Marlene Chamberlin

User Spotlight: Marlene Chamberlin

September 21st, 2017 • Contributor: Scarlet Letters Copywriting

It’s one of our favorite seasons: there’s a chill in the air, sharpened pencils in desks, and kids back in schools. As preparations are made for the year ahead (and, let’s face it, if you have school-aged children or work in education, September is the real start of the new year), we love to hear how Cricuts are used in classrooms.

This brings us to this week’s User Spotlight, which we are shining on Marlene Chamberlin of Newbury Park, California. Mom to two kids in local public schools, Marlene volunteers her time, talent, and trusty Cricut to make her kids’ classrooms fun and welcoming. Keep reading to learn more about this Maker Mom and her inspirational school projects!

Marlene, tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a stay-at-home mommy with two kids: Jaden, who is nine, and Brooke who is 13 (how did that happen?!). I have been married for 23 years and been crafting and scrapbooking for more than 25 years.

I first saw the Cricut on display at the Craft and Hobby Show (CHA) in Anaheim, California, years and years ago. I had always desired one but didn’t have the money.

I was working at Treasured Memories Scrapbook Store at the time, and one day, a very loyal and awesome customer of ours left one for me to have! She had been given two, and, boy, was I thrilled and lucky to acquire such an awesome machine!

The 6X12 machine is a breeze to use and super easy to learn. The store held some Cricut classes, which was very helpful. Some attendees had never taken theirs out of the boxes! They were intimidated, I guess, but quickly learned.

Decorated classroom door

What inspired you to start using your Cricut at your kids’ school?

Looking at the doors of my child’s kindergarten classroom was like looking at a blank canvas. I could envision things on that entryway: bright, vivid colors of design that would excite the kids and make them proud to enter or leave class. With the Cricut, there are endless possibilities. I just let my imagination go!

Classroom sign

Classroom child's picture

What has been the response to all the projects you’ve created?

The response was very encouraging and kept me driven to keep creating more fun projects for all to enjoy. The kids were so excited to see new things on the wall or door, especially if it involved photos of them! The parents complimented me as well. The decorated door welcomes people in; it’s like painting your front door red… only better!

Photo booth sign

Photo booth props

Is there anything you’re eager to try next on the Cricut?

I would love to create some signage with big, fat lettering for the school’s cafeteria -- I adore fonts! I would also like to create something that can be hung from the ceiling, or maybe some vinyl or wood projects as gifts for the teachers and principal.

School wall display

Do you have any advice for people starting out with the Cricut?

Overall: don’t be afraid! More specifically: I suggest always using cardstock, as thin paper tends to rip easily. Make sure to label your machine with its speed and size to remind you to check your settings. Always use a scraper or spatula to help you peel the designs off the sticky cutting mat—this tip is more of a Must Do! It also really helps to take the mat and curl it in half, which makes the project designs pop up and off of the mat, enabling easy removal. Tutorial videos are another great tool. My final gem: remember that not all font cartridges are made equal--some will come out smaller and some larger. Don’t necessarily expect a two-inch letter when you set up with that measurement, as each font is created differently.

The more you use the Cricut, the easier it gets. You’ll become familiar with the process, and quicker at making projects and creating a fun world around you. Use Pinterest or your local scrapbook store to inspire you to create something that will make others smile and build lasting memories for years to come!

Fun school wall decor

Thanks so much, Marlene! The students, staff, and parents at your school are lucky to have you.

New to Cricut? Go to our Learn More, Make More page

Show off your classroom projects with #CricutMade and tell us about them by commenting below!

Meet Cricut user Elizabeth Coller from Kinderhearted Classroom

User Spotlight: Elizabeth Coller of The Kinderhearted Classroom

September 14th, 2017 • Contributor: Scarlet Letters Copywriting

When it comes to inspiring young minds, we all know it’s better to show by example. That’s why we love it when teachers use their Cricuts to bring a personalized touch to their classrooms and lesson plans. Meet Elizabeth Coller, a dedicated educator and writer for The Kinderhearted Classroom, whose enthusiasm for Cricut has spilled out of the school and into her personal life.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started using your Cricut.

