Sublimation, or sublimation printing, can easily be confused with other types of printing and isn’t necessarily the best choice when you need to print on breakable items such as glass or ceramic. However, it does work on these materials when the right materials are used and when the right precautions are taken during the process.
You can sublimate any design that you want onto a wine glass by following these nine simple steps. The design will be transferred onto the surface of the glass, meaning that it will be printed permanently onto it and that it won’t rub off over time.
Preparing your glass
It’s no secret that drinking wine is a relaxing experience, but did you know that swirling wine while it’s in your glass actually has a scientific purpose? It’s called agitation. If you swirl it around just right—no need to go crazy—you can help create more of what winemakers call a bouquet.
As opposed to simply smelling your glass of wine, which only stimulates one section of your olfactory receptors, agitating releases aromas and scents from all around in order to give you a more well-rounded aromatic experience. It also enhances flavor and smoothness, among other things.
Cleaning the glass surface
Start by applying alcohol to a cloth and wiping down both sides of your glass. If you need to remove more difficult stains, dilute 1 part vinegar with 2 parts water. Rinse off your glass, being careful not to get any liquids into the etching area if it’s on one side of your wine glass.
Dry with a clean cloth. Because of their thinness, some glasses can be wiped without using a cloth—just use enough pressure that you don’t cause damage to either yourself or your wine glass.
And in case you were wondering: no, using soap and water is never an appropriate way to clean a wine glass (unless you like terrible tasting wine). Soap residue left behind can react with acids and other compounds in wine, altering its taste and bouquet.
Related: Can you Sublimate Wine Glasses?
Installing the film
Make sure your wine glass is clean and clear of debris. You might have to rinse it with a little warm water if you notice grime or residue. If there’s still a small bubble stuck to your glass, just cut around it with a pair of scissors.
Once you have everything ready, take one edge of your film and start applying it to your glass starting from about an inch above where you want to stop. Smooth out any air bubbles as you go along.
Fitting the design template
Now, once you’ve selected your design template, it’s time to place it on your wine glass. If possible, use a level to make sure that you are keeping things straight. If you are placing a design on both sides of a wine glass, repeat step two for each side. Otherwise, continue onto step three.
Cutting out your design
It’s important to transfer your design onto your glass with accuracy and precision. When you’re ready to begin, lay your glass on a flat surface and make sure it is clean and free of any debris. If you need to wash it, wipe away any water immediately after so that you do not accidentally smudge your design.
As you trace along your lines with a pencil, it is important that you do not skip or leave any spaces between dots; if you make a mistake, simply erase it immediately and begin again at an intersecting point so as not to ruin your design completely.
Applying the sticker to your wine glass
You need a sticker, tape and a bottle of water. Hold the sticker in one hand and use your other hand to pour some water onto it. This will slightly soften up its edges and make it easier to apply to your glass.
After you have done that, simply place it at any point on your wine glass, making sure not to cover any important details like logos or pictures.
Make sure you place it straight; if you’re having trouble with sticking it onto your wine glass correctly, run a little bit of water over its surface again—this should help get rid of all air bubbles between your sticker and wine glass. When done correctly, your sublimated sticker should be set firmly into place!
Removing bubbles with heat gun
Plastic materials, such as acrylic and polyester, tend to be very sticky. If you use any sharp edge or tool without a protective sleeve to remove excess material around an etched design, you could end up scratching or gouging your wine glass.
For best results and a beautifully finished product, wait until your etched design is complete to remove excess material.
Use fine grit sandpaper.: Be sure to choose a fine grit sandpaper for your final step in sublimation (anything with a 600-grit or higher rating should work well). Don’t use anything too abrasive; you might risk scratching your wine glass’s surface.
Remove excess material with a hobby knife.
Though we’re all about simplicity, there are a few things you need to know before you can get started. First, remove any excess material from your glass by using a hobby knife and cutting in a circular motion.
Try to keep as much of your design showing through as possible; it will give you something to guide your writing with later on. When you’re done, wash off any remaining residue with soap and water and dry off your glass before moving on to step two!
Sealing your design with sealant.
Once you are done designing your wine glass, and are satisfied with how it looks, you can seal it. We recommend using a good quality sealant that will keep your design on there for as long as possible. You’ll want to follow all of their instructions on application of their sealant so that you get a nice and even coat.
This process is not very difficult, but it does take some time. Be patient because once it dries you can use it over and over again!
The process of glass sublimation is a very fine art, that requires a lot of attention and patience to get right. This basic guide will hopefully provide you with enough information to make sure that your first attempts go well.
Even if you’re happy with your design, it can still be a good idea to follow these steps each time; mistakes are an inherent part of all artistic processes. So don’t expect every design you do to come out perfect, even though practice makes perfect!