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Make a Mousepad
Use Iron-On Transfer to Create a Mousepad

Here's a quick and easy computer craft that can also double as a holiday gift. See the yellow box to the right for a list of supplies.

 For This Project
• Graphics, Page Layout, or Creative Printing Software
• Photos, Clip Art, Scans, Fonts as required
• Ink-jet Printer
• Iron-on Transfer Paper
• Pencil
• Scissors
• Blank Mousepad
• Iron
• Pillowcase/Cloth (for ironing)  
  Related Resources
• Creating Iron-on Transfers
• Creative Printing & Crafts Center
• Make a Greeting Card
• Make a Calendar
• Holiday Treasures from the Desktop
• EDPS - Mousepad Kits
• EDPS - Blank Mousepads
• Micro Format - Mousepad Kit
• Invent It! Mousepad Kit

finished mousepad

Perhaps the most difficult part of this whole project is coming up with the images and arranging it the way you want. Some ideas:

  • Family photos
  • Pet photos
  • Photos of your car, your home, or local landmarks
  • Scans of your children's artwork
  • Wedding, birthday party, or vacation photos
  • Your own original sketches or other artwork
  • Images downloaded from the Internet
  • A chart of keyboard shortcuts
  • Chatting lingo and emoticons
  • A list of your favorite URLs (Web sites)
  • Your business logo or product photos

For more ideas, browse The First Virtual Mousepad Museum gallery.

Below are the steps for creating most iron-on type transfer papers and mousepads. After these steps, learn more about an alternative to iron-on transfers submitted by a member.

Step 1
Open your favorite page layout or graphics program. I used Corel Photo-Paint to touch up the photo but did the layout in CorelDRAW. You could use Adobe PageMaker, Microsoft Publisher, The Print Shop, or any other creative printing program. Set up the page size to match the size of the mousepad.

Step 2
Insert or import your desired artwork, add text, and rearrange everything until you're satisfied with the on-screen results. TIP: Extend the edges of your design about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch beyond the edges of the page (mousepad) to allow for trimming and slippage during the transfer process.

Step 3
Flip your image. You can do this in your software or the printer setup. Choose Mirror, Flip, or other appropriate command. This is especially important if your design contains text.

Step 4
Print a test image on plain paper. TIP: Before printing, place a small X on the top-facing side of the paper while it is in the paper tray. Note which side the X is on after printing your test page so you'll know how to load the transfer paper in Step 5.

Step 5
If satisfied with your design and how it prints, load a sheet of transfer paper in the printer. Be sure you place it so that the design will print one the correct side of the paper (refer to tip in Step 4). Most transfer paper has a faint pattern printed on the wrong (non-printing) side.

Step 6
Choose the Best Quality or High Resolution setting in your printer setup and set the paper type to Iron-on Transfer Paper or Coated Paper.
print your mousepad design on transfer paper Make sure the printer is still set to print a mirror image. Print your design.

Step 7
Let the finished print dry completely. (I accidently scraped ink from my first transfer because I didn't let it dry enough before handling.)

Step 8
With a pencil, lightly trace the mousepad to the back of the transfer paper and trim the excess paper away from the design with your scissors.
trim your printed transfer paper to match mousepadTIP: Trim the design to just slightly larger than the mousepad. (I failed to do this on my first design and the image slipped a little while ironing leaving a bit of white edge showing on the finished mousepad.)

Step 9
Preheat your iron on a high cotton, no steam setting. Let it get very hot. If the iron isn't hot enough, your transfer may fail.

Step 10
Place a pillowcase or other cloth on a hard, flat surface. Don't use a padded ironing board. (A tile or wood floor or tabletop work great.) Place the blank mousepad, fabric side UP in the middle of the ironing area.

Step 11
Place the printed transfer face down on the fabric side of the mousepad and align it carefully.

Step 12
Iron the transfer in a circular motion. Apply constant steady pressure for one minute (or however long your particular transfer paper or mousepad kit recommends).
iron your printed transfer paper onto the mousepad with a very hot iron, no steam, and using steady, firm pressure Be sure to press down firmly and don't skimp on the edges of the design.

Step 13
Let the transfer cool completely. Don't even handle it while it is still warm.

Step 14
After the mousepad and transfer have cooled, grasp a corner of the transfer paper and peel away from the mousepad. If necessary, trim your mousepad (or cut it to a new shape like a circle or flower).

Step 15
finished mousepadIntroduce your mouse to your new mousepad or wrap it up for gift-giving. Post a picture of your new mousepad in the forum.

Alternative Mousing Around

Judy P. submitted this alternative method:

Did you know there is a new paper on the market that allows you to make mouse pads without using the iron? The paper is called, "Photo Silk Fabric, with adhesive backing". This is a Burlington Product. It is the nicest paper for making clocks, wall switch covers, MOUSE PADS, and many other projects.

This is not like the old peel and stick papers that crack, bubble, and are hard to place. This paper leaves a beautiful finish on mouse pads, has sort of a sheen to it. Also, no messy ironing, that can melt your mouse pad. And, the best of all, children can use this product with out the fear of being burned by a very hot iron.

Learn more about Photo Silk Fabric.

Another alternative to the blank mousepads is described in Kay Hall's The Color Printer Idea Book. Kay uses 3 mm-thick craft foam. Place the printed fabric onto the foam sheet. Craft foam comes in various sizes allowing you even more creativity in your mousepad size and shapes.

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