Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Letter Coasters: A Tutorial

As promised, I'm posting a "how to" on making your own ceramic tile coasters using individually printed letters.  The method is very similar to creating coasters using scrapbook paper, but, if you want to use printed letters, there are a few extra steps.  First, let's gather the materials needed:

  • ceramic tiles (mine are smooth, off-white, and measure 4 1/4")
  • felt or cork (for these I used sticky back felt)
  • Mod Podge (glossy or matte)
  • super glue (optional) 
  • foam brush
  • letters
  • high quality (acid free) paper
  • printer
  • spray clear acrylic sealer (I used glossy)
  • brayer (optional)

Buy your tiles.  I found mine at Home Depot and paid $.16 each. Now, find your letters.  Through Pinterest, I found a Flickr collection of letter photos.  There are hundreds of photographs of all letters of the alphabet.  The collection's owner states they are free to download for non-commercial use only.  

Sizing the letters
Now that you have found each letter you want to use, download and save each to your Desktop (you can find them easily here).  You'll have to size them before printing.  Start by opening a blank WORD document and then insert your first photo.  Look in the upper right on the photo above.  You'll see the Crop tool.  Use this tool to size your photo to a little smaller than your tile size.  By using this tool, you will achieve an exact size for each square.  I cropped my letters to 4.1". 

Print the letters
Decide if you want your coasters to be colorful or not and then print in color or choose black and white.  Print your letters on high quality paper.  I used acid free resume paper, but you could used plain scrapbook paper or even card stock.  In order to avoid smearing, make sure you allow the printed papers to "dry" before the next steps.     

Trim the letters
Trim each letter and make sure each square will fit on the top of your tile.

Paint a thin layer of Mod Podge on tile

Adhere each letter
Adhere each letter square to the tiles.  Using a foam brush, "paint" a very thin layer of Mod Podge to the top of one tile.  Next, place a letter square on top of the tile.  You won't have a lot of time because the thin layer of Mod Podge will dry quickly.  So, make sure your letter square is straight.  Use a brayer or your fingers and gently rub the paper onto the tile.  Bubbles are the enemy here, so take your time and make sure there aren't any under the paper.  Adhere each letter square in this fashion.  Once you've completed each letter, go back to the first square and double check there are no bubbles.  Then, "paint" a thicker layer of Mod Podge on top.  Complete another layer on each tile.  Let dry between layers.  For "LORA," I  used two layers of Mod Podge.

Sticky back felt
Once the tiles are dry, it's time to prepare the backs for a felt or cork covering.  I used cork for one set of tiles, but I found it a bit harder to work with than sticky back felt.  One package of Prestofelt costs less than $2.00 and is enough to cover four tiles.

Prepare the backs

Adhere the felt
Although the felt has a sticky back, I decided to use a couple of globs of super glue for extra strength.  I placed globs of glue in each corner and one in the middle.  I cut the correct size before removing the paper back from the felt.  Then place the felt on the backs of each tile square.  Super easy!

Seal each tile
It's time to seal the tiles, which will make them water proof.  Take them outside if possible for this step.  The sealant is pretty stinky.  Spray a layer of sealer on each tile.  Let dry and spray another layer.  I used two layers, but you can do however many looks good to you.  Keep in mind, however, that the more layers, the more tacky it may feel.  Also, you run the risk of bubbles...they are the enemy!

Let the tiles dry completely.  That's it!

Obviously you can make more tiles if the name you want to spell out is longer.  A black and white version would also be very attractive.  Really, the possibilities are endless...imagine using photos of a bridal couple to give as a wedding gift or photographs of your kids to give to the grandparents as gifts.  These are a very simple and inexpensive project that makes a great personal gift!

I hope you give this project a try!


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Cindy Adkins said...

Oh WOW, these are totally fabulous!!!! And make an amazing Christmas gift for everyone~Merry Christmas, my friend.

Cindy Adkins said...

If you zip down on my blog, I have an easy Advent Calendar if you want to make some!!

Shelia said...

Hi Angela! OH, your are the smartest one! These look amazing!
Thank you so much for popping in to see me.
be a sweetie,
shelia ;)

Katie said...

These look wonderful!! (ok,how am I gonna fit this into the next 2 xmas filled weeks!ha!) Great tutorial!

Incipient Wings said...

so cute!!!!

Linda said...

Thanks for the tips...this could make some cute inexpensive gifts!!

Dosfishes at Sparkle Days Studios said...

You are so sweet to share!! xox Corrine I really like these letters, what a cool idea.

Cindy Adkins said...

Hi Angela,
If you get a chance, come over to my Whimsical Musings Magazine blog...I made some coasters and talked about your project!

Stacy said...

Wow, what a great tutorial! Can't wait to try it. Thank you!

Georgie Horn said...

This is a great tutorial! I'm hosting a huge giveaway on my blog and would love for you to share the news with your followers and enter to win yourself!

Ana Cristina Caldatto said...

Boa dica!