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Make Your Own Vinyl Stickers with a Cricut Expression

I recently had the opportunity to play with the Cricut Expression die cutting machine, by Provo Craft.  There are so many exciting project possibilities with this machine that I will share my results over a couple of posts.

Before, I go any further, if you own a Cricut machine already, you may be interested in seeing the newest addition to the Cricut family, the Gypsy.  Click here to see a video of this amazing portable design studio.  Win a Gypsy in the Cricut Gypsy Escape Contest. On Sept 24th, the Gypsy will be formally launching on HSN.  Learn more here.

If you are looking to purchase a personal die cutting machine, you cannot go wrong with the Cricut Expression by Provo Craft.  This impressive machine allows you to cut designs, shapes and characters from .25" small to 23.5" large!  Think of all the possibilities for scrapbooking, card making and general paper crafting!

One thing I was surprised to learn about the Cricut Expression, is that it is set up to easily cut vinyl!  This was exciting to me as one of the hot decor trends right now is vinyl wall decals / stickers.  You've seen them on the home decor blogs, and in design magazines.  It may be a quote or other text displayed directly on a wall, or an image or logo such as a photo frame silhouette.  These vinyl wall decals are easy to remove so you can take them off when it's time to change your decor.  Pre-designed vinyl wall decals are currently available in the market, but the Cricut Expression gives you the opportunity to design, customize and create your own vinyl stickers!

Provo Craft sells the vinyl in a variety of different colours including black, white, burnt umber, yellow, soft pink, lime green, dark blue, lilac, grey, light brown, vanilla ice blue, beige, billiard green, peacock blue and ruby red.

Ideas on How to Use Your Vinyl Stickers:

Vinyl Chalkboard – I accidentally discovered that you can write with chalk on Provo Craft's black vinyl!  It easily comes off with just a swipe from a tissue. You can make a chalkboard directly on your fridge for making grocery lists, or making a weekly calendar or to – do list. See example below where we used frame negative spaces to make mini chalkboards on the side of a bread box.

Wall Decor– Cut out your favourite quote, verse, or even a single word and apply it to the wall as part of your home decor.  Cut out an image that will look nice on your wall, such as an enlarged frame for a photo from the "Accent Essentials" cartridge.  This is the cartridge I used for the frame shown on my fridge in the photo below.  I can easily interchange the photo or put in some children's artwork instead.

Windows – Apply images to your windows to go with the seasons.  The leaves shown on our boat window are from the "Accent Essentials" cartridge. Have a business?  Cut out your company name, telephone and website address and apply it to your car window or bumper.  Put some kids' favourite images on their bedroom windows.  The motor bike and airplane shown below are from the "Everyday Paper Dolls" cartridge.

Mirrors – This is a project my 4 year old son and I did together.  I thought one of the hairpieces from the "Everyday Paper Dolls" cartridge looked a little like a moustache, so we enlarged it, cut it out in vinyl and applied it to a mirror.  We also cut out a pair of glasses using the same cartridge and we had a full disquise!  You can see by the photo below, my daughter got in on the game too – only she doesn't stay still long enough to photograph. Other ideas for using vinyl stickers to decorate a mirror would be to use a photo frame around the edges, a fancy trim, or even to apply some inspirational message to be seen first thing in the morning on a bathroom mirror!

Glass – Customize decorative glass jars with text or images for gift giving or storing scrapbooking supplies.  The glass jars shown below are from Ikea.

Labeling – Use vinyl stickers to label a variety of items around your home, in the kitchen, in your office, etc.   The bin below holds our son's school books. You can also personalize any type of electronic gadget with a vinyl sticker. The Cricut Expression allows you to cut out sizes from to .25" to as large as 23.5." I took a couple of my son's favourite images and applied the cut out vinyl stickers to the top of his laptop.  He recently got this 'hand-me-down' laptop and although it doesn't work well, he is really excited to have it so I also cut out his initials to put on the front of it. I also put a mini vinyl sticker of a camera on the outside of my camera and a mini butterfly on my cell phone.

Here's How:

Clear instructions are included when purchasing the vinyl, but I'll give you a quick overview here so you can see how easy it is.

There are two pieces of material required for making a vinyl sticker.  The vinyl itself and the transfer tape.   The transfer tape is necessary to allow a perfect application. To begin, the vinyl is laid face up on the cutting mat and fed into the machine.  (You do not remove the protective backing yet.) Choose your desired design or text and then allow the Cricut Expression to cut it out.  Once the cutting mat is unloaded, peel off the background or negative space to your design, leaving the vinyl sticker behind on the mat. 

Now the transfer tape comes in. Take the transfer tape and separate it from it's protective backing. Place the sticky side face-down onto the front of your cut vinyl sticker.  Now gently lift up your design and it is ready to apply to your desired surface.

To apply the vinyl sticker, peel off the vinyl backing, gently so that the front of the vinyl sticker is attached to the transfer tape.  Place the sticker where you would like it to go and use the burnishing tool (included with the transfer tape) to apply pressure working out to remove any bubbles or creases.  It's really very easy!

Tips:

– cut a small design first to make sure you have the correct pressure and speed for the cutting blade and to eliminate any unnecessary wasted vinyl

– make full use of the vinyl sheet loaded into your Cricut Expression by cutting off a lot of different designs at one time for later use. Apply the transfer tape to all cut designs and cut out and store separately

– if you forget to use the transfer tape, you can still apply the design, but you will have great difficulty if it is a large design or has a variety of cuts.  Applying a vinyl sticker without transfer tape works best if the design is very small and has very few cuts.  The reason is because the vinyl stretches.  The transfer tape keeps the vinyl intact, secure and in place before and while it is being applied to the surface.  The same goes for text.  Using the transfer tape will allow you to benefit from the premeasured spacing between letters which the Cricut Expression has already done.

– measure out the space where you would like to apply your design before applying it.  There is a grid on the vinyl backing to help you align the design to your measurements on the wall.

– whenever possible, keep the negative space of your designs.  These vinyl pieces can be reused.  Here are some examples.  If you cut out a frame design, keep the inside block of the frame and apply it as a chalkboard somewhere. If you cut out a tree or other shape, using scissors, carefully cut out around the negative space to have a negative space version of the same image.  (See photo example of negative space tree shape shown below on the clipboard entitled, "Create.")

Come by tomorrow for more of our review of the Cricut Expression!  Part Two is here!

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