Stickers, adhesive labels commonly featuring colorful graphics or slogans, have become an important part of pop culture. Children trade them with their friends, and teenagers buy them to decorate their lockers, notebooks, and other personal belongings. Adults use bumper stickers to show support for political candidates and charitable organizations. However, very few people take the time to consider how they are made.
Many different types of material can be used to manufacture stickers. Litho stock is the most common base material, although latex is sometimes added to create flexible ones that can more easily adhere to curved objects. Bumper stickers are commonly manufactured from vinyl or other plastics in order to increase their durability and weather resistance. Those intended for scrapbooking, card making, and other craft projects are often made from foil to give a metallic appearance.
The Pantone Matching System dominates the sticker manufacturing industry’s choice of ink colors. This system expands upon the CMYK printing process by using spot colors to produce metallics, fluorescents, and other unique color variations. The ink used in manufacturing stickers is usually transparent, but may be opaque in some circumstances.
Typically, stickers are made with permanent, removable, or repositionable adhesive. Permanent adhesive is most common for general use, while removable or repositionable adhesive is more popular on those intended for craft projects. Tamper evident adhesive, a variation of permanent adhesive that is designed to fracture if the sticker is removed, is sometimes used by retail stores as a precaution against theft or product damage.
Although the process for mass producing stickers can be quite involved, it’s easy to make them at home using a computer and inkjet printer. People can simply print the text or images onto sticker project paper purchased from any large office supply store and use paper punches to create uniform shapes. This paper is available in matte or glossy finishes to provide a variety of unique looks. However, it’s important to realize that most made with sticker paper will not be water-resistant. If people are concerned about the longevity of homemade stickers, designs can be sealed with two or three coats of clear acrylic spray.
People who want to make stickers of family photographs, a child’s artwork, or other memorabilia, can try making homemade glue. This can be made by boiling 2 tablespoons (29.5 ml) of vinegar, one packet of unflavored gelatin, and a small amount of vanilla extract. This mixture can be bushed on the back of paper and allowed to air dry. When the paper is re-moistened, it will adhere to almost any surface.