what the heck – where do I start….
for decals, walls, signs, home décor, cups, ornaments, windows, etc….
There are many different brands out there – Silhouette, Cricut, Oracal, Avery, 3M, etc…
Silhouette brand sucks…just don’t buy it if you can avoid it…it will work in a pinch and is great to practice on, but the quality and consistency is lacking
Cricut brand – slightly better than Silhouette – if you are in a pinch – most bigger craft stores carry this
Avery, 3M – never tried them, others claim they are equal to Oracal
ORACAL – this is the NAME you will hear thrown out ALL THE TIME – while they have a few different types of vinyl, for crafters you really only need to know about 2 numbers – 631 and 651
631 – is a matte finish color, it has a lower adhesive WATER SOLUBLE tack and is best suited for wall applications. It can be used in other projects – home décor, ornaments, signs. The key with 631 is ask yourself – how is this being handled and will it be subjected to weather. If you are putting it on a sign and hanging it on your wall – 631 is fine.
- Soft PVC film (80 micron)
- For short- and medium-term markings, letterings and decorations of exhibition stands and materials
- Service life in exhibition buildings: 3 years
- Polyacrylate, removable
651 – is a glossy* finish color (*matte is available in White and Black) – this has a higher SOLVENT adhesive as well as a glossy coating – this allows the vinyl to adhere better and longer than 631. If you are making car decals or want to put vinyl on cups and mugs that will be subjected to washing – you WANT 651 (note you can use 631 for car decals and even putting on cups and mugs, however due to the adhesive factor it may not stay on as long as using 651 - with using 631 on things like car windows it will break down and fade a lot quicker than using 651.)
- Special PVC film (70 micron)
- For short- and medium-term markings, letterings and decorations
- Outdoor durability:
- 5 years (black/white)
- 4 years (transparent / colored / metallic)
- 3 years (brilliant blue)
- Solvent polyacrylate, permanent
OK GOT IT – understand vinyl – but how do it get it from here to there…..
Once you cut your vinyl and weed it you are left with your design. In order to not warp the design and/or move it in one continuous piece you need transfer tape. The two main types most crafters use. Note with either type depending on your project you should be able to get 2-3 uses out of one piece of transfer paper/tape
Paper – comes with a backing – you peel the transfer tape from the backing and apply to your vinyl and then peel and transfer – paper is suggested for wall applications and I personally like it better for canvas application– you can usually buy sheets or rolls.
Tape – Tape is usually clear and comes in a variety of widths – from 2” on up – most of the time you will find it being sold in roll form. It can look daunting and expensive (most places sell it in a 100 yard roll) but it last a LOOOOOOOOOOONG time – a lot of people prefer clear tape over paper for projects because you can see exactly where you are placing the vinyl
BUT – I heard you can just use painters tape or contact paper or other cheaper stuff for transfer paper?
Yep – people have had good success using contact paper, masking tape, painters tape to transfer vinyl – however there are a few disadvantages to using those items – most of those are not see through (unless you can find some clear contact paper) and can lead to you applying things crooked – they are not designed to transfer vinyl and can leave a residue on top of your vinyl, you may not see it right away, but rather a few weeks later when dust has collected in the residue – some have a strong adhesive and you may not have good luck getting the vinyl to apply to the object you are trying to apply it to.
WHERE TO BUY
There are a ton of different places you can buy vinyl on-line*** – most places are fairly reliable and have fast shipping – note that shipping is going to depend on where you are located relative to where you purchase from – one person might get their orders in two days, where others it takes 5-6 days. There are lots of vendors on E-Bay, Amazon and Etsy. Below are on-line companies that deal with Oracal vinyl – while there are many more I am highlighting ones that have been recommended over and over again – what is going to be the best really depends on what you are looking for – you might find it cheaper to buy at some place that has free shipping – if you only need a small amount of something
The Vinyl Spectrum - http://www.thevinylspectrum.com/ - Currently sells by the sheet (12x12) and color sample packs available – good place for the small time crafter who needs a variety of 631 or 651
Expressions Vinyl - http://www.expressionsvinyl.com/ - sells by the sheet (12x12 and 12x24) and sells rolls (12” wide) by the yard. They also sell both paper and clear transfer tape. Has a rewards program for frequent buyers and free shipping over $75 – can sign up to receive e-mails on specials
API Crafters - http://apicraftersupply.ecwid.com/ - sells by the foot – so if you need 5 ft of one color and 10 ft of another, easily done. Also sell rolls with price breaks at 10 and 50 yards (rolls are 15” wide). They also sell both paper and clear transfer tape. Shipping charges based on order total *** has matte Black and White 651***
HH Sign Supply - http://www.hhsignsupply.com/
Surry Signs - http://surrysigns.com/
US Cutter - http://www.uscutter.com/
My Vinyl Direct - http://www.myvinyldirect.com/
***Some Joann stores carry Oracal 631 by the sheet
***Some Joann stores carry Oracal 631 by the sheet
Tips and Tricks
Applying to wood or canvas
Applying vinyl to wood and canvas can be tricky – 651 is the best because of the better adhesive, but 631 can be used. You really have to rub, rub, rub – on a canvas, flip it over and rub, rub, rub some more…it is best to pull the transfer tape at an angle rather than from top to bottom. You may find especially on canvases that vinyl will start to lift – go slow- you may have to gently hold the vinyl down as you peel away the transfer tape (one reason I like paper transfer tape for canvas is you can tear away the transfer tape once you get a section adhered down – yes you can’t use it again, but I would rather have my sanity intact).
Once you have your vinyl all down gently warm it with a hair dryer and gently rub push the vinyl into the canvas and/or wood – be gentle as the vinyl can heat up and actually cause you to burn yourself – it also becomes a bit pliable and if you are overzealous with your rubbing you can warp the vinyl. By warming the adhesive it allows the vinyl to really grip the wood or canvas as it cools down.
DO NOT SEAL the vinyl – a few different things can happen. As the sealant dries and cures overtop the vinyl it can shrink up and cause the edges of the vinyl to pull. Some sealents don’t play since with the adhesive of the vinyl, it can seep under the edges and cause the edges to pull up. Some sealents can yellow over time. If you are doing a sign for outdoor use it is highly recommended you use any sealers PRIOR to vinyling.
If you are looking for other tips, tricks and tutorials I HIGHLY, HIGHLY suggest getting a pinterest account and search Silhouette Tutorials – there are HUNDREDS of links right at your fingertips – sometimes you may have to try two or three different methods to find what works for you.