Grandmas are back in vogue. As is scrapbooking, fabric cutting, sewing, handmade goods, artisanal things, terrariums, and crafts.
The Maker Movement is upon our doorstep. One of TechStar’s latest New York startups is a DIY soap making company. Levi’s is selling a “Makers” line by independent designers. Minted has raised $49 million in venture for its crowdsourced scrapbooking and greeting card designs.
And two days ago, I was pitched a product that would “make materials for a whole steampunk dress.” I couldn’t resist seeing this magical machine so I invited CEO Ashish Arora and head of marketing Dale Pistilli to the Pando offices.
They pulled out a plastic “personal cutting machine” that looked much like a normal computer printer, albeit a bit larger. They hooked it up to a laptop (it works on iPad too), picked a Happy St. Patrick’s Day design on the accompanying software, and printed a custom sticker.
The Cricut has a razer sharp, fine pointed blade, a pen tool and a scoring tip. With those instruments, it’s able to draw, print and cut on fabric, thin metal paper, vinyl, and cardstock.
It’s the sort of tool that’s meant to save the Pinterest failers of the world. No longer does your Origami Nazgul have to look like trash from the wastebin or your paint chip art look like cardbook stapled together by a 5-year-old.
I’m not much of a maker myself, but my mind immediately went to a little girl named Chaos who went mini-viral a few weeks ago for the beautiful dresses she and her mother make out of paper.
It’s hard to believe the inventive creations are spun from scrapbook. Theoretically, a machine like Cricut could help any parents and kids build clothing or creations as imaginative as Chaos’.
The Cricut is designed to make DIY easier, by giving you a little bit of extra help. DIYWALBOEH, perhaps.
“It’s become [hip] to say, ‘I am my brand and I’m going to make stuff for me,'” Cricut’s CEO Arora says.
The computer interface for Cricut is a tad daunting. You can pick a project and it walks you through the various steps and materials needed. But the sheer number of options for projects to try is mind-boggling. And gazing over the shoulder of Marketing Head Pistilli as he went through the print steps, it didn’t seem intuitive to me.
What made Cricut more appealing was the fact that the founders are developing an API for app developers to build on. Then, hypothetically, you could download an “origami app” or a “paper doll making app” or a “metal jewelry app” and walk through a customized, simpler interface for building your project.
This is the sort of object that opens the maker movement for the masses. You don’t have to be an experienced craftsmaker to build your own projects or customize baby onesies or birthday card invitations. The machine does most of the heavy lifting for you. It’s also akin to a consumer-level 3D printer, which puts the power of the maker tools in the homes of consumers instead of just bigger businesses.