How to Sublimate Mugs

this page may contain affiliate links.

One of the things that got me interested in sublimation was the ability to make mugs that could be ran through the dishwasher. For someone who doesn't even drink coffee, making mugs is one of my favorite things.

In the beginning it was hit or miss to get consistent good quality. I messed up so many mugs before I got it down. I don't want you to waste the time and money that I did. So I am going to share with you how I make mugs.

First lets start with what you need.

If you missed the post Sublimation Necessities What You Really Need you will need a mug coated for sublimation. Sorry, Dollar Tree mugs will not work for sublimation. I have added a link to where I purchase my mugs below. You will also need a mug press or a convection oven and mug wraps. You can get the convection over at any large retail store. I got this one from Walmart.                                                            

You can find mug wraps where you find sublimation mugs. I use Coastal Business Supplies to order my mugs. They arrive within 3 days and shipping is reasonable. I don't use mug wraps I have this mug press. I bought it to test out and the plan was to upgrade but its been 3 years and its still going strong. 

Heat tape is your friend. I came from doing vinyl and I thought surely you don't need specific tape. trust me you need specific tape. This is what happened when I used non heat tape. 

The perfect image size is about 3X3 if your image is not a complete square just make the largest size 3 inches. Tape all around the image. At first I just taped the top and bottom enough to hold it in place. That was not a good idea. It allows for some shifting and doesn't give you a good clear image. 

If you're using a mug press, press at 400 degrees for 4 minutes. Immediately peel the image off. I then set the mug in front of a fan to help it cool down. Some people place it in water. I don't for 2 reasons. Water is messy and I don't want to have to dry the mug off before shipping it and it also causes micro cracks that weakens the mug so when your customer is using it, it could break completely. I don't want my customers to be covered in hot coffee, so a fan it is. The purpose of the  fan is to stop the sublimation process. As long as its still at 400ish degrees it is processing. This leaves a ghosting or shadow effect around the image. The fan cools its down faster and stops the effect. So you get a good clean sharp image.

If you are using a convection oven using a heat thermometer inside get the oven up to 400 degrees and place your mug with the image taped down and the wrap firmly placed around the mug. Bake it for 12-13 minutes. Then peel the wrap and image off and place in front of a fan. 

I am happy to answer any question you have about sublimation or take suggestions on future topics. You can leave them in the comments below.

Happy Crafting. 



Sublimation Necessities What You Really Need

You've been thinking about getting into sublimation and its all so confusing and you don't know where to really start. You aren't even sure what all you will need. I am here to break it down I'm going to tell you what are the necessities and even tell you exactly what I'm using.Some links are affiliate links and if you purchase I get a small portion back at no extra cost  to you. These are the products that I currently use.

First and foremost you need a printer. I'll go into more details about options and costs in another post but unless you are going to buy transfers from someone you're going to need a way to print your designs. I use this exact printer. It has been converted from printing regular ink to printing sublimation ink.

You'll need sublimation ink. There are lots of good brands that we'll go into later but this is the ink Iuse.

You'll need sublimation paper. It is what helps the magic happen. Just a heads up don't freak out that the image color looks faint. Once it heats up on the substrate it looks bright. Here is the paper I use.

Here is the paper fresh off the printer and a picture of a shirt fresh off the press. 

You'll need a substrate (fancy word for sublimation blank) Remember your substrate has to be a high poly count or have a poly coating.

Blow out paper. If you are coming over from vinyl you know you cover the item you are pressing with a teflon sheet. You don't use teflon in sublimation because it traps in the moisture and moisture is the enemy of sublimation. I use packing paper from walmart its in the section with the bubble wrap
boxes. I put one on the base of my press and one over the item that im pressing. The bottom one is not mandatory but I just like the extra protection. I don't change that one after every press. The top sheet I change after every press.

A heat press. You have to heat the ink to 400 degrees. In some cases you can get away with 380 the press has to be uniform so an iron really won't work to get a good image.

If you are wanting to pres on mugs you will either need a mug press or a convection oven and mug wraps. This is the convection oven that I use.                                                                                                                                                          

Heat Tape and/or repositioning spray. I use heat tape 99% of the time It hold your paper down and keeps it from shifting and causing uneven printing and ghosting. I also sometimes use 505 spray. Its available in the sewing section at walmart. This is the tape I use.

