Thanks to the holiday generosity of a couple of family members, I was able to purchase a Cricut Joy as an after Christmas present for myself. Yay! It is super cute and compact. I wanted one because I have a small version of the Gemini die cutting machine (for use with metal dies, not designs sent electronically like a Cricut) as well as the full size one and honestly, I use the small one a lot more that the big guy. I wondered if the same would be said for my Cricuts? I don’t know yet, obviously, because today’s post is a Cricut Joy unboxing and using it for the first time to make a card tutorial. In this post, I use the Cricut Joy app with my iPad to make the project and I have to say, it was pretty slick. As a card maker at heart, I also personalize the card a bit with some quick and easy extras after the Joy makes it. If you’re interested in the Cricut Joy, I will give you my first impressions at the end of the video and post below if you think my opinion will help you decide if you need one. I appreciate you taking the time to view or read this post. Thanks!!
Please check out the video tutorial below or scroll down for text with photos:
Cricut Joy Unboxing & Extra Accessories
I am a Cricut Joy newbie but am pretty excited to get one. In addition to the Joy machine, I bought a few Joy accessories (also linked below in the Supply List:
- Two extras mats in the longer size (4 x 12), Standard and Light Grip
- The Card Mat (that I use for today’s project)
- Two sets of insert cards, Neutral and Sensei
- One set of Glitter Gel Pens in Black, Gold and Silver
- One Smart Vinyl sampler
- One Smart Label writable vinyl
- One pack of Adhesive Backed Deluxe Paper
Everything was on super sale so the accessories were an extra good deal.
In the Cricut Joy box comes the machine itself, the power cord that comes in two sections, a blade (already installed in the Joy), a .04 Fine Point Black Cricut Joy pen, an ‘Open Me’ envelope that contains a 4″ x 6″ Standard Grip Mat, a small piece of Smart Vinyl, a small piece of cardstock, a copy of the warranty and an little instruction booklet that tells you how/where to go to setup the machine. It’s very well packaged and easy to unbox.
How to Set Up the Cricut Joy
The Cricut Joy doesn’t have any buttons or switches so is controlled completely through either the Cricut Joy iOS app or through Cricut Design Space. After I plugged it in, I opened Cricut Design Space on my PC and went to New Machine Setup on the left drop down menu.
I selected the Cutting Machine choice from the photos shown and then the Joy. I had already connected the Joy to my computer via Bluetooth so when Design Space searched for it, it was easily found and I selected the bluetooth name for it as the machine I wanted to add to my Cricut account. Then, Design Space connected to it and did a somewhat lengthy update (to the firmware, I’m guessing).
After that, the software walked me through the first cut. I had to select an image to cut, feed the Smart Vinyl sample provided in the box when prompted by the software, and then hit Go in Design Space for the machine to cut out the mountain image I selected. The vinyl was cut fairly quickly and after unloading the vinyl from the machine, it was cut perfectly. Since you don’t need a mat with Smart Vinyl, I was pretty impressed that the machine didn’t cut through the backing paper at all when cutting the mountain design.
First Project with Cricut Joy App
Since set up was so fast, I decided to do a simple card project. I wanted to try out the app specifically for the Joy on my iPad so I opened the application, selected the Insert Cards option (fist choice on Home screen), did a search for “thanks” by clicking the search magnifying glass in the upper right corner and then scrolled through the choices until I found one I liked.
It is worth noting that nearly all of the projects seemed to be Cricut Access projects and unlike in Cricut Design Space, I was not given the option to purchase the design instead of joining Cricut Access so be warned that it looks like you have to be a member before using the app. There is a tab at the bottom of the app for ‘My Stuff’ so you can design your own projects in the app. The options seem a bit limited as far as designing goes but I haven’t looked at it too closely yet.
After selecting the design I liked, the app shows a screen that lists the materials I needed to make the project. It appears to be a generic list for all cards because it listed things I didn’t need, but that is noted with an asterisk. By clicking the large, green “Start Making” button, the app asked me to pick a card size (there was only one choice for the card I picked) and then I hit the Next button in the upper right side of the screen.
An ‘Edit Color’ screen appears that allows you to choose the color of the card, the insert and the pen you are using (if needed) so you can get a visual of what it will look like when completed. The choices are only from the available Cricut Insert Cards packages and on my IPad screen, the colors were much brighter than they are in real life but it is helpful for getting an idea of whether your color choices will work or not, even if you’re not using teh Cricut Insert Cards.
When I liked the colors I picked for the project, I clicked the Next button and was taken to an instructions screen that showed what materials I needed again. Clicking Make It in the upper right brings up a Bluetooth menu that asked me to pick the machine I wanted to use (only the Joy appears but if you have more than one, I would guess both/all will show up; it will not give you the option of another type of Cricut – I tested it). I picked my Joy and the app then connected to the machine. After connecting, a screen appeared giving really nice written and animated instructions for how to load the Card Mat. A message appears at the bottom of the screen saying “Machine ready to auto load”.
