This is the fourth and final tutorial in my Infusible Ink coasters series that I have done with each of the major cutting machines (links to other videos just below).
Infusible Ink is Cricut’s own line of sublimation sublimation transfer sheets, pens and markers. Sublimation is the process where a design, printed or drawn using sublimation ink, is transferred on to a mostly, if not 100%, polyester substrate. What happens is the ink, when heated, turns into a gas and infuses itself into the fibers or surface of the polyester blank (more details below) rather than sitting on top of the fibers like vinyl.
I love to color so I LOVE the pens and markers because being able to color a design and then transfer it on to a t-shirt, mug, pillow case, coasters, etc. is just the coolest thing as far as I’m concerned.
Naturally, you can use Infusible Ink in the CricutMaker and it is really, really easy! In today’s tutorial I will show you how to set up the design you want to use in Cricut Design Space, how to actually draw it with the Maker machine, then color it by hand and sublimate it onto a ceramic coaster blank with my EasyPress 2.
Please check out the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions with photos:
What is Infusible Ink?
As I mentioned above, Infusible Ink is Cricut’s name for their line of transfer sheets, markers and pens that allow you to sublimate a design into a polyester substrate. When the ink is heated, it turns into a gas that then infuses itself into the polyester fibers in the substrate.
Substrates can be everything from shirts, pillows, blankets, pants, etc. with 100% polyester fiber content, or harder surfaces like mugs, water bottles, coasters, tiles, etc. that are treated with a polyester coating.
Cotton/polyester blends can work but the polyester content of the material needs to be at least 50% and really, more like 80% to get a good result. Adding cotton fibers into the mix will limit how the ink infuses into the garment and will result in a less vibrant and sometimes, a less clear, image.
Infusible Ink also DOES NOT work on dark substrates because it is translucent and will basically vanish when sublimated into dark surfaces (there are some ways around this, but that is for another post).
So, why do this? What’s the advantage? The advantage is that the design becomes almost completely permanent so you can put mugs in the dishwasher and you don’t have the sometimes stiff feel of vinyl on clothing or other fabric blanks like blankets or pillows. Instead the design is literally” in” the shirt front so it’s soft and just like wearing a shirt with no design on it.
I also really like that the pens and markers give you the freedom to color a design however you like so it’s really easy to use multiple colors without having to cut and layer different colors of vinyl together and you can easily personalize designs to your own style.
Cricut isn’t the only manufacturer who makes pens and markers that can be used for sublimation. We R Memory Keepers has transfer quill markers and Artesprix has several sets of markers. There are probably more out there as well. Today I will concentrate on the Cricut Infusible Ink pens and markers because that is what I have the most of, they work perfectly in the Cricut maker and they are extremely popular. I also find them the very flexible in terms of nib size and color choices.
What Infusible Ink Pens & Markers Work with the Cricut Maker?
The regular Cricut Infusible Ink pens and markers work in the Cricut Maker. The Cricut Joy Infusible Ink markers do not – kind of obvious I guess (lol). The We R Memory Keepers Transfer Quills seem to fit without an adapter but I have not tried actually drawing with them yet.
There are non-Cricut adapters available on places like Etsy that will allow you to use different types of markers so it’s very possible that those may allow you to use the Cricut Joy Infusible Ink pens and possibly other brands; I have not tried any of those yet (could void the warranty? it is unclear).
Upload the Infusible Ink Design to Cricut Design Space
Download the Four Seasons Circles design (available below for FREE through January 31, 2021). Save it to your computer, unzip it and then open Cricut Design Space. On the left hand tool bar go to the Upload icon and click it. This will open the Upload screen where you should click on the large Upload Image button and then navigate within the computer window that opens until you find the Four Season Coasters .SVG file you just saved (you will also have a Silhouette Studio, .PNG (Image) and .CWRPJ (ScanNCut) versions).
Click on the .SVG file to open it in Design Space. Once it uploads successfully and you can see it in the Upload Image box, you can rename it and add tags to it if you like and then click on the Save button in the lower right (Fig. B).
This will put you back into the original Upload screen but now the new image should be the first one showing in the image boxes.
Click on it to select it and then click the Insert Images button in the lower right.
The seasons designs will now show up on the Canvas screen. It will likely have a gray box around it indicating the entire design is selected.
If you look at the Layers panel on the right side of the screen, you can see that the layers are all darker gray indicating they are all selected and there is a line at the very top that shows the whole design is one big group. Go to the top of the Layers panel and hit the Ungroup button to break the design into the separate seasonal designs and circles (Fig. C).