I’m a kindergarten teacher in California. I’ve worked at the same school for the last 10 years and feel so blessed to have the opportunity to work with my team. I was initially introduced to the “Cricuting” world by a friend, but when Design Space launched, I knew I had to have one. I bought my first Cricut a couple of years ago and have literally created hundreds of items. I've used my machine to create personalized gifts for students, parents, and more. I've made labels to organize my classroom, and I use mediums like vinyl, paper, and cardstock to create wonderful things for personal and classroom use.

Thankful leaf craft

What is your favorite part of using the Cricut?

You can do so much with a Cricut for your classroom! I personally love how easy it is to use, and my favorite part about using a Cricut is that you can create beautiful personalized gifts for everyone. I no longer need to buy expensive personalized gifts or name tags from companies; I can make them all on my own using the items that I already have in my classroom.

Vinyl name made with a Cricut

Ornament made with a Cricut

Mugs decorated with vinyl lettering

What has been the response to the projects you have worked on for the kids?

When parents or grandparents see the items in the classroom that I've made with my Cricut, they almost can't believe that I made something that looks so professionally done! Last year my friend (who also has a Cricut) used her machine to make a pillow for a Teacher’s Appreciation Gift. She gave students a permanent marker and had them write out their names. She then scanned their names in and uploaded the .PNGs to Design Space. She cut out the vinyl and heat-pressed them onto a pillow. It was SO precious!

Is there anything you’re eager to try next on the Cricut?

I have only worked with paper, vinyl, and HTV (heat transfer vinyl). I would love to branch out and work with other materials and mediums... maybe engraving?

Personalized backpack

What do you feel is a good way for other educators to get started with the Cricut?

I personally went to Facebook groups and immersed myself in the Cricut world. There are so many wonderful ideas on Cricut’s Design Space as well, so I would say to start in those two places!

I can't gush enough about my Cricut! It has not only saved me so much money because I don't have to buy personalized (expensive) gifts for others, but it has allowed me to personalize my classroom in a way that I haven't been able to before!

Customized Christmas stockings

We’re thrilled that Elizabeth has found so many uses for her machine, and we wish her many happy crafting days to come!

Want to learn more about Elizabeth’s work with The Kinderhearted Classroom? Check out her page at http://www.thekinderheartedclassroom.com/ or her own blog post about Cricut in the classroom at http://www.thekinderheartedclassroom.com/search?q=Cricut.

New to Cricut? Go to our Learn More, Make More page

Show off your classroom projects with #CricutMade and tell us about them by commenting below!

Volunteers from Crops of Luv

A Cut Above: Crops of Luv

August 10, 2017 • Contributor: Scarlet Letters Copywriting

Cricut users are passionate people. But even we were blown away by the enthusiasm and selflessness of this Cricut user and her team. Since 2009, Jody McNelis and her dedicated volunteers at Crops of Luv have been creating scrapbooks for children facing critical illness. Using their Cricuts to assemble amazing embellishments, these gifts of love document a wish come true and special memories. Their impact has been truly profound.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started using your Cricut.

I have been scrapbooking since 1997. I got my first Cricut because I refused to let a friend pay me for making three albums for her mom’s 80th birthday celebration. She told me that I couldn’t refuse a gift, so she bought me a Baby Bug. It was the reason I knew I could actually start Crops of Luv, because I would be able to make anything we needed for the wish albums.

Different characters that the volunteers have made

What was the inspiration behind Crops of Luv? How did the Cricut come into play as the non-profit took off?

Crops of Luv was inspired by an album I made for a colleague whose granddaughter was granted a wish. I was already an avid Cricut user when I started making her album. We did over 400 pictures for this album and made 90% of the embellishments and titles with the Cricut.

