Have you been wondering about How to Make Sublimation Mugs? I created a guide so you can learn where to buy the best blank sublimation mugs, plus tips and tricks for how to create high quality, dishwasher safe results with or without an electronic cutting machine!
Guys, I am totally and absolutely obsessed with sublimation crafts! Ever since the launch of Cricut Infusible Ink, I have made crafts with this fun and easy transfer method!
I love that sublimation projects are permanent and SO professional looking, plus you’ll be amazed at all of the different crafts you can make! You are NOT limited to what you can find in the Cricut aisle at Michaels or Joann! You can make everything from sublimated tumblers to baby onesies, shirts, and mugs!
One of my early sublimation projects was this DIY sublimation mug that I made with Cricut Infusible Ink pens. I used a silicone wrap and a crafting oven and I was impressed with the results! Not long after, Cricut released the Mug Press and I leveled up my mug game.
Over the last year or so, I have experimented with different blank mugs, Cricut Infusible Ink pens and Transfer Sheets, Sublimation Ink, and different heating methods. I am really excited to share all of the tips I learned along the way, plus some mistakes I made that you can learn from!
What is a Sublimation Mug?
A sublimation mug is a mug (yes, like a coffee mug!) that has been made with a type of ink transfer called sublimation. Sublimation is a chemical process that takes a solid to a gaseous state, skipping the liquid phase. In sublimation printing, “solid” ink is embedded into a polyester substrate by heating it straight to a gas.
The result is a permanent, peel proof, and dishwasher safe design that becomes a part of your mug. It creates a professional looking craft that people will think that you bought! They are perfect for gifts or for small businesses.
Supplies You Need to Make Sublimation Mugs
There are a couple of different directions you can go to make your own mugs with sublimation, so I will cover what you need to get started! (I also will try to link to the lowest price I can find!)
Must Have Sublimation Supplies
- Blank Sublimation Mugs – Sublimation Mugs MUST be coated with polyester. They are commonly made of ceramic, but can also come in metal, glass, and other materials.
- Sublimation Ink
–Cricut Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets (work best with a cutting machine)
–Infusible Ink Pens (no cutting machine required!)
–Artesprix Sublimation Markers
–Sublimation Ink for Printers (I prefer and have had success with this brand. If you already have a printer, you can buy bottles that will fit your specific printer)
-Pre-Printed Sublimation Transfers
- Heat Source
–Cricut Mug Press
–Mug Heat Press
–Craft Oven (like a countertop toaster oven used only for crafts)
- Laser Paper or Sublimation Paper – for all methods except Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets
NOTE: You can convert an inkjet printer to sublimation! Learn How to Convert an Epson EcoTank 2720 Printer to Sublimation here!
Where to Buy Sublimation Mugs
Blank sublimation mugs can be purchased from a variety of places. Before the launch of the Cricut Mug Press and compatible blanks, you could only easily find blank mugs for sublimation in bulk. Which is fine for small businesses, but not if you wanted to just try sublimation. You would have cases of 12 or 24 of the same size mugs hanging out in your craft room. I know this from experience!
Cricut brand (Infusible Ink) mugs are not perfect by any means, but you can buy ONE. A single mug at a decent price. And you can go grab it at your local Michaels or Joann store. There a couple of different sizes and colors, and you can buy them in a case too, if you are making a ton. They go on sale all of the time, too!
One thing to consider when buying Cricut Infusible Ink mugs is that the Cricut logo is placed on the bottom of each mug. If you are selling your mugs, you may not want their logo on your cup. The mug to the right is shaped slightly different, but has no logo.
Amazon is another place where sublimation blanks are becoming VERY popular. Of course, you can buy Cricut mugs there, but they also have a variety of mugs from other companies. You can usually buy them in as little as sets of 4 mugs. They can be a little more expensive, and buyers beware! You have to be careful when you order blank mugs from Amazon – there are a LOT of sponsored products that appear in sublimation searches that are NOT compatible with sublimation.
Finally, Coastal Business Supplies carries a lot of sublimation blanks, but most can only be purchased in bulk. It gets expensive if you just want to try out a few products.
These are the blank mugs I use for sublimation (they come in and out of stock all of the time, so get them when you can!):
- Cricut 12oz Mug
- Cricut 15 oz Mug
- White Enamel Camping Mug
- Double Wall Stainless Steel Mug
- Stainless Steel Mug
Large bulk packs of Cricut mugs seem to be sold out everywhere right now, but I’ll link to them when I find them.
How to Make A Mug with Sublimation
The first decision you need to make is what process you would like to use. Your basic choices are:
- Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets, which will require a cutting machine to cut exact wraps or detailed designs
- Infusible Ink Pens & Markers (or Artesprix Markers which I have not tried), which can be used in the pen holder of your Cricut machine
- Sublimation Transfer that you print on a converted inkjet printer
- Pre-Printed Sublimation Transfer purchased from Etsy or another vendor.
Once you know which method you want to continue with, check out the details below!
