Cricut Joy the perfect introduction to world of paper craft

At €180 this compact device will not break the bank, unlike some more pricey machines

Cricut Joy is mainly limited to paper and vinyl projects.

Product name: Cricut Joy

Price: €180.0

Where to buy: www.harveynorman.ie

Website: www.cricut.com

Wed, Jan 12, 2022, 14:44

   

Cricut Joy

€190

A good proportion of my childhood was spent jealous of class-mates who brought drinks beakers and lunch bags to school emblazoned with their names . Growing up, it was rare to find a water bottle or a door plaque with my name on it, even though mine is, well, a common one in Ireland. Ditto for my husband, who has spent the past 20 years explaining his name is spelled with a “v” not a “ph”.

It’s now somewhat of a family tradition; both my children have names that you don’t find readily on a personalised card in the local newsagents.

That’s why I was probably a little more excited than most people by the official arrival of Cricut in Ireland. The brand offers a range of smart cutting machines, including the Maker 3 (previously reviewed on these pages) the Explore Air 3, and the Cricut Joy.

The latter is the perfect introduction to the world of paper craft, personalisation and home organisation that would put the Home Edit gang to shame.

I like making things. The end result may not be perfect, but there is a certain satisfaction in the act of crafting things. Likewise though, I know my limits. So the Joy is the perfect machine to test the waters.

At €180, it won’t break the bank unlike some of the more expensive machines in the range and it won’t take up too much space. Of all the Cricut machines, the Joy is definitely the cutest; it is compact and not as intimidating as the full-size machines can be if you are just starting out.

It’s great for making cards, cutting your own vinyl designs for customising notebooks and other such materials or making personalised stickers. Although it has a sharp blade that requires replacement occasionally, it’s largely tucked away out of fingers’ reach, and replacing it is as simple as dropping a new blade into the housing.

There are no cables required for connection; it’s all wireless. That makes the Joy extremely flexible, although you will still need access to power. You’ll need a bluetooth enabled phone, tablet or laptop and the Cricut DesignSpace app or software installed to create your designs and transfer them to the machine.

Design Space is free to download and use and if you’ve worked with design software before this will be an easy transition. You’ll be able to create your own projects and upload them for cutting on the Joy without too much difficulty. Click “make it” and the machine leaps into action, with its hidden blade whirring over your chosen material quickly and with very little effort on your part.

However, if you are new to vector graphics and design, there’s a bit of a learning curve. That’s where Cricut Access comes in handy. Although Design Space has plenty of projects you can access without paying anything extra, the Cricut Access subscription ($10 [€9] a month, or $96 for the year) will open up a whole new world of fonts, graphics and ready-to-go projects that even the most inexperienced beginner can get to grips with. All you’ll need is the necessary materials to hand.

That’s where it becomes a slippery slope. You can invest in vinyl to create your home labels or personalise water bottles, lunchboxes or pencil cases (three things that were top of my list). Creating insert cards – an easy task with the preloaded designs was next on the list, and it is particularly satisfying to see the end result. With a set of Joy-compatible pens, you can write and draw designs you have created on your personalised cards too. If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, you can invest in faux leather and a glue gun to make some hairbows

Before you know where you are, you are buying up rolls of permanent or heat transfer vinyl for personalising anything you can think of, and considering shelling out for the infusible ink range so you can create more intricate designs on your clothing with a (Cricut branded) mini-heat press. Card mats and regular cutting mats for materials that aren’t Cricut “smart” materials (ie matless cutting) are a must.

The Access subscription will also give a discount on items ordered from Cricut’s online shop, which comes in handy, but you don’t need to use Cricut branded materials.

Good:

Compact, easy to store and simple to set up, the Joy is a great introduction to crafting if you want to step it up a notch. It’s also a great add on for more experienced crafters who want something easy to grab for a card project or cutting.

Not so good:

The Joy is mainly limited to paper and vinyl projects; the more expensive machines allow you to cut a wider variety of materials, and create projects with etching tools, debossing tips and so on.

DesignSpace is a bit of a learning curve too, but if you are just looking to create some of the ready-designed projects it isn’t a big stretch.

The rest:

You will need extras if you want to create anything more complex than a few cards, including rolls of compatible vinyl, or mats for projects that don’t use Cricut’s smart vinyl. Blades are easy to replace, but it’s not something that is required too regularly.

Verdict:

Impossible cute and easy to get started with, the Cricut Joy lives up to its name.

Five stars