This past weekend I attended a family wedding. The bride is well known for wearing Converse tennis shoes constantly. So, we decided to wear regular shoes to the ceremony and then change to our own Converse for the reception. Most of the females wore sparkly ones. One of the pairs of glittery tennis shoes I saw while searching for some had metal shoe tags at the top of the laces. I decided to make some custom etched acrylic tags for everyone’s shoes with the bride and groom’s initial and the wedding date. We had a lot of fun with these so I decided to share them with you.
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Acrylic shoe tags — I got my clear ones from Craft Chameleon. (They look white, but that’s only because I have not yet removed the protective covering). Clear shows up best on dark laces. They need to be of a thickness that works for your machine. The ones I got are the standard thickness for those from CC — 3mm. I’m going to be testing with some metal ones as well, so keep an eye out for a post about that. Those might be a better choice for light colored laces.
Template/Jig — When I purchased my shoe tags, they included a digital file. The file has the exact size and shape of the tag in it. That makes it easy to create your own template/jig. A jig helps hold your acrylic piece in place during the etching process. To find out how to make your own, see this post. Craft Chameleon does sell a plastic one that matches their shoe tags.
Machine — The best machine for etching acrylic is the Curio. That’s because it has a rigid base. That’s what I will focus on in this post. I recommend you check out Kay Hall’s site to learn more about etching with other machines, as I don’t yet have posts here on my site for those.
Mat — I prefer to use the cutting mat.
Etching Tool — I use Silhouette America’s etching tool for my acrylic and it works great.
Tape — I use double-sided tape to hold the acrylic piece to the cutting mat, and painter’s tape or washi tape for holding your jig in place and holding the pieces to the jig. This is all to keep is secure as you etch. I also recommend using the painter’s or washi tape to cover any holes in your jig.
My design is simple — bride and groom’s initials and wedding date. The font is called Bell MT, and I believe it came preloaded on my Windows computer.
I put it all on one tag so I’d have enough for everyone. You could also put the initials on the one for the left shoe and the date on the one for the right shoe.
To create the etching lines, I–
- Made a copy of the text box. The next steps change it to a regular image, so this gives me something to start over with as needed. Plus, I may need to figure out the font and size later.
- Used the Scale tab of the Transform panel to increase the text to 200%.
- In the Line Effects panel, chose the Grid fill effect and Plain edge effect.
- Took the spacing for the Grid fill down to .005, which is the lowest it goes.
- Chose Release Effects at the bottom.
- Back in the Scale tab again, decreased it to 50%.
The reason for increasing the size before doing the fills is to get them closer together. Increasing a set percentage means it’s easier later to get it back to the right size. You release the effects (#5) so that when you take the size back down the distance between the lines shrinks as well. If you didn’t, they’d stay at .005 distance, which doesn’t give a solid enough fill.
Etching looks best on the back side, so you’ll want to mirror your design. Select it and use the Object>Mirror>Flip Horizontally drop down menu, or Flip Horizontally in the right click menu.
I also recommend having a different line color for the etching than for your shape so you can easily etch by line color.
The etching process
I covered the basics of etching in this post, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here. If you haven’t etched with your Curio before, I suggest you read that post. It’s in my First Steps series. What I’m going to share here is some things specific to working with the shoe tags.
You can put more pieces on your page since they are small. I put 12 on mine, whereas I use only 2-4 with larger pieces.
It’s very important that you have the exact location of your holes and pieces on your jig. I recommend you test it first. Put a piece of cardstock on the mat under the jig. Put a sketch pen or your own pen in the pen holder into the machine and have it sketch on the cardstock. You don’t have to do all the etching lines — just enough to make sure your design is in the right place.
I have found that one of the trickiest issues I have with etching is the jig. If it isn’t sitting absolutely flush on the mat all the way around, it isn’t going to work. I struggled MAJORLY during one project with that and it took quite awhile to figure it out. If the holes in your jig — the ones that fit over the pegs on the Curio platform — aren’t big enough, the jig will buckle up slightly. Use painter’s tape to hold it to the platform as needed.
Securing the pieces
I prefer to work with the cutting mat for the Curio, not the embossing mat. I find that the acrylic pieces stay in place best when I secure them with both double sided tape between the piece and the mat, and painter’s tape over the edges. The tape will rip apart the foam on the embossing mat, so that’s why I don’t use it. The foam does help the piece adhere, so feel free to experiment with using that to hold the acrylic on and then add just the painter’s tape on top. Just be sure you don’t get that painter’s tape on the mat itself.
Remove the protective covering from one side of your acrylic piece. That’s the side you’re going to etch on. Leave the covering on the other side for now. On that side, put your piece of double-sided tape and then place the piece onto the mat.
Keeping the mat clean
Be sure to cover any areas on your jig that don’t have acrylic pieces in them. This keeps the mat free of the tons of tiny acrylic dust the etching creates. I keep the pieces I cut out when I create my jigs. You can also cover those with painter’s or washi tape.
My finished shoe tags
Here’s a closeup of the tag on my shoe. Yep — full on purple glitter sneakers.
We’re already brainstorming what design to do for the next family wedding. Hope your family is as fun as mine!
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