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How to Use the Cricut Explore Air 2: My Review

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This post shares all about how to use the Cricut Explore Air 2, including my review of its capabilities. This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine. This post also contains affiliate links, which you can read more about that here.

How to Use the Cricut Explore Air 2: My Review

I’ve teamed up with Cricut to create some awesome projects and am going to be doing a series of three posts to get my feet wet using this bad boy. I’m excited to tell you my first impressions about using the Cricut Explore Air 2 machine! 

So let’s start with some basics, shall we? If you don’t know what “Cricut” means, here are five quick facts about the machine I’m working with, the Cricut Explore Air 2.

how to use the Cricut Explore Air 2

How does the Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine Work?

1. What does it do?

You might know Cricut as that company that makes cutting machines. And you’d be right. But this machine doesn’t just cut—it writes and scores for you, too. Hey Let’s Make Stuff has a great tutorial on how to address envelopes, for example. No more handwriting that looks like a 7-year-old kid’s…like mine does.

2. How do I complete projects?

You can choose from over 3,000 ready-to-make projects in the Cricut Design Space. You can also make your own designs in the Design Space or import designs you created in other programs (like Adobe Illustrator, PicMonkey, etc.). Oh, and you can also upload your own fonts and have the machine do precision cuts on things you’ve printed out from your home printer.

3. How does the machine connect?

You’ll need an Internet connection. The setup process helps you through getting your machine connected, and it was quick and easy. Once connected to the Internet, you actually do most of the work on your computer (or tablet or phone) in the Design Space. The wireless connection is what gets your designs from your computer to your machine.

4. What can I cut with the Cricut Explore Air 2? 

When I was only tangentially familiar with Cricut machines, I knew they cut card stock, paper, and vinyl—I had no idea that they are actually quite the powerhouse when it comes to cutting. Here’s a list of everything this machine can cut (please note that you might need a special “deep blade” for some of these materials):

Awesome list of the materials you can cut with your Cricut!

5. What can I make?

Although I’m still getting my feet wet with my Cricut, I think the better question would be what crafts can’t you make. I know that sounds cheesy, but I have really been blown away by the Cricut projects I’ve seen.

And I have to be totally honest with you guys…before digging in, my perception of Cricut was that it was mostly for moms who scrap booked, crafted with their kids, and used the machine to make cute party decor. Yes, you can do all of those things! But you can also do so much more.

Here are a few examples of some of the projects that caught my eye in the Design Space:

Cricut project idea from Design Space
Cricut project idea from Design Space
Cricut project idea from Design Space
Cricut project idea from Design Space
Cricut project idea from Design Space
Cricut project idea from Design Space

Want more? Check out my guide to using the Cricut Knife Blade, how to slice text in Cricut Design Space, my EasyPress 2 guide, my tips for working with holographic mosaic iron-on, my debossing and engraving tip tutorial, and my tutorial for the EasyPress Mini and using iron-on with wood! Also check out my free cut file gallery and the latest project for my printer stand and storage for my Cricut machines!

How to Use the Cricut Explore Air 2: Getting Started

I’m woman enough to admit that I was intimidated by a crafting machine. Despite this, I took it out of the box and set it up the day I got it. Once I finished the setup process—which I’m not going to outline because Cricut does an awesome job walking you through it already—my first task was to complete a test project.

All of the materials and instructions were included with the machine, and it walked me through the Design Space steps. I loved the test project because it helped me get familiar with using the machine and working in the Cricut software. But I did not love the test project because I totally messed it up. 🙁

I really should have set aside some time to go through the steps slowly, but I rushed through it and botched something, which gave me cold feet. So on my desk the new machine sat. Every day I looked at it and thought, “ugh, I still have to figure you out.” One day I finally decided to sit down, click “Open,” and do some tests.

how to use the Cricut Explore Air 2
Cricut Explore Air 2, seen here guilting me from my desk
how to use the Cricut Explore Air 2
how to use the Cricut Explore Air 2
Cricut cut smart 2 drive housing
Material selector

I played around a bit in the Design Space to create a few simple shapes, including block letters for the word TEST.

Design Space test

Note in the image below that all of these are set to “cut” mode…see the little scissors icon?

how to use the Cricut Explore Air 2

Cutting the test design…

Once I had my shapes, I loaded some metallic adhesive-backed paper to cut my shapes. I cut the TEST block letters first, then I cut a heart. I didn’t cut them at the same time, though you could do that.

how to use the Cricut Explore Air 2
how to use the Cricut Explore Air 2

The prompts in Design Space made it super easy for me to navigate through the process of sending my cuts from the computer to my machine. When my design was good to go in Design Space, there were two steps: load the paper on a Cricut mat and then press the “C” Cricut button on the machine to start cutting.

And here’s how my test cuts turned out:

how to use the Cricut Explore Air 2
how to use the Cricut Explore Air 2
how to use the Cricut Explore Air 2

With the paper backing peeled off and stuck onto a piece of paper…lovely! I am much happier with the results of this test. It was really easy to create these shapes and cut them.

how to use the Cricut Explore Air 2

Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine and Accessories

I also want to share some possible items that you can purchase for your Cricut Air 2. I recommend figuring out what projects you’re most interested in, then purchasing items relevant to making those projects (e.g., don’t buy a blade for deep cutting if you’re only going to be working with cardstock and lightweight vinyl).

The barebones of what you’ll need is below…the tools become really helpful once you’ve moved past the easier test cuts I showed you today.

If you aren’t really sure where to start, check out some of these starter packs to see if you can get what you want in a bundle:

In the meantime, check back in a few weeks for my next Cricut post…I’m going to tackle one of the actual projects in the Design Center!

how to use the Cricut Explore Air 2

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Monday 22nd of May 2017

I wondered what that thing was sitting on your desk the last time I was over and just forgot to ask. I'm sure you will do great things with it!

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