I Tried the New Cricut Joy Machine, and It’s Totally Worth the Splurge

·3 min read

Project Joy is a weekly column about the projects we’re doing at home that bring us a little piece of happiness.

I’ve been social distancing and working from home for the last six weeks, so besides my daily walk outside, I haven’t been leaving my apartment much. When I log off for the day, I take a long walk and then try to do something creative so I’m not just parked in front of the TV all night. This week, I tried out the new Cricut Joy machine, and it’s safe to say I’m obsessed.

If you’re not familiar with Cricut machines, they’re smart cutting devices that connect to your computer and allow you to perfectly cut shapes and text from paper, vinyl, iron-on, and more. At $179 each, the Cricut Joy machine isn't inexpensive but it is more affordable than the the $350the Cricut Maker, which I've had for three years (I use it about once a week).

Whether I’m cutting iron-on decals to make matching bachelorette party shirts or just cutting out cardstock letters to make ‘happy birthday’ banners, I’ve found a surprising number of everyday uses for the Maker. But here's the thing: while it’s totally worth the money for someone who will use it regularly, it’s not a justifiable expense for most people.

Courtesy of Cricut

What Is the Cricut Joy?

Luckily, Cricut’s latest smart cutting machine is much more affordable, and is actually easier to use than the Maker. The Cricut Joy was released March 1 and is about half the size of the other Cricut machines (it’s 5 inches by 8 inches, compared to the 23-inch length of the Maker). In addition to being physically smaller, it only weighs 4 pounds so it’s much easier to move around than the 15-pound Maker. I live in an apartment without a designated craft room, so being able to grab the Joy off the shelf and easily set it up on my small desk is definitely a win. The machine retails for $179, so while still an expensive tool, it’s much more affordable than some of the higher-end Cricut machines.

Buy It: Cricut Joy, $179, Michaels

The creative team at Cricut explained that this machine was created for the “creative dabblers,” those who like to be creative, but don’t have a lot of time to fully invest in a hobby or aren’t sure where to start.

How Does It Work?

The Joy is similar to other Cricut machines in a lot of ways, but if you’ve never used one, here’s how it works: The Joy plugs into a wall outlet as a power source and connects to your computer or smartphone via Bluetooth. You use the Cricut software Design Space (it’s super easy to use) to select a design you’d like to make: They have hundreds of pre-made designs to choose from (or you can create your own custom design), so all you do is place your material onto a sticky mat, load it into the machine, and it will cut out the design for you.

One of my favorite features about the Joy is how easy it is to make greeting cards. You can buy a mat specifically made for cards (Card Mat, $5.99, Target) that allows you to cut intricate designs into Cricut’s colorful Card Inserts, $6.99, Michaels. The machine cuts a design into the front of the card, and then you place a colorful insert card into cut slits on each corner so that the colored paper shows through the cut design.

I love my Maker and I have no plans to stop using it, but for a quick project (and to make gorgeous greeting cards), I’ll definitely be reaching for the Joy.