Making a custom decal for your technology does not have to be expensive or complicated.
In fact, you only need 3 things to complete this project!
You can also use these instructions to place a handmade decal on ANY surface. However, I recommend a very smooth surface, like metal or glass. For the purposes of this tutorial, I am applying decals to 2 surfaces; one made with pre cut stickers spelling "beautiful" and one with the marble contact paper.
Step 1: Materials
This set of instructions only requires 3 things (besides your hands and good eye sight...) !
If you don't feel like running around to find all of these supplies, you can purchase a DIY kit for this project here.
DRAWER LINER (CONTACT PAPER)
You can get classic contact paper at any Home Depot, Lowes, Target and (of course) on Amazon.com. The question is -- what pattern do you want to use? I love the faux white marble/granite trend that is around these days. It's cheeky, playful and contradicting to have a sticker resemble an enormously heavy material, but it's just so CHIC.
You can find the exact type of contact paper that I used here.
You can also use stickers with smooth surfaces (no glitter or burlap). Make sure they are good enough quality to stick to your laptop!
SHAPE HOLE PUNCH
I'm too hip to be cool, and love the hexagons, octagons and the like that are popping up all over graphic design right now. My favorite "hole" punch is a polygonal shape, by Fiskars. You can find this at AC Moore or Michaels. And Michaels always has coupons, people. Who doesn't want 40% off?
TRANSLUCENT BOOK COVER
It is key that you find book covering material, and not just contact paper. The one I used is actually from when my sister was in 7th grade. It comes packaged the same way as contact paper, but it is less sticky. It is manufactured this way so it doesn't ruin an expensive text book when you peel it off after nine months. It needs to be translucent so that you can see what you are doing when you finally place the decal on your laptop (or whatever else you want to decorate!).
Nowadays you can find book covering material at Staples, or on Amazon.
Step 2: Punch
Grab the patterned contact paper and hole punch (unless you are using stickers!).
Position the contact paper with the pattern side up. This helps the cut of the hold punch remain clean. The opposite creates more stretched stickers that need to be cleaned up manually with a scissors.
I love everything geometric, so I used my hexagonal hole punch. You can find any variety of shapes of this tool at a craft store near you.
Punch as many shapes as you think you might use. If you have limited contact paper, I recommend drawing out a plan for where you are going to place each part of your decal.
Purchase stickers of ANY shape. As long as the stickers will stick to your device you want the decal on, it will work!
Step 3: Lay Out the Decal
Cut a piece of book cover material to the approximate size of your device, or the size of your decal. Either way works just fine! Peel the book covering material off of the wax paper-like backing. Stick the corner of the book cover material onto some metal, or something that will keep the sticky part of it unharmed. You want to save this material for later use.
Take the backing for the book cover, and lay it on a flat, sturdy surface. If you want the decal to be precisely horizontal or vertical, use a ruler and marker to draw on the side of the backing that has the same texture as regular paper. Most book covering material has lines on the backing anyway (like mine!). Position the backing with the slick side up.
Peel the backing off of the first shape/sticker you are using for your decal. Place the sticker on the slick side of the sheet of book cover backing. Continue placing each sticker as you would like it to appear on your laptop, meeting its sticky side to the slick side of the backing. This is what the decal will look like once it is applied to your laptop/device.
Note: The sticker letters that I used for the "beautiful" decal didn't really want to stick firmly to the backing. This was frustrating, but just took a little more work and delicacy to create the decal. Basically, the contact paper is easier to work with than pre-cut stickers.
Step 4: Adhere the Book Cover
After you have placed the final piece of the decal onto the backing, you are ready to adhere the book covering material to the decal.
Retrieve the book covering material that you saved from earlier in the tutorial. Put your decal/backing on a very sturdy, flat surface.
Position the book covering material directly over the decal/backing with the sticky side down and facing the decal. Carefully lay the book cover on top of the decal, avoiding causing any folds or bubbles. Press firmly onto the top of the book covering, putting pressure specifically onto the stickers/contact paper. It should now be a sandwich in the order of book cover, stickers/contact paper, and lastly the backing. Smooth out the book covering material, and apply pressure to the decal until you are confident that ever inch of it is adhered to the book covering!
Make sure that all areas of the stickers/contact paper are in contact with the sticky part of the book cover. In the photos of the hexagon decal, my book covering material is a little misshapen. This does not effect the placement of the decal, so don't worry if your's ends up looking like that!
Step 5: Peel Back the Prepared Decal
SLOWLY peel the book covering from the backing.
The stickers/contact paper will come off of the backing right along with the book cover.
If you have trouble with this, replace the partially peeled book cover back on top of the decal/backing. Apply pressure with your fingers or a credit card over the decal one more time, and try again.
The "beautiful" sticker also came right along with the book covering material when I peeled it off of the backing. It was much much easier to apply the decal to the metal because the surface was smooth. Not as much pressure was necessary for the decal to stick to the metal.
Step 6: Place the Decal
I placed my hexagon decal onto a sewing chest that I have in my room for the purpose of this tutorial. This is only because I have decals on both my computer and phone at the moment. If you are using contact paper cutouts like I am, the contact paper sticks to metal, glass or especially smooth surfaces more readily than it does to rough surfaces (like this wooden chest). I don't expect my decal pictured here to last very long because the sewing chest has a rough surface.
Position your decal/book cover directly over the device/surface. Looking through the translucent book cover, line up the decal in the exact location you want it in.
Take the book covering from each end, lightly bending it into a "U" shape. The first part of the decal to touch the device will be the bottom of the U in the center. This helps you place the decal more precisely. Lower the U onto the surface, ensuring that there aren't any bends or creases. Bubbles are okay and can be fixed! The last parts of the decal to touch the surface should be the two ends. The book covering and your decal are now both adhered to your device.
Take your hand and once again apply pressure to all areas of the decal. Run your fingers along the edges of each shape in the decal. The edges may peel up with the book covering if this is not done in a detailed manner.
Step 7: Peel Up the Book Cover
Once the decal is firmly applied to the device, you are ready to pull the book covering off of the decal.
Take one corner of the book covering and slowly, slowly, slowly lift the covering off of the device. When prepared for correctly, the decal will remain on the device. If little corners of the decal start to come off with the book covering, just push them onto the surface, away from the book cover, and press firmly.
You end up with a professional looking custom decal! See? Easy.
Let me know if you have any questions ;)