Hello and welcome back to the craft room and today’s Gamer Sublimation Coffee Mug post. As I have mentioned in the past, my crafting interests vary. My newest obsession is sublimation. For those of you that don’t know, sublimation is the process of heating a solid to a vapor so it will bond with a substrate. In the craft world, the solid item is ink and the substrate is a poly coated blank. This blank can be anything from polyester clothing to specially coated items like coffee mugs. Truly the list of sublimation blanks is endless, or seems so. I became interested in the process a few months ago. Christmas 2023 my husband spoiled me with the tools I needed to begin crafting sublimated items.
As with any specialized art form, there are specific tools that are needed, the first is a sublimation printer. Sublimation ink is different than regular printer ink and needs a specific type of printer. There are a few companies that have dedicated sublimation printers like Sawgrass, Brother, and Epson. I am no expert, however, I do know that these printers do not use heat in the printheads. Another popular way to break into the craft is to convert a brand new Epson Eco Tank printer. My husband was sweet enough to buy me an Epson SureColor F170 Sublimation printer. This printer is able to use both in both 8.5” x 11” and 8.5” x 14” paper sizes.
In order to create a fantastic sublimation print you need to have special paper. I have a box of A-Sub 125 gsm Sublimation Paper. It has a distinct print side, that almost feels chalky. There are a few different manufacturers of sublimation paper and they come in the smaller 8.5” x 11” size as well as large format sizes. I have also heard rumors that regular typing paper can be used with mixed results. Below is a picture of the A-sub paper that I use and so far love!
The last tool you need is a heat source. Again there are many different options depending on the type of blank you are using. I already have an HTVRont Auto Heat Press for apparel and flat items. My husband continued to spoil me at Christmas with the Vevor Pro Easy Mug Press. This one button machine is amazing! It has the ability to use five different temperature settings up to 395 degrees and a time range up to 100 seconds. The press comes set at 374 degrees for 80 seconds.
Sublimation Image Source
There are several websites where you can find sublimation images. My personal favorite and go-to site for not only sublimation designs, but also fonts and SVG files is Creative Fabrica. This website has everything you need for any project. I have used many of their fonts and SVG files in the last 10 months. Now I’m looking for amazing images for sublimation projects. If you are interested in checking them out, they have a one-month free trial with access to millions of fonts and graphics. You will also be able to download 10 high quality designs for free. Click on the banner below to sign up and give them a try.
Gamer Sublimation Coffee Mug
Now let’s get into today’s project! I wanted to create a coffee mug for my son. He has always loved video games, so the best graphic to use? A game controller! I found the perfect image on Creative Fabrica; 7 Colorful Game Controller PNG Clipart by Sabuydee Design.
I chose the controller and in Canva, sized it to fit a 15 oz. Cricut ceramic mug. After downloading the wrap image, it was printed on my Epson F170 printer on a piece of A-sub paper. One of the things that took me by surprise is how the images look when printed with sublimation ink. I think you can see in the image below, just how muted the colors look. I have seen a lot of first timers comment online about how off their prints look. You just have to trust the process!
Sublimation Blank Perpetration
One of the most important aspects of sublimation is prepping the blank. What ever substrate you are using must be clean. In the case of ceramic mugs, I clean them with 91% Isopropyl alcohol and a coffee filter. When the alcohol is dry I then use a lint roller to ensure the blank is perfectly clean. I then wrap the image around the mug and secure it well with heat resistant tape. I purchased Clear Heat Resistant Tape from Zonon on Amazon. Also from Amazon, I purchased a Purple Multi Roll Heat Tape Dispenser. When taping the image down, it must be tight to the blank to ensure a proper transfer of color. The last item needed before sublimating is butcher paper to cover your item. This step will protect your press from any of the gaseous ink that may come through the sublimation paper.
Now it’s time for the magic to happen! When the Vevor Pro Easy Mug Press is ready, carefully insert the mug, making sure to center the handle in the opening. The press will automatically shut and start the countdown. When it’s finished, carefully remove the mug and set it aside to cool.
I let my this mug sit for about 15 minutes to cool enough to handle it without the heat gloves. Let me show you the reveal video I created! It was difficult not to squeal like a kid on Christmas when I saw the finished look, but I wanted to keep the video as professional as possible.
It is not easy getting photographs of this mug, but here’s a close-up look at it. The colors are so rich and vibrant and it just makes me smile looking at it.
I am so happy with how this Gamer Sublimation Coffee Mug turned out, and my son loves it!! Have you tried your hands at sublimation yet? If so, do you get super excited when you see the final results? Let me know in the comments below. Until then have a fantastic week and I will see you back in the craft room again real soon!