Once you have access to a Vinyl cutter, your mind can work in a different way. Like when you have a 3D printer and you know you can design and 3D print items. Meaning, creating inventions that will solve a problem or make something work better. It’s about having the right tools. Here’s what I did to update a “bumper” sticker.
Replacing the MOM text. Measuring the text height of the original sticker.
The car had 2 stickers. University of Minnesota MOM and University of IL MOM and for one year, it was kinda true. Now that the University of IL son graduated in 2017 and the University of MN son is still on campus but with the car, it was time for a decal update.
I removed the University of IL decal. And since MOM was no longer the primary driver of this silver car… what would be a good 3 letter word to use to replace MOM? Son? Kid? He’s not a kid. He is a student. But that’s too long of a word. How about MAN? It’s a 3 letter word and only 2 letters different than MOM. It’s correct and appropriate. So I cleaned off the MOM part of the sticker. And vinyl cut a couple different fonts of the word MAN, all in uppercase like MOM.
Removed the word MOM
Created replacement words and tried a couple of different fonts.
I used a Silhouette Cameo to cut the white vinyl.
It wasn’t up to me to put the sticker on. I gave my son (who isn’t really a kid anymore, the (decal) options (2 different fonts of the word MAN) and it was up to him to put it on the car. To my surprise, he did, rather quickly.
So now it just means it no longer looks like he’s driving around his Mom’s car. But there is a sense of pride along with it also.
It is time to re-caulk the shower stall so I wonder what tools I could 3D print to help with that job. Since the first step is to remove the old caulk, let’s start with that. Home Depot has a plastic tool.
I don’t need to buy that, I can make my own. But this gives me an idea for my first design. Next let’s see if there are any caulking tools on Thingiverse.
Search results for the word “caulk”
No tools for removing caulk so I will design one using TinkerCad.com. A handheld tool that can dig out caulk along the tile on one end of the tool and a flat end tool to get under the old caulk. Later, we will look at what other caulk related objects appeared on Thingiverse.
First iteration only took 47 minutes to print.
Using the first tool, I discovered it was too short and the end was digging into my palm since I had to apply force when trying to remove the caulk. So for the second iteration, I made the tool longer and tried to round the end part that would be touching my palm. The red version took one hour and 18 minutes to print.
Pointed end for digging out old caulk
The Thingiverse search results came up with plugs/caps for the tube mostly and some organizers to keep the tubes in order. There was no reason to 3D print a plug because there is nothing as perfect and simple as a roofing nail to keep caulk out of the tip and plug the end nicely. So I ignored those items on Thingiverse. I wasn’t organizing the workbench with several tubes of caulk so can skip those designs. But what was left was the smoothing tools. To be honest, this was kind of my first caulking job so I watched youtube videos before I started the project. The smoothing tools did come in handy to have. I would still wet them first as I would have my finger to go over the seam. But I was glad I didn’t have to use my finger and had the tool instead.
So in the end, having a tool like a 3D printer to print other tools does come in handy. You won’t be seeing the results of the actual caulk job. It’s too ugly. That’s not what I want to share for this project. As far as lessons learned and how I would do the job differently next time, I would a) keep the tip of the caulk tube smaller and b) wipe away the lumpy caulk immediately and try again.
The pointy ends held up fine. The slanted ends were starting to wear.
My inspiration for making rose decals was a funeral for someone that was a master flower gardener. I was thinking having a nice subtle but pretty rose decal for the car would be a way to remember them. I have also 3D printed roses in the past and know 3 people that have Rose in their name.
Finding the Right Rose
I have been working on creating more than one color decals so they can work on any colored surface, but even with “registration marks”, it isn’t easy. Lining up the vinyl is a skill that will have to be developed over time with practice. For example, I have found that the registration marks have been coming off or lifting with the vinyl. So I have to take extra care or try different sizes and placement until I establish a successful method.
are marks on the outside of the design that can be trimmed later. They are used for aligning additional layers on the decal.
Searching for free clip art of black and white roses is a good place to start. Find the design that is not too intricate but still looks like a rose.
This rose is a bit too intricate and the leaves would require green vinyl (which I don’t have) and the lines are very thin. So this is not a good rose to start with, when learning how to vinyl cut.
This rose is a little better but the lines get tight in the inner circle. And again, there are leaves so green vinyl would be needed if going with realistic color scheme.
Learn By Doing
When I try a new project, I can’t expect it to be perfect the first time. Repeating the process helps with learning and improving technique. What I learned with this project is that the rose is better as a single color . I tried wrapping a rounded circle around the rose but all that does it create an outer box and in my opinion, that does not make for a pretty decal. (If you are going for pretty like when it comes to flowers.)
Lift the vinyl carefully to ensure the vinyl that needs to stay attached, does.
I thought that putting a rounded box around the flower, would be a way to have a perimeter that provides for easy cutting out of the flower. But in reality, the beauty of the flower decal is to let it just be on it’s own and appear as a simple flower. I DO NOT RECOMMEND an outline box if it distracts from the beauty. A better option is to work with the “offset” property in Silhouette Studio, when that works. It depends on the image.
