Back in 2011 I bought a set of four ceramic tile coasters at a local craft fair. Most of the coasters the woman was selling were stamped, but I fell in love with a set that was made with pretty red & black floral scrapbook paper on an ivory background. They match my living room perfectly. I told myself way back then that I wanted to make these someday. Being a crafter myself, I could tell they're pretty easy to make. I didn't want to ask the seller her secrets so I took my new coasters home and admire them every time I use one (which is every single day).
Since then I've seen them everywhere online - mostly Etsy and Pinterest - but also on blogs and craft sites. Etsy sellers are selling them for anywhere from $10 to $20 for a set of four, which is fine if you're not a do-it-yourselfer who knows you can make them for a fraction of that cost. (sellers that charge less than $10 aren't paying themselves enough for the time spent making them)
I've found a ton of tutorials online for how to make these. Most are pretty much the same with a few differences here and there (mainly cost to make and the glue and sealer used). I finally found something that worked for me.
After gathering all the supplies needed, I spent a few days making a set as a housewarming gift for my nephew and his fiance. Let me just say that you should probably not make your first set as a gift, but I felt fairly confident in my abilities to do this. Besides, if I screwed up I bought plenty of tiles to make another set.
That's my daughter baking brownies behind my pile of supplies. :)
Four 4" ceramic tiles from Lowe's, Home Depot, etc., washed and dried
Mod Podge or Elmer's White Glue and water
Four squares of scrapbook paper cut a little smaller than your tiles
Rustoleum Crystal Clear Enamel
Four squares of felt cut to fit the bottoms of the tiles (I just noticed the felt isn't in my photo - oops)
newspaper to protect your work surface
well ventilated area for spraying the Rustoleum
Every tutorial I read said you can find tiles dirt cheap (5 cents each - seriously?). I found tiles at Lowe's on clearance for 35 cents each. They'd marked them down a whopping 2 cents each. Woo hoo! I bought 20 tiles with the intention of making a few coaster sets as gifts and possibly a set for myself. I picked up a small bottle of Elmer's Glue at Lowe's for $1.69. I'm sure I could have gotten it at Wally World for much less but I was at Lowe's and didn't feel like making a special trip to Walmart. I'm a scrapbooker so the paper was already in my stash. I paid 50 cents for the sheet and still have half the sheet left after cutting out four squares. I found the Rustoleum in the paint dept. of Walmart for less than $4.00 - I'm pretty sure it'll last for all the sets I plan to make. I also bought a package foam brushes at Walmart. They charge $1.50 for a bag of 12 assorted size brushes or you can buy one brush for 75 cents. It was kind of a no-brainer to get the whole bag. I bought four 9x12 pieces of felt at JoAnn's for 34 cents each. I'll save the extras for future projects.
If you don't have Mod Podge, or don't want to invest in Mod Podge, you can make your own using Elmer's White Glue and water. I had a bottle of Mod Podge but it dried up so I went with Plan B, which was to use Elmer's and water. I bought a small 4 oz. bottle and poured the whole thing into a small deli container (use a container that you don't care about ruining). I then filled the glue bottle with water and added a small amount at a time to the glue in the bowl. I stirred with a craft stick and added small amounts of water until it was the consistency I wanted. I've read tutorials that say to use 1/2 white glue, 1/2 water but in my opinion that would have made it way too watery. I think I used roughly 2 oz of water to the 4 oz of glue. This is how it looked when I was done mixing. Not that you can tell the consistency in the photo, but you get a general idea.
Once I had my newspaper laid out, my tiles washed and dried and my glue mixed up, I began my project. Using the 3" brush that came in the package, I brushed the surface of the tile with the glue mixture, then laid the scrapbook paper over it. You have time to move it around. Smooth it out carefully to get any bubbles out. I didn't have any problem with bubbles but I think it's because my paper was thick. Do one tile at a time so your glue doesn't dry before you get the paper on. Once that's all done, rinse your brush out really well with water and go find something to do while they dry. I think I waited about a half hour or so.
The next step is to Mod Podge over the paper. Try to coat it evenly and give it time to dry between coats. I did three coats of Mod Podge. This step took several hours because I wanted to make sure they were dry between coats. Again, watch for bubbles and gently smooth them out. You don't want to tear your paper. Rinse your brush out thoroughly between coats. If the Mod Podge dries on your brush it'll pretty much be useless. I should also mention that after this step was done, I still had plenty of my homemade Mod Podge left to make another set.
After I knew my tiles were dry (I waited a few days to do the next step), I brought the project outside to spray them with sealer. My neighbors must have thought I was nuts because I kept moving the table out of the sun. By the time I sprayed my last coat my work table was clear across the other side of the yard. LOL
Follow the directions on the Rustoleum can and spray the tiles evenly. I tried my best to keep them out of the sun (next time I'll use the garage) and from under the trees so Mother Nature didn't mess up all my hard work. The Rustoleum seals them and gives them a little bit of a gloss. I did three coats (my husband thought it wasn't necessary to do that many but these are coasters and I want to make sure they don't get damaged by condensation). I let each coat dry for at least an hour.
After all the Mod Podging and sealer spraying, it was time to glue the felt on the bottom. I was unsure how to go about doing this, but it seemed to me (and internet searching told me this) that the best option for gluing felt to tile is hot glue. We have a hot glue gun but I personally have never used it. My daughter has, and she told me I'd have about 30 seconds to position my felt before the hot glue sets. Wrong. For my first coaster I applied glue to the entire bottom of the tile before putting the felt down, then realized that the glue had set completely before I got the felt on. Ugh. I'd gotten this far without screwing something up and now the bottom was a mess. I added more hot glue and worked quickly to get the felt on. The first one came out a hot mess (no pun intended), with glue showing on the edge of the felt. It's hard to see in this pic but it's there.
I slowed down for the other coasters and while I still had a few mishaps, it went better. I now know to apply the hot glue to tiny areas and work fast. The other coasters didn't come out as messy looking.
I showed my daughter the first coaster and she told me she didn't even notice the glue drips. I forced myself to let go of my perfectionism and reminded myself that the glue is on the bottom and no one is going to notice it. If I planned on selling them that would be a different story, but since I'm not my gift recipients are going to get them with all their little imperfections.
I had the cost breakdown written down but I lost the yellow sticky note. I can tell you that this set of four cost me less than $4.00 to make. What did I say they're going for on Etsy - $10-$20? Considering most of the time spent making them is waiting for them to dry (and you can be cleaning house, watching TV, napping, playing games on Facebook or surfing Pinterest while you do that), the labor is minimal.
These were a gift so I bought a roll of matching ribbon at Wally World ($1.99), tied a pretty bow around them and added a little tag (punched from one of my many paper punches) to let them know they were handmade by their favorite auntie.
Check out my other crafty tutorials! Piece of Me Tutorials