Hump day crafts: Cricut vinyl

I haven’t had much time to craft lately, but I have plenty of finished projects to get up here. Today, I thought I’d highlight a few things about working with cricut vinyl. It really doesn’t have to be cricut vinyl. You can buy nice vinyl from a variety of sources (or get free scraps from a sign shop if you’re lucky) or even use contact paper for some applications. But learning to cut this on your cricut opens the door to all sorts of new crafts.

I’m still new to the world of cricut vinyl, but it is just too much fun. I’ve used the vinyl and contact paper to make stencils for all of my glass etching. I’ve decorated water bottles, 3-ring binders, and white boards. Here I’ll detail how I decorated a small notions box to create a personalized gift: a chocolate emergency kit.

First, you’ll need to cut the vinyl. I use a depth setting of 2 with pressure set to medium. For me, this cuts the vinyl but leaves the backing intact, making it easier to work with. You may need to practice getting your settings right. Then you need to weed your design. This is the process of pulling out all the vinyl that you won’t be using. For this design, it looked like this:

cut and weeded vinyl

If you’re using your vinyl as an etching stencil, you’ll want to pull out the opposite — the stuff you want etched. You’ll also need to use your craft knife (or a rectangle in Design Studio) to cut the outside edge of your stencil.

Next, you apply your transfer tape. I have some from cricut, although sometimes I use contact paper in place of my transfer tape. On the plus side, it’s cheaper. On the minus side, I can’t see through it as well when placing my design. I’ve also read that you can’t leave contact paper on it for very long, but you can with transfer paper. I’ve been doing my vinyl projects in one sitting, so haven’t run into this problem yet.

Here’s my project with transfer tape smoothed over it:

vinyl with transfer tape

Use the transfer tape to pull your design off the vinyl backing. Here’s what it looks like from the back:

vinyl with transfer tape - back

Next, you apply the vinyl and transfer tape to your project. You want to be sure to not trap any air bubbles under the vinyl. If you’re putting it on a flat project, it’s not too hard. But you’ve got you’re work cut out for you if it’s going on a curved surface. Occasionally for the etching stencils I’ve had to cut little slits in curves and corners when working on wine glasses and candle holders. In any case, use a credit card, brayer, or other tool to help you smooth the vinyl out.

Once the vinyl’s on there good, get ready to pull the transfer tape off. I find it best to move slowly, pulling back at a sharp angle , with a small tool on hand to hold/push down any vinyl threatening to come up.

pulling off transfer tape

If everything goes alright, one final smoothing should do it for you. Now your project’s ready to go (or ready for etching). My finished project:

finished project

Yes, I filled it with chocolate before presenting it as a gift. And it was much appreciated!

A few things about this project. This the first thing I designed in Cricut Design Studio. It’s not necessarily easy software to work with, but it’s kind of fun. I was working with the trial version, so was limited to using the Plantin Schoolbook cartridge. Also, I tried alcohol inks on the vinyl for the first time ever. I liked the look, and it did not stain my cricut cutting mat. I’ll have to pick up some more colors, so I can play with that more.

I had a tough time jumping in with the vinyl on the cricut. It just seemed so expensive and permanent. (Although many vinyls are removable at least for awhile.) I hope this will inspire someone to make something beautiful. Happy crafting!

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