Waterslide Decal Tutorial

For Christmas this year we decided to give everyone custom made mugs. The inspiration for the monograms came from here, and the bird is a print I made, scanned then photo shopped. We are so happy with the way they turned out and hope everyone uses/loves them.
Also, one more thing, these mugs are NOT dishwasher safe. So keep this in mind when making them, trust me we tried and the decal melted right off.

Now for the tutorial...enjoy!

Supplies you will need for this project:
-Shallow dish of some sorts for warm water
-Soft sponges (fixative came with these)
-Inkjet water decals and Fixative
-Sharp scissors

Step One:
Print off decals on waterslide paper, and let ink dry for 30 minuets.  I got the monogram fonts from here.

Step Two:
Use fixative to "set" ink on water slide paper. The fixative smells very strong so make sure you are in a well ventilated area. Pour fixative on image in puddle, then very, very gently spread fixative around until the image is completely covered (try not to use any pressure when spreading the fixative). Pick up paper and check in light to make sure the image is thoroughly covered. You do want a fairly thick coat of fixative so don't be shy. Once all of your images have fixative on them, let it dry for 8 hrs., yes I know this is a long time so it does take some planning.
Step Three:
After the decals dry for 8 hrs. use sharp scissors to cut close to the image.

Step Four:
Immerse decal in warm water, making sure it is completely submerged.  Let it sit in water until the decal starts to separate from the paper (about 1 min.). You can check by sliding the decal and paper between your fingers to see if it is moving away from the paper. But be sure to keep image on paper until you are ready to put it on your mug.
Step Five:
Before you put the image on the mug choose where you want to place the image and slightly wet mug with fingers. This enables you to move the image around once it's on the mug.
To place decal on mug, hold one end of decal and slowly pull paper from decal. The paper and decal will separate leaving you with only the decal. Once the decal is on the mug you can slide it around until it's where you would like it. Smooth out air bubbles with finger. A good trick is to wait a few minutes (not any longer) until some of the water is evaporated then smooth the rest of the air bubbles out.
I then repeated steps 3-5 for monogram.
After the decals have dried (I waited 24 hrs.) you can drink from and enjoy your new customized mug. Hope you enjoy this little project and once you get the hang of the waterslide decals it's very easy.


blue moss said...

well... these are so fun...
thanks for sharing :)

Le Sigh of a Fashionista said...

what a creative idea! thanks for sharing!!

Anonymous said...

I found a new project!

Jolleen said...

found you via design*sponge. this is a great project! was wondering if you can microwave the mugs?

LBrieM said...

I also found you on design sponge, are the mugs dishwasher safe after you decal them?

melinda said...

yes, you can microwave as long as it's not too long. i would just err on the side of caution.

no they are not dishwasher safe after you are done with the decal. but, i saw on carol's creations that there are bake on decals, and i bet it would make them much more durable.

hope this helps,


Oatmeal and Cinnamon said...

have you attempted this on glass? Like a clear-glass-votive-thing for a candle? Or a colored or clear glass vase?

melinda said...

oatmeal and cinnamon,
no i haven't tried it on glass, but i'm sure it will work the same. just make sure to get the clear decal paper not the white.

Karö Design said...

Great tutorial! I have been wanting to try decals for a while. Just wondering if anybody has tried laser printer decals ? Maybe they are more durable?

Robin Charlotte Humphrey said...

cool! i want to try!~

LinnieBell said...

found your post through design sponge, too! I love waterslide decals...I used them a few years back for my senior project
in college. the decals came off after a few weeks; I think I need to try the bake-on decals! thanks for sharing!



Welcome said...

wonderful tutorial! Thanks for sharing! I really want to make some mustache mugs & was dreading the ceramic paint method.


Ashley said...

oh my gosh this is the coolest! can't wait to try. thanks for sharing.

aki said...

Hi !
This projct is amazing, I'm going to try it ! :)
But what is the fixative you used ? Where can we find this ? (because I live in France so...)

nichole said...

i can't get the link to the fixative working... what can I use?

melinda said...

aki and nicole,

when she runs out of that item the link won't work. try this link, you can also use spray adhesive. but when i did research the spray adhesive wasn't as effective as the liquid. but it's worth a try if she doesn't have the liquid in stock.


Anonymous said...

I'm definitely going to do this project, for next Christmas or sooner!

Laura said...

This is so neat. I can see myself becoming mildly obsessed with decaling various items around my place. Thanks for the how-to. Very well done.

Angie said...

Love, love, love this idea! Where did you find the images for the birds? I'd love to know.

thanks for the great tutorial!

Ingrid said...

this is fantastic!

i wonder if you applied some sort of clear glaze over the decal if it would help to seal it and make it more permanent/diswasher safe?

miriamkarp@customketubah.com said...

I looked up the bake-on paper and it says not to put it in an oven or microwave that's used for food when you bake the design on. Must be pretty toxic stuff? I wonder about that. Who has an extra oven lying around?

melinda said...

the bird image is my own print, my inspiration was the idaho state bird.

hum...i don't know about a clear coat of something? but honestly the decal is pretty durable just not in the dishwasher. i'll do more research and if i find something i will let you know.

thanks for the inquires.

Anonymous said...

Great project. Thanks for sharing. I'm wondering if i can use them on metal somehow ... i'm always thinking jewelry.

melinda said...

i'll bet it would work on metal, you should let me know once you try it.

Missy said...

That is so cool! I think I might try this!

Sabii Wabii said...

As impressed as I am with the concept. I am equally impressed by your photos. They are spectacular.

Tiger / DIY OR DIE said...


I've used some pictures from this post for my blog DIY OR DIE at Swedish ELLE Interiör; http://www.elleinterior.se/bloggar/diy-or-die.aspx?post=36538

Please let me know if it's not OK, and I'll remove them.


melinda said...

yes you can use the photos. thanks for asking.

Anne aka La Vie en Rose said...

Lazertran is a wonderful product and you don't have to go through all those extra steps. I made coasters using Lazertran on marble/ceramic tiles. I coated it with gel medium and it has been soaked through many times by wet glasses!

Devon said...

if you wanted to try this on a plate, would it be safe to eat of? I'm thinking probably not...but I wanted to ask

melinda said...

I wouldn't only because of wear, don't know if it would hold up. and i would imagine a little toxic as well.

lisa butterworth said...

hey melinda! sorry to contact you here but i couldn't find an email address for you. i really love this project and am interested in running it in the next issue of bust. can you email me? i'd love to talk about it!

lisa (lisab@bust.com)
senior editor, bust magazine

CC said...

Saw this in the Dec/Jan Bust issue! Totally inspired me. But I want to make them this weekend! Do you know anywhere that sells the paper and fixative (so I don't need to wait for them to ship from Carol's)? Like maybe Michael's or another craft chain? Thanks!

melinda said...

hi cc,
i looked around town and didn't find any where i live. but i'm sure if you live in a bigger city there has to be a place that has them. do you have a hobby lobby where you live? i know michael's doesn't carry them.

good luck on your search,


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