Thursday, January 5, 2017

Tutorial - Cricut Air 2 Learning Curve

Christmas Wish was for a Cricut Explore Air 2.

If you just want to see the newly stencilled boards and not the tutorial scroll quickly to the end of this post. 

This post is a tutorial.

GOAL: make reusable word stencils.

The software for the Cricut Explore Air 2 is found at The Cricut is used for cutting (also has a pen writing component). Used the Cricut software (online) and a MacPro, to explore and eventually make a few reusable stencils (see the text and screen shots below on how).

If you are a regular reader of my blog you know I love making stencilled signs and I did learn how to use the Cricut software to make sliced word stencils (to use as a stippled stencil on a board)

Cricut learning journey began (learning/figuring out some of the 'how-to's) on Christmas Day after lunch and again after supper. Spent some time on Boxing Day and several hours on the 27th and yes, practice/learning continues.

Watched many YouTube videos on how others have used their Cricut or similar cutting machines. 

Learned that the Cricut doesn't exactly match the 'how to' on many videos, did get some good ideas and made some guesses on how to adapt to a somewhat different way to use the software. 

If you are using an Apple/Mac computer note that the MAC Command Key is the one to use for selecting (not the Control key as used in many YouTube tutorials).

The beginning sequences for making a word ready to cut out finally worked for me, learned from mistakes.

How to get started:

Set up your account after you open the Cricut software.

Create a new project (click on blue square with + inside). Save your work.

Type the word/s for the stencil in the box - it will change to a new box with handles. The blue arrows (on screen) let you resize the text. The blue lock needs to be clicked so you can make changes.

Change the font - right hand screen, choose EDIT and choose the Arial Bold.

Changing the size of the text box was easy after looking online and learning "click on the LOCK" (left bottom corner of text box) to open lock/make changes - drag the text box to enlarge your word/s.

Make sure that your 'words' are not too large to fit on the cardstock/vinyl you will be cutting. This is important.

SAVE your work.

Making the 'cuts' needed to make a word into a re-usable stencil when cut out on the Cricut.

To figure out how to add a cut on a closed letter (Welcome 2017) (after your word is typed) select (left side of screen) Insert Shapes and then pick SQUARE. 

Unlock the square lock icon by clicking on the blue lock. Size the square to a narrow short rectangle. Copy and paste (top of Cricut screen) as many as you need.

As you select each black line make sure you unlock (click on) the blue lock so you can make length changes to the black bars.

You can change the width of your 'cut' and place your break where you want it to occur. Usually the 'cut' is lined up with the longest line in a letter.

Next step is making the cuts. This step takes an amazing amount of patience as it is not intuitive, does not always work the first or even fifth try sometimes. Eventually it does work.

Click (right side of screen) on Layers. You now see the 4 black lines which are called Square and a box with W.

To make each cut first click on the W square and the 1st Square while holding down the Command key. The 2 squares will turn blue. When you see that you will also see SLICE highlighted, under the Layers.

You will repeat that sequence for each black line. If it doesn't seem to work just click on the black or blue line and the right hand toolbox while holding down the command key and then click on Slice (it needs to be white), repeating till all the letters you sliced show the cut line behind the letter and two thin lines joining the ends of the cut.

Whew again. This took me awhile to figure out. 

When you have the lines cut, SAVE. 

Next, click on the green Cricut GO button (added a black arrow for reference).

Setting up the mat/cardstock/vinyl on the Cricut mat

Put your choice of cardstock/vinyl/etc. on the Cricut mat and use the scraper to burnish and go over the entire surface sealing it to the mat.

Note: do not use regular paper without a backing on the sticky mat. It tears when you try to remove it and you will get to spend some time scraping off the paper with the Cricut scraper. Note: once the cardstock has been cut remove it from the mat, don't leave it on the mat or it have to be torn off.

Turn on the Cricut power button.

Following the instructions in the Cricut video which you watched, snug the mat to the rollers, turn on the Cricut power button, when the black arrow flashes white push the arrow key and the mat will be pulled under the rollers.

Press the lighted arrow button. The mat and cutter head move and align.

The Cricut button will light - press it and watch the Cricut cutting the letters. The Cricut rollers move the cardstock/vinyl as the cutting blade cuts the shapes. The cutting head moves as well. Make sure there is no blockage behind the Cricut because the mat moves out the back and back in again as the cardstock/vinyl is being cut.

When cutting is finished the mat is slowly ejected.

