I am an educated woman. I hold a Bachelor’s in English from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters in Education from Lesley University. I spend each day educating the youth of our fine country and teaching them how to read, write, and think critically. And I say all of this, not to brag, but to put what I’m about to write into context: I CANNOT FOR THE LIFE OF ME FIGURE OUT HOW TO WORK THIS GOD DAMN CRICUT!!!!!!
Folks, I’m about $500 into what was supposed to be a $100 Santa gift. I’ve lost an entire Saturday, derailed two Target trips, wasted at least three hours of my life watching YouTube tutorials, and have exchanged countless text messages with my Cricut-savvy cousin trying to figure out why my dual-degree ass cannot master this super fucking expensive paperweight taking up space on my desk.
I am NOT a crafter. My mother? Owns her own event planning company and has crafty chaos oozing out of her pores and spends her time beautifully re-decorating their house and various wedding venues. My sister? Made all of her wedding favors herself and has mastered the complicated art of repurposing furniture and makes homemade macarons. Me? I can’t draw a stick figure in a straight line and I’m pretty sure I glued my fingers together last time I was entrusted with the hot glue gun. Call it genetics, call it incompetence, call it impatience - I didn’t get it from my Mama.
But my daughter? This bish is good. Like, really good. I’ve already started polishing her resume for her internship as a Pixar animator (she’s coming for you, Disney!). Girl can DRAW. But her creative talents don’t stop there. When she was about five, she stumbled upon this account called 5 Minute Crafts and would watch their videos/tutorials on YouTube/Pinterest/SnapChat channels. She’s been turning plastic water bottles into terrariums and making homemade t-shirts and has now fine-tuned her efforts into an entrepreneurial endeavor.
So, I downloaded a design program about a month ago called Canva (it’s how I’ve been creating some of the content that appears on our Instagram account). I let her “play” with it one night as I was prepping dinner. Folks, let me tell you, nothing makes you feel like a menopausal dinosaur more than your 10-year-old kid mastering tech at a rate twice your speed. By the time our taco pizzas were done (those things are tasty AF - reach out if you want the recipe!), Avery had figured out shortcuts and design techniques while I was still trying to figure out how to save images.
I set up a folder for her and told her she could create and store her images and designs there. Fast forward 24 hours. I roll into His driveway to pick them up after school only for her to exclaim “Two of my friends want a t-shirt and one wants a sweatshirt - both with their own custom design. I told them it would be about $10 each.”
This shameless little hussie was running a bootleg custom design shop out of her backpack and doodle journal while noshing on some Nutella and pretzel sticks at snack time. Props, babe. Props.
Over the next week, we discussed profit margins, design strategies, color schemes, etc. She worked at making custom logos and shirt designs for no less than SEVEN of her friends. She marked her prices up to $40 for sweatshirts and $15 for t-shirts and delivered her revised pricing list to her customers.
Move over Kate Spade, Haus of Avery on the way.
So now, I had a preteen with a booming design business (with an already larger customer base than I had) and no products. We dug out what-I-thought-was-a-Cricut from her closet. The Man in the Red Suit really needs to get his shit together and research his gifts a bit better, let me tell you. First, the manual has gone MIA. We have no clue what we’re working with. Next to it, about three rolls of various vinyl colors. Folks, the only vinyl I’ve ever worked with was matched with a long needle and played some bad ass tunes.
“We’re going to Michael’s.” Avery’s blue eyes got all cartoon-character-like as she stared up at me in wonderment. I might as well have told my Portuguese Vavo we were going to Fatima to meet a saint. This was her Mecca.
We brought what we had with us and wandered around the in-my-opinion oversized department store for a few minutes before finding the aisle with all things Cricut. I must have looked like a virgin in an Adam and Eve store for the first time - I was equal parts terrified, overwhelmed, and unsure of what went where.
That is, until my savior and angel on Earth Kayleigh walked in. Sensing we needed a bit of help, she asked what we were trying to do and pointed us toward what we needed.
“So this stuff will work with our Cricut, right?”
“Well, which one do you have?”
“This one,” I said as I held up what I didn't’ realize was basically the glorified version of a mini iron.
