Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tile Photo Coasters

For the past few years I've given my adult children gift baskets for Christmas.  It's hard to know what to buy them, and I can't afford lavish gifts they can't buy for themselves, so making gift baskets just seems to be a nice way to give them gift cards or cash without it seeming so impersonal.

Mostly I've been filling the baskets with homemade candy or cookies.  But after a while it just gets stale (literally and figuratively.)  This year I decided to take a stab at making candles for my daughters in addition to the usual junk food.  I tried making small candles for my granddaughters last year, but it didn't end well.  For some reason I thought I could make even bigger candles for my daughters without having practiced once in the past 365 days.  Yes, I did the same thing over again expecting different results.


But those candles made it into the gift baskets anyway.  (Maybe I'll post about that another day, just for kicks.)

Since I couldn't imagine my son-in-law lounging in the tub with a scented candle, and he would be sharing the gift basket with his wife, I decided I should make something a little more manly that he could appreciate.  Or at least something he could use.  Tile coasters with pictures of their children seemed like the perfect handmade gift.  Yes, chunks of stone sitting on the coffee table in a brand-spanking-new home with two children under the age of two is the perfect gift.

The tutorial I used can be found at  Here's my take on the project:

I purchased 4 x 4 inch tumbled stone tiles at Home Depot in a package of nine for just under $5.  I liked the rustic look of these.  They looked like they would hide mistakes imperfections well.

After editing my photos to the color and size I wanted, I taped tissue paper to cardstock and printed them. (This can be tricky with some printers, so be prepared to make multiple attempts.)  I then trimmed off the excess tissue paper.  Using a foam brush, I coated each tile with Mod Podge and gently applied a photo.

As you can see, bubbles and wrinkles will happen.  I gently pressed the wet photos to smooth them.

I allowed each tile to dry completely, then applied the first coat of Mod Podge over each photo.  I applied a total of three coats of Mod Podge, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

Due to the irregular shapes of the tiles, there were a few photo edges that had to be either trimmed down or glued and pressed down against the sides.  I waited until after the initial coat had dried to do this.  I also brushed a couple of coats of Mod Podge around the sides to help seal everything.

After my final coat of Mod Podge had dried, I sprayed a couple of coats of clear acrylic sealer over each photo to further protect the coasters, allowing the first coat to dry complete before applying the next. 

When the sealer was completely dry, I cut four pieces of felt to apply to the undersides of the coasters.  A standard sheet of felt I purchased at Michaels was large enough for all four coasters.  I used Scotch Quick-Dry Adhesive to glue the felt to the tiles, but I'm sure many other brands of glue would work just as well.

Who wouldn't love to see these adorable faces peeking out from under their coffee cup?

In hindsight, being that it's 20-20 and all, here's what I learned:

Don't attempt to work with tissue paper and Mod Podge with too little sleep and too much coffee.  Shaky hands, glue and tissue paper aren't a good combination.  Especially when you've run out of time to try printing the photos again and the home improvement store has closed for the holidays.

Which brings me to number 2:  Don't wait until Christmas Eve to get started.

Be gentle with the tissue paper when placing it onto the Mod Podged-tiles.  Now is the time to kick your perfectionism to the curb.  If your photo isn't perfectly centered, just go with it.  Trying to move it could cause you to utter foul words you didn't even know you knew.

And again, perfection isn't your goal.  When you get bubbles in your tissue paper photo, and you will, just gently work them out as best you can.  And the crinkles that will appear out of nowhere?  Those just give it character.  Keep repeating that until you believe it.

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