So it's summer and you have a hankerin' for an icy beverage. You take that sip that your parched lips have been craving. You go to put down your drink and you think to yourself, "OH NO if I put my drink down on the table I will get those ugly water rings." Can you imagine having guests over where the ice breaker is how many water rings are on your coffee table? "Hey everyone lets guess how many water rings are on johnny's table!" Embarrassing! Why not instead save yourself that drama and make your own custom coasters. That way you will keep water rings off your table and have a conversation piece that you can be proud of, so if you are ready to dive into the world that is coaster makin' continue on a head. ****NOTE*** This tutorial will make a set of 4 coasters.
Step 1:Paint your tiles (Optional)
Ok so I labeled this step as optional because not everyone will want to have their coasters colored but rather leave the natural color of the stone. For me though this is a mandatory step because it just makes a HUGE difference in the way the finished coaster will look, I'll have a picture for comparison later. I can NOT stress this enough...if you are using spray paint, as I do, please do so in a well ventilated area and wear a mask that will protect against organic vapors, your lungs will thank you. After you are done painting the tiles whatever color your heart desires just set them outside and continue onto the next step while they dry.
Step 2:Find your inspiration!
Probably the most stressful part, for me, of the whole process...finding the pictures you would just love to show off in coaster form. I mean how can you possibly select just a few pictures that you would like to use as your inspiration. Obviously you don't want to make thousands of coasters so you can use your entire gallery...unless you want to then coast on! Once you pick the right photos you will want to upload them into a word processing program and size them to fit your tile. In my case, since I am using 4"x4" tiles, I don't ever exceed 3.25" for the largest dimension. I find that this size fits perfectly within the tile. Insert and arrange your desired pictures and then move on to the next step.
Step 3:Print, Cut, and Glue
When you are going to print I found that using a high quality photo paper will do wonders for the end product. I have tried using plain paper and the color depth was just not there. Go a head and press CRTL+P to print your pictures and start a cuttin'. After printing I use a guillotine paper trimmer to keep those cuts straight! As hard as I try to keep my cuts straight by hand I just kind of skew off that straight line. Once you have cut your pictures its time to glue them on the painted tile. Just dab, not the dance, some of that mod podge to the back of that picture, spread it and stick it to the tile. Make sure that all of the picture is fully glued to the tile. This will prevent the resin from going under the picture and lifting the image off the tile.
Step 4:Tape that coaster DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP
After the glue has had some time to dry its time to tape the bottom using painters tape. I know what you are thinking..."Tape? what in the..." Trust me it is definitely needed. I don't have the proper explanation but when you tape the bottom of the coaster it prevents the resin from pooling in the middle of the tile. It also makes cleaning the drips off the coaster a breeze. Hopefully the tape will eliminate the need for the chisel in the later steps. Any tape that is coming off the sides can be trimmed with scissors. You may also be wondering, "Why painter's tape?" Well I have used masking tape, which was awful, and any other tape can strip to color off the bottom.
Step 5:Enamel coating....?
So I have covered the coaster without using a crystal clear enamel coating and something interesting happened. The glue was like oozing into the resin! Ugh it was just a disaster and trust me I did not want to remake the coasters. I found that when you cover the whole picture and tile in a crystal clear enamel it does two things: 1) Prevents the spread of glue into the resin 2) Make the picture even more glossy. Sometimes you may put glue on the picture, which will dull the image, and the enamel just kind of brings it back to its glossy glory. You don't have to drench the coaster with enamel...just a light coat will do. After the coat is dry proceed to the next step.
Step 6:Become a mixologist!
Yes I know the title says mixologist and this is not a tutorial on how to make the perfect cosmopolitan. You will, however, be dealing with resin in ounces. I have resined, is that a word?, for a while now and I know how many ounces are needed for a certain amount of coasters. Trial and error is amazing if you remember the results. For this tutorial I will be making 4 coasters and for that many coaster you will need 2 ounces of (A) resin and 2 ounces of (B) resin. This amount of resin will give you enough to cover all 4 coasters with enough left over to cover the sides. Mix the resin according to the instructions and get ready to cover those coasters because once you begin the mix you are committed. If you leave the mixed resin in the cup it will begin to get hot and harden and you just wasted some resin. Nobody wants that!
Step 7:Cover the tiles!
Once you have mixed your resin according to the resin instructions it is time to cover the tiles! Make sure that you have your tiles on top of over turned cups so the resin can drip off the sides. As you can see in the picture I have my cups inside an open box so the resin will not drip all over the place. It is not necessary to cover the tile completely for you to get the tile to be perfect. You can just place enough resin to cover about 3/4 of the tile and spread the rest with a mixing stick. You would want to have some resin left over in case you miss a spot on the sides. While the resin is dripping off the sides use your mixing stick to spread the drips along the side so that all the sides are covered in resin. It takes a couple of tries to perfect your technique but resin is a forgiving medium.
Yes through the process of mixing the resin you WILL get bubbles. Don't freak out though because you can get rid of them. After you are done covering the tiles you are now tasked with getting rid of the bubbles. There are two ways of getting rid of the bubbles. First you can lightly pass a small blow torch over the tiles and the bubbles will pop. Don't put the fire on the resin just pass the flame over the tiles. Next option will be to get real close to the tile...pucker you lips and blow. No I'm not joking you really have to use your breath to pop the bubbles that arise from mixing. Apparently its the carbon dioxide, and not heat, from your breath that pop the bubbles. Whatever way you decide to clear those bubbles is up to you! I recommend checking the tiles after 10 mins to make sure no more sneaky bubbles arise. The resin that I use says that depending on the temperature it can take up to 4 hours to harden and 24 hours to cure. During summer months that resin will harden fast!
Step 9:You are DONE!
Yes finally you are on the last step. All you have to do here is peel the tape and hopefully the cured resin will pop right off. If the resin does not pop off I use a chisel to just pop them off the tile. There are some sites that say you can sand them down but I have never had a need to use sand paper. After the bottom of the tile is cleaned attach the felt feet and you are DONE! Congratulations you now have your set of coasters that you can be proud to show off.
Step 10:Just to Compare
You don't have to do any more things other than looking at the comparison of a coaster made without painting or resin and a coaster that was painted and resined. The non-resined coaster was made by covering the picture in mod podge after adhering it to the tile. The biggest problem I have with coasters made with a coating of mod podge is that it is not heat/water resistant. I have used coasters made with mod podge and found that the coat would peel and the color would fade from the picture. What makes a coaster made with resin so great is that it is water and heat resistant! Yes a coaster made from resin is a little more expensive but trust me when I say it is worth it! Thank you for reading my tutorial and I hope I have helped with your coaster adventures. If you have any questions feel free to comment me.