The letters are cut. Carefully and very slowly pull back the cardstock/vinyl corner toward an opposite corner, holding the mat still (the cut out letters may stay on the mat). Use the Cricut scraper to help remove the cardstock and the letter shapes. Make sure you watched a few how-to videos from

Are you feeling like your eyes are crossed? TM info, TM weird photos?

The cardstock/vinyl stencil used to make a stencilled sign. 

If you are using vinyl you will likely need a second/third cut on the same stencil - press the Cricut lighted button after the first cutting. Tried this with the plastic lid from a box of chocolates. 4 passes, almost cut through and then software refused to continue the cutting.

Tried this with Cricut vinyl as well, 2 passes and the Cricut software would not allow another cutting, will have to read up on repeated cutting on the same surface.

Used blue cardstock so that the cutting/cut outs could be easily seen. 

You can see where the letters e o e 0 have cuts. This leaves the shape of the letter in place so that when the stencil is used the inside bits of a letter or number are where they need to be (but there will be a slice blank - this can be ignored or carefully filled in with a fine brush.

Made 3 stencils while learning HOW

First of the stencils was SEE and ME (no cuts needed for enclosed letters). Used an already black bands painted bread board. Stencilled SEE first, had Christmas dinner, cleaned up and thought that ME would be a good companion word. Later thought that "US" would have been a good choice too.

The second was this lilac bread board sign with DREAM repeated 4 times. Made this stencil using the Cricut vinyl.

The third is the Welcome 2017 sign. 

Used cardstock for the first sample so the letters and cuts can be clearly shown.

Repeated the stencil (saved on Cricut/opened/used again) which was used for the white wooden sign. Used a Purdy's candy box plastic lid, edges removed (on the mat of the Cricut), burnished to stick to mat. It got 4 passes in the Cricut and then the software stopped the cutting. 

Took a lot of time/patience to remove all the somewhat cut through letters/numbers and scotch tape was used to fix the tears that happened to the stiff plastic while it was having letters removed. Used an x-acto blade to assist, then very carefully eased the plastic lines apart etc. 

When making the Welcome 2017 stencil, used a very dry (almost not there black clay-chalk paint) then 1/4" very dry brush to fill in the 'missing bits on the stencilled sign (joins for e, o, e, 0).

Do I like the Cricut Explore Air 2?

Yes. Sort of like learning a new camera or software program, there is always a learning curve, happy to have had the time to explore and learn.

So far it is taking me a lot of try and wait, try again to make a reusable stencil. More practicing ahead.

Recommend that if you are interested in learning about the Cricut (and there are thousands of possibilities you can make on a Cricut) watch the videos on and read over the information they share on their site, check out Pinterest and YouTube videos. The other cutting machines seem to have very similar properties.

This post is not a review of Cricut /Explore Air 2, it is a tutorial on how I used the Cricut and the software that it uses to make myself a re-usable stencil. 

Happy New Year Friends.

Welcome 2017

Featured by

Sherry at The Charm of Home Jan 5/17

Sharing with


  1. So glad you got one, Joy. All this learning should help prevent dementia. Better than Soduko!
    Happy New Year.
    Love, Gail

  2. Great tutorial Joy! I haven't gotten mine out of the box yet!! LOL

    Have a great day!


  3. That is a remarkable tool. I wish I had one:)

  4. Joy, What a good idea for you. You will have all the flexibility to create the word, style and size you want. You must be very happy and will be happier after you get passed the learning curve. Sylvia D.

  5. Perfect Christmas gift for you! I look forward to seeing all the projects you make this coming year!

  6. Great tutorial. My daughter has one of the cricut's - not sure which one - but I never felt the software was user friendly. I'd get too frustrated laying things out.

  7. Happy New Year to you Joy! My daughter has one and makes great stencils for me. They are fabulous!! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  8. This is great tutorial on the cricut. I really need to get one. Thank you for sharing at Dishing it and Digging it link party

  9. Happy new year first of all....This is great tutorial! I have to admit something I've had a circuit since 2013 and I've not used it once since I'm intimidate for it. But, with this tutorial you've given me confidence to give it a try. Happy Birthday Joy!

  10. Joy, this is such an informative tutorial, I am sure it will help others that received new Cricuts. I know you are going to put it to great use! Thank you for sharing @Vintage Charm!

  11. Happy New Year, Joy and thank you for this informative tutorial. I have wondered from time to time if I should get a Cricut to use when scrapbooking but am not yet persuaded that I would get enough use out of it.

  12. Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home.

  13. How clever! Nice tutorial. Happy New Year!

  14. Wow, that looks like a great thing to have. Thanks for the tutorial.


Thanks for visiting. I read and appreciate all your comments. Joy

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