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This Technique is Uber Versatile.
The super cool part about hydro-dipping is you can use this technique on SO many things. Not just tumblers! You can dip sneakers, hats, lamps, toys, etc. Literally this technique works on LOTS of items – think glass pieces, plastic, wooden spoon handles, wooden shapes, skateboards, acrylic pieces, pencils, most metals, etc. Just don’t let the paint get on surfaces that will actually touch food or drinks.
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What You Need for a Basic Dip:
I normally use tumblers from Amazon but you can practice on items from Dollar Tree!!!
Spray Paint – I would limit most dips to 4 colors not counting the primer coat. Don’t waste your money on expensive paint. Again, WalMart to the rescue! I prefer glossy for dipping but I like to prep my projects with a coat of flat white first but you can basecoat/ prime with any color you want.
A 5 gallon Bucket (or something similar to hold water) – make sure it’s one you don’t mind getting paint all over, because it won’t come clean afterwards!
A paint stick or something to move the paint around with
Old newspaper (it helps if you roll up a few sheets into a stick)
Plastic grocery bags
Step 1: Clean your tumbler. I wipe mine down with a lint free cloth and rubbing alcohol to remove any fingerprints, leftover adhesive from packaging labels, etc.
Step 2: Using electrical tape- tape off the top and bottom edge so you have a clean, straight border between where your mouth and lid will be so you are not making direct contact with the hydro dipped surface. I tape the bottom just for aesthetics and because if you are like me, that is the part of my tumblers that takes the most abuse and will show wear and tear first so I prefer to not paint the bottoms at all.
Step 3: Wrap the lid in a grocery sack and twist. Be sure there are no holes otherwise paint may get onto the lid. Stuff the remaining part of the bag that is not twisted around the lid down inside the cup as you replace the bag covered lid tightly. You may even want to go around the bagged lid and cup lip with more electrical tape. This will prevent paint from getting inside the cup.
Step 4: Spray paint the outside of your tumbler with a base coat. You can use any color. I use flat white. After your base coat is dry, you are ready to take a dip! Fill your container with water leaving only about 4 or 5 inches of space at the top to apply the spray paint.
Step 5: Make sure all of your paint cans are well shaken and open. You will also need your tumbler and newspaper “stick” close by. You’ll need to work fast on this part because the paint will dry on the surface of the water fairly quickly. Start spraying the paint on top of the water. Don’t get too close or the water will splash creating bubbles under the paint which will transfer to your cup! Spray about 6-8 inches away. Spray one color at a time right in short bursts that will only look like splotches of color. You will alternate spraying the paint colors one after the other. Keep spraying one paint right after another until the entire top of your water is covered.
Step 6: Using your paint stick, gently but quickly give the paint a swirl. You’ll notice that the paint has become like a sticky film on top of the water. Be careful not to disrupt it too much – if you clump it up too much your colors will become muddy looking and sink to the bottom of the water or form clumps on your cup.
Step 7: You are ready to dip!! Put your gloves on! Take your cup, (I hold the bagged lid/taped edge and start to submerge it in the center of the container.) TIP: Go in at an angle, rotating the cup as you go, and go SLOW. You are trying not to disrupt the water or paint too much as you dip.
Step 8: Once it is fully submerged under the water, take the rolled up newspaper “stick” and lift any remaining left over paint off the surface of the water and away from your submerged cup. If you don’t remove the paint, when you lift the cup out more paint will adhere to cup and that is likely to produce undesirable results.
Step 9: Quickly lift your cup out of the water. Tap the taped off bottom of the tumbler on a hard surface to help remove air and water bubbles.
Step 10: Set it somewhere safe so it can dry! I would let it dry for at least a day or two. Once dry, you can spray with a clear coat or epoxy it if you want.
Glam it up with Glitter!
If you want to give it the full glitter treatment you will need a few more things.
Gorgeous transparent glitter – this one here will work with any color!
Ready to go for it?
Once you have allowed your hydro-dipped cup to dry for a couple of days (because some water stays trapped between the layers of paint) you are ready to bedazzle your cup.
- Tape off the top lip and the bottom of the cup with electrical tape. (I rarely coat the bottom because if you drop the cup it will shatter the epoxy.)
- Take the cup outside and spray with a generous even coat of the Loctite spray adhesive. I wear gloves for this because it is sticky!
- Apply your translucent glitter over the adhesive you just applied, being careful to get every spot as equally coated as possible. Press the glitter into the cup with your gloved hands to help it adhere and lay flatter.
- Spray with clear sealer. This keeps epoxy from making colored glitters run.
- Place your tumbler on the turner and be sure it is on the foam evenly, firmly, and securely.
- Mix your epoxy according to the directions in the package. (Always wear Nitrile gloves for your protection, some people even wear a chemical respirator for fumes.) You will be using about 20-25ml of each part A and B. When you mix your epoxy be careful to use clean stirring sticks for each part so you don’t cross contaminate your measuring cups. I write an “A” and a “B” on the bottom of each of my cups in Sharpie Pen to help me keep my epoxy clean.
- Pour both parts into a third silicon or disposable cup and stir gently but thoroughly for several minutes. Then add a touch of a different color ultra fine glitter. This really gives the finished tumbler a super sparkly, polished look.
- Turn the cup turner on and start to apply the epoxy on the spinning cup by drizzling a bit of epoxy and using a gloved finger to spread it from taped edge to taped edge. Use a bright light to check for even coverage and allow the cup to spin for 30-40 min.
- After 30-40 min. you will remove the tape carefully from the top and bottom edge. You will need new gloves and it is ok to turn off the spinner to remove the tape but do not take the cup off the spinner. Be careful to not let anything drop into or drag against the still wet epoxy. This step requires focus and delicate handling.
- Turn the cup spinner back on and allow to cure for approx. 8 hours. I let mine spin overnight.
- Now it is ready to take off the spinner and wet sand with 600 grit sandpaper. I tape off my top and bottom again so I don’t make scratch marks on the lip and bottom.
- Wipe your tumbler down with plain rubbing alcohol to get all the residue off and apply your vinyl or stickers to your cup. I love using my Cricut for this purpose! There are so many fun vinyls to choose from that go great with personalizing tumblers.
- Now you are ready for the final coat of epoxy. You will repeat the same steps as above including remembering to pull the tape off after about 30-40 min.
Your cup is ready to hand wash and use. Never put it in a dishwasher, hand wash only. I hope you take the “plunge” literally and make one of these or share this article with someone you know who loves fancy tumblers as much as I do. If you try it I would love for you to send me pictures!