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How To Work With Vinyl

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I'm so very excited about this post! Tons of new things happening over here and I want to share it with all of you. :)

First, I just started my love affair with vinyl! Yep, VINYL.
What can I say, there's SO much you can do with it. Decorate your walls, glasses/cups, windows, design wall decor, make signs. The possibilities are ENDLESS. And dare I even mention Heat Transfer Vinyl??? Oh my, I will have to save that for another day. ;)

So here I am, a newbie at working with vinyl, and I wanted to share with you one of my very first projects I did with it. I am going to go step-by-step in this tutorial on how to apply vinyl and hopefully shed some light on this product that you may be hesitant to try and work with, to show that it truly isn't difficult to use (even for the beginner like me!), and can become **addicting** very quickly. ;)

This past weekend was my daughter's 2nd birthday party. Naturally, I had been planning it for 3+ months, and decided on making it an Ice Cream Parlour themed party. (Yes, I chose Ice Cream in the middle of winter, haha!). I thought it would be super cute to make a Menu Board with the ice cream flavors & toppings! And the first thing that popped into my head was -VINYL!- I needed a board to make the menu board from, so I went to Home Depot and found an awesome 24 inch by 24 inch plain white board for only, get this..... $1.97!! Ummm, can't beat that! So quickly I swooped that bad boy up and whisked away home with my awesome find. My next task was to find some GOOD vinyl. As previously stated, I am a newbie with vinyl so I did my research. A LOT of research. I came across a few brands mentioned often, one of them being Expressions Vinyl, and it just so happens that they are always looking for people to work with their vinyl and to write up a blog about what you did with it.
Ummm....HECK YEAH! Me me me me me!!
So  -check! Expressions Vinyl brand it was for the vinyl I wanted to use. You guys. They have a HUGE variety of vinyl! I was like a kid in a candy shop. I kid you not, I wanted it all. Haha. But I decided on choosing a range of adhesive vinyl they have to offer. Some plain vibrant colors, some polka-dot, some GLITTER. Oh man. The glitter. Ah-Mazing. Love love love. when I got the vinyl in the mail (super fast shipping by the way. I believe their typical shipping is 3 days), I instantly took to cutting my vinyl and getting my project under way.

First, let's start with all of the supplies you will need.
1) A cutting machine. I have a Silhouette Cameo and a Cricut Expression. I prefer my Cameo, so that's what I used for this project.
2) Expressions Vinyl vinyl
3) A white board or similar
4) Transfer paper or Transfer tape - I used Cricut Transfer tape, it works great!
5) Scissors
6) A burnishing tool or even just a credit card
7) Weeding tool or a similar pick

Supplies & Tools needed

I have a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine (that I'm also in love with) where I designed what I wanted my board to look like. Here is what I came up with:

My design in Silhouette Studio
Next, it was time to start cutting the vinyl! Woo hoo!

My first cut! Glitter pink, of course. ;)

This is what it looks like after the vinyl has been cut. It's kind of hard to see, I should have used better light. Sorry about that!

After the vinyl has just been cut

I like to cut out my words from the remaining vinyl so I can save what isn't being used. Like so:

Now it's time to weed the vinyl. To weed vinyl means to remove/get rid of any vinyl you don't need or want for your project. So in this case, I will be removing all of the vinyl from around the words/letters. Here are some pictures of me weeding out the word "coconut":

Start at the edge with your pick, and peel up the vinyl that you are wanting to remove.

Grab the vinyl with your fingers and slowly peel it away from the backing, making sure your letters stay stuck to the backing and doesn't pull away with the vinyl you are removing.

Sometimes you need to start on the opposite end if the other side is giving you problems, like it did for me.
Make sure the vinyl you are removing doesn't touch they vinyl that you need for your project, or else it will come up off of the backing.

Here I have weeded out the outside of the vinyl from the word coconut. Now I need to remove the vinyl from the inside of the Os.

Carefully and slowly take your pick and peel away the inside.

And here you have the word "coconut"
Here are a few other pictures of me weeding other images:

With larger pieces like this, I have found it easiest to do sections at a time. So start weeding one area, then take your scissors and cut the vinyl off. Then move on to the next area and do the same.

Now that you have all of your words/letters/images weeded, it's time to transfer your vinyl from it's backing to your project. I forgot to take pictures of the next important part, sorry about that, but make sure you prep your surface that you want to put your vinyl on before transferring it. With many surfaces, it's as easy as taking some rubbing alcohol to the surface and wiping it down thoroughly, then let it dry completely. 

Next step is taking your transfer tape/paper and placing it on top of your vinyl. Transfer tape will look similar to vinyl, in that it has two layers to it. The actual tape itself, and the backing. You will want to peel the tape away from the backing, revealing the tape's sticky side. I think transfer tape is pretty magical. Haha! If it curls up from being pulled away from the backing, have no fear! It can stick to itself and be pulled apart easily and it won't be ruined in any way. When I first used transfer tape I thought I completely ruined it when it curled in on itself. :P But it came apart easily and I have since learned that transfer tape can be used over and over again until it just doesn't quite stick to the vinyl any more. Here are a few pictures on how to use transfer tape:

Here I cut out a piece of transfer paper almost the exact size/shape of the vinyl that I want to transfer.

I forgot to take a picture of me peeling the backing away from the transfer tape, but in this picture, I am laying the transfer tape right on top of my vinyl. (remember that the vinyl is still on it's backing)

Laying the transfer tape carefully on top of the vinyl making sure to try not to get any air bubble in between the transfer tape and vinyl.

Next, I like to take my burnishing tool and burnish (rub) lightly over the transfer tape to make sure I get any air bubbles out from between the 2 layers, and to make sure the transfer tape is sticking to the vinyl.

Now it's time to take the vinyl off from it's backing. Take ahold of the transfer tape and slowly peel back the vinyl from it's backing. The vinyl should stick to the transfer tape and easily come off of the backing. You should now have the entire word/image of vinyl on your transfer paper and the backing is now free of any vinyl and can be thrown away. Your vinyl should now have it's sticky side showing, so be careful not to touch it. 

Find the place you want to put your vinyl on and we're now going to place it down.
Lay it down slowly, one side at a time and sort of roll it down, trying to not get any air bubbles between your surface and the vinyl.
Next, take your burnishing tool and rub over the transfer paper and vinyl to get out any air bubbles and to help the vinyl stick to your surface. Try rubbing in all different directions.

burnish/rub your vinyl down

Now it's time to peel the transfer tape away from the vinyl. Take the edge of the transfer tape and pull back slowly. 
Try to roll the transfer tape back as close to the surface as possible. This will make it easier to take the tape off without the vinyl coming up off of the surface you're wanting to adhere it to.
Have I mentioned "slowly" yet?? ;)
Ta-Da!!!!! You have now successfully transferred your first vinyl! ;)

Now that wasn't too bad, right?? It may look like a bunch of steps, but that's because I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything important that might make it a thousand times easier to work with vinyl. Once you do it the first time, you will see that it's totally easy and becomes something you can do pretty fast. And you'll want to do it ALL THE TIME, if you're anything like me. Haha! Here are a few pictures of my finished project!

Do you see how SPARKLY it is!!!??? :D

And here is the menu board, completed and displayed at my daughter's birthday party. :)

I hope you enjoyed my little project and tutorial on how to work with vinyl. Believe it or not, I just barely touched the tip of the iceberg on how to work with vinyl. There are a lot more tips, tricks and uses for it, so I will have to have more tutorials!! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I will try to answer as best as I can (still a newbie here). ;)

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