Wednesday, July 23, 2014

CTMH Cricut Tips, Handbook and Useage: post 1 of 5

This document has been a labour of time, 20 pages and growing!  I've been watching a LOT of YouTube, and internet surfing, and had too many ideas rattling around in my head.  Immediately I scratch down some ideas on slips of paper, to be over-run with papers.  It was driving me crazy the potential creative possibilities Close to my Heart company created with their 3 versatile exclusive Cricut cartridges: Art Philosophy, Artiste, and ArtBooking.  And, as of August 2014 a fourth cartridge, "Artfully Sent."  My cartridge handbooks are a mess of overflowing notes, those booklets are not very big.  As a mental exercise in organization and training out Mommy-brain-fuzzy-thinking I set to work organizing all my bits & bobs of information into a Word document, it just made sense.  No one on the internet seems to have this compilation of information, or thought to create such a monster information cashe.  I have let it loose to a few friends to proofread and critique.  Everyone is so busy that I have to think no news is good news right?  I have thought long and hard about this document, how to compile it, how to arrange it, how to share it without offending anyone or infringing. So of course, being not very, computer smart, I can't even get it to post as a downloadable document for you, sorry about that.  Maybe one day I will have that figured out.  I have split it up into 4 blog posts to get it out there to everyone.  I will probably create a 5th post for the fourth cartridge, eventually.  Feel free to copy & paste for your own personal use.

Please take a moment to read this Friendly Notice & disclaimer:  This file was created by Karen Richardson and is offered for free, for your personal use.  This information has been collected from a massive assortment of talented YouTube artists, creative bloggers, Pintrest, Google images searches, the friendly people on the Cricut message-boards, CTMH online business address & CTMH consultant message-board.   I started collecting these tips years ago and do not have records of where they were collected from, so credit is not noted.  I mean no offence or disrespect to the original talented and knowledgeable Cricut afficionado people of the internet.   The spirit of this document is information sharing, is of non-malicious intent, and is non-profit.  Feel free to direct your CTMH friends, to my blog to share this document with them.  However, this document may NOT be: sold, traded, bartered, published or presented as your personal work.  If you feel that this document is inappropriate for your purposes, please disregard it.  

Close to My Heart offers 3 exclusive Cricut cartridges:  Art Philosophy (Item #Z1686), Artiste (Item #Z1790), and Artbooking (Item #Z1906).  These are full content cartridges, meaning they contain 700 images each.  Each cartridge features a unique font, comes with 3 exclusive “D size” unique stamp sets valued at $17.95 each, and 3 sheets of dimensional elements (die cut chipboard) valued at $4.95 each.  These cartridges work in any Provocraft Cricut machine, Gypsy, Cricut Craft room, and Cricut Design Space.  These images will mix and match together beautifully.  According to Corporate CTMH office communications to CTMH consultants; as long as CTMH offers these Cricut cartridges, the coordinating stamp sets will not be retired.  They can all be viewed on each CTMH consultant's online business address, please go to:  Karen Richardson, your CTMH consultant 

General Tips for Cricut cartridge handbooks:

1.       Remove the extra language handbook pages one at a time to remove excess bulk and make it easier to turn the pages.  Alternately, feel free to strike out alternate languages, or highlight/circle your language of choice to make it easy to find.  These handbooks are your working tool to use as you please.

2.       Use a non smearing ink pen and number the image key pages 1-50 as you go through your hand book.  There are 50 buttons of images on the keypad and 50 image key pages in the handbook.  These numbers will match the new “Universal keypad overlay.”  This eliminates the problem of tired eyes or interrupted attention.  It can be hard to see where we left off when resuming a project.

3.       Write notes/use sticky notes in your handbooks as you flip through them.  They will re-inspire you and remind you what you want to try next or improve upon with further projects.

4.       Register your cartridges on and register your rewards points.  The points accumulate so you can get other cartridges for just the cost of shipping & handling.  Or you can get blades, mats, Cuttlebug embossing folders and a variety of other products, depending on available selection.

