Decorating cups can look intimidating…

Decorating cups can look intimidating…

The first time you decorate a cup, you will be nervous. But once you start you will find your groove and wish you had started sooner! The best way to learn is to watch YouTube videos. Take a few hours and sit down with a notepad and just watch DIY videos. Then once you start making the yourself you will find what works for you. There are so many ways to do each step, but the right way is YOUR way! I would have to say the easiest cup to do is a glitter cup. I recommend starting with this one so here is my overall process for a glitter cup:

  1. Set-Up- Find the correct sized noodle or football and insert it inside your cup with the PVC pipe sticking out so that you can hold the PVC without touching the cup. Some people prefer to tape off areas like the top rim or bottom rim. Use electrical tape if you choose to do so. I, however, like a full covered cup.
  2. Prime your cup- When glittering a cup, it is best to use a base color. It can match the glitter to help give full coverage or you can use a different color to create a cool effect. I would say I use a white base more than anything. It gives the glitter a brighter look! I use the Rustoleum 2 in 1 primer. It doesn’t have to be a perfect coat because the glitter will hide blemishes.
  3. Dry- Let the paint dry completely before moving on.
  4. Spray Adhesive- hold your spray adhesive about 12” away and rotate your cup while spraying. Apply an even coat everywhere you want glitter.
  5. Glitter- No need to dry after the adhesive. It’s more effective if you immediately apply the glitter. I use a large tub with a paper plate inside. The tub catches any wild glitter I can’t save, and the paper plate catches the glitter so I can pour it back inside the container to reuse it. Shake your glitter around the cup and apply an even coat. Higher quality glitter like Southern Bees Bling may only require one coat. Craft store glitters will more than likely require several. {Take the following into consideration when choosing a glitter. While one may look cheaper... is it really? Are the ounces from weight or volume? Is it really cheaper if you have to use several coats (more glitter, more adhesive, and more time)? And lastly, will this glitter dull and loose you business and profits if it has to be remade. So keep these things in mind when choosing a glitter! Now... back to the steps!} If you do need an additional coat, repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have the coverage you are looking for. Now, this method is best used with fine glitter. If you are adding chunky glitter I suggest using the epoxy method which I will talk about further down.
  6. Sealer- After you have the coverage you are looking for, you will need to apply a clear sealer like clear matte spray paint so that the glitter doesn’t move when you apply the epoxy. This can make glitters look dull but don’t worry! They will shine like new as soon as you add epoxy.
  7. Mix Epoxy-
    1. Put on gloves
    2. Pour each part A and part B in equal amounts into their own measuring cup. I use FIFO bottles to hold my epoxy and allow me to easily pour it into the measuring cups.
    3. Use a heat gun to very lightly heat part A to help pull out any bubbles
    4. Pour part B into a dixie cup. Be sure to scrape the edges and get everything you can out of the measuring cup using a popsicle stick.
    5. Pour part A into the dixie cup and scrape the edges.
    6. Slowly stir your epoxy continuously. Scrape the sides every so often. Don’t scrape too hard on a dixie cup or the wax will get in your epoxy and cause lumps!
    7. The epoxy is completely stirred when you can see clearly the bottom of your popsicle stick.
    8. I let my epoxy sit for about 2 minutes to help release any bubbles
    9. I learned the hard way not to use a heat gun at this point. It will melt the wax on the dixie cup.
  8. Apply Epoxy- This is a step you will have to play with until you find what works for you. With your cup on the turner rotating, pour small amounts of epoxy onto your cup and use your index finger to spread it evenly around the cup. Once there is epoxy on the entire cup, then start the process if making it even. I start at the lip of the cup and swipe my finger straight down towards the bottom of the cup and around the bottom edge. Do this all the way around. Then start at the bottom edge and swipe your finger straight up to the top and around the inside of the lip. This helps for a better seal and you will use your straightedge to clean up the top when everything is done.
  9. Epoxy Method- So this is the time you would apply chunky glitter. Whether it’s ombre or the full cup, chunky glitter will stick much better to epoxy than spray adhesive. Put a paper plate under the cup to catch any excess glitter. Slowly sprinkle glitter onto the cup. I use my fingers instead of shaking directly onto the cup. Once you have the coverage you are looking for, use your gloved finger to gently press down any glitter that is not flat. This will make it look better and help lower your sanding time later.
  10. Apply Heat- If you aren’t using the epoxy method to apply glitter, your next step is to apply heat to pull out any air bubbles. Heat will cause bubbles to pop and will also make your epoxy thinner. Keep this in mind when applying the heat. I quickly run my heat gun up and down the cup at a brisk pace. If you leave it in one spot too long the epoxy will create a bare spot. I do one full rotation before turning off the heat gun. You can also use a mini blow torch to pull out bubbles individually.
  11. Dry- Epoxy likes to dry around 75 degrees for 4-5 hours. I like to let mine dry closer to 6-8 hours.
  12. Epoxy- When glittering cups, it usually takes 2-3 coats before it’s smooth enough to sand. Repeat steps 7 and 8 until there is enough coverage to not damage the glitter when you sand.
  13. Sand- Lightly sand your cup until there is a smooth finish, with no bumps or rough spots.
  14. Alcohol- Pour alcohol onto a paper towel and wipe down the cup, removing any debris left from sanding.
  15. Apply design- After the alcohol is dry and the cup is clean, apply your design.
    1. Vinyl- Apply vinyl as normal. Make sure it is sealed against the cup so that epoxy cannot get under and create bubbles
    2. Printable vinyl- use the print and cut method on your vinyl cutter so that there is no excess white space. Apply without a carrier sheet. Carrier sheets will pull off the print. Do not use alcohol after vinyl is applied. It will smear the ink.
    3. Waterslide-
      1. White- you should have used the print and cut feature to remove excess white.
      2. Clear- print and cut closely around the edge.

Spray your waterslide with a clear sealer, like clear matte spray paint, to prevent the ink from smearing when it is placed in water. Use several coats. Let it dry completely between each coat. When dry, place the decal in a bowl of water and separate from carrier sheet. Wet the tumbler so that the decal can be moved. Apply to tumbler. Use a sponge brush to softly run across the decal and help remove air bubbles and excess water. Dab with a paper towel. Let it dry and then seal cup with the clear spray again.

  1. Epoxy- Epoxy more layers as needed, sanding and wiping with alcohol in between. I have found that using acetone to wipe before the last coat helps in making the surface perfect.
  2. Clean- After your cup is dry, use a straight edge or Exacto knife to cut across the top edge. Angle the blade inward so that you don’t break the seal on the outside. This should give you a clean smooth edge. Then pop away the epoxy rim on the inside of the cup. Use acetone (NOT ALCOHOL) to remove any excess paint, adhesive or glitter that is left inside the cup. When done your cup rim should be smooth with no residue and the inside should be spotless!
  3. Harden- It will take the cup 24-72 hours to fully harden. I suggest leaving it on the drying rack during this time. I have set on tables and sometimes it will pull up dirt or get stuck to the table. If you try to clean it up after it hardens, it will be more difficult.
  4. Finish- If selling or giving your cup away, we suggest placing a tumbler care card inside. You can find one to print and cut on Etsy here: Instruction Card

    Use the blank box from The Steel Magnolia Company to package your product. Add your own label using printable vinyl, if desired. If shipping, put back inside the bubble wrap and box it. The best way to ship is using a flat rate bubble mailer from USPS.


    Next, learn how to use alcohol inks!

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    • Nikki Hamilton
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