if you have purchased or are thinking about purchasing any one of these machines. I will give you my honest opinions on each machine. What I like and do not like and what materials are a must to be able to use these machines. There are no affiliate links on this post. I am giving my true, honest opinions so that you do not go and waste money on a bunch of products that you do not need. I use my machine daily and have made some impressive designs with it. I’ve already thrown a Rock & Roll birthday party by making all of the decorations with my Cricut. I’ve also started on the baby’s 2nd birthday party using the Cricut. It is definitely easier to go to the store and buy banners and signs but what is better than a homemade party that you created. I am starting on the baby’s project way earlier than the last minute rock & roll party. Crafting at home takes a lot of patience and time.
Let’s start with the Cricut Explore 2
Read your manual! Seriously!
This machine is definitely used the most out of all 3 that I use. When starting out with your Cricut you need to ask yourself one question, what am I going to be using this machine for? If your anything like me you want to do it all. There really isn’t much that this machine can’t do! Please note that you have to have wifi to use it. You create your design here at Cricuts design space Are you going to be making paper flowers? Or are you going to be using vinyl for some DIY wall decor? The possibilities are endless with this machine. If you are interested in the paper flowers you are going to want to purchase this kit (see below)
The 4 piece set includes a small pad and the 2 tools are a necessity when crafting flowers. The little pink and white square shaped tool is used to distress your paper or card stock. To the right is a pack of black and gold markers/pens that I purchased in all different sizes. You will want to change the size to go with what you are creating.
• mats 12″
• Cricut tool kit (you are really going to want these tools for weeding and scraping
• cardstock (if you’re making cards or paper crafts only)
• black vinyl
• white vinyl
• glue gun
• paper tools (shown above)
• extra blades
• Cricut pens/markers (these are pricey)
• colorful vinyl
• Fiskars cutting tool 12″
Also, keep in mind that each machine comes with some accessories. It all depends on how much you are willing to spend. My machine came with a pen, vinyl samples and a few sheets of transfer tape. It also came with sheets of vinyl and cardstock. Just enough to get you going.
Pinterest has been my best bet for finding ideas. I’ve heard plenty people say that they do not spend much at all when using their Cricut. Download your images off of google “for free”. You can also design your image in Picmonkey or with Canva and then upload that to your Cricut.
Cricut Design Space
Where you will create all of your Cricut projects!
In the pictures above you see that some of them have a green a in the top left corner. Those little a’s mean that the particular design can be made free with your monthly or annual subscription. It is definitely worth it to pay for it. It comes along with access to so many fun fonts and images. It really is up to you and what you want to make with your machine. Trust me, the longer you own the machine, the easier it gets. There are so many features like slicing and grouping that took me a while to catch on to. Google…. I always ask google!
Minc foil applicator
This here is your foil laminator. It heats the foil right onto your project after you apply toner to your project. The machine comes with a large transfer sheet to slide your projects into. Keep in mind that if you are using an ink printer the foil will not transfer to your project. Another thing that I didn’t know when I first bought my machine. If you have a laser printer at home you are good to go. You can also purchase toner pens (in the photo below) or go to a Staples or a store where you pay to have copies made. Personally, I don’t want to have to drive to a store when I’m in the middle of a design. Without the toner your machine is useless. It does do some amazing work. I love this machine but I find myself using the other 2 a lot more.
The Minc came with cute little tags to demonstrate how it all works. The pens I purchased at Hobby Lobby but you can order them online or at most craft stores. I would actually call the store first. I’m pretty sure neither of my local craft stores had them which is why I got them at Hobby Lobby. The only real issue I’m having using this machine is that I have an ink printer and getting the markers to make more of a cleaner line. Here is an example; I used card stock with a beautiful design on it. I tried to fill small circles with the marker which made a bleeding foil look. You just have to play with and figure out what works best for the project you are doing. I purchased a large toner marker and a thinner one for smaller areas. If you are a foil lover then this machine is for you. I did find a couple ways to foil without heat. Keep an eye out for that post in the next week.
Things you will need to get started with your Minc
• Foil (just buy a couple rolls to get started)
• Scissors or cutting tool
• Printer (toner required)
• Toner marker (they vary in sizes)
BIGkick by Sizixx
I love this machine!
This is my newest out of all 3 so I am still figuring all the quirks out. Let me tell you though, I am so glad that I decided to get this machine. Embossing just makes everything look so pretty! Now I know for a fact that you can emboss with a Cricut, but I did not have much luck when I tried for myself. This machine is so much fun to use. There are so many different stamps and die cuts for every occasion. So far I’ve made my own cards and tags. This machine can be dangerous only because of all of your options for purchasing more and more fun items to make any card or sign you can think of. Here are a few pictures of some of the items I recently got to go along with my BIGkick
You can see how much of a crisp cut this little machine is capable of making. If your ordering a BIGkick make sure it comes with the Extended Multipurpose Platform it is needed to be able to make your cuts and do your embossing. Although the Cricut cuts perfectly fine I still love and use this along with it.
You can see in the photo above I have an embossing mat and 2 embossing stencils. These make great impressions in your cards. Great for layering. To make a list of all of the needs versus the wants for this machine is going to be hard. The machine itself is under a hundred dollars but when it comes to stamping and embossing there is so much to choose from. I’ll just put it like this, if your on a budget and just want to get started you will want to buy the following
• Colorful card stock
• A few stamp kits to get you started
• Stamp pad
• Stamp Cleaner (I make my own)
The items I listed above will definitely get you started with your BIGkick or BIGshot there are several of these machines so make sure before you purchase one that you go onto Sizixx website and watch the tutorial. It breaks down every machine that they sell. As you can see in the photo above I am using kits from the Cuddlebug. That’s another option for you also. It’s made by Cricut.
Are you interested in the embossing area as much as I was when I started out? If so you will need to add a few items to your shopping list.
• Embossing powder (it looks a lot like glitter so make sure you read the label)
• Handheld heating embossing tool (Amazon has the best deals on these)
• Clear embossing pad (recollections made the kit I bought)
• Multi-colored stamp pads
• More stamps (I can’t get enough of them!)
I really hope I helped a little if you are on the hunt for one of these machines!
If there are any questions you have that I have not answered please feel free to leave a comment in the box below. I’m sure I’m forgetting something on here but like I stated in the beginning, these are all my own personal opinions from being a user of each product I mentioned above. Make sure to watch for sales and grab all the coupons from your local craft stores that you can find. You will see that if craft stores weren’t in your daily routine before that they darn sure will be now. I find a reason to go into one almost every single day (sigh).
Also something I have to mention before I forget is this, if you are new to paper crafting or not you have to check out this woman, Jennifer McGuires website right here you will love her as much as I do. Jennifer gives the best crafting tutorials (in my opinion) than any other I have found. There are some really good tutorials out there I know, but I always find myself going back to her website. She can answer any and all of your card crafting questions. She also uses materials that I had never seen or heard of. I’ve gotten a lot of great ideas by watching her.