With lots of knit and crochet projects to keep me warm, I absolutely adore a snowy, white winter! Do you feel the same? I’m Pia, from Stitches n Scraps. The folks at Artesprix invited me to be a guest designer and design a bag tag with their thermal transfer markers and I decided on this 2-sided, snowy theme. See how I made my Let it Snow bag tag, with a water color background and falling snow, and then try it for yourself!
What are Sublimation Markers?
Sublimation is a process of transferring ink to specially prepared surfaces called “blanks". Artesprix Sublimation Markers allow you to create your own designs on regular paper, and transfer them easily with a heat press or even a normal household iron! Artesprix has a wide array of blanks to choose from, including the plastic bag tags I used for this design.
At least one hole punch. If you have multiple sizes, that can add more depth to your image.
A protective surface for water coloring
Plain copy paper
A paintbrush and some water
Coins or buttons to trace around for snowman (optional)
Stickers, rub ons, or other embellishments (optional)
Step 1: Create your template. Fold a piece of copy paper in half. The extra thickness will hold up better to the watercolor technique. Place the bag tag on top of the copy paper and trace around it. You will need 2 of these templates, one for each side of the bag tag.
Step 2: Create your snowman design. With pencil, on one of your two templates, draw a wavy line an inch or two from the bottom. This will be your snowy ground. Then draw your snowman. You can freehand your snowman or trace around circular objects to create cleaner circles. I traced a quarter, a button, and a penny. Include any details you like, such as facial features, buttons, arms, etc.
Step 3: Watercolor with Artesprix Markers. Choose several shades of blue markers. I used the two blue shades from the original set, and one marker from the Gnomie Botanicals set. Cut a scrap piece of the silicone protective paper large enough to hold a separate “paint” area for each of your colors. With each marker, color heavily in a small area of the protective paper. The ink will start beading up because the paper is non-porous.
Wet your paintbrush and use it to pick up some of the ink from the paper, then brush it onto your templates. On the snowflake side, repeat this until your entire template is covered. For the snowman, do the same except do not apply any color onto the snowman or bottom “snow” areas.
Apply the colors with broad, wavy strokes, letting them swirl and blend into each other. Add darker, swirling lines by using the edge of your brush and less water. If your paper starts to get too wet or wrinkly, take a break and let it dry, then you can add more ink as needed. Be sure to color over the edges of your templates. Do not worry if the design looks faded, it will be much brighter once transferred.
Wait for the paper to dry completely, then use the markers directly to color in any details on your snowman. It is very important that the paper be completely dry, otherwise the ink will “bleed.” If you want your snowman to have a crisp, clean edge, you can trace the outline with a blue or black marker. I preferred the softer edge and did not trace mine.
Step 4: Using a hole punch, make random holes in the blue areas of your templates. No color will transfer in these holes, so they will remain white and look like snow. I used 2 sizes of holes to create very fine snow, with a few larger “flakes”.
Pro Tip: This is a good time to turn on your heat press so it can come up to heat.
Step 5: Make a "Sublimation Sandwich". Roughly cut around each of your templates, leaving enough extra paper on the edges to tape it down. Cut a piece of protective paper large enough to wrap around your blank and template completely.
Roll a piece of heat resistant tape into a loop and stick it to one side of your blank, then press it onto one side of the protective paper. Don’t put any tape on the front of your blank, or it will prevent the ink from transferring in that area.
Place the snow template, right side down, onto the blank and tape it in place around the edges. Fold the protective paper down over the top and tape that in place as well.
From bottom to top, your layers should now be: protective paper, blank, design, protective paper.
Step 6: Time to Transfer the Snowflake Design. Place a protective surface under your design, such as the Artesprix Protective Project Pad. Press your design with your heat press or iron, according to the instructions for the blank. With my craft heat press, I pressed for just over 1 minute at high heat. If using a more professional heat press, transfer for 60 seconds at 400℉. If using a Home Iron, set to highest heat, no steam, and press for approximately 3 minutes.
Step 7: Peek Test. Carefully peel back a corner of your paper for a “peek test” to see if the ink has transferred fully. Be careful – the paper and blank may be very hot, and you may need to wait a minute for it to cool first. If it is not fully transferred, replace the paper and continue pressing.
Step 8: Once your tag is completely cool, take apart your sublimation sandwich. Flip the blank over so that the white side is up, and repeat step 5 with a fresh piece of protective paper and your snowman design. This time it’s ok to place tape along the bottom, where there is no color.
Step 9: Embellish (optional). Once the tag is again cool, remove it from the paper and add any embellishments you like. I used some old rub ons and stickers leftover from my scrapbooking days.
Your new Let it Snow bag tag is finished! Double check that you turned off your heat press or iron, and covered all your markers so they don’t dry out.
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