Sublimation on Glass [How to Sublimate on Glass]

The sublimation artist has gone so wild that they made Sublimation on glass go trending. Technically, glass looks entirely impossible to sublimate on, but no, it turns out so beautiful that I want to keep my glass jars in my antique items cupboard. Not to mention, I did some. While I had success with my method, I thought, why not share it with you all? So, here I’m with the glass sublimation methods that will turn your fragile glass into a piece of art. And yes, there’s no breaking–neither glass nor your heart. 

How to Sublimate on Glass

In my previous article, how to sublimate vinyl, I received many feedbacks from people asking how to sublimate on glass. This was my first time hearing about glass sublimation, honestly. It crossed my mind, though, but considering the fragility of glass, its transparency, and its slippery outer surface, my mind always convinced me not to ruin my glass jars and shields until recently, I gave that a go. 

However, I had two failures at the start, and I almost broke one before I sublimated one jar on the first attempt. So, I’ll share some “must-to-follow” tips to gain 100% results in my method. Sure, I learned the hard way, but not should you while I’m all here. Be wise and take a read! 

Can you Actually Sublimate on Glass? 

Sublimate on Glass

Here’s the twist. You can’t sublimate on any glass. That’s what I learned when I broke two of mine. Regular are fragile, and the surface doesn’t accept sublimation until there’s a polyester coating on the back or front of the glass. Amazon, Etsy, and Walmart have many Glass sublimation blank you can buy to sublimate beautiful designs

Sublimation On Glass: How To Do and What You Need? 

Sublimation on glass is a process by which you’ll transfer the design on the glass’ surface through a specific temperature provided by the heat press. If you’re previously familiar with sublimation on plastic or polymer, you don’t need any added tool or accessory. In case it’s your first time with sublimation, let me catch you up on some basics. 

Sublimation is a process that dries ink instead of liquifying it. It requires a particular sublimation printer that doesn’t work like a regular inkjet printer. I’ve already talked about the best sublimation printers in my previous articles, so you may direct there to dive deeper into sublimation printers. For the sake of this article, I’ll suggest Sawgrass 500, which I’ve been using for my glass sublimation. 

Sublimation On Glass

Of course, the printer isn’t regular, so how can the paper and ink be? You need sublimation ink to install in your printer and specialized sublimation papers that carry sublimation ink without absorbing it. The sublimation printer doesn’t heat the ink, so when you paste the design on the glass and heat it under a high temperature, the ink finally heats up and appears on the glass. The last step might be too fast for you, but don’t worry. I haven’t even started the process yet. 

First, checklist the following items. You must have all of them before you start the process. 

  • Sublimation printer (Sawgrass SG500)
  • Sublimation ink and paper (any brand you like)
  • Glass blank 
  • Heat resistant tape 
  • Heat press machine 
  • Butcher paper/ Parchment Paper 

If you’re going glass sublimation for fun, here’s an alternate way. Get a sublimation transfer design from Etsy or SoFontsy. They sell unique designs and pictures you’ll love on your glass. However, you’ll be limited to the design and pictures they provide, i.e., you can’t have your own customized design. 

In return, you don’t have to invest a hefty amount into the printer, buy its supplies, be a techy guy setting up all of that, and on top of it, make a design with software, which means learning software separately and doing then doing the printing. All that is only appropriate and sounds productive if you’re doing it on a large scale or commercially. 

In addition, heat-resistant tape and parchment papers are a must. Plus, have a dedicated heat press for glass sublimation. This is reasonable money spending because ovens will break your glass. Depending on the shape of your glass, you can use a regular press, tumbler press, or mug press. 

So, the part where you’ll gather all the material is done. Now, let’s get to the process. 

Step-by-step process of sublimation on glass: 

If you have purchased design online, you can instantly start with the following steps I’ve explained. For those who want to print the design manually, make the design ready on sublimation paper using the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Remember to mirror the image, though. 

