When I first got my Cricut Expression, it was to cut vinyl. I use vinyl to make a resist needed to etch designs on glass. The die cutting machine is so much easier than cutting a design by hand. I recently had a customer request one of my glass bottles with a butterfly design. Artiste and the Cricut to the rescue. I used the butterfly on page 58 of the Artiste booklet (shift-accent 4).
Use a regular blade (not the deep cut blade). Since the butterfly is an intricate design I set the blade depth to 3, the speed to 1 and the pressure to 2. For a simple, basic design you use the same settings but the speed can be faster at 2-3. This creates a “kiss cut” that doesn’t cut all the way through the backing on the vinyl. Set the size according to the size of the space you want the design to go on. The butterfly will cut measuring from the top wing tip to the tip on the lowest point of the bottom wing. So if you set the size at 3″ it won’t be the width of the butterfly – it will be the height. After the Cricut completes the cut, unload mat. Cut out the piece of vinyl and backing with the design leaving a good margin around it. So if you have a 3″ butterfly cut a 4″ square to leave a margin around the design.
You need a carrier to hold the vinyl cut as you pull off the backing paper. I use inexpensive clear contact paper for lining drawers and shelves. Cut a piece of contact paper just slightly bigger than the butterfly piece. Peel the contact paper off the liner and stick on the top of the vinyl design and burnish it together. Then peel the paper back off the vinyl. You will have exposed the sticky side of the vinyl. Place that on your glass piece where you want it. Burnish it down with the contact paper still on top. Once the vinyl is stuck to the glass, carefully peel off the contact paper leaving the vinyl on the glass. Decide which parts you want frosted and which to stay plain glass. Use a needle tool or something similar to “weed” the vinyl – that is remove the parts to expose the glass you want to etch. I use a seam ripper – I pick the vinyl parts off with the point and push parts I want to stay on the glass with the the plastic tip if they are coming up as I weed. See the different bottles in the photo – on one I etched the background and the butterfly is plain glass. If you mess up, just pull the vinyl off and re-cut and re-apply making the corrections before you etch the glass. You can either use a sandblaster to etch the glass like I do, or you can get etching cream at the hobby store (follow the directions for use on the bottle). If you sandblast you have to protect any areas of glass you don’t want to etch – I cover the areas to protect with blue painters tape.
Where do I get the vinyl? You can buy vinyl made for the Cricut and it works well. Since I use a lot, I buy wholesale in bulk on EBay and it lasts me a long time. I have heard you can go to sign companies and buy vinyl or get scraps very inexpensively.
For another project I cut letters on the Cricut and etched glass apothecary jars with a new baby’s name for a shower gift (since the name was AVA, it was easy and I used three jars). It was quite a hit. I have used the same process for glass coasters and various designs on my slumped bottles. How do I slump the bottles? I have a kiln and cut and fuse glass to make jewelry, glass paintings, plates, bowls, coasters, etc. I use the same kiln to heat clean wine bottles to 1465 degrees and that slumps (collapses) them. Up-cycled bottles are the bomb! Feel free to ask questions in the comments section if you have them. Give vinyl and etching a try!
By the way, my customer liked the butterflies so much she bought the two bottles on the left instead of just one as she planned. We were both happy!