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How to Make a Custom Coaster in 30 Minutes

This project makes a great gift and it’s fun to do with the kids! It’s pretty fast- most people can do it in under 30 minutes. Although it will vary based on how much time you spend sketching.

To purchase some of the coasters I’ve created or to just see them, check out the Coasters section in my Etsy store. (I sell physical products there because they handle the sales tax for me!)

Materials

  1. Unglazed 4-inch x 4-inch travertine tile (A 9 pack was $4 to $5 at my local Home Depot. Pick out the smoothest ones!)
  2. Carbon paper (or equivalent)
  3. Sharpies
  4. Cork for the back
  5. Glue (IF the cork is not self-adhesive)

(As always, these are affiliate links where possible)


Transferring the Image

Before I lay out the procedure, let me explain your options for transferring the image to the tile.

  • If you’re going to trace, use carbon paper or an equivalent.
  • Be sure to tape the carbon paper in place on all four sides so it doesn’t wiggle around!
  • Trace the image with a red ball point pen. This allows you to see where you’ve already traced and push with an appropriate amount of pressure. If you push too hard, the bumps in the tile make you slip off course. If you don’t press hard enough, the carbon doesn’t transfer.
  • Release only three sides of taped carbon paper and peak at your drawing. If you missed tracing something, carefully lay the image and carbon paper back in place and fill in the missing pieces. Once everything is traced, remove the carbon paper and image.

Procedure

  1. Draw your image onto the tile in one of these ways:
    • Lightly draw in pencil directly onto the tile.
    • Draw an image on paper and then transfer it to the tile.
    • Print an image you like and transfer it onto the tile.
  2. Re-trace over the lines with a Sharpie.
  3. Bake in an oven at 200F for 20 minutes.
  4. Erase all the pencil or carbon lines. (Some of the lines will be so covered with Sharpie that they won’t erase- that’s ok!)
  5. Color in the image with Sharpies if desired. If you added more Sharpie, re-bake!
  6. Add a layer of cork to the back with glue or use adhesive cork dots. You can add a solid square of cork or use smaller pieces on the four corners of the time.

Do not seal the ink with a sealant! The unsealed stone allows it to absorb some condensation from iced drinks. The baking process will set the ink so it does not bleed.

If your coaster ever gets dirty, wash by hand with soap and water. Be sure the cork is dry before you set it on a wooden surface!


Advanced Color

Colored Sharpies work great for solid colors, but I started wanting to blend colors, so I started experimenting, You may notice that some of the images here show my color coasters with a of gradient color. I found that Sharpies were difficult to blend colors, so I stepped up to Faber Castell’s PITT Pens. They are waterproof markers with a great color selection and I could blend the colors together!

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