Step 1: Prepare the glass.

prepare the glass

Unbox the packaging you just received from your store. The glass will be all clear, so you don’t need to lint roll, but if you have a glass placed on your shelf for a long time. Dust it off with a roller or clean cloth. Make sure the poly-coated surface is clean and dry. 

Step 2: Assemble the design on the glass.

Assemble the design on the glass

This is where you need 4 eyes and two brains–in short, extra attentiveness. 90% of the sublimation transfer success depends on how to attach the design to the glass for pressing. First, check the polymer coating. If the layer is on the back, your design will go straight there, and with the transparent see-through, look out for the placements. You can adjust the design, whether you want it on the sides, center, up, or bottom. 

Now, take the heat-resistant tape and attach the paper to the glass. The wrapping should be tight–no air should pass through, no wrinkle, and the paper should be moisture free. 

Step 3: Pre-heat the heat press: 

When you are assembling the glass, switch on the heat press at 400 F for 30 seconds so the time you’re done with your glass blank, your press is ready to cook your glass. 

Step 4: Prepare the press Machine: 

 Prepare the press Machine

No, don’t place the glass DIRECTLY on the press. First, you need to prepare it. Take parchment paper and place it on the press. Not just the press, cover your entire glass with parchment paper, so the ink won’t drip inside it and ruin your glass. Plus, you won’t even eat food in that glass if it has an ink stain intermixing with your food. So, be careful. 

Step 5: Press the Glass: 

Now, everything looks perfect and clean. Place your glass. Don’t forget to check the instruction on the blank’s description and the Heat Press’s. I usually take down 5 to 10 degrees than what’s mentioned as the average. There’s no science behind it. I just feel it is a safer way. While dealing with glass, you already have to go easy on the temperature, so I recommend heating it up to 350 F for 3-4 minutes only. But still, go and ask your manufacturer. Don’t take risks here. 

Step 6: Removing sublimation wrap: 

Removing sublimation wrap

After the heating is done, turn off the heat press. Have patience. Nothing is running away. Have your heat-resistant gloves on, and take out your glass from the press. Wait for 15 minutes at least till the glass is cooled down. Now start from the corner and check if the design has completely transferred. Don’t peel the design off in the first attempt because wrapping it attains misplaces the design, and the glass gets useless. 

Sublimation on Glass Mistakes: 

Let me tell you about mine because mistakes are your best teachers, in my opinion. 

  • The first mistake was using the wrong glass. I use my regular milkshake shake and just broke it with a 400 F temperature heat. I miss it sometimes. 
  • The second was ignoring all the instructions that came with the press and solely believing in my experience. My second glass was a magnet, and as I didn’t care much about the instructions, I over-pressed it and burnt them. Remember, you never have to heat glass magnets for over 100 seconds. 
  • Having a larger print size than my blank was my third and, perhaps, a foolish mistake. The design came out trimmed, and I hate how it doesn’t have the best part. 
  • Once, I didn’t cover the blank with parchment paper. I felt it extravagant, to be honest. Later a month, I had colors in my latte. That embarrassing moment is the core memory I can never forget, which wins the parchment papers a rent-free space in my supplies cupboard. 
  • The last one isn’t mine, but I regularly see it on the internet. Using the same temperature and time period for all types of glass. Sure all of it is glass, but they differ in character from glass to glass type. If a glass magnet requires 60 seconds, the board will want 5-6 minutes to take all the ink completely. So before you buy the glass, read on to the manufacturer’s instructions and also take a look at the reviews and comments. The reviews tell a lot about a product. 

Get a glass blank today and start sublimating them today!

Well, you learned the sublimation on glass, right? It’s your time to give it a go. I hope the article was really insightful and helped you bust out your fears of breaking your glass, burning it, or ruining the heat press with broken glass pieces. Trust me, none of it is going to happen unless you read my instructions with a non-conscious mind and missed the central part and that I meant the “Mistakes” part. 

Have the right equipment, follow the method with no cheat codes, and use the tricks. I bet you’ll do the job gracefully. If you’ve any questions or queries, leave a comment below, I’d love to help. Good luck! 

Emily

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