Things I learned at Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon
August 15, 2018
Ultraviolet purple agate slice with gold lettering used as a place card on dinner party table as beautiful end of summer Cricut inspiration

Little girl holding mermaid doll with pink glitter hair made at Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon

Things I learned at Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon

If you've ever been to a conference full of like minded people you know how energizing and inspiring they are. I am super lucky to live in Salt Lake City that hosts several blogging/maker conferences a year. I enjoyed SNAP in the Spring {and you can read about my 3 reasons NOT to attend SNAP here ?} and the Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon just a few weeks ago to provide a much needed morale boost during the craziness of summer. I'm not the only Momma just barely hanging in there am I? {You'll note that it's taken me TWO WEEKS to get this post written. Nuf. Said.}

Affiliate links are provided for your shopping convenience. By clicking and purchasing, I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you. Please see my disclosure page for any questions. Thanks for supporting Halfpint Design so we can continue providing awesome party ideas! I got free stuff at the conference but I have not been paid by Cricut or any of the sponsors to write about this event. I love sharing great stuff with the world and all opinions are my own. 

What on Earth is a Make-a-thon?

Large standing Cricut logo photo prop at Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon

Cheesiest pic EVER!

This was my first Make-a-thon and I had no idea what to expect. I wasn't sure I could justify the cost of attendance for a Makers Conference, BUT when I heard that my friends Anna McNamara of Practical and Pretty, Jordan Hansen of Jordan's Easy Entertaining, and Brooke of Brooklyn Berry Designs were ALL teaching….I immediately bought my ticket. Plus I know that I don't use my Cricut Explore Air 2 as efficiently as I could be and figured if I learned to save any time during party prep it'd be worth it! {Spoiler alert… was worth it!}

If you haven't tried a Cricut Make-a-thon out in your area yet, it's basically an awesome “girls night out” for makers mixed with business classes and lots of training on how to use different materials with your Cricut machine for nearly every application! I'll break dow my experience for you a bit and share some of the wisdom I gleaned.

Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon Classes:

My first class was an amazing mix of professional bloggers instructing round robin style on improving your product photography, which I need desperately!! {my pics usually look alright….but it takes me a LONG time to get them that way and I'd love to start taking photos that are great from the beginning! But shhhhh don't tell anyone and blow my cover!}

Party Table Photos

Charynn from Pineapple Paper Co had the cutest watermelon party table set up.

Cute striped cupcake wrapper and watermelon toppers from Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon

Photo Tip: Use a sheet of foam core behind when you take the pic. Makes for a brighter overall image. {Although the lighting in this conference room was still subpar!}  Party Tip: I had never thought of using half a mini rosette for a cupcake topper and create a cute watermelon!  Both topper and cupcake wrappers are found in the Cricut Design Space Library.

pink polka dot napkins customized with iron-on vinyl from Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon

I'm also obsessed with the iron-on possibilities. Party Tip: Using Everyday Iron-on to customize napkins is a fabulous way to add some character. Thinner than vinyl, it feels more like an expensive custom foil.

Sample of iron-on vinyl on different fabric swatches at the Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon

I also learned about the different types of iron-on and what they can be used on. I didn't realize you can layer iron-on as long as you layer on top with the same kind! Did you? So many amazing possibilities.

Iron-on Tip: I picked up an Easy Press during Amazon Prime Days this year. You don't really need one to make iron-on work obviously but I love the larger surface area and it heats SO much more evenly than my iron. Cricut announced newer large and small versions of the Easy Press at the conference as well. Of course they would. I just got my “old” one out of the box!

Lighting Tools

Chelsea from Tidewater and Tulle gave us some great lighting advice.

Geometric vases on table with dogwood flowers from Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon.

Photo Tip: Using a photo reflector to soften the light makes a big difference. But you can still see the shadows in these 3D geometic vases made from Cricut Design Space. Totally added this 5-in-1 photo reflector to my list of must have photography tools! BTW – how awesome would it be to DIY all your vases for a wedding or baby shower!? These are so fabulous in the white corrugated card stock.

The photography tool list in case you are wondering. Sunlight is the absolute best light but if you ever have to take indoor photos away from the window or evening shoots these will save you!

Flat-lay Photography Tips

Cori from Hey Let's Make Stuff gave us a run down on the best ways to do flat-lay shoot.