5.       If you haven’t looked at your Cricut instructions in a long time, please take a few minutes to re-familiarize with them.  This can save you mistake time, and even remind you of all the smart things these machines can do.

6.       Turn your handbook perpendicular to your machine beside the size dial to show you what direction your image will cut on the mat.  The coil of the bound book is your direction clue.  This makes sense of why some images cut vertical & others horizontal on the mat. Putting a piece of painters tape with a diagram of the coiled handbook is a great reminder.

General Tips for Cricut cuts & Cricut usage:
1.       Button selections are sequenced as you would enter them on a Cricut machine.  Image selection is as simple as:  set the size, pressure, & blade pressure, find the button number, and then push “cut.”  To use feature images push the appropriate “feature” button, “SHIFT” button (if needed), and then the button number.
2.       A great tip when changing your blade is to write the date on a piece of painters tape and stick it directly on your Cricut.  It will be a great reminder of how old your blade is, especially if you use your Cricut a lot & need to troubleshoot cutting issues.
3.        Troubleshooting can be done by:  Blow out the blade harness to make sure there is no paper or dust build up hanging up the blade; try a faster or slower speed; try variations on blade and machine pressures; try a different mat; try a different paper; or it could be time for a break.
4.       Stamp sets:  Take a moment to read the instruction insert included with your MyAcrylix  stamp set.  This will vastly improve your stamping experience.  Clear polymer stamps often stain with use, it does not affect their stamping quality.  I recommend writing with a permanent marker on the stamp envelopes which cartridge the stamps coordinate with.  If you make a mistake, a “MrClean Magic Eraser” hand sanitizer, or a bit of rubbing alcohol on a towel will take it off the package and your hands.  Coordinating stamp sets are noted on the stamp carrier sheet the size to cut to match the stamp.  CTMH offers many great “how to” videos about Cricut cuts and stamping techniques, with new videos available regularly. 
5.       Stamps may be “seasoned” 3 different ways (your choice): 1. Cleaning with stamp scrubber & spritz cleaner, 2.  pre-stamping on scrap paper multiple times, or 3. Rub the new stamp on your hand or forearm briefly before inking the stamp to stamp.  New stamps often have manufacturing residue which can affect initial stamped image impressions.
6.       “Numerous My Acrylix® stamp images in the CTMH Idea Book Catalogue pair wonderfully with images on CTMH exclusive Cricut® cartridges. When you see the Cricut® symbol or a stamp image outlined in red in the Idea Book, you will know there’s a matching shape on one of our cartridges. Cut out the coordinating shape with your Cricut® machine using the setting indicated on the stamp’s carrier sheet, then stamp your image on the base shape—quick and simple!” as quoted directly from CTMH.  CTMH has a listing of coordinating Cricut stamp sets that will not be discontinued as long as they offer Cricut cartridges.  Try some test cuts to see if you can stamp other My Acrylix stamp images on other Cricut image cuts.
7.        There is a list on my online business address under “Cricut collections” to see all Cricut cartridge coordinating stamp sets:  as well as a “Cricut comparison chart” file and “Cricut machine tips& tricks” file.  Under the “shopping” section clicking on any of the cartridges will offer a list of suggested coordinating products that complement your cartridge selection.
8.       Closing one eye while lining up a stamp over a Cricut cut can make the alignment job easier.  If you have a stamping goof-up, symmetrical shapes for stamp images can be flipped over to try again.
9.       It is a good idea to stamp your Cricut cuts before assembling.   3D cuts are best made with heavier weight paper like cardstock. They fold cleaner and easier if you first score the lines with a blunt (scoring) tool and ruler.  If they are really small pieces, scoring isn’t essential.
10.   Some super detailed cuts do not cut well if sized too small.  You may have to spend some time troubleshooting.
