Make Snail Mail Cool Again
The Cricut Joy is limited to cutting and drawing. That might sound basic—and it might be for seasoned crafters—but it’s plenty powerful for newcomers. There are also only a few components on the device you need to interact with: A lid, which flips down; a clamp that swivels open and closed; and the tool housing, which is where you’ll drop pens or blades (one of each comes included).
You need to connect the machine via Bluetooth to Design Space, the company’s software, which can be accessed via PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. It’s similar to Adobe Photoshop in that you’ll be working in layers, manipulating images, text, and shapes into what will eventually be your final project. For those without any experience using these sorts of programs, there’s a steep learning curve. Thankfully, poking around and following the tutorials alleviates most of the stress quickly.
Design Space is free; you can upload your own images or choose from a variety of premade shapes, graphics, and designs to create your own projects. But it really opens up with a Cricut Access account. It offers a much larger catalog of designs, though it costs $10 per month (or $8 per month if you go with the annual plan). Yet another monthly subscription is never at the top of my list of wants, so I’d recommend starting with the free version, and if you find you can’t stop crafting, then go for the subscription.
My first project was an Insert Card, which uses the machine’s cutting tool to create a design on prefolded card stock. I chose my template and proceeded to the “Make” screen on the desktop app. I picked out a specially designed card mat I’d be using and the materials from a drop-down list. The software instructed me to load a blade into the housing, a process that took all of three seconds.