Sublimation is the process of infusing ink right into the product you are applying the image too. I will show you how some sublimation examples, including a sublimation mug.
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What is Sublimation?
I feel like sublimation is a huge trend in the crafting world right now, so before we go into the project let’s talk about why people are gravitating towards sublimation designs for their projects. In it’s most basic terms, sublimation crafts are the process of printing an image or design and then transferring that printed image through the use of heat on to an object.
Many crafters are looking into sublimation for crafting because it allows them to apply designs with a large variety of colors to their finished projects. Additionally, the sublimation designs will not fade or crack, so the finished products will last longer. You also do not have to worry about how a sublimation mug will hold up in the dishwasher or microwave because the color has become part of the mug you apply it on to.
When you use a product like heat transfer vinyl for example, and apply that to a shirt that material is stuck to the shirt. The colors are not fused into the fabric of the shirt. This means if you do not care for it properly, there is a chance that the vinyl could separate from the shirt. If you want even more information about the differences between heat transfer vinyl and sublimation you can click HERE.
Technically, you do not need a Cricut at all for sublimation projects, but since Cricut crafters were looking to make sublimation designs, Cricut came out with the Infusible Ink line of products. In short, Infusible Ink is Cricut’s very own line of sublimation products. I have more information about Infusible Ink HERE.
For the best results you should use a printer, paper and ink made specifically for sublimation. You should also apply these sublimation designs on to products specifically made to accept sublimation ink. For garments they need to have a high percentage of polyester in the fabric.
Sublimation projects will require a higher quality of supplies, but that is the price of making a longer lasting finished project. There are tricks out there, like this one from Crafting Spree that will teach you how to convert a regular home printer to a sublimation printer, so make sure you do your research.
Sublimation Mug Supplies
The links below all lead to Amazon so you can quickly add everything you need to your shopping cart.
- Sublimation Printer
- Sublimation Paper
- Sublimation Ink – I used Hiipoo Ink brand ink
- Sublimation Mug
- Heat Resistant Tape
- Mug Press
You will also need an image that you plan to print out and place on your sublimation mug. I used this adorable rainbow splash sloth image, that I purchased from Crafting Spree on Etsy. Click HERE to add this image to your collection. I picked this image specifically because of the bright fun colors.
Print your Sublimation Design
The first step is to print out your design. The colors might not look as bright as you wanted them when you print the sublimation design, but once you press it onto your project you will see the colors come to life! For a great side by side comparison, look a the sublimation examples below. The image on the left is before pressing and the image on the right is after pressing.
Make sure to mirror of flip your image before you print it. This is because when you press the sublimation design on to the mug, the image is actually touching the mug so everything will be reversed. For this sloth image that is not a huge deal, but if you had words in your design they would be backwards on your mug.
Use Heat Resistant Tape
Next trim the printed sublimation design down to fit the size of your sublimation mug. Make sure to use heat resistant tape to secure your sublimation design to the mug because you do not want it to move at all when you place it in the mug press. If the design moves at all, you will not get a nice crisp image.
Before I even start to heat up my mug press I like to place the mug inside of it to make sure I have the pressure nice and tight on the mug so that I get a good press. For this mug, I put it in the mug press at 210°C /410°F for 60 seconds. Once it is done pressing I used a towel to grab the handle of the mug and take it out of the press. Remember, it will be HOT!!!!
Let it cool completely and then carefully remove the heat resistant tape and peel back the paper to reveal your image.
Other Sublimation Examples
You might be wondering, besides mugs what other things can you make with the sublimation process. Shirts, pillows and bags are great project ideas, but make sure that the fabric has a high polyester count so that the image comes out nice and bright. Some non-fabric sublimation examples would be keychains, luggage tags, lanyards, a mouse pad, coasters and holiday ornaments.
Below is a hang tag that can be attached to a backpack or bag that I am going to use the same rainbow sloth image on.
Just like with the mug, I am going to tape the tag down to the image so that it does not move around at all in my heat press.
I placed a second piece of plain copy paper over the top of this whole thing before I put it in my heat press, so that the whole project is sandwiched inside of regular copy paper, as you can see in the image on the left below. I am so glad that I did this, because look at that same piece of copy paper after I was done pressing, in the image on the right. Can you see the little spots from the sublimation design that extended past the width of the tag? All of that ink would have gone on my heat press if it were not for this extra little piece of paper.
I love how bright the colors on this tag came out! That is all because of the magic of sublimation! And no matter how much wear and tear is placed on this little tag, that design is there to stay!
Sublimation Can Koozie
You can even add a sublimation design to a can koozie! The really great thing about using sublimation for a project like this is that you do not have to worry about the design coming off in extreme temperature. Of if you have this out on the lake and it gets wet it will not hurt the design. I got this plain white sublimation can koozie at Heat Transfer Warehouse.
So how did you like my sublimation examples? What sublimation designs do YOU want to try? Leave me a comment below and let me know. I would love to see what you create!