Homemade Stickers

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Introduction: Homemade Stickers

SMFA Boston Grad. Creator of many things, consumer of more things.

Want to make stickers, but don't feel like forking out lots of cash for sticker paper? Thankfully there's an easy way to make your own with stuff you probably have around the house, or are easily accessible.

WARNING: These stickers can be VERY difficult to get off depending on the surface you put it on. They are not like your average peel-n-stick and might rip during removal. If you get in a...sticky situation...for what you stick where it's your own damn sticker adhesive and you're gonna soak in it!

If you like my Instructable please rate it. :)

UPDATES:
- Thanks to ItstheHobbs for helping me remember what contact paper is called.

- Please do not ask me to upload my sticker designs. I'm not going to give them to you no matter how nicely you ask. The only way to get one is for me to personally hand you one.

- I just added that pun in the warning there. Please do not hesitate to shoot me in the face.

Step 1: Materials

You need:
White Vinegar
White Glue (Elmer's works fine)
Your design(s) printed out on paper*
A wide brush
Tupperware container OR jar (optional)
Packaging tape OR Clear Contact Paper (optional)**
Straight edge
Little spray bottle (Recommended)
Scissors OR X-acto Blade

*Regular printer paper works the best I've found. I printed some on matte paper and the adhesive didn't absorb into the paper, making for a weaker sticker.

** Utrecht's art supply carries this in about 36" rolls. It's also great for making very crisp stencils. The only bad thing about this is it rips easier than the tape. It's also a tad expensive, last I remember.

Design Tips: Try to fit as many stickers as you can on one sheet. With rectangular or square stickers this shouldn't be a problem. But with stickers with a more dynamic shape I like to leave about an 1/8" border around the edge of the ink.

A lot of people have been asking me if it's okay to use a different kind of vinegar over the years. I'm going to say no, and read the comments. White Vinegar is stupid cheap and the purest, so it won't discolor your sticker stock.

Step 2: The Adhesive

The ratio for glue to vinegar is 2:1. My first few batches were just 2 Tbsp glue and 1 Tbsp vinegar, which gave me about a half dozen letter-sized sheets of stickers (don't quite remember). However now I just mix up a huge batch and save it in a jar. Make sure you mix the ingredients well.

The adhesive is essentially what goes on the back of stamps- it won't taste horrible if you lick a little bit, but if you slobber it you might get a funky taste stuck on your tongue. Licking also isn't as good a method of adhesion. I couldn't tell you the exact chemical reaction, but what I believe happens is when the dry adhesive gets wet it reactivates the glue. So think that when you put the sticker down, you're pretty much gluing it on. Be mindful of where you put it...

Step 3: The Adhesive (cont.)

This part can be vital to how your sticker sticks. Not ever stroke will reach the end of the page, if it does then you've probably put too much on. Longways should take about three strokes and shortways should take two. Once you've covered the sheet make sure the coat is even on every sticker and that they're all coated. When that layer is dry brush on another layer of adhesive perpendicular to the direction of your first layer and let that dry.

Once dry to the touch, the sheets will probably be a little warped. Put them under a stack of books or heavy objects to flatten them out.

Step 4: Adding the Gloss

Take out your now flattened sheet of stickers, ready your tape and lay it across the stickers, starting at one end and using your straight edge to lay it down evenly to prevent bubbles and wrinkles. This will help weatherproof the sticker and give it some nice gloss like a vinyl sticker. This step isn't really necessary, it just depends on the look you wanna go for. My first stickers were just paper- I think it gives it a more home made look.

If your sticker is too big for the tape then that's where the contact paper comes in. Cut out a piece that covers an entire sheet. Uncover one edge of the plastic and lay it down along one edge of the paper. This part is kinda tricky; use your straightedge to lay the plastic down on the paper evenly while simultaneously pulling the backing off the adhesive.

When you're done, just cut the sticker out to their final size and keep them flat to make sure they don't buckle. I put them in a little pocket in my sketchbook.

