I love laminating! Seriously, I often wish that I had relationships with humans that were as satisfying as my relationship with my laminator. A couple of years ago all I wanted for Christmas was a personal laminator and a stack of laminating pouches. Santa heard my cosmic plea and I’ve been one crazy laminating mama ever since. In this post we’ll discuss some tips for great lamination.
|Just in case I don't mention it later, the best tip for perfect laminating is a perfect little helper!|
1. Start with a great laminator... or not.
I use a Scotch thermal laminator and really love it. It is simple to use and safe enough for my 3 year old to use. I also use lamination sheets from Scotch most of the time.
Sometimes, while perusing the clearance aisle at Wal-Mart I’ll find another brand of lamination sheets marked down. I pick those up too. I never seem to notice the non-Scotch brand in the office supply aisle, but always see them in the clearance section. Weird.
Don’t have a laminator? It is completely possible to JUST buy the lamination pouches and use them at home with an iron. I have an iron. Somewhere. I really only use it for craft projects so using it as a laminator only makes sense. To make this work:
1. Lay a double piece of newspaper on the ironing board (or if you are like me…whatever “ironing board” you have). You could also use cardboard instead of newspaper.
2. Lay the pouch down with your paper inside of it and then cover it with another double piece of newspaper.
3. Iron from the end that is already fused together out to the end that is open. This makes sure that you don’t accidentally iron air bubbles into the lamination.
4. You didn’t listen, did you? You ironed a bubble into your project! EEEEK! It’s okay. Slice the bubble open with a box cutter or craft knife and iron over it again. It won’t be perfect, but you won’t have to trash your project either.
NOTE: The temperature on irons varies widely. I recommend starting at a medium heat. Turn it up if your lamination is cloudy. Turn it down if your lamination curls up or wrinkles wildly with this technique.
2. Prep Your Projects
When prepping your projects to be laminated, cut them out first. With many laminators if you laminate an entire piece of paper and then cut smaller shapes out of it, the lamination curls up around the edges and your paper falls out. So if you have letters like this:
Cut them out first.
|These pieces are from my "All That Jazz" bulletin board set. Click the pictures to check this board out.|
I like to leave a thin white border around most of my letters and posters, but it's not necessary. For me, it makes any letter work with any kind of background. I tend to use wrapping paper, fabric and other busy backgrounds so this little white border helps the letters pop.
If you can, print onto thicker paper. Card stock, tag border, and cover stock are all names of thicker paper types that works well for posters and bulletin board elements. Thicker paper is also great if you are laminating worksheets that your students will complete with a dry erase marker and then erase.
When using a home laminator with pouches place your items right up against the edge that is already sealed. This helps you get a nice smooth lamination because this is the end that you feed into the laminator first. It also can keep you from having to cut one whole side of your project if your pieces have a straight edge.
Go crazy! It's super easy to laminate double sided pages with the lamination pouches. Just place them in how you would like for them to come out. Line them up with the bottom of the lamination sheet and send them through. If you do double pages, you may not need to do them on card stock. I like double up if it works with my project because that can sometimes eliminate the need for using a clipboard and that saves me transition time in class.
3. Just do it. Laminate. You know you want to.
When you place the lamination pouch into the laminator, place the end that is already fused together in first. The laminator's rollers will pull it through. If you make a mistake and feed it in slightly crooked or accidentally send a potato chip or something in there with it, just push the power button and pull down the release lever. You can then pull the entire sheet out and try again.
|These pieces are from my Xylophone Composing Station.|
If your lamination comes out a little cloudy that usually means that your lamination wasn't heated all the way. Wait a few minutes or wait for that little light that says "Ready" to come on and send it back through. No need to pull it apart or anything. Just send it through in the same direction you did the first time.
|Isn't it beautiful? A nicely laminated, shiny, warm stack of classroom decor! *content sigh*|
4. Cut it Out
I'm sure that some of you will just laugh when I tell you about my crafting find a few weeks ago, but I had seriously never used one of these.
This is a rotary cutter. It makes me almost as happy as freshly baked cookies. It is amazing! You roll instead of cut. I'm not quite as good at making straight cuts with it, but I love practicing! You could also use traditional paper cutters for straight pieces.
When you cut your pieces out (if that is needed) leave a little bit of lamination around the edge of the page.
Despite my best efforts, during the miles of paper that I have laminated sometimes things can go wrong. Here are some things that could happen and what you can do to fix them:
Cloudy lamination after it has been sent through the laminator. SOLUTION: Wait for your laminator to warm up a bit longer and send it through again. If you are able to control the temperature of your laminator, turn it up.
Bubbles in the lamination. This can happen for a couple of reasons. First, if you are trying to laminate something chunky, you may end up with bubbles around the piece that sticks up the most. SOLUTION: Don't do that! These little machines weren't made for that. You could try a heat gun or a really mean hair dryer, but I don't that would work.
You could also get a bubble from misfeeding the lamination pouches into the laminator. SOLUTION: Pierce the bubble and send it back through. It won't be perfect, but "whimsical". (That's what I call all of my imperfect pieces.)You could also get a bubble for what may look like no reason at all. If that is the case, it could be that your laminator is too hot and is actually causing a gas to be released from the ink. Seriously. SOLUTION: Let the rest of your pages "cure" or dry overnight. This really doesn't happen too often with the home laminators, but it could easily happen with more commercial grade models.
Peeling lamination. Cut a little too close? This can sometimes cause the lamination to peel back and kind of roll up. SOLUTION: Quit cutting so close! LOL. Okay...and you can use the newspaper and iron trick I told you about above.
Wrinkles in the lamination. Yeah, this one is a little tougher. There are not many ways to save something that has been thermally laminated with wrinkles. Sometimes when you laminate thicker projects the part of the lamination film that doesn't cover the paper can wrinkle up just a little bit. It usually doesn't hurt the paper part so trimming it off solves this problem. If that isn't the case, read on! SOLUTION: Be sad. With resolve and optimism, print it and try again! I'm sorry that really is my best advice! If you are using a larger laminator in the teacher's workroom, these kind of wrinkles usually indicate that an adjustment with the rollers is needed.
Now go on! Get out there and laminate something!