How to make water transfer decals

Written by ally o'boyle
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How to make water transfer decals
Water-transfer decals decorate Easter eggs. (Easter eggs image by Ragne Kabanova from

From monograms and logos to elaborate designs, one of the hottest trends of today is a personalised item. One economical way to personalise just about anything is with a decal. Water transfer decals are used on ceramics, furniture, and even baseball bats. They provide a smooth, ultra thin surface that is ideal for many applications, according to You can make your own decals at home, like the ones made at, in just a few short steps.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Image
  • Water transfer paper
  • Acrylic coating spray
  • Scissors

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  1. 1

    Create your image using a computer graphics program. You can choose from clip art, one of your own photos, or create a drawing to scan into your program.

  2. 2

    Use your graphics program to resize and crop your design. Make sure the design will fit comfortably on your chosen item without folding or wrinkling.

  3. 3

    Set your image print standard to the highest resolution and glossy paper setting, and print your design using water-slide decal transfer paper. Be sure to follow any instructions provided. If you have included white in your decal design, you will have to use transfer paper specially designed for this purpose, because standard transfer paper makes white areas transparent, and your printer cannot print the colour white.

  4. 4

    Spray your decal with a clear acrylic coating to protect and preserve the design. Once the coating has dried, cut around the design, being careful not to cut into the image. If you are using white transfer paper, you will have a small white border around your image.

  5. 5

    Submerge the decal in water for approximately one minute, or according to the manufacture's instructions. Slide the decal from its backing onto the surface of your chosen item and allow to dry. You now have a one-of-a-kind item to enjoy or share.

Tips and warnings

  • Graphics programs come supplied with a wide variety of fonts that make perfect monograms to use in your designs.
  • Ceramic pieces should be hand washed and are not suitable for use with food items.

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