Volunteers working on scrapbooks

Now we stock enough Cricut embellishments to make over 345 albums a year and we have a Crops of Luv “Cricuteer” group who make embellishments non-stop to keep us in stock. We’re constantly telling anyone who asks that the Cricut Explore is the only way that we are able to continue to afford to make the albums we make for free for these families.

Happy girls looking at a scrapbook

What was one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had with one of your Cricut Crops of Luv projects?

I think our recent retreat is a great example. We had two books that required special embellishments that we didn’t have anything for. There was nothing in the Cricut library we could use...so we had to find ways to make our own. One book required embellishments for Bert from Mary Poppins and another book was a wish to go to the World of Warcraft comic-con in California called BlizzCon. We were actually able to replicate items from the game as embellishments for the album. They both became works of art. They were complete collaborations with the entire group at the retreat.

Cars scrapbook page

Make a Wish scrapbook pages

What has been the community response to the Cricut scrapbooks?

Most of these families are just so grateful for the albums because they do not have the time and resources to do this themselves.

Halloween card

A note from a grateful parent…

Note from a Crops of Luv scrapbook recipient

...and a note from an excited recipient.

What do you envision for the future of Crops of Luv?

We are looking forward to expanding Crops of Luv to the point that every wish child receives a book. Last year, over 22,000 wishes were granted worldwide. We hope that we’ll one day have our own space that is NOT in my home. Some day we would like to have enough funds to be able to do this full-time without worry!

Shipments of scrapbooks made by Crops of Luv

A typical album shipping day. Another 22 families are about to be VERY happy.

Jody and her volunteers have DIY spirit that we all aspire to. We’re so honored by Cricut’s part in their efforts and wish them many happy scrapbooking events to come!

Want to learn more about Crops of Luv? Check out their Facebook page.

New to Cricut? Go to our Learn More, Make More page

Show off your sensational scrapbooks with #CricutMade and tell us about them with a comment below!

Dr Seuss bulletin board created using a Cricut

Oh, the Places You’ll Go with Cricut!

July 27, 2017 • Contributor: Scarlet Letters Copywriting

School’s out for summer, but before we delve completely into the sunny season of BBQs and the beach, we are shining our User Spotlight on recent college graduate Tim Kelly, who used his Cricut in his role as RA (Resident Assistant) on campus.

Big Bang Theory RA Sign

Congratulations, Tim! Please let us a bit about yourself.

Hello! My name is Tim Kelly, and for the last three years, my Cricut has been a part of my college experience. RAs serve as a source of support for students, and I have used the Cricut to help form inclusive communities in the residence halls in which I have worked. I received a Cricut as a Christmas present when I was in high school and started using it to make birthday banners and cards for my family. I brought it away with me to college, and it soon found a permanent place on my bookshelf.

Hot Air Balloon Happy Birthday Cards

What inspired you to incorporate the Cricut into your work with other students?

It just seemed natural. A lot of the projects that resident assistants are called to do involve some level of crafting; for example, making informative bulletin boards and door tags. Using the Cricut to cut out even the most basic of shapes made working on these projects every month easy and enjoyable. I was definitely inspired by the possibilities that came with using the Cricut. It was always fun mixing and matching different cartridges and trying out a new font.

Dance styles poster

What has been the response to your projects?

They have been really well received by the students who live on my floor. I think that they are just surprised that I had the time to do them on top of being a full-time student studying Mechanical Engineering and Visual Arts. Knowing that they are looking forward to the new projects and themes each month makes the projects worthwhile. My favorite projects are the small ones (like birthday cards) because receiving one in college is unexpected. I hope that my fellow students are engaged by my crafting projects; it is a way for them to get to know what I like to do and it is a conversation starter so that I can get to know them a little better.

Hall Party Invitations

Happy Banner

Is there anything you’re eager to try next on the Cricut?