I created a variety of sizes by scaling up or down just a bit since I wasn’t sure exactly where it was going to be used yet and to give myself options.
So this is the rose that I thought looked best. The image was a bit fuzzy but Silhouette Studio had no trouble outlining the image to create the outline. I placed it on the glass of my rear side window. I do not have experience yet with how long the vinyl stickiness will last or if it will do damage to the paint of the car so I decided to put the decal on the window so I know I could always scrape it off with a razor if necessary.
It’s like a temporary tattoo for my car. I like it. A decal makes my care unique and easier to find in the parking lot.
Stop by on a Thursday night between 7 and 9pm to talk about your decal ideas.
Have a slew of old parts that you saved for making the new thing.
Are well beyond making a macaroni necklace but still prefer to hand make gifts. (Build rather than buy)
Are an EXTREME crafter that learns new tricks by watching you tube videos but you don’t always have the equipment at home to pull it off.
Are retired and want to start working on those projects that you have been meaning to get to but a job kept getting in the way.
Like to tinker, invent or build software.
Are interested in home automation and being your own big brother.
Like to solve problems by inventing a new device as your own private solution.
Are creative looking for an outlet of multiple mediums, metal, wood, 3D Printing and laser etching.
You could need space, if you …..
Are an apartment dweller that has limited space for tools like a table saw, drill press or laser cutter.
Need a reason to get out of the house once in a while and socialize with other people with shared interests?
If you don’t have a basement, now you can.
Moved to the area recently and need to expand your social surroundings.
Your she shed burned down but your insurance didn’t cover the replacement.
Don’t have all the tools you need, and you don’t want to buy and store them yourself.
You can make a mess, and you have to clean up after yourself, but at least you won’t be getting sawdust in your house.
The Space is a community
Online or in-person, there’s a place for asking questions or offering help from people that have similar experiences or different knowledge that may provide a perspective you had not considered.
Active members show up on Thursday nights to work on their own projects and to see who stops by to share their project.
Working with other people side by side, there are opportunities to learn how the right tool can make a job so much easier.
Members use Online communications using slack.com with channels for various topics of interest. You don’t have to leave the house to share ideas or get advice on a project when you reach a roadblock.
The dictionary defines makerspace as: a place in which people with shared interests, especially in computing or technology, can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge. Workshop 88 is a community space where you can make stuff and share ideas. Stop by any Thursday evening from 7pm-9pm for a workshop tour to see for yourself.
I joined Workshop 88 in December of 2016. I have been 3D printing since June of 2014. I have worked with machines and computers my entire career.
3D Printed Coasters
Coasters are one of my specialties when it comes to 3D printing. So once I got my hands on the Workshop 88 logo, I just had to make it into coasters. The challenge was how to print with 3 different colors. It helped to have a dual nozzle 3D printer. I started with white filament and when the blue 88 portion started, it was time to pause the printer and change the white filament to red.
I wish I had more pictures of the cookies I made, but fortunately they were eaten. The cookies, not the pictures.
Since there was so much work involved in the post production to add the logo, I started with the Pillsbury Sugar Cookie Dough cookie dough in a roll, rather than make cookie dough from scratch.
This was an attempt at a cookie cutter. The 88s were just too complex to release the cookie dough. I 3D printed about 6 other variations, changing the size and design.
For the red, upper crown part, I attempted to color the dough with red food coloring. And then I froze the dough to try and make it stronger and easier to work with. I also added red sprinkles to the top part. This made the 3D printed part more of stencil to hold them in before baking.
The final version ended up acting as a stencil for spraying on the blue color of the logo. Notice the top part, the red part was covered, so that the spray would not cover that part.
Be forewarned, the spray went all over. You may not see it at first, but wipe the area and you will discover it. Find a good place. But in the end, using the spray and the stencil produced the best results. (The color mist was available at WalMart.)
Making a Workshop 88 Sign
Workshop 88 has been known to be a bit difficult to find. So I thought I would make a sign to put out on Pennsylvania Ave during open houses to help people find the workshop. If you wonder why I didn’t just go buy one, then you do not think like a maker.
Iteration 1 – Laser Cutter
I thought it would be nice to use the Laser Cutter and some poster board to create the first sign. This would keep the sign light and I wouldn’t have to manually cut out a bunch of letters. I used foam board from Dollar Store and poster board I had lying around. Unfortunately, I didn’t think about what would happen on the rainy Thursday nights the sign would be out so I continued creating. Also, I discovered the logo I was using was the older version. So I ended up putting the sign on the glass of the door of the workshop so that if any visitors stopped by when nobody was around, they would still be notified to come back on a Thursday evening.
