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The Cricut Essentials Kit (Value Pack) comes with the following items:
1. Two 6″ x 12″ cutting mats

2. Cricut tool kit

3. Cricut Celebrations paper pad

4. Cricut Rainbow cardstock pad

5. Cricut trimmer

6. 2 Cricut replacement blades

7. Cricut spatula tool.

As of January 8, 2009, here are some prices for the Essentials Kit:

Walmart $66.56
Amazon $58.70
Ebay (Price Varies)

My passion for card-making naturally led to my desire to purchase a personal electronic cutting system. In reading various cardmaking magazines, I noticed there were only a few personal electronic cutting systems to choose from, but the choice was pretty obvious for me.

After watching the Cricut informercial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxMhGejU96Y) on tv, I became intrigued. The Cricut system is made by Provocraft (www.provocraft.com). I did searches on Ebay (www.ebay.com) and Craigslist (www.Craigslist.com) in hopes of finding a good deal. At the time, the resale price on these sites was so close to the price offered at WalMart (www.walmart.com), that it didn’t make sense to try to buy it used when I could have a new one and the ability to conveniently return it if there was a problem. I also liked that WalMart and Michaels (http://michaels.com/art/online/home) carried other Provocraft products such as cartridges, mats, pens and a toolkit. There also was a wide variety of cartridges I could select from both WalMart, Michaels and Ebay. Each cartridge contains a unique set of images or fonts. Some of the cartridges include: Animal Kingdom (animals); Mickey Mouse (Disney), Christmas Cheer (Seasonal), and much more. Only once did I pay a ridiculous amount for a cartridge ($99 for Paperdolls). At the time, it was very new, widely popular and hard to get. Now, as a rule, I only purchase cartridges when they are on sale. Michaels often has a sale where these cartridges are only $35 – $40. If I bring a Michaels ad to WalMart, any cashier can perform a price match. WalMart is great about price matching cricut cartridges, dvds, etc. 

There are 3 versions of the Cricut cutting system:

1. Cricut (original)

cricuta

2. Cricut Expressions

cricutexpressiona1

3. Cricut Create (Sold Exclusively at Michaels)

cricutcreate

I purchased the first model and loved it right away. A few months later, I then sold my system on craigslist and ordered their largest system, the Cricut Expressions from WalMart. This model is capable of cutting larger sizes up to 12″ x 24″, the standard scrapbook size sheet is 12″ x 12″. The third model, the Cricut Create, is an improvement on the first small model and sold exclusively at Michaels.

The other great features of this cutting system is the ability to draw. You can replace the cutting blade with Cricut pens to draw, instead of cut, images. You can also purchase Cricut Vinyl adhesive sheets to cut images for decorating the interior of your home. There is also the ability to connect your Cricut machine to your computer via a USB cable. You can then use the Cricut Design Studio software to prearrange the layout of your images before cutting. The Cricut Design Studio software also allows you to view the images of all Cricut cartridges, but you can not cut with them unless you own the cartridge. Another option is to use a third party software, such as Sure Cuts A Lot to cut from your existing fonts or to create your own images to cut. This product is by Craft Edge and is available on ebay or by clicking this link: http://www.craftedge.com/index.php?rfid=8626933&ref=1e24a499091c6d0df7432acdfe78d156

This machine is lots of fun, versatile, and widely available by big retail giants. I would highly recommend purchasing this machine.

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