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Not fresh flowers

Volume 4, Issue 10; 28 Jan 2020

Wedding review: making it all with a Cricut.

FlowersSee also: Wedding reviews. are both beautiful and traditional for weddings. They’re also a little bit crazy in Swansea in January: they’re going to be expensive, they’re going to perish quickly, and they’re likely to have a discomforting carbon footprint.

Bethan decided that what really made sense, as a distraction from the eight thousand other things that needed doing, was to make her entire wedding bouquet and all the boutonnières for the best people and assorted others.

She did, and the results were gorgeous!

[Image]
Bouquet
[Image]
Boutonnières

Making felt flowers is not especially difficult. It requires an artistic and aesthetic flair I lack, but from a purely practical perspective: you cut the pattern out of the felt, roll and/or fold it into shape, and hot glue everything into place. If I did that, I’d end up with something that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a flower. Bethan produced gorgeous blossoms.

The point I want to draw your attention to is this: you cut the patterns out of felt. Follow that link. Go look at some of those patterns. Yes, in principle, you could do this by hand, but not if you wanted to make more than two flowers or finish in less than two years.

While I would really like to own a laser cutter, that’s not the sort of thing I’m in a position to setup. (They require significant ventilation and sometimes burst into flames; not ideal for a small apartment.)

What we got instead was a Cricut Maker. I am going to be perfectly honest with you, I did not have high expectations. I expected it would get the job done, but I didn’t think it would be a very enjoyable experience. I imagined it would have fairly relaxed tolerances and do at best a mostly adequate job.

I was completely wrong.

The damn thing is a little marvel. It’s essentially a solid, robust little plotter with pen and knife attachments. The material you feed into it is held in place on stiff plastic mats that have been coated with a film. The film is sticky enough to hold everything securely, but not so sticky that you can’t (carefully) peel things off it.

The design software used to compose your work is well thought out, easy to use, robust and thoughtfully executed. I’m not going to say that it couldn’t be improved, but it’s way better than I’ve come to expect from consumer devices!

It cut the felt effortlessly into the most complicated shapes including long curling spirals with little bumps along the way. Things I can’t imagine cutting by hand, even once.

The only material that we struggled with was some very dense, thick card stock. The design we were attempting had four long, straight cuts. The Cricut wanted to make two passes with the knife, but dragging the knife that far moved the paper just a tiny amount on the mat. That meant the second cut just didn’t quite work. For this kind of material, Cricut recommends taping it securely onto the mat, but we had too many to make in too short a time to wrestle with all that. In the end, we lied about the material and got the Cricut to do it in one pass. The edges were a little rough in places, but we made do.

I am especially impressed with the “print and cut” feature. The Cricut will hold a pen and draw lines, but it isn’t a printer. Imagine the problem: you want to combine some text or a photograph with a complicated cutout. The alignment in the printer is going to be a little bit imperfect then, no matter how hard you try, your attempt to line the page up on the mat is going to be a little imperfect. Human perception is really pretty remarkable, it’s going to be obvious that the images and the lines and cuts don’t line up exactly right.

The print and cut feature allows you to place an image on the page along with your cuts and lines. The Cricut sends that to your printer with a fairly substantial black border around the outside edge. When you put that down on the mat, the Cricut uses an optical sensor to find the border, calculates the alignment on the mat, and cuts precisely where you indicated, relative to the actual placement of the material on the mat. Awesome!

We used the print and cut feature for the place cards. The words and images were printed and then the Cricut cut out the cards (I think we got four on a sheet) and made the L-shaped and heart-shaped cuts. The red paper behind was pasted on later.

[Image]
Place cards

We did something similar for the thank you cards, but we haven’t quite sent all of them out yet, so I won’t show those here. We also print and cut book plates on sticker paper.

[Image]
Book plates

Most of these things would have been simply impossible without the Cricut. Five stars.

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