11.   Cut out extra coordinating stamp shapes and store them in the envelope with the stamp set.  This will save you time making quick cards or projects on another day.
12.    Use your stamp scrubber #Z1782 to clean your non-sticky Cricut mat using Spritz stamp cleaner (#1778) or a dot of dish soap scrub & rinse in the kitchen sink.  Once it air-dries, it will be sticky again.
13.   Borders:  Use as a “belly band;” Roll up as flowers; 2 can be accordion folded to construct into award badges or rosettes.  Interesting visual details happen when using different papers layered shiny on matte or sparkle or transparent tissue.  Pleat, crimp, or crumple as paper ribbon.  Layer borders (like shingles on a roof) for gorgeous accents or trim layers for a dress, roof, snow-hills, Easter basket, grass, sand dunes, water waves, trees... They can be used for pretty paper chain garland for parties or Christmas decor. 
14.   Border length & width are sized to cut proportionally so they will not distort with different sizes.  They can be cut lengthwise; spliced across a scrapbook page or layout; cut in multiples; positioned to one side of the page with an embellishment on the short side; or the join arranged across a page can be covered with a picture or embellishment.  Most (not all) will cut out if sized at 1” to be 6” long.
15.   Usually accents look better if layered or grouped in odd numbers.  Have fun altering them for even more great effects. 
16.   All CTMH papers are “white core,” which allow so many creative accenting possibilities for your projects (see #17 -21).
17.   Cricut cuts look even more amazing when you take a bit of time to play with them.  They can be accented by the type of paper you use: metallic, glitter, vellum, thin cardboard cereal boxes, vinyl, shiny...  You can embellish with: embossing (dry or heat), puff paint, glitter glue, google eyes, sequins, rhinestones, wire, beads, staples, holes using the Stitch guide #Z1852, springs, pop up foam tape, brads, eyelets, bakers twine, embroidery floss, ribbon, yarn...   Alter a Cricut cut by snipping, adding slits, or cutting away a piece to layer it on another.
18.    “Distress” to detail & accent papers  by tearing, crumpling, sanding, crimping, poke holes, sew, distress papers with scissors or an edge distresser #Z1297.  Then further accent with a sponge and ink, stamp, or just doodle with a marker.
19.   Playing with spray ink yields many great effects.  Try a few drops of CTMH re-inker in a Spray Pen #Z1380 with water for a diffuse effect or with alcohol for a more intense effect.  Spraying close to the paper yields a blotchy effect, spraying further away yields a more even appearance.  Adding “Create a shade Pearl paint” Z1039 & a small plastic bead (to help shake) to the sprayer mix makes a very pretty pearlized spray.  Cricut cuts make great stencils or templates for spray ink background details for cards and scrapbook layouts. 
20.   Puddle some diluted re-inker in an old vitamin/pill bottle lid, you can create unique looks with CTMH sponge Daubers #Z726 or #Z1938.  Soak the sponge dauber in the puddle of reinker and pounce it quickly & firmly on your cardstock to make a “splat,” or gently tap to create dots.  Create an “Ombre” look by creating shade gradients (dark to light) across a page, Cricut cut or colour ready Chipboard accent.  Or just drag your inkpad directly across your papers.
21.    Inking the edges of your Cricut shapes unifies the appearance and creates a more finished project.  Don’t be afraid to try colours other than brown or black.  Of course, Cricut cuts look great all on their own too.
22.   Layered images or papers can be assembled and embossed in an embossing folder as one piece for great effects.
23.   Basic shapes cut from thin chipboard in incremental sizes can be layered and glued together.  Use them for embossing with a piece of fun foam or mouse pad shim = instant layered outline embossing in your Cuttlebug or other embossing machine.  Be aware not to overstuff your embossing machine “sandwich.”
