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Custom Cut Vinyl in Frame Designs

Vermont Hardwoods solid wood picture frame molding

Mary Beth van der Horst

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Joined
Jan 28, 2020
Messages
117
Location
Myrtle Beach, SC
Hey guys, business has been going great since opening this April, and I've been having so much fun on my own! I recently had the chance to bust out my Cricut machine and get fancy on a couple of wedding related projects. I'm still cutting all my mats on an old C&H Advantage, and saving up for a CMC in a couple years, but it got me wondering... do any of you guys have a CMC that can cut vinyl? Sub question: if you do, how often do you use it? Third question: if you do, would you share something you had fun on? I'd love to open my mind to what can be done beyond my little text captions.

Also I'm wondering if it is worth it to save up for a CMC that can "do it all" or if I really just want to be able to cut fancy shapes again on my own and keep using the Cricut for those odd few projects? Opinions welcome!

For context: the first pic of the tabletop frame was an invitation we obscured the text block on--all the details changed because of Covid and we didn't want an unpleasant reminder. Thus the really strange shaped opening and the need to uh... "balance" it. It's not a real mat per say, since it had to be thin enough to cut and detail on the cricut. It's just cardstock accented with the black pen tool.

The second project is a 1st anniversary present (this husband is winning at romantic ideas!). They went with the Irish tradition of literally tying the knot with these cords. We included little snippets of their vows and the date in vinyl adhered to the top mat.
 

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Nikodeumus

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
943
Location
Comox, BC, Canada
Lovely designs Mary Beth.
I like the creative way you used the embellishment designs on the invitation.
The knot frame is also very good looking work.
👍

I'm curious about the vinyl. How does it attach to the matt/paper?
Does it come sticky on the reverse side, or do you apply glue? If you glue, what kind do you use, how is it applied?
I'm also curious, is it pressing on the glass of the frames? Will it stick to the glass over time?
 

Mary Beth van der Horst

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Thread starter
Joined
Jan 28, 2020
Messages
117
Location
Myrtle Beach, SC
Lovely designs Mary Beth.
I like the creative way you used the embellishment designs on the invitation.
The knot frame is also very good looking work.
👍

I'm curious about the vinyl. How does it attach to the matt/paper?
Does it come sticky on the reverse side, or do you apply glue? If you glue, what kind do you use, how is it applied?
I'm also curious, is it pressing on the glass of the frames? Will it stick to the glass over time?
You are too kind!

Yes the vinyl is self adhesive. It is cut while still on its "sticker backer paper." Once cut, you remove the negative portions of it. Then, using a clear semi-tacky Transfer paper (looks like contact paper), you can lift up the pieces of vinyl and position them, burnishing lightly so they adhere to the surface of the mat. Pull away the transfer paper and just the vinyl should remain. Its a little tricky depending on what mat surface you are working with. I have had the transfer paper ruin the surface of sensitive mats when I burnished it too hard. I'm curious if it is the exact same process for the larger CMC cut vinyl... I figure it should be!

The nonsticky side of the vinyl is against the glass in the case of the wedding cords. I was considering using a spacer, but it should be ok in theory... I used the Cricut Premium Vinyl--same kind as I have used on coffee mugs and run through the dishwasher--its pretty tough stuff.
 
Last edited:

Nikodeumus

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
943
Location
Comox, BC, Canada
You are too kind!

Yes the vinyl is self adhesive. It is cut while still on its "sticker backer paper." Once cut, you remove the negative portions of it. Then, using a clear semi-tacky Transfer paper (looks like contact paper), you can lift up the pieces of vinyl and position them, burnishing lightly so they adhere to the surface of the mat. Pull away the transfer paper and just the vinyl should remain. Its a little tricky depending on what mat surface you are working with. I have had the transfer paper ruin the surface of sensitive mats when I burnished it too hard. I'm curious if it is the exact same process for the larger CMC cut vinyl... I figure it should be!
Neat!
It's sort of the reverse process of the glass acid etching I have done in the past.
I've seen the Cricut machine before and thought it was cool, but wasn't sure what I would actually use it for.
Are there any sign shops in your area that cut vinyl, perhaps they could answer some of your questions?
 

Mary Beth van der Horst

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Thread starter
Joined
Jan 28, 2020
Messages
117
Location
Myrtle Beach, SC
Neat!
It's sort of the reverse process of the glass acid etching I have done in the past.
I've seen the Cricut machine before and thought it was cool, but wasn't sure what I would actually use it for.
Are there any sign shops in your area that cut vinyl, perhaps they could answer some of your questions?
Funny you should mention glass etching... I'm helping my brother cut some stencils with the cricut for glass etching some shot glasses! Stencils were the first things I experimented making on the cricut.

