Wednesday, November 6, 2019

How To Make Personalized Gifts With Cricut Maker and Aluminum Sheets

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

There's nothing so sweet as a handmade gift during the holidays. Whether it's a hand-drawn card from a child, a set of crocheted dish cloths or a festively wrapped package of homemade cookies, a thoughtfully prepared gift beats a store-bought gift any day. Having a Cricut Maker gives you an advantage in the handmade gifts department, with endless opportunities to make cute personalized gifts that speak to the interests and characters of the recipients.

My husband is a music lover (and he's got the guitar collection to prove it). He has snagged a little room in the basement - a bit of a man cave if you will - in which to hang out with his guitars, plug in his amp and blast out some tunes. I thought I'd use Cricut's new engraving tool on an aluminum sheet to make him a personalized sign or door plaque for his little music "studio." I'm going to show you how to do it, in case you have a music lover in your family too. Of course, you can engrave any names, images or words onto the aluminum sheet, so this gift works for those who love dance, cooking, dogs or anything else!

How to use Infusible Ink on aluminum sheets

Before I explain how to make an engraved personalized sign or door plaque, I want to show you how  you can further personalize Cricut's aluminum sheets with Infusible Ink. Looking at the aluminum sheets, you wouldn't expect it to work, but they hold the Infusible Ink beautifully. 

Materials needed to transfer Infusible Ink to an aluminum sheet

lint-free cloth

For this example of how you can apply Infusible Ink to an aluminum sheet, I'm using a generic background shape. You could also use a shape available in Cricut Design Space - maybe a rectangle or a circle - or choose from available images. You could also add somebody's name to the aluminum sheet in Infusible Ink. Whatever shapes/images/words you use, ensure they are set to cut, as you'll be cutting them from the Infusible Ink transfer sheet.

Once you have sized your image to fit the aluminum sheet, click the green "Make It" button.

IMPORTANT: On the cut preview screen, be sure to toggle the switch next to "Mirror" to mirror the iron-on image. Click "Continue."

Browse materials and type in "Infusible Ink." Use the default setting of the regular fine-point blade.

IMPORTANT: Place the Cricut Infusible Ink transfer sheet with the liner side down on the StandardGrip cutting mat (coloured pattern facing up). Be sure to apply it smoothly, leaving no bumps. Use a brayer if necessary.

Load the mat into the Cricut Maker. Hit "Go."

Once cutting is complete, unload the mat from your Cricut Maker. Carefully remove the Infusible Ink transfer sheet from the mat, pulling the mat away from the material as you go. With clean, dry hands, weed away the unneeded materials, leaving only your Infusible Ink design (still on the backing material).

How to apply your Infusible Ink design to aluminum

Remove both film liners from the aluminum sheet. The side with a clear film lining is the only side compatible with Infusible Ink. Remove the gold liner first. Cricut recommends placing a strip of heat-resistant tape on this side of the aluminum to remind yourself this is the non-image side. Remove clear liner. This is the image side of the aluminum.

Place the EasyPress mat on your work surface. Layer a piece of white cardstock on top to protect the mat. Place the aluminum sheet on top of the cardstock. Place your Infusible Ink design face down on the image side of the aluminum. Secure the design with heat resistant tape, avoiding the image area. Cover with clean butcher paper.

Set the correct time and temperature on the EasyPress 2 or EasyPress. Use Cricut's heat guide for guidance. On the heat guide screen, select the EasyPress you're using. Select the heat-transfer material - Infusible Ink transfer sheet. Select base material - Aluminum Sheet. Click "Apply."

For this project, using an EasyPress 2 and applying an Infusible Ink transfer sheet to aluminum, the heat guide recommends applying at 385°F for 40 seconds with no pressure. warm peel.

Preheat the EasyPress 2 to 385°F. Wipe the aluminum sheet with a lint-free cloth. Centre the EasyPress over the design and heat with no pressure at 385°F for 40 seconds. Lift press. Remove butcher paper.

IMPORTANT: Aluminum sheet will be very hot. Let cool completely before removing the design from the aluminum sheet.

I used a transfer sheet from the River's Edge set of Infusible Ink transfer sheets. I love the way the muted rocks appear on the aluminum sheet. I think this pattern would make a very cool border around an aluminum sign too. With a background like this, I think it would be great to apply vinyl lettering. 

How to use Cricut's engraving tool to engrave aluminum sheets

To create a music studio aluminum sign like mine, open the design in Cricut Design Space and modify to reflect your desired wording. Or, start a new project and insert the desired images/fonts. Set the elements of the design to engrave rather than cut.

Insert a square from the shapes in Cricut Design Space. Unlock the lock in the bottom left corner of the square and re-size the shape to match your aluminum sheet.  I  used a 5" x 7" aluminum sheet. The rectangle will help you size and place your image. Size the overall image to fit the aluminum sheet. Group and attach the elements (aside from the rectangle) before cutting.

Read Cricut's aluminum sheet engraving instructions for more details.

Click "Make It" to proceed to the project preview screen (above) and place the rectangle with the top left corner touching the 1" x 1" point on the screen. Shift the design to where you'd like it to engrave. Once it is placed, click on the rectangle, then select the handle with three dots in the upper left corner and choose "Hide Selected" (because you don't want to engrave the rectangle). Select "Continue."

Place the aluminum sheet on the StrongGrip mat with the top left corner touching the 1" x 1" point. Tape down all edges of the sheet with masking tape so that it does not shift during engraving. Do not tape over the areas that will be engraved. Ensure that you have inserted the engraving tool into your Cricut Maker. Proceed to engraving! Engraving on an aluminum sheet like this is surprisingly fast and easy. It would be fun to make an engraved aluminum sheet for a child's bedroom door, including their name and images of their favourite hobbies.

To make the engraved image more defined, use a dry erase marker. Colour over the images and wipe away the excess. 

Cricut Maker offers a wide range of tools for cutting, scoring, writing and adding decorative effects, allowing you to make personalized Christmas gifts that are cut, sewn, engraved or perforated, among other things. There are more tools coming too! Plus, Cricut Maker quickly and accurately cuts over 300 hundred materials, from paper and fabric to matboard and basswood.

See all the available Cricut Maker tools here, including the engraving tip. New tools like the debossing tip and the basic perforation blade can be bought with or without the QuickSwap housing. Once you have purchased the housing, you need only buy and switch out the tips, rather than the whole tool. It's as easy as pressing the quick-release button at the top of the housing and then snapping the desired tip into place. 

Questions for you

Do you have a music lover in your family? Or is there some other image that should adorn a personalized aluminum sign for your loved one? Do you like handmade or store-bought gifts best?

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