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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Monday, December 5, 2011

Finding Christmas MoJo

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  And feeling like it, too!  I must confess.  I usually begin the holiday season with great intentions for being "Christmasy," but I always fall short and end up feeling a little "Scroogish" by Christmas day.  I'm not sure why, but I suspect it is a combination of the stress of shopping, fighting the crowds, money (spending it), as well as realizing that I'll never actually attain that same Christmas feeling I had as a child.  This year, however, I'm feeling the spirit.  I'm on a roll!  Don't tell anyone, but I've been listening to Christmas music...and might even been singing a few songs, too!  I've been crafting, sewing, decorating and baking!  I can't wait to show you a few of the presents I've made, but first, what do you think of the awesome cork board pictured above?  Meaghan, my Handmade Gift Exchange partner sent me a box of goodies which included the hand painted frame with an inserted cork board, handmade push pins that look like vintage typewriter keys, plus shells from the Outer Banks and hot cocoa mix from England!  I absolutely love everything she sent.   If you missed the photographs of the journal cover I sent Meaghan, have a look at this previous post.  Participating in the Craftaholics Anonymous gift exchange has been such a great experience.  I'm so happy I have gotten to know Meaghan; I feel I've made a true friend.  Thanks again to Meaghan for the thoughtful gifts and to Linda for hosting the exchange!  

If you are a Pinner, no doubt you've seen the pins about making your own coasters using ceramic tiles, Mod Podge and scrapbook paper.  In the last few days, I've made two sets of coasters to give as gifts.  I made the first set of four using scrapbook paper.  I backed these with cork I had on hand.

I tried something a bit different for the next set of four.  Instead of using patterned scrapbook paper, I used regular paper that I had a printed individual letters onto.  Again on Pinterest,  I found a link to a Flickr collection of letter photographs.  After scrolling through hundreds of l's, o's, r's, and a's, I found the perfect letters to spell out, "Lora."  I printed these letters and adhered them onto my 16 cent tiles.

I backed these tiles with felt.  I really like how the turned out.  I will be posting a "how to" in the coming days if you are interested in making your own.  So, stay tuned!

Besides the coasters, I  completed a few sewing projects, too.  I've made two French press cozies with matching mug rugs, as well as a zebra print pillow.  (I forgot to photograph the mug rugs)  


Wow, where has the time gone?  I haven't even gotten to show you the goodies I've been baking up!  I must run for now, but look for a few scrumptious Christmas candy recipes, as well the tutorial for my version of tile coasters in my next post!

I hope you are enjoying this Holiday Season.  I know the Holidays can be difficult at times for some, including myself, but, at least for the moment, I have found my Christmas Spirit...and I'm holding on tight!  

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