One of the most important accessories with any Cricut machine, is the cutting mat. These mats – which are colour coded and have varying degrees of tackiness are used to hold your project material while the machine cuts/scores/writes the designs.
When I first opened my Cricut Explore Air 2, I bubbled with excitement. I didn’t bother to attempt the practice project that came with my bundle. After all, I had been watching YouTube videos of unboxings, tutorials and projects for weeks. I wanted to dive right in! I wanted to make a shirt! I slapped a relatively design up in the Design Space – but the cautious crafter in me thought it would be best to test the design with cardstock before using my Heat-Transfer Vinyl (Also known as Iron-On).
Turns out my hesitation paid off… I forgot to mirror my image – a necessary step for using any Heat-Transfer Vinyl. Rookie mistake. I also discovered the importance of de-tacking or priming your Cricut mat – especially if you will be doing a lot of paper crafting. Even though I was using the Standard Grip Mat, the cardstock was difficult to remove and the process actually destroyed my test project.
Using the Correct Mat for Your Project
- Light Grip Blue Mat: This mat is intended for scrapbook paper, vellum, crepe, and tissue paper. In Other words – thin materials.
- Standard Grip Green Mat: Depending on your main projects, this will likely be your main mat. It is used for cardstock, vinyl, heat-transfer vinyl and any other mid-weight materials.
- Strong Grip Purple Mat: One of the more heavy duty mats that is used for thick cardstock, glitter cardstock, poster board, leather, felt, backed fabric and any other heavy materials. I have not yet used this mat for any projects,
- Fabric Grip Pink Mat: Fabric, felt, leather (do not cut paper or vinyl using this mat). This mat is designed to be used with the new Cricut Maker.
It is important to note that not all Cricut machines will cut all project mediums. The Cricut Maker is necessary for the most variety in projects, as it has the capability of using various blades.
Priming Your Mats Before Use
Learn from my mistakes… prime or detack your mats before using cardstock or making paper crafts. The process is quite simple – remove the plastic protective sheet from your mat (set this aside, as you will want to reapply it after each project to protect your mat from dust, pet hair and other possible household contaminants that may transfer to your projects). Using a clean piece of fabric or a shirt, press it onto the mat. Remove the fabric and repeat the process a few times. And that’s it – your mat is now primed. I also suggest using a separate mat for paper crafts that has been primed/detacked more – this is by no means a requirement, it is just my own personal preference.