I'm fairly certain large format vinyl cutters will utilize transfer paper as well, but I was specifically curious about materials and methods for like the Valiani and the new Wizard CMCs which I believe have both been shown doing some really cool vinyl accents on mats. I mentioned the problem of certain mats being too sensitive to come into contact with the transfer paper and pressure without resulting in surface damage, but on the flip side, there are some mats that won't take vinyl at all. Fabric mats are a great way to waste time and money when intending to use vinyl... I had really high hopes to use Cresent's White Shimmer (C5660) on the wedding cords. Even though I knew it was fabric--its glazed, so I thought the surface would Mayyyybeee be able to hold the adhesion. It was a bad time. 0/10 do not recommend.
 
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Nikodeumus

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
943
Location
Comox, BC, Canada
Funny you should mention glass etching... I'm helping my brother cut some stencils with the cricut for glass etching some shot glasses! Stencils were the first things I experimented making on the cricut.

I'm fairly certain large format vinyl cutters will utilize transfer paper as well, but I was specifically curious about materials and methods for like the Valiani and the new Wizard CMCs which I believe have both been shown doing some really cool vinyl accents on mats. I mentioned the problem of certain mats being too sensitive to come into contact with the transfer paper and pressure without resulting in surface damage, but on the flip side, there are some mats that won't take vinyl at all. Fabric mats are a great way to waste time and money when intending to use vinyl... I had really high hopes to use Cresent's White Shimmer (C5660) on the wedding cords. Even though I knew it was fabric--its glazed, so I thought the surface would Mayyyybeee be able to hold the adhesion. It was a bad time. 0/10 do not recommend.
Vinyl matt accents seem like a great value-added service.
I've been pondering different things to offer customers to improve the ticket price of some projects.
I'll put a Cricut on my wish list.
 

Mary Beth van der Horst

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Thread starter
Joined
Jan 28, 2020
Messages
117
Location
Myrtle Beach, SC
Vinyl matt accents seem like a great value-added service.
I've been pondering different things to offer customers to improve the ticket price of some projects.
I'll put a Cricut on my wish list.
Do it!!! It's been very useful anytime I'd be tempted to order an engraved plate from another company, I can find another way to do it in vinyl. Plus, I can make signs and keep redoing the hours on my door without having to pay a sign shop. I've got the Maker, but the Cricut Air 2 does vinyl just as well for not as much $$. I can answer at least some questions if you're interested--I had to pretend like I knew everything it did for a while as the "cricut ambassador" at acmoore (im still learning). One of the first things I did was upload all of the local schools logos/mascots into the software to make cuttable graphics. Made lots of kitschy little projects with them, but they can still be useful when accenting diplomas/sports framing projects!
 

Jim Sampson

True Grumbler
Joined
Mar 30, 2005
Messages
63
Location
green bay wi
Do it!!! It's been very useful anytime I'd be tempted to order an engraved plate from another company, I can find another way to do it in vinyl. Plus, I can make signs and keep redoing the hours on my door without having to pay a sign shop. I've got the Maker, but the Cricut Air 2 does vinyl just as well for not as much $$. I can answer at least some questions if you're interested--I had to pretend like I knew everything it did for a while as the "cricut ambassador" at acmoore (im still learning). One of the first things I did was upload all of the local schools logos/mascots into the software to make cuttable graphics. Made lots of kitschy little projects with them, but they can still be useful when accenting diplomas/sports framing projects!
Mary Beth. Thank you for your creative ideas. I, too, am thinking of buying a Cricut for adding embellishments to all kinds of memorabilia. Do you have any other pics to share? Also, are you able to cut all different types of downloaded files and logos?
Thank you for your time and consideration
 

Mary Beth van der Horst

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Thread starter
Joined
Jan 28, 2020
Messages
117
Location
Myrtle Beach, SC
Mary Beth. Thank you for your creative ideas. I, too, am thinking of buying a Cricut for adding embellishments to all kinds of memorabilia. Do you have any other pics to share? Also, are you able to cut all different types of downloaded files and logos?
Thank you for your time and consideration
I wish I had a picture of one that I did on the spot for a customer last year--She had a cheapo white shadowbox that she pinned one of her late fathers favorite flannel shirts into--all I did was cut out some scripty vinyl to say "because someone we love is in heaven, there's a little bit of heaven in our home." We were too emotional for pictures afterwards... but more recently I've used my cricut to make a custom white board for my significant other's seafood kitchen, and to add a simple caption to this old newspaper clipping of a customer's first cabin. Oh! and one of my friends who also has a cricut made me an adorable sign for my door!
old cabin.jpg IMG_0238[1].JPG product cooling log.jpg

Anywho's, YES, there is a way to cut pretty much any kind of file. SVGs and other vector based files are pretty straightup, load and cut. Of course there's limitations on how intricate you can cut certain things, but with some fine weeding and application skills, you can learn to keep some crazy stuff from tearing. When creating vinyl accents for framing, 95% of the time you are just doing text, but I'm constantly uploading new fonts from the web--just download them and they'll integrate with the cricut software on your computer. It's normal to have to fine-tune the kerning(space between letters) to look appropriate, especially for the more calligraphic fonts, but its nice to have that level of control that you can adjust each word or letter as needed and reweld them together to make a continuous shape. Most of the work I did was just from any old image file. There is an option to load a photo and the design software lets you simplify the colors, erase parts you don't want, and basically make your own cuttable vector file. All of the pen lines and decorations around the opening for the wedding invitation on my first post was from me googling "calligraphic elements" and scrolling through until I found pictures with pieces I liked that I could frame around the opening I was cutting.

