Compact, versatile and accessible to everyone, the Cricut Joy promises to transform our interior into an Instagram account dedicated to decoration and DIY. Gadget or revolution?
Since last year, successive incarcerations have been an opportunity to learn how to make our bread and our dishwasher tablets. As a direct result of our forced incarceration, the DIY trend has exploded on social networks, prompting us to get started too. Before that, we were interested in the Cricut range, cutting machines that reign supreme on Instagram, via the hashtags #DIY and #To build† If you’ve got the budget and talent, the brand promises to make just about anything and everything from glittering decorations to kitschy Christmas stockings to tuck presents in.
The hardest part is choosing
The Cricut range is available from €189.99 and comes in 3 different models: the Cricut Joy, which allows you to cut materials up to 11.43cm, the Explore (€289.99), which is more versatile and finally the Maker (€499.99) intended for professionals or true enthusiasts.
More accessible and above all more compact, our choice fell on the Joy model. It’s clear that with a price lower than other models and a much smaller size, the little sister of the range allows for fewer things than the Explore and the Maker. While the rest of the range allows for fabric, cork and wood cutting as well as groove and engraving, the Cricut Joy is pleased with the drawing, cutting on about fifty materials and – this is new – gilding† Without being completely exhaustive, just getting started is enough. Especially since it can be stowed almost anywhere due to its small size and featherweight of 1.75 kg.
Because this is the ambitious positioning of Cricut, and more specifically of the Joy: to offer DIYers, even beginners, all the tools for a made worthy of a professional creationwithout sacrificing hundreds of dollars in investment or spending hours on opaque design software.
Getting started: not so easy
Presented in its box with its AC adapter (North American and European), the Cricut Joy comes with its cutting blade, a black fine-tipped pen (0.4mm) and a standard cutting mat. Cardstock and vinyl samples complete the package. Without physical buttons, the use of the machine is based solely on the Bluetooth connection. Indeed, in combination with a smartphone or a computer, the Cricut Joy requires the installation of the Cricut Design Space software in order to work. The latter not only serves as a connecting port, but it is also thanks to it that it is possible to realize the most ambitious projects.
Despite the ease of installation and connection, the Cricut Joy does not escape a period of trial and error. The first attempts are sometimes cumbersome, especially when using a new cutting medium. Also, don’t expect to immediately succeed in realizing the works of your dreams, you will probably need some misfires before you realize your projects.
Especially on the Cricut Design Space interface, you probably need a few hours to be perfectly familiar with it. Unless you only opt for ready-made designs, which quickly become uninteresting, the software has many subtleties that you need to understand in order to take advantage of all the features offered by the machine. Regulars of the Adobe suite (Photoshop and Illustrator) shouldn’t be too out of place, but for beginners we still recommend checking out the many tutorials that exist on YouTube, or better yet, enlist a brand ambassador for a private lesson.
While the Cricut Joy seemed particularly complicated to us, it only took a few hours (and just as many failures) to finally master the Cricut Design Space interface, which quickly proves to be simpler than it looks. After the design is validated, the machine takes care of the entire creation part and tells you exactly which materials to load on the cutting mat and when to change tools. The most difficult thing at this stage remains to make your choice between the different materials offered by the brand.
Machine to do everything, or almost
Even with a much more limited field of action than the Explore and the Maker, the Cricut Joy allows for a wide range of operations: in addition to being able to draw almost any design, the machine is also compatible with about fifty cutting materials† Among them we find the most classic, such as cardboard and paper, but also more original media, such as self-adhesive vinyl, HTV iron-on paper, gilded sheets for card making, as well as sheets of Infusible sublimation ink. , which stand out as a minor revolution.
With so many materials and an almost endless creative perspective, the Cricut line lets you do just about anything. We salute the quality of the Smart materials designed by the brandmaking it even easier, by offering a wide range of suitable materials, which are compatible without a cutting mat.
The only regret is that even if the mediums’ supply tends to overwhelm us with possibilities – sometimes even undecided when faced with so many choices – we quickly realize that with the exception of paper and cardboard (that it is possible to ‘buy any brand), vinyl, iron on and Infusible Ink materials sometimes lack diversity. Apart from the few beautiful models out there, we would have preferred a range of colors “classic” more comprehensive. Especially since the Joy suffers from a smaller catalog than the Maker, which sometimes meant we had to adapt certain materials ourselves to the dimensions of the small machine. Finally, and this is an issue specific to France, official Cricut material retailers are often poorly stocked, which is quite frustrating when you have a very specific project in mind. So it will be necessary to juggle the stocks of Amazon (and especially the US version), Cultura and Zodio to make sure you find what you are looking for.
Perfect for Christmas (and the rest of the year)
After working for a few weeks, the approach of Christmas finally motivated us to create a series of creations that are as kitsch as they are themed. From greeting cards to personalized baubles to advent calendars, there’s not much Cricut can’t do.
Especially since in combination with the Easy Press 2, the Cricut Joy offers even more options† In addition to card making and cutting, the machine can be used to cut and then attach iron-on materials to any fabric (especially sneakers). Thanks to Infusible Ink technology, based on sublimation ink, the rendering is even more impressive: at high heat, the pattern turns into gas and immediately impregnates the fiber of the fabric (beware, the latter consists mainly of polyether), for a professional render, and above all much more durable than iron-on. Very capricious, the material, on the other hand, requires a much more delicate treatment than the rest of the consumables of the range, on pain of obtaining a faded effect that is not really successful.
If many designs are available directly from the main interface, the whole point of the machine lies in the ability to run our own creations. For the simplest projects, it is possible to work directly from the Design Space interface. For complex designs and cutouts, it is also possible to import an SVG file directly into the application. Especially since the “turnkey” creations offered by Cricut are largely paid for, either through direct purchase or through theCricut Access Subscription, offered for €9.99 per month. If the option (offered for one month with the purchase of a machine) makes it possible to control the tools provided, it quickly turns out to be limited.
In reality, and well past Christmas, the Cricut Joy also allows you to carry out many projects to make everyday life easier. Labeling jars, making last-minute decorations or making personalized gifts… if you have a little time, a lot of imagination and the right consumables, the machine offers almost unlimited possibilities.
The price of creativity
No need to lengthen the tension, the Cricut Joy is a hit. Versatile, easy to handle and capable of delivering pretty incredible professional results, the brand’s entry-level machine has been eyeing us for a few years now, and it’s a real crush. After several months of testing, we only regret not opting for the Maker model, because we have to admit: if the machine is reserved for lovers of creative hobbies, it offers real added value compared to any manual creationto the point that it quickly becomes indispensable.
However, purchasing a Cricut machine represents a significant expense, which must be put into perspective in relation to the use you will be making of it. In addition to the machine alone (€189.99 to €499.99), the cost of tools and accessories (several tens of euros), but especially consumables, will also have to be added. Because as for a classic printer, it is to renew its stock of materials that it is necessary to regularly go to the checkout. Fortunately, in the midst of this ocean of costs, the brand has the good taste not to push consumption related to its Premium subscription. While artists at heart can create their own designs, the less creative ones just need to search the web to find a whole host of original and free content for free.