Friday, December 7, 2012

Coasters for the Holidays: A Tutorial for Fast, Inexpensive Gifts

The holidays are upon us and I have been working on handmade gifts for my friends and family this week. I am so jazzed about the way they turned out! My barometer for success is feeling like I, myself would like to receive these and I would! Yay, it's a success! For only  $31 plus a few supplies from my studio and a quick trip to Home Depot, I have managed to make presents for almost everyone my list. I purchased a case of 100 4X4 tiles and a 32 oz can of Indoor/Outdoor Helmsman Spar Urethane by Minwax. Within 3 days, I was able to make 25 sets of 4 coasters for each person on my list. Each set was made together such that they received the same colors and supplies. I began by first coating the tiles with a thin layer of  Isopropanol aka rubbing alcohol. Now 
. before you head out to purchase a big bottle of alcohol, let me say that for 100 tiles, I used approximately 1/4 to 1/3 cup of alcohol. It really does not take much! Next, I added a few drops of ink. Remember the days when we used to mix alcohols with inks to make beautiful works of art? Well, it's the same concept here. I used both acrylic inks by Liquitex as well as Bombay India Inks by Dr. Ph Martin. The alcohol acts as both a carrier for the inks to travel across the tile and a drying agent. I typically used 2-3 colors per tile thus allowing a pleasing blend of colors. You may recall, I said  
it took me 3 days to finish 100 coasters. Well, I didn't mean 3 full days as part of this time was used for drying time along the way. Still, if you wanted to do it in 1 1/2 days, it is totally doable! Meanwhile, once the inks are dry, approximately 2-3 hours, I embellished the tile by stamping designs with gold metallic craft paint that I had in my studio. After the tiles dry (approximately 5-10 minutes), the edges were subsequently painted with a matching color of acrylic craft paint. Allow 20 minutes for edges to dry.
Turning out pretty good! Now, time to add the Minwax clear gloss sealer. Here, I added 2 thick coats to the top and sides of the coaster. It was allowed to cure for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight. Next, I took a single sheet of acrylic felt that I had previously purchased from JoAnn's and cut it with a rotary cutter into small squares or rectangles to create a total of 400. I did not measure but simply guestimated size. When the tiles were dry, I hot glued felt squares to the bottom of the coaster in each corner. Wa la, done and gorgeous! I also had a go with using maps and photos of my artwork. For these, I used modge podge to adhere the maps and photos to the tiles. When dry, I noticed the edges of the photos had a difficult time adhering, so I used gel medium with a spatula to ensure that the edges were firmly glued in place. Once dry, they were coated with 2 thick coats of sealer and allowed to dry. Felt bottoms were added to protect the table surface.  
 I love that this was a fast, easy, enjoyable and inexpensive project that can be created alone or with friends and family. And best of all, it kept me away from the stores and crowds of people. Who knew a simple white 4X4 tile could be transformed into a work of functional art.
 I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and I wish you a most Happy Holiday season.  

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