At that point, I loaded the mat as shown and placed it into the Joy. The Joy grabbed it and then I clicked Go on the App. The Joy proceeded to cut the design into the card front.
The card was cut in roughly 5 minutes (maybe less) because it was a pretty intricate design. After unloading the mat (via the app), I used my spatula to carefully peel the card base off the mat. It had cut perfectly!! I fit the pink insert into the card base. It looked good! It was a bit off center (and that bugged me) but that’s not entirely surprising for an electronic cutter. I fixed that later by simply trimming down the side that was too wide.
Adding Personal Touches to the Card
The card looked nice as is at this point. But, being a card maker, I have to add personal details to any design so that it doesn’t look the same as a card anyone can make with the app. First, to secure the small parts of the design that had been cut but were in danger of pulling away from the pink insert, I added dots of liquid glue to the back side of the design on the card front to adhere it down to the pink insert.
With the insert glued in place, I added drops of Nuvo Crystal Drops in Bright Gold to the cut out dots in the centers of the two rose-type flowers and then adhered gold sequins into the center of the daisy-like flowers. I then used s Spectrum Noir Metallic Marker in Gold Plate to fill in the leafy branches and add detail to the bottoms of the flower buds. I added dots of Nuvo Glitter Drops in White Blizzard around the design and then filled in the cut out hearts with Nuvo Crystal Drops in Bubblegum Blush, also adding a few drops of it around the design as well. These extra touches maybe took ten minutes and in the end, make a big difference. Now the card looks a lot more custom than it did when it came out of the Cricut Joy.
Obviously, you don’t have to add the extras to the card. It looked really nice before I did so. It’s just something that I think makes the project a bit different and takes it up a notch. If you don’t have the time or patience to add these kinds of extras, don’t worry about it. Anyone who gets a handmade card, no matter how elaborate, should love it!!
My Initial Impressions of the Cricut Joy
Overall, I really like the Cricut Joy! It seems to be a durable and well made machine.
- The set up was fast and very easy!
- It did a really, really great job cutting out the sample vinyl mountain and the card designs the very first time.
- It is super cute and compact so I can see easily taking it to craft groups someday (if Covid ever gets under control), unlike my Cricut Maker.
- The materials available to use with it are fun and there are a pretty wide variety of them. The machine can also cut non-Cricut materials so don’t feel limited to just those.
- The Cricut Joy app is really easy to use with the available Cricut Access designs. I haven’t tried making one from scratch yet so can’t comment on that part of the app.
- Due to its size, the functions are a little limited (largest cutting area is 4.25″ W, length is great at up to 10 feet) but it is designed to be small so that in itself limits the options. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cricut comes out with additional tools for it in the future (scoring? embossing? who knows…).
- The card design, despite lining up the insert exactly as shown on the mat, cut off center. Not entirely surprising for an electronic cutter, but still disappointing. Easily fixed with a minor trim, though.
- It’s not budget-friendly but all electronic cutters are expensive, so unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any way around that problem.
- There are NO buttons on the machine including an On/Off switch and no USB port. That means the machine stays on all of the time when it is plugged in; you must unplug it to power it off. I’m not happy about that. Couldn’t it have an auto-shutoff after a certain amount of time if Cricut didn’t want to add a switch? Designing a machine to constantly draw electricity unless unplugged seems out-of-touch nowadays.
- Because there is no USB port, you must have bluetooth to use the machine. Many probably do, but not everyone…
- It appears you have to be a Cricut Access member to use it for fast projects with the Cricut Joy app. This is a con for me because even though the available designs are great, that costs extra money every month for an already pricey machine. It’s too bad there aren’t more free designs in the app (there are some). Once I try to design something from scratch with the app I’ll know more about that part of it but to make a first project quickly, being a Cricut Access member was required and my guess is will likely allow you to get the most out of the machine.
I hope this helps answers any questions you may have about the Cricut Joy and a bit about the Cricut Joy app. If this will be your first electronic cutter or you know you mostly make smaller projects, I DO think the Cricut Joy is worth the money, especially if on sale. If you have any more questions about it, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you soon.
On a slightly different note, I also appreciate any ideas you may have for topics to cover related to the software for Cricut (Design Space), Silhouette (Studio) or Brother (Canvas Workspace) and any suggestions you may have for projects to make with the Cricut Maker, Cricut Joy, Silhouette Cameo 4 or the Brother Scan N Cut DX. Please leave any requests you have in the comments below. I truly appreciate you taking the time to visit and read my blog. Thanks!
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