Having graduated, I am no longer an RA and so I won’t need my Cricut to make bulletin boards and door decorations. But, I am excited to see what I will use it for next. I am eager to use some different materials, such as vinyl, fabric, and vellum. I think I have used my fair share of cardstock over the last three years!

Present cards

Mason Jar Lid Decoration

Congratulations, again, Tim. Your Cricut family is proud of you, and we are confident you’ll go on to do more great things.

Tim Kelly

New to Cricut? Learn more about us!

Show us your favorite projects from the past school year: #CricutMade

Tammy Nickel uses her Cricut for her daycare

Inspiring Young Minds

July 20, 2017 • Contributor: Scarlet Letters Copywriting

Sometimes the smallest DIY projects make the biggest impact. That’s why we’re thrilled to be turning the spotlight on home-based daycare owner Tammy Nickel, who’s been using her Cricut to create charming projects for the young students in her charge.

Tammy, please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve been running an in-home daycare now for 10 years. I’m blessed with great kids and an amazing program. Every day, I do some kind of themed lessons, and I used to buy the “pre-packaged” daycare lessons that came with a craft. But after a few months, I realized that I could come up with similar ones on my own, and it would be easy to make the crafts on my Cricut machine. So now I do it all, and it’s so much fun to make sure that each of my lessons has a craft. I try to use different mediums, but my backup is always cardstock. There are many different resources that I look to for inspiration, and my Cricut helps me design the crafts and cut out each piece. It saves me hours of fussy cutting!

Cute kids making crafts at preschool

What was one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had with one of the Cricut-created lesson/crafting projects?

This year we’re focusing on the alphabet. When I started this unit, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration, and saw the letter “A” turned into an alligator. It was super-cute, and I decided to do that for each of the upcoming letters. So, I went to my Cricut and designed something for every letter of the alphabet. I found that I could find almost any piece I needed on Cricut Access, and if I wanted something slightly different, I could upload it.

Preschool Alphabet created in Cricut Design Space

What have been the kids’ reactions?

The kids love them and always look forward to seeing what we’re going to make out of the letter of the day! I’m also planning on trying different mediums with this project, like fabric or chipboard.

Kids with homemade paper leis

Do you use the Cricut machine in your personal life too?

I love to make cards for birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc., as well as things for all the ladies in my church! I couldn’t do it without the help of my Cricut. Everyone always look forward to getting a card and seeing the fun interactive elements that I’m able to create.  I also like to give personalized presents and plan to make each of my students a shirt at Christmas using the Cricut iron-on. There are just so many things you can do with the Cricut. The options are limitless!

Halloween card

Cute camper image

Tammy, we love how you bring your heart and soul into everything you create. Your personal touches are sure to be remembered for a long time to come!

New to Cricut? Learn more about us here.

Have a little one who loves a Cricut craft? Show us with #CricutMade.

Back to School

This Teacher Is Empowering Creative Students

March 23, 2017 • Contributor: Scarlet Letters Copywriting

It’s no secret that Cricut users are some of the best people on the planet. That’s why it’s been such a joy for us to turn the spotlight on some of our talented DIYers who’ve utilized their machines for a variety of good causes. Today, meet Special Education teacher Nancy Ross from Felix A. Williams Elementary in Stuart, Florida. She saw how well her students responded to “Make It Now” designs in Cricut Design Space and decided to involve them in the process. Their enthusiasm and resulting projects have gotten an A+ from the school, community and, most importantly, the kids themselves!

Nancy Ross in her own words….

Nancy Ross Image

 

I teach Special Education to fourth and fifth graders, and their disabilities range from behavioral to academic. Most of them receive speech/language counseling and occupational therapy. This year, I got the idea of using the Cricut in the classroom in order to make incentives for positive behavior. I found sayings on “Make It Now” that I thought they would like and put them on clipboards around the room. They asked if they could personalize them, so I brought my Cricut into school and they began to learn how to use it. They had to measure items, fonts and images for placement and had to spell and use uppercase letters correctly. They began to ask if they could make items for friends and other teachers. When I replied that it all costs money, they came up with the idea of selling their handcrafted products.