“Ummm… all that is, is a heat press.”
She was using terms and vocabulary I’d never heard before and I stood with my mouth agape.
“Do you have a Cricut to actually cut out the designs?”
“Huh???” We had switched to Pig Latin.
She pointed to me the Cricuts and I quickly put two and two together: Santa brought the accessory, not the main outfit.
‘Kayleigh, which one of these damn things will let me print t-shirts and sweatshirts without totally obliterating my bank account. I think Santa messed up.”
Nearly $400 later, we were the proud owners of a Cricut Explore Air 2, complete with additional iron-on vinyl in a rainbow assortment of colors and a handful of tools that resembled a back-alley surgery room that were supposed to do things like “weed,” whatever the fuck that meant.
We spent the following six hours at our bestie’s house, whom we’d promised a day full of crafting fun to! We’ll bring over our Cricut, pick up some blank tees at Michael’s and the kiddos can design their own shirts! It’ll be such a fun winter activity!
Yeah, this was my version of Hell. See, what my saving grace Kayleigh failed to mention? You need to download the Cricut design program. Tack on $10-12/month. Fine, done. Next?
Lisa and I proceeded to read, re-read, and then memorize the directions to this devil machine. We mastered the practice cut-out: a football. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, we nodded toward each other.
Our confidence was short-lived. We ran through two spools of vinyl, unsure we even had the right stuff. We used the Google and tried to troubleshoot, growing increasingly more frustrated in the process.
Finally, determining we didn’t have the proper materials, we abandoned the children (still not-so-patiently awaiting their two mothers to figure out this newfangled technology so they could make their fucking beautiful tee-shirts) and left them to pay homage to our Homeland: Target.
A very nice woman who makes all her own clothing attempted to explain the various vinyl and how they worked. Folks, I speak four languages and I still don’t understand a freaking syllable she said. Something about iron-on versus heat transfer and whether or not to mirror your images.
I felt like I was an ex-Pat living in Greece trying to understand the natives. I was SOOOO out of my element.
We returned home, again, stupidly confident in our newfound knowledge. How very premature and fleeting that feeling was. We put the vinyl on, adjusted the settings. We even managed to correctly cut out the shape on a piece of black vinyl.
Where did we get stuck? That scalpel-looking tool we were supposed to go weeding with. Two women with a collective of four degrees could barely separate the damn corner, let alone get the design off properly.
Eventually, we gave up. Caffeine, pizza, and sugar comforted us as we licked our wounds.
I’d love to tell you that I took a hammer to it, much like Derek and Ansel in Zoolander when they’re trying to get the files “out of the computer” or that guy from Office Space when he goes postal on the copy machine in the field. Hell, I would have even settled for returning it and getting my money back (I can literally think of about 1,500 different items I would have preferred to spend my hard-earned money on).
Just one problem: I still have an ambitious, driven, motivated, and business-oriented young woman sitting in my house asking when the Cricut will be up and running. I mean, as if!
“Don’t you know I’m getting behind on my orders, Mom?” Cue the eye roll, head tilt, hand pose, and sass.
Folks, I don’t want to break her spirit. And I know we’ve all been there. We’ve all done MANY a stupid thing in order to support our children in their passions. Hell, I’m pretty sure the year C opted to “try” basketball, I played more than he did. As I did with Avery’s first and only soccer season. I am their mother and I will always be their biggest fan, most ardent supporter. I REFUSE to let this cunt of a Cricut outsmart me. WHAT AM I MISSING?
It’s sitting here now, stored in its box just beneath our desk in our living room. I can hear it mocking me. I can’t give in. Save me. Save my sanity. Save a young girl’s dream of designing. If for no other reason, help me get the most out of my $500+ before I start to use it as a cutting board or hifalutin sugar cookie stencil.
Ladies, I’m just a Mama, standing in front of a Cricut, asking it to stop being such a temperamental bitch. But since it won’t listen, for those of you who are less craft-challenged, any words of advice? Help? Offers for a FaceTime tutorial? I know a budding businesswoman who will forever sing your praises! And I am NOT above bribery. Will pay in wine.