Resize the Winter Circle in Cricut Design Space
For today’s tutorial, I am only going to make one of the designs, the summer circle (if you want to make all four, simply skip the steps where I hide the other designs). The Cricut coaster blanks I am using are about 3.5″ in diameter but Design Space brings the images in at a larger size.
The circles are separate from the seasonal designs with them so click and drag over both the outer circle and the entire summer design to select it. Check that the lock in the lower left handle of the box around the design is locked. If not, click on it to lock it.
Now go to the horizontal tool bar at the top of the screen and find the Size section. Change the width or height to 3.5″; the other dimension should automatically change since we locked the aspect ratio (Fig. D).
Hide the Elements Not Being Used in Cricut Design Space
Since I’m only making the summer design, I don’t need the other three right now. But, I don’t want to delete them because I may use them in the future. So I am going to hide them instead.
To do this, go back to the Layers panel on the right and locate the group for the winter (Christmas-y) design. To hide the winter design, click on the small eye icon on the right end of the Group’s top layer.
The eye should disappear as will the design on the Canvas. Right underneath the group should be a layer for the circle that surrounds that design. Click on the eye on that layer to hide it as well (Fig. E). Repeat for the spring and fall designs and their circles.
Change the Linetype in Cricut Design Space
Click the summer design to select it (if necessary) and then go to the Linetype box on the left of the upper tool bar. Click on the arrow in the box next to the word “Cut”. From the drop down menu that appears, click on Draw to change the Linetype from Cut to Draw (Fig. F).
If desired, you can click on the black outline box that will appear next to the dropdown menu to change the pen type, but it defaults to the correct one (0.4 mm Black) so isn’t really necessary.
Attach the Design in Cricut Design Space
Click on the summer design to select it (if necessary) and then click the Attach icon at the bottom of the Layers panel on the right. This tells the program to keep all of the elements in the image together as you see them on the mat (aka “attached” to each other). The group will move to the top of the Layers panel under an Attach layer (Fig. G)
“Make It” in Cricut Design Space
Click the “Make It” button in the upper right. The mat screen will appear showing the design in the upper left corner of the mat. Click and drag on it to move it down a bit; about 1″ in from the left and 1″ down from the top to give room to cut the design out later.
After moving the design, click the Mirror choice on the left hand menu under the mat so the design flips. This isn’t absolutely necessary but if you want to keep the image as is, you need to flip it before it is drawn (Fig. H).
Click the green Continue button in the lower right.
The next screen will connect to your Maker machine (make sure it’s turned on) and then ask you to choose the Base Material.
Click on the Browse All Materials button on the right, scroll down to Paper and then click on Copy Paper, 20 lb. to select it and the click the Done button (Fig. I).
The next step will now highlight showing what to load into the machine – the pen in Clamp A, nothing in Clamp B and then mat (Fig. J).
Installing the Pen Into the Cricut Maker
I suggest using a fine point pen when drawing an Infusible Ink design, so I used a Cricut Infusible Ink 0.4 mm Black pen from the Basics set. To load it into the machine, undo the latch on Clamp A. When placing the pen into Clamp A, push it down until you hear a snap sound indicating it is in place. Close the latch to lock the pen in place (Fig. K).
Load the Mat
Once the pen is installed, put the paper on the mat. You should use plain copy paper for the drawing (and any Infusible Ink drawing) so you need a Light Grip Mat. A Standard Grip Mat is too sticky and will rip the lightweight paper when you try to remove it.
Place the copy paper into the upper left of the mat and slide the mat under the feeders on the sides and up against the star wheels. Press the Load Mat button and the Cricut Maker will pull the mat in to itself (Fig. L).
Draw the Design
Once the Cricut logo button starts flashing, press it to have the Maker begin drawing. It takes less than five minutes.
Once the drawing is done, take a good look at it and if it is okay, click the flashing Load Mat button to unload it. If it doesn’t look good, you can have the Maker redraw it by pressing the Cricut logo button.
Once you have unloaded the mat from the machine, remove the paper by flipping the mat over. Carefully peel the mat away from the paper using a spatula or your hand, trying to keep the paper as flat as possible against your table top.
Color the Design with Infusible Ink Pens & Markers
There may be some noticeable dot marks on some of the lines in the drawing. This is because the Cricut Maker drops the pen down to the paper (making a dot) and then pulls the pen to draw the lines (Fig. N). It repeats this process many times.