 

School Project

 

With permission from the principal, we came up with a business plan, putting the “profit” towards their end-of-the-year field trip. (Most of my students could not otherwise afford this.) They took orders for customized items, and I bought the vinyl and brought in my Cricut on Fridays so they could craft. Tumbler and car decals were big hits. And, the students’ behavior has never been better. They love working on Fridays!

 

Teacher & Student

 

My advice for teachers is show your principal all the standards (math, technology and language arts, just to name a few) that you can incorporate in your lesson plans to justify using the Cricut. It built my students’ self-esteem and taught them social skills, like maintaining eye contact, handshakes for deals and money management. It also helped them think of others by making cards for shut-ins around the holidays and gifts for family members. The “Make It Now” projects have easy-to-follow instructions that help the students quickly comprehend the new technology.

See below for an article the local newspaper did on Nancy’s incredible group of students and their Cricut project!

 

Newspaper Article

 

You can also read more about her efforts here.

I have owned my Cricut for almost a year. I LOVE it! Family, friends and colleagues all think I’m a bit obsessed. Whenever they need something, they all say, “I bet Nancy can make that with her Cricut.” So far, that has included a clinic bulletin board, team t-shirts for parties and Literacy Week items. I create things using my iPad, iPhone and laptop, at home, school and while waiting almost anywhere. Facebook groups and the Cricut YouTube channel are my inspirations. They offer so many suggestions and make it so easy to do. I am a crafty person, but for so long I didn’t make anything. This awakened my spirit to start again, and I am hooked!

Nancy, your enthusiasm and passion for encouraging your students have done us a world of good. We look forward to seeing what these young DIYers create in the future!

Feeling inspired? Show us how you’ve used your Cricut for good with #CricutMade

jessieblogpostheader-1000x667

How One Woman Inspires Her Community With DIY Projects

March 14, 2017 • Contributor: Scarlet Letters Copywriting

Here at Cricut, we love to hear that our products help people add beauty to their homes and lives. But some users really go the extra mile to make the world a better place for others, and today we are happy to be featuring a woman who does exactly that.

Jessica Kistner is the creator and proprietor of Jessie’s Find and Refine, an online store specializing in home décor and organic living. But Jessie doesn’t just sell amazing (often upcycled) products, she also supports her local law enforcement by creating and selling “Back the Blue” candles, which raise funds for the Napa Police Officers’ Association. 

Read on… and get ready to be inspired! 

 

DIY Mug

 

Jessie, tell us a bit about yourself:

I started making soy candles about four years ago while in the Marine Corps. My husband and I were both military police, working presidential security. We eventually moved back to California, where my husband is employed as a police officer in Napa. I wanted to do something to give back to the community, and to show love and support for all law enforcement officers.

Prices for my candles start at $15, and for each one that I sell, I donate $5 to the Napa Police Officers’ Association. Just a few weeks after I launched the program, I was able to give them $300!

 

Back the blue

That is so fantastic, and we are thrilled that your Cricut has helped you with your creative passions. How long have you had your Cricut? What is your favorite feature?

I got my Cricut after an elementary school friend introduced me to the brand. I've had it for almost a year now. My favorite feature, by far, is that I’m able to cut vinyl. I use my Cricut almost daily, whether it be customizing coffee mugs, adding a special touch to my candles, making fun labels for the oils that I sell or creating custom windows. I'm obsessed!

 

Back the blue

Jessie, thank you for your story and, moreover, for your service to our country.

 

Jessie's Find & Refine Candle

Take a stroll through her shop, Jessie’s Find and Refine: http://www.jessiesfindandrefine.com