It's good to be home sign on wood background with accessories during class at the Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon

  1. Lighting: Not surprisingly LIGHTING is key. I was happy to note that she recommended the lights I already love: Julius Studio Battery Operated LED Light Kit {pat myself on the back for being ahead of the game for once!}
  2. Styling: Now the styling is my favorite part of just about anything in life so let me tell you…it's not as hard as you might think. Go around your house and find stuff in the colors you've chosen that make sense together. Now choose between laying them out in a random pattern like this one above, or using a grid pattern where everything lines up in right angles. Throw in some greenery or flowers and you are golden.
  3. Backdrop: Have a great backdrop to reduce editing. She recommends these smaller Vinyl Patterned Backdrop Sheets for product shots or food photography. {Totally in my Amazon cart right now – I'll let you know if I love them}

Photoshoot Poses and Props

The girls at Bespoke Bride came all the way from the UK to teach us how to pose, feel comfortable in front of the camera, use props, and then edit your images.

Tropical photobooth with Just Married hat at Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon.

This pose is “Did I step in gum?” I like this one because I'm not a huge fan of facing the camera. You can see my smile and it still feels personal. The girls used Iron-on for the “Just Married” letters on the sun hat and created a simple but effective tropical leaf backdrop from the Cricut Design Space Library. Party Tip: customize ANYTHING with vinyl or iron-on for a cohesive party theme!

Tropical photobooth with Just Married hat pose at Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon.

Don't like the camera? This one is even better! Photo Tip: If YOU are the subject make sure you're working with a photographer you feel comfortable with. One who understands the look you're going for so they can position you correctly and help give you the most flattering vision of yourself! {You can thank me later!}

Photo Tip: For editing on your phone they also introduced me to A Color Story app which looks really amazing and also recommend one I already use called Snapseed. Generally I use Photoshop for all my photoshoot images, but when I need a quick Instagram photo these iPhone apps are lifeavers!

Cricut Made

So then there were the maker classes and I was a little nervous. But Cricut {and sponsors} provided teachers, the machines, and materials so it was pretty easy. One project per class, and barring technical difficulties, we got most of them done.

Party rosette and favor box in front of flowers made at Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon.

Rosette Design

This party rosette design {or party fans if you so desire} was taught by A Girl and Her Glitter. It is SO easy to make and I'm bemoaning all the money I've spent on them over the years when I could have been making them in any color, pattern, and edge detail my heart desires! You better believe you'll be seeing A LOT more of these bad boys on the blog!

Cheese Night Favor Box

The party favor boxes are the highlight of my conference. Partly because they are just so fun but also because it was taught by my amazing friend Jordan at Jordan's Easy Entertaining. I'm sure you've heard me talk about her before with our Vintage Hot Air Balloon Virtual Baby Shower.

The “Have a Gouda Night” label {rosette pic} was written by the Circut using a gold pen and I realized how lame I've been for missing out on this feature. I didn't know how to use it so I never did! Ugh. Moron! I have been tracing calligraphy onto my finished place cards or using the print-then-cut feature instead of saving TONS of time by using the pens. Which I already own. Plus it has the charm of being handwritten but looks WAAAAY more professional than my own handwriting ever could.

Party Tip: Let the Cricut write your labels, invitations, place cards, seating assignments, and anything else you may be tempted to use a pen for!

Clear favor box in flowers at Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon

Starry Night Gem Box Favor

I mean how CUTE is this little gem box!? And it could not get any easier. I'd never worked with acetate before but this one was super fun. These designs are available in the Cricut Design Space Library as well. Send the paper through to score {the new Maker scoring wheel is pretty fabulous!} then send it again for a SINGLE CUT! Then fold it and it you're done! It doesn't need tape or glue or anything! Amazing. Party Tip: Use foil acetate for everything!

Do Something That Scares You! 

Crepe paper flowers in vase at Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon

I love Lia Griffith's work so I signed up for her class immediately. Crepe paper makes me nervous since all I've ever used are horrible party streamers! This vase of flowers at the front of the room is supposed to inspire. Sadly, they intimidated the crap out of me! I mean….look at those beauties. And the delicate greenery….swoon!

Crepe paper tulip in front of a Cricut Maker at Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon

Buuut check this out! I made this one and I am so ridiculously proud of it! The inner pestle and stamen are cut paper, the petals are all cut and wired German crepe, accented coloring added with pan pastels, and thick floral wire wrapped in floral tape for the stem. I'm not sure that my Cricut Explore Air 2 will cut the crepe. We used an awesome rotary blade to cut the crepe on a Cricut Maker. It's also the same thing I used to cut fabric for my next project….