24.   Look at your selected shapes and see where a basic shape can be substituted with an embellishment (IE a dot can be a googly eye, a sequin or a button).  Multiple shapes can be hinged with 1 brad to create a unique card or gift certificate booklet.  Multiple cuts each folded in half and glued one side-to-another together become self standing 3D books, ornaments, tree, fruit, and pop out embellishments.  They can be spot glued alternating spots for even more interest.  A single mirror image shape can make bag toppers when folded in half (for treats, baking, school gifts...)
25.   A tag can be a Christmas ornament, package label, envelope wrap detail, gift bag accent, journaling spot, a bookmark, a creative mini-montage, or a banner (large or small).
26.   Pretty envelopes can hold place settings, cutlery, chocolate bars, gift cards, tea bags, paper dolls, or a lock of precious baby hair.  Multiple envelopes (all same or different) can be bound together as an envelope book.
27.   CTMH Cricut envelope cuts are sized to fit the cards they are paired with on that cartridge.  Leave the dial size the same and your Cricut will calculate it for you.  3” is the perfect note card size.  Envelopes can be assembled using bonding memories glue (wide tip item #1512 or pen #z553).  When this glue is wet it is blue and permanent.  If allowed to air-dry it becomes a temporary adhesive (like temporary sticky notes) perfect for the flap.  Or you can use Velcro dots, magnets, buttons & bakers twine in a figure-8 closure.
28.   If you are making a custom card & envelope, start with the envelope size first.  “Fit to page” will tell you exactly how big a card will fit that envelope.  Make note of that size so you can plan out your card size to fit perfectly.
29.   3D shapes made in mini sizes make an adorable countdown for a special occasion (advent, birthday, upcoming event) or a fun way to gift tiny treats, or with a poem or letter they can contain love.  They can contain unique treasure notes of love, celebration or Thanksgiving.  They can be made “fit to page” for larger gifts like a cupcake, movie tickets, rolled up or origami money, gift cards, socks, gag gifts, candy, chocolate, toys, treat bags for birthday or baby showers, wedding thank you gifts, special baking...  Decorate a whole wall or one object (wreath, cone, box) with rolled flowers.  Create a fake birthday cake!
30.   Coordinating bare white Dimensional elements CTMH chip-board products need to be covered with paper of choice before stamping unless you are using pigment ink.
31.   Don’t throw away the negative cut shapes or spare cuts:  They can be used on cards; donate or share with other crafty friends; use to season stamps, test stamp; to “stamp off” excess ink before cleaning stamps;  as spray ink resist for interesting backgrounds; or to check if your ink choices look good with your papers before ruining your project.
32.   Spiral flowers are gorgeous cut with “ugly papers.” Petals can be manipulated with any distress tools before assembling.  If you use heavier weight paper, spritzing it slightly with water in a fine Spray Pen mister (#Z1380) will make them roll easier.  A Quilling tool (#Z1795) makes quick work of rolling them tightly from the outer edge to the centre.  Allowing them to unroll slightly makes for looser looking flowers.  Liquid Glass (#Z679) is a very strong adhesive to assemble with; it takes a moment to hold it but dries quickly in a dry climate.  Emboss, doodle embellish, or ink the edges before assembling for visual texture.  Once assembled, flowers can be sprayed with ink, or glitter glued, or mashed...  Tiny flowers roll tighter when spritzed slightly with water or alcohol.
33.   “Ugly papers” are great for test cuts, spiral flowers, and photo mats. 
34.   Liquid glass is a very versatile adhesive:  it can be used to firm up the tip of bakers twine or floss (like a shoelace tip) for stitching; it can be used as raindrop or dew drops; it can be put on a non-stick mat allowed to dry and coloured with alcohol markers; it can be heated with a heat gun to create funky caramel coloured puffy/bubbly accents.
35.   Cut 2 of any circle shape “fit to page.“  Score both like a clock (6 lines or more), cut each circle one on one score line spoke to the centre.  Accordion fold each wedge piece (spoke) and glue sides together into one continuous circle to make BIG accordion flowers.