I did my best to smooth the dots into the lines with the 0.4 mm black Infusible Ink pen. Blending helped but didn’t completely hide the dots. They don’t show prominently after the design is sublimated so don’t worry too much.
When you are happy with the dot marks and lines, color the design using the Infusible Ink markers and pens of your choice.
- WRMK Transfer Quill in Brown (no name on pen so best guess)
- Cricut Infusible Ink 0.4 mm Pen in Tawny
- Cricut Infusible Ink 1.0 mm Marker in Green Apple
- Cricut Infusible Ink 1.0 mm Marker in Green
- Cricut Infusible Ink 1.0 mm Marker in Forest Green
- Cricut Infusible Ink 1.0 mm Marker in Yellow
- Cricut Infusible Ink 1.0 mm Marker in Sunflower
- Cricut Infusible Ink 1.0 mm Marker in Vivid Blue
- Cricut Infusible Ink 1.0 mm Marker in Navy
The colors appear less vibrant than the markers used and that is completely normal for sublimation inks (Fig. O). The color becomes much, much brighter after it is heated so don’t worry.
Tape the Colored Design onto the Coaster
Trim the design into a circle shape that is larger than the coaster blank. I used a pencil to do a wide trace around the coaster sitting on top of the design.
Place the coaster face down (shiny side) on top of the design and line up the edge of the sun with the side edge of the coaster and the bottom edge of the hill with the bottom edge of the coaster. If they don’t match up correctly, draw some additional rays on the sun and color by hand so it meets the side of the coaster (hopefully not necessary). I had the black line of the hill hanging just slightly over the bottom edge of the coaster.
Very carefully cut small slits into the edges of the overhanging paper, making sure to not cut into the design itself (Fig. P).
Fold the excess paper up around the edge of the coaster overlapping the slits as need to get the design to lay smoothly against the front and edges of the coaster. Use heat resistant tape to hold the paper in place; regular tape will melt and ruin the project (Fig. Q).
NOTE: Make sure you are placing the colored design against the shiny side of the coaster.
Sublimating the Design with the Cricut EasyPress 2
Cricut says the settings for the EasyPress2 when sublimating onto ceramic coasters is 400 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 240 seconds so that’s what I used with my EasyPress2. The Cricut EasyPress2 settings page also gives instructions for the set up, click here to go to that page.
While it heats up prepare your heating area. I put down a towel, then the EasyPress Mat, then 2 pieces of plain white cardstock, then the taped up coaster, design side down, followed by a layer of parchment paper that is large enough to cover the entire heating surface of the EasyPress 2 (Fig. R).
Once the EasyPress 2 is heated up, place is straight down on to the coaster making sure to cover the entire coaster. Press the green Go button on the EasyPress and then leave it alone until the timer beeps when it is done (Fig. S).
DO NOT move or shift the EasyPress after you have placed it on the coaster. Infusible Ink is heat reactive and can smear or ghost if the heat source is slid or moved while the design is hot.
When removing the EasyPress make sure to lift straight up to again, not accidentally smear the design. Place the EasyPress2 back on its cradle and turn it off. Be careful as it is extremely hot!! Leave in place until it cools down completely.
Remove the parchment paper right away and throw away if it is scorched (highly likely). DO NOT touch the coaster!! It is extremely hot!! Leave it alone until it has cooled completely (at least 30 minutes, maybe more).
Once the coaster is completely cool, you can pick it up and remove the tape and paper from it to reveal your new, colorful coaster (Fig. T). If you can salvage it, the heat transfer tape can be re-used; I store mine on my EasyPress 2 (seen in photos). Enjoy!!
Questions or Comments?
If you have any questions, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you soon. Want to just tell me how much you loved this tutorial? Please leave me a comment below (lol!).
I would also appreciate any ideas you may have for topics to cover related to the software for Cricut (Design Space), Silhouette (Studio) or Brother (Canvas) and any suggestions you may have on projects to make with the Cricut Maker, Cricut Joy, Silhouette Cameo 4 or the Brother Scan N Cut DX. Please leave any requests you have in the comments. I appreciate you taking the time to visit and read my blog. Thanks!
The links below are compensated affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase using one of these links, I receive a small commission that adds no cost to you. This helps me run this blog and YouTube channel. I truly appreciate your support!! Please see Terms & Conditions for more details. Thanks!
FOUR SEASONS CIRCLES DESIGN FILES – No Longer Available