Learn how you can make this unique wall plaque gift for the new mom and dad that can be cherished forever.
There are days that it can feel like they will never grow up and get out of your hair but, all too often, we forget how quickly the time flies. My three kids are now grown and out on their own. I have very special memories of taking the time to just be with them, whether it was quietly rocking, giggling, doing kid-crafts, or anything that lets them know they are loved.
You can make this wall plaque for the new mom and dad using your Cricut. It shares a snippet of a poem that reminds parents to take the time to be with their child.
The full poem is titled Song for a Fifth Child, written by by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton in 1958. You can read the story of the poem here. For this project, I used the final stanza of the poem, cut it from vinyl on my Cricut and applied it to the glass in a shadow box. This shadow box project includes a photo of a mother and child, though you can use a personal photo.
Materials and Supplies
(This post contains affiliate links to one or more of the items I used in this project – which means, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission. There is no added cost to you!)
- 8″ x 8″ shadow box
- Rubbing alcohol & paper towel
- Vinyl – The color of vinyl you choose will depend on the photo you use in the shadow box. If the photo is dark, you will want a light color vinyl. If the photo is lighter, you will want a darker color of vinyl. I used a matte black vinyl. Vinyl loves to adhere to glass so any type of vinyl will work.
- Weeding tool – I prefer to use an X-Acto knife
- Transfer tape (yes, that giant roll that looks like masking tape in the picture below is my transfer tape)
- Vinyl squeegee (a credit card will do in a pinch)
- A craft machine to cut the vinyl, such as the Cricut
- Design file from my Resource Library
- Photo for the shadow box – I have included a mother and child photo in my Resource Library. You have my permission to use this photo for personal use in your personal project/gift (it is a picture of me with my first child). This can be a permanent part of the gift or a place-holder until a more personal photo of the parent and child can be placed in the frame. Note: you will want a subtle photo in the background. If the photo is clear and crisp, it will be difficult to read the letters of the poem over the photo.
An IMPORTANT Note About the Size of the Project
Cutting letters this small is simple enough for your Cricut but weeding it takes patience and a little experience with weeding. It took me around 45 minutes to weed it (though, that included taking photos along the way). I do not want to discourage you from trying this project but if you have never worked with vinyl, I suggest trying a simpler project first (I have links to all my vinyl projects at the end of this post). If you have some experience with vinyl but you think these letters are a bit small for you yet, buy a larger shadow box and scale up the cut file in Design Space to the size of the glass for your shadow box. Just make sure it is square so you do not distort the letters.
Cutting the Poem
The design file included in this gift for the new mom and dad is the section of the poem that reminds us all that these precious gifts grow up so fast and we should remember to take the time to just be with them.
This is the part of the poem that you will cut on your craft machine:
Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby. Babies don’t keep.
These words are laid out to fit onto the glass of an 8″ x 8″ shadow box. You can scale up the design in Design Space (or the application for your craft machine) to fit onto any square dimension.
The cut files include both .SVG and .DXF files. After downloading from my resource library, unzip the file to extract the file you need.
When you upload the file to Cricut Design Space, or the application for your craft machine, there is nothing to do to the file except cut it. You will notice that there are squares in each corner of the design. These are the registration marks to help you line up the design to the corners of the glass. I will show you how to use these later in this post.
If you are new to cutting small items in vinyl, you may want to cut a test piece first and practice weeding something so small. You can cut test pieces from scraps of vinyl or vinyl you pick up for free (you can read my post on how to get free vinyl for more information).
When the cutting is finished, you may find it easier to do weeding while the vinyl is still on the cutting mat. This is especially true if your vinyl wants to curl due to having been on a tight roll. I left mine on my cutting mat for this project.
Weeding the Vinyl
For those who have already worked with vinyl, you can probably take it from here and skip to the next section of the project. But, I know there are many people who are new to working with vinyl and I want to help make this easy for you since this will make such a nice gift for new parents.
What is “Weeding”?
Weeding is the process of removing all the vinyl that is NOT a part of the project. For this project, the letters ARE the project so we want to weed off everything that is NOT the letters. Also, this project uses registration marks. These are the squares in the corners of the design. Do not weed those off because we will use those later.
An alternate way of doing this project (and easier to weed) would be to etch the poem into the glass. If we were going to etch the letters into the glass, we would weed off the letters and leave everything else so the etching compound would etch where the letters used to be. I have a post where I used vinyl I cut on my Cricut and etched into glass. You can read that post to see how to use vinyl as a stencil for etching glass. An etching project would be best for a shadow box photo that is dark (darker than the photo included with the project files in my Resource Library).