If your particular business is well suited for selling custom gifts as well, the possibilities are endless. I can't tell you how many piggy banks I made out of those square glass blocks you find at the big box craft stores... Slap a state college logo on there and it's a college savings jar. Slap some palm tree's and a scripty "Vacay fund" on there and it's a very enticing piggy bank. Wedding monograms, tip jars, seashell collecting, nightlights with vinyl silhouettes casting shadows... I'm getting away from framing though, sorry. Glass blocks, candle holders, and mugs are where I started experimenting, because glass and ceramic are easy to adhere vinyl to. Mats and painted woods can take a little bit more practice, but you just learn to go a little slower and make sure the vinyl transfers without damaging the surface.

Unfortunately I don't know in depth how the cricut ranks against the Silhouette, or other brands...except that they all have similar capabilities with slight differences in software. Since Cricut has been so popular though, I feel like it is the easiest to learn since you can literally YouTube any simple feature and 50 videos will be at the ready to talk about that super specific thing. Once you learn the ways to manipulate files within the Cricut Design space, especially learning the contour, weld, and grouping abilities tools within the software, and get comfortable loading and simplifying jpegs of logos to cuttable forms, you can do anything. It's very easy though with little practice. Cricut design space is to Adobe Illustrator what Microsoft Paint is to Photoshop. An understanding of the latter might help enhance the former, but regardless, almost anyone could do it if they click around long enough.
 
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alacrity8

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Joined
Sep 22, 2009
Messages
941
Location
Albany, NY
I'm fairly certain large format vinyl cutters will utilize transfer paper as well
A local sign maker sometimes brings by lettering for our art shows, and I can confirm that he uses a clear transfer paper/film.

I was not in fact in the market for a new tool, but hey, hey not.

For lettering on fabric mats, could you print the lettering mirror image, and attach it to the inside of the glass?

Alternatively, a layer of glass with the words attached, and another layer of glass raised with spacers to protect it.

Brian
 

Mary Beth van der Horst

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Thread starter
Joined
Jan 28, 2020
Messages
117
Location
Myrtle Beach, SC
For lettering on fabric mats, could you print the lettering mirror image, and attach it to the inside of the glass?

Alternatively, a layer of glass with the words attached, and another layer of glass raised with spacers to protect it.

Brian
Hey Brian!

Yes, mirror cutting the image and attaching it to the inside of the glass is a completely viable idea. The only caveat is that you have to make sure the type of vinyl you are using is solid color and not just a surface treatment. I've found a few metallics that are just plain silver or a nonmetallic finish on the sticky side, which was a little dissapointing. In those cases, yeah I guess the only way to pull it off would be with a double glazing method for maximum protection or just let the vinyl be on the outside of a single glazing. Some vinyl types are strong enough that depending on the design, a double glazing shouldn't even be necessary. If your shapes are larger with mostly rounded edges, you should be able to use the Cricut Premium Permanent Vinyl and the edges shouldn't lift even when wiping/dusting it down. If your shapes are very thin with pointy little tails, those can catch on the edge of a cloth over time and pull up. I'd say the minimum line width should be somewhat close to 1/8" if applying vinyl exposed... maybe 1/16" but I gleaned that from the coffee mugs I have been abusing after my dishwasher died--handwashing means that vinyl meets a soapy sponge multiple times a week, and they've survived surprisingly well... again depending on the design.

mugs.jpg
original mug designs.png

Here are 3 mugs I made for my other half (high five if you know the manga), as well as the original design I cut so you can see what has been lost to time. The leftmost design was very simple and the line width is about 1/4". No loss and no need to be very careful about which side of the sponge you are using! The middle design has lost a little bit, but the remaining stuff ranges from 1/16-1/8" wide linework and is mostly connected to one another. I imagine I will eventually lose the eye and inside of the ear, but it's taking quite a while. The one on the right is similar... there were a couple whiskerlike details like the hook at the top and little highlights on the tears that have gotten peeled away by the rough side of the sponge, and that right pupil has migrated up, but again... these are under very harsh cleaning circumstances. If used on a frame which is only occasionally dusted, meh... I think you could dance a little closer to the fire so long as you let your customer know to be gentle cleaning it!
 
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