Cricut Maker

Cool factor 4/5
Usability 2/5
Value for money 3/5

Cricut has introduced three craft machines locally, aimed at those who enjoy arts and crafts.

FM reviewed the Cricut Maker, the top-of-the-range model. There are two others: the Explore Air 2 and the Joy.

Rectron, which provided the review unit, sent accessories such as tools, pens and grip mats, and cutting material including glitter cards, iron-ons and vinyl.

The Cricut Maker cuts more than 300 materials with precision and has more than 12 tools for scoring, writing, debossing, engraving, and so on. You can cut labels, puzzles, reusable stencils, bunting, leather book covers and holographic iron-ons, among other things.

The machine comes with basic tools and a "starter pack" with materials, and it pairs with the Cricut Design app over Bluetooth.

It’s large — so you need a dedicated space for it.

I followed instructions from the app for my first test cut, but it was a disaster. At no point did the instructions tell me to remove the plastic top from the grip mat used as a backing for all cuts.

My flower cut ended up on the plastic top, instead of a blue cardboard. When I tried to peel the plastic off, the mat was sticky, which I didn’t know is meant to hold the material down.

I watched YouTube tutorials and one of them said you will fail at your first project, which was a relief to know. Sneakily, most of the app designs require a one-off payment if you don’t subscribe; free designs are limited.

When I couldn’t use the "print and cut" option because the machine kept giving me errors, I realised it is not a printer. You print separately before the machine cuts.

I cut a geometric bear head on vinyl, and it took a while to place the 28 individual pieces symmetrically on my water bottle. I also cut a Batman logo on an iron-on print, but even though I followed the instructions carefully, it got stuck to my iron instead of the T-shirt.

The Cricut Maker is not intuitive; in fact, it is the most challenging product I’ve reviewed.

You need patience to learn how it operates, and which parts and accessories are needed for each cut.

Be prepared to invest time on YouTube tutorials and pay a $9.99 monthly subscription to access more than 200,000 images, 500 fonts and thousands of ready-to-make projects. It costs R7,999 at Takealot.

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