How To Print a Sublimation Mug
If you want to Print your Own Sublimation Transfers, it’s way easier than you think! The major requirement is that you have a new inkjet printer that you can fill with sublimation ink. Epson EcoTanks are the most economical and easiest to convert and I cover the whole process in a blog post (and it includes a video!). It is possible to convert a used printer, but a brand new printer is easier and should produce better results.
The process is simple: Create your design in a program like Procreate, Photoshop, or a similar program and print your mirrored design on Sublimation Paper. Then attach tightly to the mug with heat resistant tape to prep for heating. Make sure you take the design right to the edge of the mug
RELATED POST: Design your Own DIY Sublimation Mug
How To Make Cricut Infusible Ink Mugs
If you already own a Cricut machine, Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets are great introduction to the sublimation process. You can choose a design in Cricut Design Space and cut as you would iron on vinyl. The weeding process is a little different, but it’s easy peasy. Cricut Design Space even includes a blank mug wrap file so you can design your own mugs!
Here is the Infusible Ink Transfer Sheet Mug I recently made! You can learn more and grab a FREE Tropical Mug Wrap SVG File, too!
The next step in the creation of a DIY mug is heating the design so it embeds into the mug! There are two methods:
How to Make a Sublimation Mug in the Oven
The most important thing to note about using an oven is that you need to have an oven that is not used for food preparation. A countertop toaster oven is great because you can put it away and you can get them pretty cheap.
You need to make sure that the design is tight against the mug, which is where the silicone mug wraps come in. Wrap and clamp the silicone wrap around the mug (the tab goes under the handle). Place in the oven and heat at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes (exact timing is dependent on your oven). Cool completely and remove the wrap and transfer paper.
I outlined the whole process in a DIY Sublimation Mug with Cricut Infusible Ink Pens blog post.
How to Make a Sublimation Mug with a Cricut Mug Press or Heat Press
At first I was not interested in the Cricut Mug Press. Why would I need one of those? I still think they are slightly expensive, but it is one my FAVORITE things in my craft room. The Mug Press is SO easy to use and it produces consistently good results.
You will attach the design to the mug with heat resistant tape just as you would when using an oven. You don’t need a silicone mug wrap for the Mug Press. Make sure that you tape all of the loose edges down slightly, especially at the top and bottom of the mug.
One thing I learned about the Mug Press is that it is important to wrap your mug with a couple of layers butcher paper over the design. Otherwise you can get yellow marks on your mug. I have also read that people have experienced overheating even when using the butcher paper. Although the Cricut Mug Press comes with a preset time and temperature, there is actually a way to manually change the factory settings.
I do not have the space in my craft room for a large heat press with a mug attachment or a larger mug press. You can find both on Amazon for a somewhat better price than the Cricut Mug Press, and crafters swear by them. They were never an option for me, so I have not tried them.
There are limitations to all of the heating methods. If you are using the craft oven method, you need to have a silicone mug wrap that fits the size of mug you are making. Different mugs, different silicone wraps.
If you are using a Cricut Mug Press, only certain size mugs will work. Here is the sizing information you need from Angie at the Country Chic Cottage (click the link for everything you need to know about the Mug Press!):
- Capacity of 11 – 16 oz (350-450ml)
- Straight-walled drinkware only, avoid curves and uneven textures
- Outer Diameter between 3.2″ – 3.4″ (82 – 86 mm)
- Maximum height of 4.72″ (120 mm)
A traditional mug press will have similar size limitations and some mug press machines only work with one size of mug. You may have to buy additional mug press heating elements for different sized mugs.
Sublimation Mug FAQs
Can Any Mug Be Used for Sublimation?
No! Unlike when you use Adhesive Vinyl to make custom mugs, sublimation requires a polyester base or coating to complete the chemical reaction and embed into the mug. Sublimation mugs have a durable polyester coating that will not fade or wash off.
Before you ask, yes, you can buy polyester coating to apply to non-sublimation blanks. I don’t recommend it for mugs. If I find one that works, I will definitely change my opinion!
What is a Sublimation Mug Made of?
Generally they are made of ceramic but there are other materials available! I personally like metal mugs, so camping mugs or Yeti-style stainless steel mugs are my favorite.
What Temperature to Heat a Sublimation Mug?
If you are using a Cricut Mug Press, chances are you can just use the standard setting. It does all of the work for you! Sublimation products or heat presses will a lot of the time come with their own recommendations for temperature and length of heating time. For ceramic mugs in a press, the temperature varies from 340-400 degrees F for up to 5 minutes. If you are using a wrap in your craft oven, it is 400 degrees for up to 15 minutes. To get the best results, it sometimes takes a little trial and error to figure out what works best with your materials and equipment.
How to Use a Sublimation Mug Wrap
Sublimation Mug Wraps are silicone wraps that clamp around a blank sublimation mug to keep the sublimation design wrap tight against the mug while heating in a craft oven. They are easy to use – just wrap around the mug and design, tighten the clamp, and put into the oven. They are reusable and very easy to use!
Some mugs also come with “heat shrink” wraps that you place over your mug and heat with a blow dryer or heat gun. The wrap will shrink around the mug and keep the transfer tight against the mug.
Do you have any other questions about sublimation mugs? Let me know in the comments!