When you are weeding everything except the letters, like we are doing with this project, it is often easier to weed from right to left because most letters have openings face the right, such as the letters “c” and “e.” Pulling up the vinyl with your left hand and pulling it from the right and toward the left results in fewer opportunities for tearing the vinyl or pulling up a letter.
It is still a careful process and you should move slowly through the weeding. With lettering this small, you will need to watch for the punctuation marks and the dots over the letter “i.” You will also need to remove the centers of letters such as the “hole” in the letter “O” or other closed-shaped letters.
As I stated earlier, this took me about 45 minutes to weed. Take your time. Some projects are not “I need it NOW!” projects. Just take your time.
Weeding tools can be something that have the name of your craft machine stamped on it, or it can be something like an X-Acto knife, which is what I use. I know some people who use dental tools as weeding tools. Use whatever works for you. You want to be comfortable with your tools so you have a happy experience.
The purpose of weeding tools is to help you pick up the edge of the vinyl so you can grab hold of the vinyl to be weeded off. If you are weeding very small things, a set of tweezers can be handy to help grab those small pieces of vinyl. I like to use an X-Acto knife because I can easily cut through vinyl that did not get cut all the way through by the cutting blade on my machine or to cut off excess vinyl as I am weeding so I don’t end up with a handful of vinyl while trying to work. Everyone is different and you will eventually develop your own techniques.
Weeding THIS project
I laid out the text of the poem into four sections. To make weeding easier, I used my X-Acto knife to cut through the vinyl (JUST the vinyl – not the carrier paper) between those four sections of the poem. That way I only had to weed one section at a time.
Start in the upper right corner. This is true whether you are right or left-handed. This is because weeding letters works best when weeding right to left. Make sure that registration mark is left on the carrier paper.
Continue to slowly and carefully pull back the vinyl, making sure the letters stay on the carrier paper. You may need to use your weeding tool to hold a piece of vinyl on the carrier paper as you weed off the outer vinyl.
After you finish this first section, go back and remove all the “centers” of all the letters.
Patiently continue through the entire project. If you need to take a break, it is okay to walk away, rest your eyes, rest your hands, rest your nerves or whatever. As I said, weeding small things needs some patience. Do not rush. Take your time so you do not have to start over. When complete, it should look like this.
Apply the Transfer Tape
Again, if you are already familiar with working with vinyl, you likely already know how to use transfer tape and can skip to the next section.
What is Transfer Tape?
There are a few types of transfer tape. Some are clear, some have a grid printed on them, some look more like masking tape, and there are varying tackiness of the adhesive in the transfer tape. Some people even use other common products as transfer tape.
The purpose of the transfer tape is to get the vinyl off the carrier paper (the paper that was attached to the vinyl when you first acquired it) and transfer that vinyl to your project.
I use a transfer tape that is used by professional sign makers in sign shops. It looks a bit like masking tape. I have a 12″ by 100-foot roll that I bought for next-to-nothing from a sign shop because I have established a relationship with them. If you want to learn more about making friends with a sign shop, read this post I wrote on how to get free vinyl.
Apply the Transfer Tape
You will need a piece of transfer tape that is a little larger than your vinyl project. I am right-handed. If you are left-handed, you will reverse sides for this step. Starting at the right side of the vinyl sheet, secure the edge of the transfer tape along that side of the vinyl.
Begin working toward the opposite side by pressing the transfer tape onto the vinyl. Use a burnishing or squeegee tool or something equivalent (such as the edge of a credit card), to secure the transfer tape to the vinyl.
Continue all the way across the whole project until all the vinyl is covered with the transfer tape. Once all the transfer tape is down, stroke your squeegee tool across the surface to make sure the transfer tape has a good bond with the vinyl. Use a dragging motion, as opposed to a pushing motion, for this.
Do not lift the vinyl off the carrier paper yet. If you have been working up til now with the project still on your cutting mat, you can now remove the whole project from your mat – separating the carrier paper from the mat.
Prepare the Glass Surface
Vinyl adheres nicely to a smooth surface like glass. The surface also needs to be clean.
Whether the frame you are using is old or new, you should still clean the glass. Old ones may have dust and oils from the air or skin oils from fingers touching the glass. New ones straight from the factory can have dust and oils from the factory air.
