Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ceramic tile coasters

Update 10/18:  Finally adding photos.  I left my camera at the baby shower along with my memory card with the blog photos.  Oops!

I admittedly didn't come up with this idea. Yes, another unoriginal post from me.  For SHAME lazy crafter.  But I thought it was another great gift idea, so here we are.  I am giving out 2 sets of these for hostess gifts for my "family" shower later this month.  I had to start them early to allow adequate drying and curing time.  I tried to put together the best tips and procedures from other tutorials, so hopefully this is a comprehensive and fool proof post for you!

Supplies needed:
a set of 4, 6, or 8 Clean Ceramic Tiles (get from local hardware store), about 4"x4" (the small size)
Mod Podge
scrapbook paper in a pattern (or patterns) you like
1 Paint brush (can use sponge brush, but I didn't and it came out fine)
Acrylic sealant spray (I used Krylon triple thick acrylic coating)
a shallow dish with a little water in it
paper towels
regular or adhesive backed felt or corkboard
a strong adhesive like rubber cement

Step 0 (oops an afterthought):
Cover your work surface with cardboard.  Paper will stick mercilessly to the tiles (you can pick off the pieces but its a pain), so avoid that if you can.  I used some cut open cereal boxes because they were handy and provided lots of surface area.  Thicker cardboard will allow you to move the tiles to another area while you are waiting for them to dry, unless you have dedicated craft space you are willing to tie up for a few days.  The cereal boxes worked okay for moving the tiles, but I had to be really careful.

Step 1:
Cut the paper into a square slightly smaller than the surface of the tile.  I made mine 1/8" smaller so there would be very little white showing through, but if you want a nice border, more is totally fine.  For a more creative approach, play with this step.  It doesn't have to be a square - try circles, triangles, or stripes.  The sky is the limit.  Also, you do not have to use scrapbook paper.  Try using fabric, photos, wrapping paper, old books, stickers, or other media.  I know that inkjet printed paper has a tendency to run or smear when wet, so that may not be the best idea, but maybe a little water spotting is good!  Its all about your preferences here.  Just make sure that the item is thin enough to adhere well using glorified glue (that is all Mod Podge really is, imo).

Step 2:
Take your paper square and dunk it in the water bowl for a second or two until softened.  Gently pull it out and lay it on the paper towel (double or triple up to prevent soak through).  You can lay out a few at a time to save time for each tile.  Try to get most of the water out so its not dripping wet for the next step.

Step 3:
With the paint brush, spread a thin coat of Mod Podge onto the surface of the tile (do this one at a time).  Take the dampened paper and gently lay it across the tile.  Working from the middle out, run your fingers across the paper to squeeze out excess water and air bubbles.

Step 4:
Paint another thin coat of Mod Podge over the top of the paper, being sure to cover the edges well.  My tile had rough sides, so I coated them with Mod Podge as well to seal out moisture and make them a little less rough to the touch.  Be careful as the Mod Podge can stick the tile to the surface you are working on if you let it drip. The Mod Podge will have a slightly milky color to it, but it will dry clear.  Any brush strokes, however, will show once it dries.  Allow this coat to dry.

Step 5:
Add as many top coats of Mod Podge as you would like.  I used 3 total, including the one in step 4, and it came out great, but they looked pretty good after 2 if you are strapped for time.  Make sure to allow the tiles to dry thoroughly between coats.

Step 6:
After the tiles have thoroughly dried, place them in a large box (so you don't spray all over) or take them outside and place them on cardboard or newspaper.  Spray them with the acrylic spray, according to the can instructions.  They should look wet, usually, so don't be shy!  Allow them to dry according to the can instructions.  Two coats will ensure good coverage, but I was lazy and only did 1.

Step 7:
Once the tiles are completely dry, adhere the felt or cork to the backside.  You can use self adhesive felt, regular felt and some hot glue, super glue, or other strong adhesive, or try cork backing.  I used whatever was lying around the craft room, and got a mix of regular felt and adhesive felt.  Just cut the felt to the correct size and glue/peel and stick.  Let them dry felt side up.  I accidentally stacked a few and ended up with double decker coasters...  I peeled them apart, but there was a nice layer of fuzz left behind on the surface of one of my favorites.  Bummer.

I have seen some blogs recommend buying those little round dots you put on furniture legs and sticking one on each corner.  Doesn't get any easier than THAT!  I do worry that they will not stay on permanently because after a while they always fall off my chair legs, but I am guessing the coasters will not end up sliding around the dining room with several hundred pounds of party guests on them.  That may contribute to a longer life :-)  I would just be mortified if I gave them as a gift and they crapped out...

Step 8:
Once the glue has dried or the self adhesive backing is on, you are done!  I stacked mine and tied them with organza ribbon for presentation as gifts.  I have read that you can buy sets of ceramic tiles at craft stores that come with little storage boxes, but for the price (about $7 for 4 tiles), I was unenthusiastic about even looking for them.

Project Notes:
I used the method of dunking the paper in water before adhering it to the tile.  This is not mandatory, but I found it slid around less as I brushed across it, had less bubbles, and was easier to contour to the slightly rounded surface of the tile.  It does increase the drying time for that first coat and can make the paper easier to tear, so use your discretion as to what you want to do.

Also, Mod Podge is a self sealing product, but many bloggers found that it took a month to fully cure, and until that time, the tiles could not be used for hot drinks (the tile sticks to the bottom of the mug).  I used a clear acrylic sealer to avoid this problem as I have not waited the requisite 1 month to see if it will ruin a cup or not after that.  If you would like to gamble, go for it!  Otherwise, spend the extra $6 and get some Krylon coating.  Bonus - you don't have to make them a month in advance of when you want to use them, or end up with a set of "cold drink only" coasters.

Some posters opted to paint the tiles (or at least the edges) first to match the paper or other medium they were using.  I opted to skip this step as I like the white, but feel free to play with paint as well.  You could presumably just paint a design on the tile and spray with acrylic sealer and have yourself a coaster that way, too.  Knock yourself out - the variations on this project are endless...

Bottom Line:
8 small ceramic tiles @ $0.11/ea = $0.88
1 small bottle Mod Podge = $6
8 scrapbook paper sheets @ $0.20/ea = $1.60

1 Paint brush = $0.40
Acrylic coating spray = $6
2 sheets of felt @ $0.25/ea = $0.50
adhesive for felt < $3

Total time (not counting drying time) = about 2.5 hours
Total cost (for a set of 8 coasters) < $19

The cost sounds high, but the reusable items like the acrylic spray and Mod Podge cost $15, so the cost of the materials to make another set is only about $4 (less if you do a set of 4).  Now THAT makes it worthwhile!  I am doing a bunch of these for Christmas gifts... look out family!

I have a few ideas for variations on this project I thought I would share. There are also glass tiles at the hardware store and I am dying to see if etching cream will work on them.  I imagine snowflakes on a pretty blue tile... oooohhhhh.  If the heat tolerance does turn out to be adequate, I may head back to the store for big tiles and try my hand at a trivet or two.  But there is a HUGE temp difference between a 450 degree casserole and a 110 degree cup of tea... We shall see if I am brave enough to risk one of my baking dishes for science. :-)  The possibilities are soooo enticing...

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