I'm Not Crafty, But the Cricut Joy Makes Me Want to Open an Etsy Shop (And It's $40 Off)
- Value: 16/20
- Functionality: 19/20
- Ease of Use: 20/20
- Aesthetics: 18/20
- Quality of the Final Project: 20/20
I’m not very artistic, but oh, how I aspire to be. It took me three months of quarantine (the Tiger King through Some Good News phase) to knit a scarf most beginners tackle in an afternoon. I’ve bought everything necessary to bullet journal; I just haven’t gotten around to, you know, journaling. But when I heard the Cricut Joy was practically foolproof for crafting novices, I decided to give it a shot. And now, if you stand close enough to me for long enough, you’ll probably wind up with your mug, t-shirt and dog monogrammed.
Known as the “smart cutting machine,” the Cricut line is used to create custom iron-ons, cards, vinyl clings, labels and scrapbooking materials (just to name a few options). Its latest launch, Cricut Joy, is smaller than its predecessors—less than 9 inches long and 5.4 inches wide, to be precise—but what’s more impressive is the range of projects it can tackle. It can cut 50-plus materials (from paper to iron-ons for tees), carving out individual shapes up to four feet long. You simply download the Cricut app, sync the machine to it via Bluetooth, and start creating your next project. And, from April 11 through April 17, it's on sale for $139—$40 less than its typical retail price.
Pro: Your Cat Could Probably Make Cards with This Machine
Cricut offers a ton of predesigned templates and graphics you can use, though you can also design your own from scratch. Being new to this whole world of crafting (and admittedly, a little intimidated), I started out with a few predesigned cards. Truly, if you can microwave popcorn, you can make any of the predesigned DIYs. The app walks you through everything step by step, from pairing the machine via Bluetooth to loading the paper onto it. It’s oddly mesmerizing to watch the machine intricately cut out designs, and it slices through heavy cardstock cleanly.
If you’re feeling fancy, you can select a card design that requires drawing and cutting skills—and then swap out the blade for a fine-point pen (which comes included with the machine, BTW). Within seconds, the device perfectly sketched and etched out the card, creating something you’d drop $6.99 for at Target. Only with the Cricut Joy, you can make 12 of them for the same price (plus the amortized cost of the machine itself, but let’s not get too technical here). To be honest, it was so easy I started to feel like a crafting phony as people raved over the cards I sent them. Oh Mom, if you only knew I pressed three buttons to create that “masterpiece!”
Pro: It’ll Boost Your Creative Confidence
I got a little more adventurous when it came to the vinyl clings. I’d found kids’ reusable water bottles on clearance at Walmart for 50 cents each, then started making custom name tags and designs for my daughter and her cousins. This requires a smidge more attention and measuring skills, as you size up how big you want your decals to be and add them to the canvas. Still, with just a little typing, tapping, pinching and zooming, my bottle decals were ready to go. The hardest part, by far, was peeling off each letter and trying to apply them in a (somewhat) straight line. Still, the end result was strangely addictive. I now know how people can wind up with full-sleeve tattoos after getting their first penny-sized sparrow, only replace my arms with, well, every surface in my household.
Con: The Costs Add Up Fast
I know, I know—earlier I said I didn’t want to get into the technical costs per use, but ultimately, it is something to consider. While there is an entire “free” section to the Cricut app, I was surprised to see how many fonts and projects required an additional fee to use them. Combine that with the $180 cost of the machine itself, plus the cards and vinyl needed for each project, and well, it’s not a cheap hobby. But if it replaces your holiday card shipment—or the sheer satisfaction you get from making your own tees, signs and vinyl clings outweighs the cost of supplies—then it’s well worth the investment.
The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what's worth the spend—and what's total hype. Learn more about our process here.