36.   Alphabet letters or other accents cut in 2 different colours can be offset layered to create visual interest, dimension, or cut in similar colours with lines doodled on to make a 3D look.  Little pieces can be fussy to glue.  Bonding Memories glue pen #Z553 & Tweezers # Z1382 are great for tiny bits.  Scrapbook and card accents are commonly 2-4” in size, but don’t be afraid to try all different sizes to feature your photos and ideas.
37.   Mini book are quick & easy to create as a gift.  Make a brag book, a recipe book, a celebrity or class signature book, a book for wishlists, dreams & hopes, a doodles book, or a feature celebration book.  Colours & accents easily coordinate when you use a CTMH paper package because all the colour designing is done for you.  Books can be bound with binder rings, zap-straps, 2-piece office supply fasteners (commonly used for file folders), nuts & bolts, ribbon, yarn, bakers twine, embroidery floss, etc.  Remember not to cinch too tightly when binding your book or the pages will not turn easily.  Make them as simple or as decorative as you like with stamping, washi tape, zip strips, glitter, more Cricut cut shapes...
38.   Basic shapes layer well for all sorts of purposes:  photo mats, journaling spot, card accents, gift bag topper or tag.  Try a larger size, add 2 score lines parallel to the centre to create lolly-pop or cake pop gift covers, tied with ribbon or string.  Cut in black or dark green and stamp with White daisy ink #Z2163; or do your own handwriting with a chalk marker #Z1767 to try the trendy “Chalkboard” look.
39.   A card with window or cut-out shapes can be backed with packing tape or clear sticky back shelf liner, glittered, and sealed with a second piece of tape or glue.  Running it through an embossing machine will help “set” the glitter in place.  It can also be backed with vellum, coloured plastic, acetate or tissue.  A pop-up image can be cleverly nested within the “window.”  Try making a shaker box with acetate & 3D foam tape.
40.   Round cards can become “rocker cards” if made from heavy cardstock.  When they are made top-fold, the round edge will rock when when standing on the table or counter.  Put a cut out picture of the recipient’s head, an animal head, or a sticker on an adhesive spring #Z1725 , add google eyes, a sail boat, a dancing clown or child... 
41.   Many accents can be cut twice, real dial size ON, and glued to sandwich a page edge as a fun custom “tab,” or page pull detail.
42.   Many lacy paper cuts (doileys) would make fun threading-with-yarn projects for kids.
43.   Ornaments can be cut “fit to page” or as large as the machine will allow for dramatic Christmas decorations.  Keep this in mind for other party decoration themes too (birthday, baby shower, graduation, retirement, divorce, its-paid-for parties).
44.   Make your own thick letters by cutting your word selections multiple times, then gluing each letter in as thick a stack as you prefer.
45.   Symmetrical elements can be folded & glued together as a vertical or horizontal flag, banner or “swag”; put on a candy stick, toothpick, stickpin, skewer, popsicle stick.  They can: accent a cupcake, food identifier for pot luck food selections, flower arrangement, or be a poke stick for a potted plant.  They can detail a card, mini-book, or scrapbook element pull tab. They can be made large for parties, events or Christmas tree swag.  Make them miniature for accents on cards, topiaries, or present wrap.   Make a fun “do not cross,” “restricted access,” “under construction,” “goal line,” or “finish line” to delineate areas for parties.  They can also be used as hinges for elements or pictures in mini-books if you glue to element & punch a hole.   Noted “ *”  to save repetition in all three cartridge button idea notes.   

I will strive to update this document as I am able.  If you find MORE ideas to add, or corrections, please do add them to the comments in this post so I can add them in with future updates. 

Do you enjoy Close to my Heart products, and their Cricut partnership like I do, but want more?  I would be honoured to be your CTMH consultant.   I thank you in advance for considering your CTMH purchases with me!  "CTMH direct link here" Your purchases help me justify my Hobbiest business status so I can continue to share deals, ideas & creations with you.  

Thank you for visiting me here at "Not Housework!"

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