The Craft Room Goes High Tech:
Pro-Style Paper Cutting at Home

Recently, while visiting family members, we were struck by just how tech heavy their craft room was. The last time we visited them the only things that required power were the sewing machine and serger, but now, several touch screen gadgets and styluses dot the tables alongside old school pinking shears. Being the gadget geeks that we are, we could not resist learning a little bit more about this high tech craft gear... 
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In addition to the Apple devices in the room, two pieces of tech stood out in the otherwise very traditional looking craft room, one small and portable, the other a largish white appliance. Spools of thread hung on the walls alongside packages of paint, reams of fabric, and nestled near one brightly coloured stack of paper was a tiny touchscreen device that at first glance we thought was a portable gaming system. On a small table under a shelf full of buttons and zippers was this appliance that looked like the lovechild of a breadmaker and smartphone. These devices are the Gypsy and Cricut Expression 2, respectively, and they are bringing about quite the tech revolution in the craft room. 

Gypsy:
While the primary use for both of these devices from Provo Craft is scrapbooking, they can be used for anything that you'd like to cut paper for. The small Gypsy allows you to freehand a shape that you would like the larger Cricut machine to cut out, or it can be used to store designs from the many cartridges that are available for the Cricut machines. The Gypsy seems to borrow strongly from the handheld gaming world with its rounded design, and the touch panel can be used with your finger although a stylus is provided. The Gypsy has a rechargeable battery and internal memory, making it possible to sketch out designs to be used later with the large Cricut appliance. $249 

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Cricut Expression 2: There are several flavours of Cricut machines, including one that cuts out designs for cakes (which I'd personally love to get my hands on), but the grand dame of the paper cutters is the Expression 2. This machine, unlike the incarnation we saw in the craft room a few years back, has a colour touchscreen which makes it even easier to lay out designs that you'd like to cut out. We were very impressed by how elaborate the designs are that this machine is able to cut, and were particularly taken back by the flowers that can be made by layering several cuts.  $340

As we mentioned earlier, although the primary market for these machines are scrapbookers, they can be used for much, much more. Our family members in particular tend to use the work from the Gypsy and Cricut Expression 2 to make cards, decorate for events, and wrap gifts. It was very interesting to see the tech advances being made in the craft world and to have a glimpse at how a group very different from those we usually see at tech events has embraced tech and made it work for their purposes. 

(Images: Joelle Alcaidinho)

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