The great thing about writing tech reviews is getting to try out the best things. It’s the obvious perk. It’s not always the latest smartphones that pique my interest. Actually, it’s more likely to be the more unusual and surprising things that get me really excited. In 2021, perhaps the most surprising thing to land in for review is the Cricut Joy. The amount of fun I had with this smart crafting machine should be criminal.
In this review I’m going to cover:
- What Does The Cricut Joy Do?
- What Can The Cricut Joy Cut?
- Do I Need A Cricut Subscription?
- Cricut Joy Beginner Projects
- Cricut Joy Review: The Verdict
What Does The Cricut Joy Do?
Cricut Joy is a small home crafting machine. It’s kind of like a printer but it’s capable of doing much more than that. Once you plug in and open the hood, you’ll see a small clamp fly across where you can lock in either a pen, marker or cutting head. You can there run various materials through the Cricut Joy and have it cut or draw designs for you.
As you can see, it’s a rather small piece of kit too so you would be able to transport it in a backpack rather easily.
What Can Cricut Joy Cut?
The Joy is the baby of Cricut’s range, but it can still cut through over fifty different materials. Some of the best stuff for beginners like me are the Cricut Smart materials. These include Smart Vinyl, Smart Iron-On, Smart Label Writable Paper and Smart Label Writable Vinyl. These are the perfect size for the machine and don’t need an additional placement card to align before cutting.
There’s a list as long as my arm of other Cricut Joy-compatible materials from paper-thin faux leather to cardboard, but trust me when I say it’s flexible. If you need something specific just check that list on the Cricut website.
Cricut’s smart materials and alignment cards are great for crafting Luddites like me. They make the Cricut Joy really accessible despite a complete lack of crafting ability But I was quickly able to go beyond the obvious greeting cards.
Do You Have To Pay A Cricut Subscription?
There is a subscription available to make making a little bit easier with Cricut. The subscription costs €10 per month or €100 per year. I tested it out and personally didn’t see the point of it because I’m handy enough with Photoshop.
Now that you’re up and running, here are some of the crafting projects I took on as an absolute beginner with my Cricut Joy.
Cricut Joy Beginner Projects
You can personalise pretty much anything you can think of with a Cricut Joy. The only limit is really that the Joy is Cricuts smallest machine, capable of cutting about fifty different materials. The bigger machines can handle over 300 materials and cut bigger dimensions. This aside, It’s really important that I get across just how dynamic the little Cricut Joy is for a wide range of projects.
Greeting Cards With Cricut Joy
The most obvious place to start with my first crafting project is making a greeting card. My sister is an avid crafter and makes some of the best cards I’ve ever seen along with plenty of other things too. As luck would have it, my Cricut Joy arrived in for review just before her birthday so I got crafting.
The delivery of my Cricut Joy included some other bits and pieces too. There were some tools to help separate materials after cutting and the likes, but these aren’t included as standard. The kit also included some of Cricut’s own materials, the handiest of which were the greeting cards. This is what you see above. You get the outer card, the inner piece of card and an envelope to wrap it in.
Making the card was fairly simple. There are loads of templates in the Cricut Design Space app. This is where the magic happens. The Design Space is free to use but there is a monthly subscription to access some premium designs. I used the trial but haven’t continued to use it since as I’m handy enough with Photoshop and working out how to get the look and feel I want in my designs.
Also in Design Space is a template designed specifically for the Cricut card packs. These include cut templates which you can see in the picture above. The template lets you easily slide the inner card in to show off the message you’ve cut out.
Finally, I swapped the cutting head for a marker and drew a balloon animal while the whole card was really just to joke about my sister who makes amazing cards.
Now, no matter what the event is, I can make a personalised card. It does depend on having time, and even more so for me, a unique idea that I think is really cool or funny. No matter what I make though, I make sure to print my own little logo on the back for that personal touch!
Personalised Beer Glasses With Cricut Joy
I’m not afraid of a side project. During lockdown I also got into tasting craft beer, starting The Hoppy Ending with a friend of mine. What’s a beer project without your own custom-made beer glasses?
I was floored by two things making this custom glass. First of all, how easy it was. I pulled together some design workm lined things up, put the gold vinyl into the Cricut Joy and hit “cut”. Then, using some transfer tape, I lined everything up and it was done.
The bigger thing that surprised me was how tough this vinyl is. I’ll admit I don’t have a dishwasher which maybe makes the vinyl last a bit longer, but the glass was perfect for the bones of a year until I broke it. I’ve made a few other similar glasses and they’re all going strong. I use a few at home and have passed a few along to friends and family as gifts.
Now, whenever I post a beer tasting on Instagram, it will often be sitting in a branded glass giving the whole thing a very professional look; or at least I think it does anyway.
Ironing Designs Onto Clothes With The Cricut Joy
Sticking with the theme of personalising stuff to look all professional, I’m going to move on to some Goosed.ie merch I made. I’m a baseball cap guy along with loving a good jumper. The merch choices seemed pretty straightforward from here.
To make this merch, I needed iron-on material. I took the easy option and just bought Cricut’s iron-on material specifically designed for the Joy. It makes life pretty easy when you’re crafting with the materials designed to spec for the machine you have. It does add a little cost but not too much and as you get more experienced you can wander away from Cricut’s own lines.
Again, I lined up the designs in Cricut’s Design Space, hit “reverse” and then “cut”. Once completed, I cut the design out, stripped away the excess and then positioned it on both the jumper and baseball cap. Cricut does have its own special iron for this process, but I don’t think you really need it. I just used a regular iron and the job was done.
Despite the Joy’s small size, you’re not limited to small designs. I had another small project making some aprons for my “inlaws elect”. This required much bigger text which was passed through the Joy line by line to give more scale. We were delighted with the result which also showed me you really can personalise just about anything you can find out there.
Verdict: Is The Cricut Joy Worth It Or Expensive?
On the surface, I thought the entire world of Cricut was a bit pricey until I got hooked on it. I spent over €500 on my PS5 and can easily spend €80 or more on a game. Why? Because I’ll get hours of entertainment from it. This put the Cricut’s price into perspective for me. Now, I can spend some time crafting and shut out the rest of the world. It’s honestly therapeutic to let your creativity flow. Sure, it’s still possible to make a mistake and waste a couple of euros worth of vinyl, but it’s just generally fun.
Having a creative outlet in lockdown is so valuable. And I can totally see the appeal of machines like this to creatives. But what I want to finish on is just how much fun I get from this machine and I’m would have never classed myself as a crafter. But here we are.