Two women at Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon holding crepe paper flower created during classAnd I got to fan girl it a little bit. Lia is just a lovely in person as she appear online. I'm hoping some of her creative genius rubbed off on me. {I may have hugged her TWICE during the conference! ?} PLUS I bought her new book and had her sign it. I highly recommend it if you have ever been interested in crepe. You can snag it on Amazon here: Crepe Paper Flowers: A Beginner's Guide

A Mermaid for Life

So while I am scaring myself, I might as well try a sewing class. Right!? I mean so what if all I've ever sewn are straight lines. I couldn't let the opportunity pass to make a mermaid doll for my daughter with Sweet Red Poppy. Girl, I got this!

A pattern drawn and cut using a Cricut Maker at the Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon

While this may not be the most sexy photo {above}… totally blew my mind! We found the Simplicity mermaid doll pattern in the Cricut Design Space Library, pushed the button to make it and everything started moving. The program breaks the steps down so easily. Which material type to load. Which blade or pen to insert. Then it just goes.

The Cricut Maker DREW the seam allowances on with a fabric pen, then CUT the freaking pattern pieces with the aforementioned rotary blade! Mind blown. There are lots more steps and lots more pieces but I had so much fun I'm considering dusting off my sewing machine and trying a few more projects. But wait…..I don't have a Maker yet….sigh. I guess my sewing machine will have to wait.

Girl holding a mermaid doll with pink glitter hair made at the Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon

One thing is for sure. Our little mermaid is already loved! All we need is to spot clean the washable marker and she will be {almost} perfect! Just don't look too closely. But seriously guys…..I made this. Never in a million years would I have thought something like that was possible for my basic sewing skill level.

Summary of Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Ashish Arora, Cricut CEO ‘I am not here to steal your wallets. No, I have a much more nefarious plan. I am here to steal your hearts.' Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon” quote=”‘I am not here to steal your wallets. No, I have a much more nefarious plan. I am here to steal your hearts.' – Cricut CEO”]

  • Did I make cool stuff? YES! I haven't even shown you the cards and banners!
  • Did I meet amazing people? YES! New friends and connections for my business.
  • Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY
Cricut products given to all the attendees of the Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon

This is JUST the Cricut stuff…..I have even more from sponsors Michael's and JoAnn's!

The cost if you have to travel and pay to stay at the hotel can add up. I totally get that. But the cost of the conference is basically a wash. We ended up with SO MUCH SWAG. I calculated around  $350 worth of products! A HUGE thank you to Cricut, Michael's, and JoAnn's for sponsoring this event. It was truly amazing. Plus great food and business training. I'd recommend this one to any maker. *Disclaimer: There will, however, be some of you that will try it and hate it. I'm sorry for that. In my opinion, you get OUT what you put IN to it.

Ashish Arora, Cricut CEO ended the Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon with a quote that sums it up perfectly:

I am not here to steal your wallets. No, I have a much more nefarious plan. I am here to steal your hearts.

So unless you have a heart of stone, his mission was accomplished as we were sent away with yet another parting gift and boxed lunched for our travels. Cricut is a company that cares about the maker community and I am SO happy to be a part of it. Take a look to see if they plan on hosting a Make-a-thon in your neck of the woods.

Pinterest graphic for Ciruct Mountain Make-a-thon showing different activities, crafts, and training ideas

Personal Note: I was not compensated to write this Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon conference review. All opinions are my own. I figure it's my job to share all the good things I find with the world!

Additional Reading

Until next time my friend,

Halfpint Design, personal headshot, Bri Adams


  1. pressprintparty

    Oh wow Bri. I’m sooo jealous you got to meet Lia Griffith! Her blog is amazing. Great job on this post. Really makes me feel like I missed out! I need those vinyl photo backdrops too….Amazon here I come!

  2. Lori Goldman

    I don’t have a cricut yet, but totally need one. Overall, great tips! Even photo tips and party tips! Nice read!


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Gingerbread houses in a row as table runner centerpiece for a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party I’m Bri of Parties With A Cause. I’m a mother to three crazy awesome kids, interior designer, & party planning junky. I love reading, globe trotting, and frozen yogurt. And I’m elevating the party experience one cause at a time! Read More

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