Step 5: Application (The Fun Part)

Find a good, flat surface to put your sticker on. Porous surfaces tend to work best, but sometimes it really depends on the amount of adhesive on the sticker. Use your spray bottle to give the adhesive a few good sprays so that it's all covered, it's good to spray from about a foot away so it doesn't get too concentrated. Too much water will make the adhesive too watery and not dry as well and not enough won't activate it, you need to play around with it. If you don't have a spray bottle a damp rag will do. Just brush it over the surface and slap it on.

Apply the sticker to the surface and hold it there for a second. Be sure to flatten out any wrinkles or bubbles. If you didn't weatherproof them with tape or plastic you can give the face of the sticker a few sprays to activate the adhesive absorbed in the paper.

Remember: These stickers can be tough to remove, be mindful of where you put them.

That's pretty much it. The few stickers I've made have been in high demand from friends and peers. I've also passed them around at concerts and given them to potential clients. It really helps to print out a bunch (if you have a good printer with waterproof ink) and make a bunch at once, cut out a few and keep 'em in a baggie. However, if your design's shape is complex (like the Cthulhu sticker) then be prepared for a world of hurt when you cut out sheet after sheet.

Step 6: Closing Tips

- If you're putting these on public property, don't be stupid.

- There's no one way to get a design on the sheet. Silk screening is definitely more work but gives it a homemade feel. Getting them printed at a print shop will give you VERY high quality prints with fabulous colors but I doubt they won't fade in the sun. Kinko's usually charges $0.50 for a black and white print and $0.75 to $1.00 for color prints.

- Make a ton and give them out to friends.

-Try to see how big you can print one just for kicks. There were some plotters in the lower design labs in my school so I printed one out that's about 4' long by 2' wide. I did not make this a sticker, instead it's a poster in my friend's room. :p

- Read the comments, some people have suggested other directions you could go with this.

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277 Discussions

why is everyone going nuts over this? Ok, i plan on making some for my friends there awesome. But people are using them like they have never heard of regular glue for things like there notebook and stuff. great instructable though!

I'm a little confused. are these lick-and-stick stickers or the kind where you peel off the back and stick it? I have the ingredients ready to go, I just wanna make sure I'm making the kind of stickers I want to sell at a convention :)
thanks!

1 reply

Does it have to be vinegar mixed with glue? Can there be an alternative to vinegar for this?

1 reply

So the contact paper is sticky on one side, and i should be careful once i place it down on the paper or else it will rip? so i am basically taping tape onto the sticker so it laminates? by the way, thank you so much for this tutorial!

All of the supplies are rather common. Contact paper can be found at any art/craft supply store or hardware store.

I did it n they stick n everythjng used paper u suggested but it discoloured the sticker that was black to start with

image.jpg

I wanted to know if i could use water to reactivate to glue and peel the sticker off

does white wine vinegar work too? Just as long as it's not red wine vinegar etc.?

2 replies

I have no idea. White wine vinegar is the purest, so it will likely work the best.

Or can i just do it with out it

Do i need tape

will these be okay if i stick them on my camelbak?

I need to do something like this. I have stickers on the back of my 3DS, and they are already peeling. Thank you for the tutorial!

1 reply

Be mindful that the adhesive works best on porous surfaces. The smooth back of a 3DS may not be the best surface.

i tried this with and without the duct tape, and it didn't stick either time. what am i doing wrong? could it be the size of the sticker? mine are a little bigger than your cthulhu's head, but i also tried just cutting out bigger pieces of paper and doing the same thing on them and that didn't work either.

i didn't use elmer's glue specifically, just random liquid glue i had lying around(i don't live in america and the brands in my country are completely different). could that be the problem? also this could be a weird question, but can i also do this with wheat paste? a.k.a. does it dry and get sticky again if you wet it?

thanks for the guide, it's the most useful one i've found so far