A month ago we wrapped our review of the Cricut Maker. Since then we have been playing with the Cricut Joy, the portable baby Cricut. Assuming you have not read my review on the Cricut Maker, let’s start from the beginning (for a bit).
What is the Cricut Joy?
The Cricut Joy is a die-cutting and writing machine that is immensely portable. Cricut is promoted it as the easiest Cricut machine ever and it is true when compared to the capabilities and tools of the other models available.
What are the differences with the Cricut Maker?
The main thing that Circut simplified with the Joy is to limit the tool set to just the two – cutting and writing. Instead of two simultaneous tool mounts, there is just the one where you can interchange between a blade and a pen. This means if you want to write AND cut on the same project, it requires two passes.
Having been using the Maker for a while now, the Cricut Joy is miniscule in comparison. It is small, chubby, cutesy and have a tiny footprint wrapped in a calm inducing aqua and white.
There is no power button on the Joy so when you plug in the AC adapter it is automatically powered on. Connectivity is Bluetooth only so no USB to fumble with.
Lower the feeding tray and it is Joyfully ready to do your bidding.
There are a number of ways to get the Joy to bring your creativity to life. But before I get into that, let’s point out the single biggest difference it has to the Maker.
With the Cricut Maker, we are familiar with the need for a Mat under the material before making a design. However with the Joy, materials that are labelled “Smart” is used sans Mat. These are available for Smart Vinyl, Smart Iron-On and Smart Paper Sticker Cardstock. The reality isn’t that the material is completely mat free, it is already adhered to a special backer that is tested to work with the Joy.
If you are completely new to the Cricut family, the the Cricut Joy app is the shallowest puddle to jump in. It accesses a library of pre-canned projects with limited ability to make changes. It is a beta app at the moment but as the blurb says, “Make something fun or functional in 15 minutes or less with this app.”
The things you can do with this app include (description from app):
- Insert Cards – Create the perfect card at a moment’s notice. Just choose a design, and play with contrasting colors to make it special. Then tell Cricut Joy to make it!
- Quick Labels – Make labels for spice jars, a kitchen pantry, playroom, office & more. Just select one of the professionally designed label styles, size it, add text, choose a font & color, then tell your Cricut Joy to cut.
- Vinyl Stickers & Decals – Decorate water bottles, notebooks, electronics, windows, walls … you name it. Choose from a library of ready-to-use images, tell your Cricut Joy to cut, peel, then stick! It’s that easy.
- Iron-On & Infusible Ink Heat Transfers – Design team jerseys, reunion T-shirts, bachelorette tote bags, or whatever you dream up. Find an image, type out text, or create a design that uses both. Tell Cricut Joy to cut it out, then follow the instructions to complete the heat transfer.
- Paper Crafts – Make simple but spectacular gift tags, cupcake toppers, party place cards & more. Design, cut & assemble in just a few steps.
Stepping up a level is the Cricut Design Space app which offers much more functionality and customisation to your projects. Design Space is a companion app that works with Cricut smart cutting machines. It give access to the Cricut Library with their thousands of images, ready-to-make projects and fonts. You can even design your own project from scratch. The only limitation with this app (aside from the size of your device’s screen to work with), is that it does not support knife blade projects.
What are knife blade projects? I am glad you asked. These require a deep cutting tool for thicker materials such as leather, chipboard and light wood.
The most comprehensive workspace for Cricut is the Design Space on PC or Mac. We are a big fan of it simply because it is so much easier to work on a big screen with mouse or stylus control. I won’t rehash what I wrote about the Design Space which I have covered in the Cricut Maker review, so hop over and have a read when you are ready.
The latest release of the Design Space since the last review mainly include bug fixes and small feature enhancements including kerned fonts. There is added support for the new Cricut Joy Foil Transfer Tool which will be handy for embellishing your creations.
The main gripe with the Joy is material usage. Unless you are using the Design Space on computer, you can’t place your designs manually and can lead to wastage which could otherwise be avoided.
There is a minimum length of 15.24cm of smart material required to for the Joy to work without a mat. You can make use of scraps by using a Mat though.
The cost of Cricut materials can add up, but you are working with known constants such as dimensions and thickness when you use their branded material.
The main thing going for the Cricut Joy is it’s portability and if you happy to get started with pre-canned designs, it has you covered. It can do more advance designs with a little more elbow grease and confidence. One key advantage of the Joy is that you can do a continuous project up to 2m in length, something that that Maker can’t do.
So if you are looking to update the look in your kitchen for example, with new labels for all those containers, the Joy will give you plenty of options different from the traditional labels. On top of that it is a snap to create your own custom cards for every occasion. As you can see with a little effort, you can create unique, stunning cards.
The Cricut Joy is available at RRP $349 from Spotlight, Big W, Harvey Norman & JB Hi-Fi. There is a good deal for Amazon Prime members at $269.00.
Weight: 1.8 kg
Dimensions: 21.3 x 12.7 x 10.7 cm (In the box).
Cuts over 50 materials.
Built-in Bluetooth (You need a device with a Bluetooth connection to operate it)
Cuts “Smart” materials without a Cricut Mat
Draw on different types of materials, including “Smart writing vinyl.”
Cuts a single image up to 4.5 in x 4 ft long or repeated cuts up to 20 ft long.
Use offline from a desktop computer or an iOS device.
Portable and ready to go. You can take it to a friend’s home and craft with ease.
Make cards in as little as five minutes.
Free Design Space app with the opportunity to upload your images.