Thoroughly wash the glass. Wash with a soapy water that will cut through grease (you can use a product such as Dawn). Do not use an ammonia-based product such as Windex. This leaves a residue that may cause the vinyl to not stick as well.
If doing this kind of project is new for you, roll up a couple of pieces of painters tape to hold your glass to your work surface so that it does not shift around while you are working. You can alternately tape all four sides to your work surface.
You should then wipe the surface of the glass with rubbing alcohol to cut through any remaining residue. Let the alcohol dry completely.
Try to work in an environment that does not have a lot of dust flying around (including pet hair). You do not want that to get stuck between your glass and the vinyl.
Using Registration Marks for Alignment
Not everyone can “eyeball” perfect alignment. I know I certainly cannot. That is where registration marks are helpful. This project has a square in each corner. Those squares are positioned so that they will fit right into each corner of the 8″ x 8″ piece of glass.
Trim the Registration Corners
What I am demonstrating here is only one of several methods for using registration marks to help you with aligning your vinyl.
Using a pair of scissors, trim the carrier paper and transfer tape to the outer edges of the registration marks and then a notch in to the right side. I have a picture here to show you what I mean.
Expose Registration Marks
Peel back the carrier paper from the two registration marks on the right side of the vinyl and cut off the carrier paper on that side. The only vinyl now exposed should be the two registration marks in the corners on the right side of your project.
Hover your vinyl over the glass. We are not mechanical machines so we cannot lower this perfectly. Get the left side down first since that side still has the carrier paper on it. Make sure the left side registration marks are lined up to the corners of the glass.
Lower the right side down. As you lower the right side down, keep an eye on all four corners to keep that alignment of the registration marks to all four corners. Once that vinyl touches the glass it will want to stick.
Attach the Corners to the Glass
When you have all four registration marks set correctly into the corners, use your fingers to press those two right side registration marks so they adhere to the glass.
Apply the Rest of the Vinyl
Lay a piece of tape along the right side, in that notch that you cut earlier. This tape will be a hinge.
Fold back the vinyl along that hinge then peel back about half of the carrier paper.
Hold the project in your left hand and your squeegee in your right hand. Use the squeegee to start pressing the vinyl onto the glass – working right to left. Push into the curve of the transfer paper. You do not need to push hard but you should work evenly across the surface. This sort of like when you lay a pie crust into a pie pan. You start at one side of your pie pan and lower the pie crust dough from one side to the other, lightly pressing it into the pan.
When you get to that half way point, you can remove the rest of the carrier paper and hold just the transfer tape as you continue in the same manner until you have all the vinyl letters against the glass. There is no need to worry about getting the left registration marks against the glass. We will pull those off later.
Use your squeegee in a dragging motion, work the squeegee across the surface of the transfer tape to get the adhesive of the vinyl secured to the glass. Press firmly as you do this.
Remove Transfer Tape
Starting in one of the corners, start to peel back the transfer tape. If vinyl starts coming off with the transfer tape, lay the tape back down and go over the transfer tape again with the squeegee but with firmer pressure.
Do not pull straight up. Pull the transfer tape back, keeping it close to the surface of the project as you pull.
Continue across the surface of the project. This is where having the glass secured to the work surface is handy. This way I can use both hands to pull evenly on the transfer tape instead of using one hand to hold the glass.
When the transfer tape is completely removed, peel off the registration marks.
Carefully lift the glass off the tape that was securing the glass to your work surface.
Assemble the Shadow Box
This is probably the easiest part of this project. Gather up all the components for your shadow box.
Lay the glass in first, vinyl side down, then add the rest of the parts and secure the back of the frame.
The gift for the new mom and dad is now complete!
Other Posts About Cutting Vinyl
If you are new to cutting vinyl or just want to try some new projects, then you can click these links to try some of the things I have blogged about that use vinyl somewhere in the project such as using vinyl for a stencil or an etching mask.
- How to get Vinyl for Free (my most popular!)
- Love Your Home! …with These Easy to Make Stenciled HOME Panels
- Royally Etched and Painted Crown Bottles
- Stenciled Tudor Rose Box
- DIY “Create” Sign for Craft Room
- Stenciled NOEL Canvas Holiday Panels
- Believe! – Christmas Plaque
- Kitchen Canister Labels: Organize Your Kitchen
- Shadow Box Heart Art – You Make My Heart Soar!
- Clean and Dirty Dishwasher Magnet
- Gift Poem for the New Mom and Dad