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How to Make Waterslide Decals

Waterslide decals help personalize your model
sporty model car image by Ray Kasprzak from Fotolia.com

Waterslide decals are great for embellishing many types of items with almost any hard, smooth non-porous surface. Although plenty of commercially prepared decal sheets are readily available, they tend to be a little pricey. Often, you’re just not able to locate images that suit you among these products. You can make your own custom waterslide decals quickly, easily and very inexpensively. All you’ll need are your PC, ink-jet or laser printer and some waterslide decal paper. You can find the decal sheets and the clear-coat spray in stationery, hobby and computer specialty stores and sometimes in the computer section of larger discount chain retail stores.

Download images that you want to use, or create your own with your PC. If you have a scanner, you can choose images from magazines or books.

Print the images out on plain white computer paper to make sure they’re what you want. If you like them, go ahead and print them out on the waterslide decal paper. Choose the lightest ink coverage setting that your printer has, such as draft. Decal sheets tend to “grab” ink, depositing too much onto the surface of the sheet. This will cause the colors to run and smear.

Lay the freshly printed decal paper on the tabletop to dry for 20 to 25 minutes. This will help to prevent smudging of the images as they set and harden.

Lightly mist the images with the clear-coat spray. Don’t spray it heavily because using too much of the clear-coat will cause the images to dissolve right off of the paper. Set the sheet on the tabletop and place an upside down box over it, which will keep any dust from settling onto your waterslide decals. Leave it undisturbed overnight.

Cut the image from the decal sheet with scissors, trimming closely to the images. Pour some room temperature water into a bowl and it for about 25 to 35 seconds.

Remove the decal from the water and slide it onto the surface you wish to decorate. Smooth it carefully into place with your fingers to eliminate wrinkles and air bubbles. Let it dry completely.

Set and protect the new decal with a light misting of the clear-coat spray. Allow it to air dry thoroughly.

Things You'll Need:

  • Plain white printer paper
  • Waterslide decal paper appropriate for your printer
  • Clear-coat bonding spray for waterslides
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