There you go the necessities of sublimation and the exact materials that I use. If you have any topic that you want me to cover leave them in the comments.


Sublimation Basics: Pros and Cons

So you want to try your hand at sublimation. I love subbing. Its 99% of what my shops are. You can visit them here and here. If you are feeling overwhelmed and aren't sure this is for you, rest assured I am here to help.

So What is sublimation?
Its a printing process that uses special ink on special paper that allows you to decorate t shirts, coffee mugs, pillows, key chains, just to name a few. Basically, anything that is made of poly or has a poly coating. The possibilities are limitless.  Its really great if you want to do full color (minus white) images without having to cut and weed a bunch of vinyl.

 The Pros of Sublimation.  
Its quicker to do orders. No more waiting for your vinyl cutter to cut the vinyl, then weeding and then pressing. You print, place and press.

When pressed on an item with a high poly count 65% or above with 100% being optimal the image will not crack, fade, or peel. It will last as long as the item you pressed it to.

The Cons of Sublimation  
Designs will be low quality or non existent when pressed onto a low poly count item. You can't press onto a cotton shirt.

Because the process literally dyes the fabric with the ink you can't sublimate on dark color items. No black tshirts. You have to have items lighter than the colors you are using. I love using athletic gray shirts.

If you make a mistake you can't reheat and peel to fix it like you would with vinyl. Once its pressed its permanent. So make sure there is no stray flecks of ink on your paper before you press.

You need a heat press the reaction required to turn the ink into a gas to print onto the substrate (the sublimation blank)  has to get to 400 degrees.

If you have any questions I am happy to answer them just leave me a comment below.

Well hello there...where I've been and what the future looks like

Yeah, I know, Ive been gone over a year. I've had a lot going on and truthfully I just wasn't having fun here. It felt like a chore and I didn't like that at all.
  • One kid graduated high school, moved out, started college
  • one kid graduated middle school, started high school, and started a million extra curricular activities. 
  • I adopted a french bulldog named Hank. (long story short I was at a flea market and a breeder was getting rid of him because he was infertile and "useless to him" If someone didn't take him he would have been put down. He was young and hyper and drove my two senior dogs crazy.
  • So I adopted a Pit Bull (Sophie Ann) to keep the Frenchie entertained. Which she does. But going from having small dogs that I can carry around to, a hurricane made out of bricks, like I lovingly refer to her had its learning curve. She thinks she is the same size as her siblings which is what lead to her being referred to as a hurricane made of bricks. Shes super sweet and definitely keeps the Frenchie occupied. 
  • Cat Hair and Glitter the shop is doing well. There are chunks of time I'm so busy I have to put the kids to work. So it of course made sense to start a second shop.
  • Olivia Beth Boutique (The girls middle names) This shop is mostly home decor pillow and it will soon have framed wall signs and personalized decorative candles. Its still a brand new shop but its already showing promise. 
  • I started to make a crafting YouTube channel and recorded a couple of videos and quickly realized I hate editing them and don't want to edit. So that's on hold. 
  • Haunted Family Podcast my paranormal true crime podcast is doing well. We've hit a snag with our weekly recording but out daily downloads are going up every week. 
  • I got Lyme disease again. It sucked just as much the second time.
  • I started training for a 10K race. Its in late September which should be super hot and humid in Ky.
  • I started re watching Gilmore Girls again and picked up so many things I missed the last two times since I've actually been to several of these places now. 
  • I decided I want to move to New England when Em graduates from high school. Preferably Connecticut (we've joked about it being Lyme Connecticut) but we'll see. My job can actually only be done here so that will have to be thought about. 
Now, for what the future holds.  I am hoping to blog at least a couple times a week. I'd like to mostly do what I would have done on the YouTube channel. So you will see whatever I'm currently crafting. It may not be for everyone but I'll make it as entertaining as I can. I have meetings and site visits and its opening week for the musical Emmy is in (Legally Blonde) Hank is also in it, he is playing Rufus. so expect a new post next Monday.
Holly Grass. Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top