Iron On Vinyl Ceramic Mugs

Finding inspiration has never been a problem. The problem is finding time to do all of the wonderful things that I want to try out. This project is one that has been sitting in the back of my mind for two years at least. I can’t remember where I first saw it, but the concept stuck: does iron on vinyl stick to ceramic? Is it top-rack safe? How about the microwave?Iron On Vinyl Ceramic Mugs at Easy DIY custom gift


Well, a few months ago hubby and I went to a paint-your-own pottery type place. He made himself a Zelda themed mug. The day we picked it up, 5 minutes later I carelessly placed the bag and it broke. Seriously. He didn’t get to use it ONCE. So I replaced it with another Zelda themed mug. This time it was a heat-sensitive heart that would indicate when his coffee was safe to drink. Well, about two weeks ago he dropped it at work and it shattered. :C

Iron On Vinyl Ceramic Mugs at Easy DIY custom gift

So it became clear to me. NOW is the time to do this project. With V-Day right around the corner, hubby needs a new mug and I’ve got just the thing. I tried a few different vinyls and methods and this is what I came up with for using iron on vinyl on ceramic.

[warning]NOTE: In the vinyl I used, I tested one mug in the microwave. After about 2 seconds the decal “sparked” blue and made a popping noise. I stopped the microwave and removed the mug, and there was burn/heat damage. [/warning] [warning]I do NOT consider these mugs MICROWAVE SAFE. [/warning]

What You Need:

  • Ceramic Mug. Try and choose one that you can get a good ironing surface with. My first attempts were square at the bottom and round at the top. That left a lot of weird angles that I couldn’t iron on very well. Also, something with a bit of a matte finish takes far better than really glossy ceramic.
  • Iron On Vinyl. I’ve found that glitter vinyl is hit or miss. Some of it comes with a very heavy glue layer that smudges around when on the ceramic. My favorite was a nice thin gold foil.
  • Cutting Machine, punches, scissors, or knife to cut out your iron-on design.
  • Iron. There is such a thing as a craft iron. Its smaller and more easily maneuvered. If I begin making these with any regularity I will invest in one. My large iron was difficult to hold on to when working with small pieces and a round surface.
  • Towels to support your design.
  • Old t-shirt or cotton rag to iron on over the design.

How To Make an Iron On Vinyl Mug:

  1. First, create your design and cut it out however you are most comfortable. Most iron on vinyls have a clear sheet that you remove excess vinyl from to leave only your design. Do that and trim your sheet to about 1/2 inch around your design.
  2. Clean the mug really well to remove any oils. Use rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, acetone, or even just hot soapy water. Make sure its 100% dry before you begin.
  3. Use the towel to create a “nest” for your mug. This way it won’t roll around on you, and you are a lot less likely to burn yourself.
  4. Heat your iron to the setting indicated by your vinyl – mine was “cotton”.
  5. Place your design on the mug.  Begin in a corner of the design and hold your iron there for 30 seconds. Repeat in small sections until you’ve done this across the whole design. No need to put a lot of pressure or to wiggle the iron around. This is about heating the glue through. (I did this right on the vinyl backer, no rag in between. Test that first. If you are getting melting or other issues, use a rag as a buffer between the hot iron and the design.)
    Iron On Vinyl Ceramic Mugs at Easy DIY custom gift
  6. Now, cover your design with the rag. I find this helps distribute the heat evenly. Take your time and repeat your 30 second sections, this time moving your iron back and forth or in circles, pressing down firmly.
  7. Let the mug cool. Peel up a section of the backer. If any vinyl comes away with the backer, repeat steps 5 and 6.
  8. Once the backer comes off clean, check the design with your fingernail and see if anything isn’t quite secure. Pay special attention to small areas (like sentence punctuation or tips/tails of graphics). If anything moves, replace the back and repeat steps 5 and 6, concentrating on that area.
  9. If desired, you can hit the finished mug with a heat gun, going over the design from a good distance (4 – 5 inches) slowly, until the mug and the design are too hot to touch. In my experience, this helped seal some of the more troublesome areas.
  10. Done! All of the mugs I made wash well in warm soapy water by hand. I’ll be updating the post once I am brave enough to try to top-rack of the dishwasher. Update: This iron on vinyl mug is top rack dishwasher safe so far!
    [warning]I do NOT consider these mugs MICROWAVE SAFE. [/warning]

Iron On Vinyl Ceramic Mugs at Easy DIY custom gift Iron On Vinyl Ceramic Mugs at Easy DIY custom gift

[warning]I do NOT consider these mugs MICROWAVE SAFE. [/warning]


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Kayla Domeyer

My name is Kayla and I am a Graphic Designer. That means that I love pretty things, and also that I like to make free printables! I'm so happy that you've stopped by to visit my blog, and I hope you will follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest or Instagram!! (Yeah, and I'm totally addicted to the internet).

13 thoughts on “Iron On Vinyl Ceramic Mugs

    1. Hey Wanda! You sure can. There’s a dishwasher safe Mod Podge (that requires 30 days to dry) that I’ve used and I know some people who use an epoxy resin to seal it instead.

    1. I know RIGHT!? I ended up making 12 or so for the teachers at my son’s daycare. I LOVE seeing them in the morning with their adorable cups!

  1. If you used metallic or glitter vinyl in the microwave, that could be why it sparked. Most people know not to put metal in the microwave due to sparks, but in my experience some metallic colours can do the same. A plain vinyl could possibly be fine.

  2. Another commenter noted this, but did you ever try the dishwasher test? You mention that you wanted to see if it was top rack safe in your introductory paragraph, but never mentioned it elsewhere.

  3. I honestly LOVE these! I collect coffee mugs from all of our travels. I would hate to know how many would be spilling out of my cabinets if i took this hobby up. I have a cricut but have yet to try vinyl. Found you on SITS link-up 🙂
    Caden recently posted..Thai TopazMy Profile

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