Iteration 2 – 3D Printed Parts on Yard Sign
Of course, I went straight to what I know, and attempted to 3D print out all of the parts of the sign. This of course made the sign quite heavier than it needed to be. Not the mention the coats of paint I added to cover up the original sign. But I did learn a few techniques along the way. I think I got better at printing flat letters inside a flat layer. I also learned that my 3D printer could use some design improvements, or precision improvements, but that is for another day.
Iteration 3 – Vinyl Cutter
The final method involved learning to use the Vinyl Cutter. It’s a good thing learning how to use new equipment is something I enjoy and enhances my resources for future projects. I was motivated to make another sign because I needed one for the 3D printing class at Workshop 88. This version is sleek and clean since it only provides the information needed. I relied on brand recognition for this version, since “Workshop” is not carved out in the red part. Stay tuned to this blog for more projects using the Vinyl Cutter.
What do you want to make?
Do you own your own business and want to make a few trinkets with your logo? Stop by on a Thursday evening for our open house for a tour and a friendly discussion to share ideas. Thanks for reading.
My son and I were planning a trip to visit one of his friends that was working at a hostel in Bergen Norway. He wanted to bring “them” gifts and give me the opportunity to make something. I was open to the proposal and exuberant with ideas. Did I want to 3D print some stuff and bring it? I have 3D printed plenty of stuff for his friends in the past but keeping in mind I was only bringing a carry on suitcase (wanted to travel light) and Workshop88 recently acquired a heat press, I decided to make bandannas. Bandannas are light and thin and would be easy to pack.
But why does it look so strange to have two “n”s in bandanna? Is that spelled correctly? Let’s see what google has to say. Google says the dictionary knows how to spell it but advertisers don’t or maybe they are just going with the most common spelling that is searched. Meaning most people don’t know that there are 2 n’s together. Maybe it looks strange because it is not spelled like a banana.
Creating the Design
At times, people have labeled me as a Graphic Designer. I never claimed to be. But I do enjoy certain aspects of designing and that feeling you get when you just know something is right. So I can be creative, but I still justify it with “creative for a techie”. I was out of town while working on the design so had some time to ponder and try out a few iterations. I offered up a few designs to m son and he picked one. It was ok, but I felt I could do better so I kept thinking. I had an idea but I first had to figure out how to re-create the Wheaties look. I reviewed some Wheaties boxes to see specific visuals from the text. I was using inkscape since I was away from my desktop with my Adobe elements software. This gave me the opportunity to get better at inkscape and learn how to stretch the letters without distorting them too much. Skew didn’t do it. I ended up using Path->Path Effects and adding (click on +) Envelope Deformation. This youtube video on warping helped me accomplish the goal. So building off of the Wheaties cereal logo and doing a sort of flip perspective for the word Norway, I obtained the final design. Adding the year is a good practice for this particular type of memorabilia piece. I did not however, sign the work with my logo which I usually do with my 3D print items.
The Color Scheme
Initially I was thinking I would use white bandannas so the design would be visible but that would interfere with the Wheaties word needing to be white (like on the cereal boxes). Once I got back in town, I started shopping and ended up at Hobby Lobby. They had plenty of plain bandannas to pick from so orange was the best since that was the color of a Wheaties box and one of the Wheaton college school colors. Norway is blue since that is the other Wheaton college color.
Vinyl Cut Heat Transfer
I must admit, it wasn’t easy cutting the vinyl. I had to give myself time and practice to get it right. The N and the O were from a separate vinyl cut because I ended piecing good parts together.
Heat Transfer Vinyl and Vinyl Cutter
When making decals using the vinyl cutter, the letters can be frontwards, as you see them. But when cutting vinyl for heat transfer, the shinny side will be down so the lettering has to be flipped horizontally so it is in reverse. Then the heat press goes over the shiny film (after the extra has been “weeded”). (Weeding is the process of removing the vinyl part that is not needed.) After the first 20 seconds of heat applied, you can slowly remove the clear plastic, without removing the letters if done right.
Tri-Color Applied Together
Even though I was using 3 different colors, none of the colors overlapped so I didn’t have to create a cut out to avoid overlap but I did have to trim the plastics so they all fit together without overlap of the plastic parts. You wouldn’t want to apply multiple color transfer vinyls on top of each other.
Heat press left a dark square but that seemed to go away after a while.
I also made decals for them. They are vinyl cut, weeded and transfer tape applied. So to use, tear off the white backing, apply the sticker and gently rub the letters to ensure they adhere to the surface. Then slowly remove the transfer tape. They are decals because they are vinyl and will work outdoors. If they were made from paper, I would call them stickers.
The trip to Norway went well and they loved their bandannas. I’m hoping they take a group picture with the bandannas so I can post it here. In the mean time, here’s the most picturesque scene I captured on the train going from Oslo to Bergen.
A painting pyramid is used to elevate a work piece off of your workbench after painting to allow the work to dry. These pyramids are stackable, for easy storage between use. Additionally, these are way cheaper to print than to buy in a store.
If you do painting or staining of your projects, you should try out these painting pyramids. Share your work with us – we love to see other people’s projects!