Saturday, June 02, 2012
How I Made Those Freaking Coasters
If you search on the internet for an easy craft project to do, you will inevitably encounter the D.I.Y. Coaster project. Once that is uncovered, a chain of links will lead you across a myriad of blogs, all of them crafty, all of them with that "Put a Bird On It!" feel lurking in the adorable blog wallpaper and header. Not to disparage the crafting movement - far from it - I am a long-time admirer of all things made by hand. However, contemporary crafting has a vampiric fascination with aesthetics (specifically a mishmash of cuteness, folk art, and kitsch boiled in an Ikea hotplate) which overwhelms anything else you could really have to say about it. Is there a message in this art movement? Unlikely, but by god it will be fabulous.
Here is the link to the blog that inspired me to make my coasters by hand. The following are my own adjustments to the standard formula:
ASSEMBLE TEAM HOUSEHOLD CRAP!
4 tiles (4"x4" ones do well. Buy them at Home Depot or some such ilk. This should be cheap.)
Mod Podge (Because it's a glue AND a finisher, and reliable. Craft store crap.)
Felt Floor Protector Pads (Little ones. Little circular ones. Because who wants to spend all that time cutting out felt and then gluing it to a tile? You're going to be doing a lot of gluing as it is - screw the felt! These have sticky backs on them! They are clearly superior! This is a hardware store item.)
A ruler! (Because you probably can't measure these things by eye. Office supply or craft store or hardware store crap.)
Watercolor paper/ Watercolor paint/Brushes! (If you want to use some wrapping paper/scrap paper/newsprint go for it, but you won't need paint or brushes. Art store crap, obviously.)
Q Tips or Off Brand Ear Cleaners (Because these are the best to apply glue with - and they're disposable! Grocery store/drug store crap. First you don't know where to get a ruler, and now you don't know where to go for Q Tips? Honestly, you live a sheltered life. This craft project could be the start of a whole new life outside of your home! Make the best of it!)
Scissors/Paper Cutter/Mystery Paper Cutting Object! (See "A ruler!" above.)
Aleene's Spray Acrylic Sealer (OPTIONAL - Gloss or Matte Finish - I used Gloss. You don't actually have to use this stuff, but it makes things easier. You could feasibly use that Mod Podge and put about 3 layers of that crap on - letting it dry in between each layer - but I wanted this sealer for a few other projects, and pushing a button and letting a spray can do the work for you is alluring. Craft store or online crap.)
Washi Tape (OPTIONAL - for maximum cuteness factor only! If you want less cute coasters, that's up to you. This is harder-to-get crap. I usually buy this stuff online, but I've seen it occasionally at art stores and trendy little stationary boutiques, and once at the Downtown Public Library gift shop. Weird!)
WHAT THE HELL DO I DO NOW?
1. Take your time and paint some cool stuff on that watercolor paper and let it dry. Or paint lame stuff. Or find some random things you like that you want to immortalize on a coaster. Band tickets you left in some pair of pants you put through the dryer? Great! Time to coasterize them!
2. Make sure your images will fit on the tiles (1/8th to 1/4th of an inch smaller than the tile works well). Measure carefully. Either tear the paper or use some kind of paper cutting device, like scissors or your teeth. I used an old-fashioned swing arm paper cutter because I love that freaking thing and use it every chance I get. Elementary school was worth it just to get a shot at using the creaking monstrosity that was the paper cutter.
3. Apply a moderate amount of Mod Podge evenly to the top of your tiles (the shiny, pretty side) with a Q-Tip. Breathe shallowly to avoid snorting Mod Podge. This might just be a personal problem.
4. Press the backs of your paper against the tiles, trying to keep them in the center of the tile. Let them dry. If the paper is curling, weigh it down with something clean and heavy. A spare tile you're not working with does the job admirably.
5. Cut lengths of washi tape - one for each side of each tile - that are slightly longer than the tile (by about an inch is pretty good). How many strips of washi tape should we have? Yep! You guessed it! 16 strips of washi tape - good job, calculator!
6. This is the tricky part, so take it slowly! Once the paper you like is completely secured to the tile and dry, apply the washi tape to the borders by placing each piece of tape in the exact middle of the edge, then folding the sides down on either side of the tile. Snip the ends of the tape and either do a bookbinding fold for the corner, or just cut and remove the half of the tape sticking out on the sides that will be on the down side of the coaster, and fold the top side of the tape over the edge of that. Sound confusing? If this part is too frustrating, you might just want to skip the washi tape, but I swear, it's really the bee's knees.
7. Apply 4 small Felt Floor Protector Pads to the backs of each tile, at the corners. I hope you picked appropriately-sized ones out, you weirdo.
8. Take your can of Spray Acrylic Sealer and apply it to the top of the tile, covering your pretty art and the washi tape with a coat of plastic futurity. Apply 2-3 coats, allowing for about 15-20 minutes for drying in between each application. Use Mod Podge instead of the Sealer if you're flying that way. Cough mercilessly after accidentally inhaling way too much Sealer and/or Mod Podge. Gag for effect so that any household pets nearby can gawk at you with a mix of pity and fear.
9. Let it all dry overnight. Resist the urge to touch your coasters. You are not a child; be patient.
You now have a really nice-looking set of coasters that will impress people. Buy extra tiles and make everyone you know a set of these for Christmas. Make a set for yourself. Brag about how difficult it was to make them to friends, family, and the occasional Fuller Brush salesman, but be warned that hubris has a nasty aftertaste.