Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Antiqued Tile Coasters

My supervisor at work recently got married. She is always so great that I really wanted to make her something special. She didn't expect a gift but making and giving surprise gifts is pretty high on the list of things I love. But there were a few challenges: 1. I'm literally in poverty (VISTA life), 2. Although we work together on a daily basis, I don't really know her tastes or style preferences besides from normal office stuff. And office stuff is not wedding-y. With these things in mind, I set out to find something inexpensive, not overly personal, but still special. Maybe you've run into this situation before? Or am I the only one who forces my appreciation/gifts on other people...

You will need:

  • 4- 4"x4" tile pieces, these were were 16 cents a piece! Inexpensive = check.
  • 4 chosen images on regular printer paper  
  • flat cork. or felt. or slider dots... I just happened to have a roll of cork on hand
  • strong coffee
  • cotton balls
  • Mod Podge
  • foam brush
  • hot glue gun, if you're using the cork
  • ruler

First and foremost, pick out the images you would like to use. Ideally, they would have a 4"x 4" focal area.  The pictures for this project came from this interesting book my supervisor loaned to me. It seemed like a safe bet that she would like it, since it's her book. I made black and white copies of the 4 chosen pages. *That might be illegal... Hope not...

Next, brew extra strong coffee; I used leftover coffee to brew more coffee but you won't need more 1/2 cup. Use a cotton ball to apply the coffee to the paper, concentrating on the desired area and a few inches around. Even with strong coffee it still took 3 coats to get a nice sepia tone. Try not to move it until it dries or it could tear easily. Each coat will take at least 20 minutes to dry. I stole the roomie's seed babies to use as paper weights while they dried. Because I was too lazy to go back inside. Here's something to entertain you while you wait.

The neat thing about using multiple coats of dark coffee as opposed to just soaking it or some other methods is that it adds a lot of variance in shade. Each coat pools a little differently and adds a certain legitimacy to the antiqued appearance. It's not just one tone of sepia. It's my favorite way to antique paper.

Once your papers have reached your desired shade of sepia and dried, it's time to prepare them for the tiles. Center your tile over the image and mark the corners. Make a line about an inch long at a diagonal away from the corner (top left). Use a ruler to draw those inch long diagonal lines together (bottom left). Cut out around your pencil lines (bottom right). Wrap your image around the tile and make creases at the edges. The idea in wrapping the tile is to avoid visible unfinished tile sides so often seen in coaster tile projects. The paper should cover the sides and sit just a little ways onto the back side of the tile (top center). Once the creases are made, lightly coat the top of the tile with Mod Podge (top right) and slowly lay the paper on it, being sure to match up the corners. Carefully smooth the top of your paper watching for bubbles or lines,  then apply a thin coat to each area of the paper hanging over the tile and wrap it as your previously made creases indicate.

I ran into a little trouble with this coaster because I was trying to take pictures and be speedy. It didn't work out so well. But your edges will be cleaner and the tops will be flat I'm sure! The rest turned out much better once I put the camera away.

To prepare the cork, measure out and cut four 4" x 4" squares. Hot glue the edges and an X across the diagonals of the cork and quickly apply it to the back of tile pressing firmly and carefully wiping away any glue webs.

Now Mod Podge it up. Seal in that vintage-toned goodness on the top and sides with a thick coat of Mod Podge to protect it from the future drink elements it will encounter. Even with a foam brush Mod Podge leaves streaks. But you can use those to your advantage to make a linen texture look: for the first coat, keep all brush strokes going up and down, for the next all side to side.

In these pictures the tile looks a little more gray than sepia. But trust me, that's the fault of the photographer and not the method. This stinkin' photographer messes everything up. I should fire me.

Tile coasters are a crazy popular project because they're easy and adorable. Have you ever made any before? How were they different from these? I'd love to know!

Sheila :)


  1. I've owned a container of mod podge for years, but only just now understand how to use it properly. I love those little tiles! They are so versatile! And this is a super cute idea. :) Using coffee to age the paper a bit is brilliant, I never would have thought of that.

    1. Thanks!! Both tiles and Mod Podge are on my imaginary list of "crafty essentials."

      To be fair, I only realized that coffee is a great antiquing technique after many, many spills.


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