I am multi-craftual, but one of my favorite projects is ceramic tile coasters. They’re just so versatile, since you can use any image, and look so sharp with the hard resin coating. Doctor Who, Firefly, Star Trek, Dr. Horrible, DC Bombshells, NASA space images – I have given many sets away to friends, and have sold them at cons. There are so many great ways to celebrate your fandom, and I’m going to tell you how to make your own tile coasters sealed with resin in this post.
The trick that makes my coasters so nice and durable is the resin coating on top – there are tons of DIY tutorials online that tell you just to adhere and seal with Mod Podge, but I didn’t find that durable enough.
I tried sealing the images with spray acrylic, spray polyurethane, and brush-on poly, but the images bled and I would get rings from the drink condensation. I finally experimented with resin and my coasters are gorgeous with a glossy crystal clear hard coating that works great for hot or cold drinks (duly tested with coffee, margaritas, hard cider, Captain and Coke, and plain old ice water).
- ceramic tiles – I get 4″x4″ white tiles from Lowe’s or Home Depot for about 16 cents each, or often I can find them at a Habitat ReStore for 10 cents each.
- color image (e.g. clipart, comic book page, scrapbook paper, etc.)
- Mod Podge (I use matte formula)
- 2-part epoxy resin (e.g. Amazing Clear Cast)
- stiffened self-adhesive felt (I get black, in 9″x12″ sheets – you can get 6 4×4 squares from each sheet)
- small paint brush or foam brush (for Mod Podge application)
- plastic drinking cups (~4oz)
- wooden craft sticks
- plastic gloves
- 1″ disposable foam brush for resin application (1 brush per 8 coasters)
- plastic garbage bag to protect your work surface
- Using a graphic editing program (e.g. Photoshop), create a new image or resize an existing image to 4″x4″ (or the size of your tile).
- Using a desktop publishing program (e.g. MS Publisher), insert the image four times, so four images print on one sheet.
- Using a color printer, print as many images as you need. I print on regular printer paper. You can also make a color copy at a print shop.
- Trim each image to size (I use a paper cutter for nice straight edges).
- Using a small paint brush (~1/2 to 3/4″), apply Mod Podge to one tile. Cover the whole top surface.
- Carefully center the color image on the Mod Podged surface and smooth down.
- Use a brayer to firmly attach image and smooth out any wrinkles.
- Using the same small paint brush, brush on a layer of Mod Podge over the surface to help seal everything.
- Allow to dry – I usually allow at least a couple hours. Repeat Mod Podge process for each coaster.
Now you’re ready to give the coaster(s) a nice hard surface – it’s time for resin! READ THE BEST PRACTICES BELOW AND PACKAGE INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE YOU START (YES, I’M SHOUTING THIS!)
- Place 8 coasters on plastic cups, with about 2″ between.
- Put on plastic gloves and follow resin package instructions for mix ratio and stir time.
- After the resin is completely mixed per instructions, pour about a quarter to silver dollar sized amount in the middle of one coaster.
- Use a disposable foam brush to gently and slowly cover surface with resin. Make sure you get to the tile edges and seal in the image edges.
- Continue for remaining coasters – pour a small amount, one coaster at a time, and spread to cover with foam brush.
- Once all 8 are covered, go back and inspect for little air bubbles in the resin surface. If you see any, huff your breath lightly over the surface – the carbon dioxide should pop the air bubbles so you don’t mar the surface with continued brushstrokes.
- Allow to dry at least 24 hours – I usually let cure for 48 hours.
- Adhere 4×4 squares of stiffened felt to tile backs to protect table surfaces.
- Admire your work!
RESIN BEST PRACTICES
- Protect your work surface! There will be drips and resin is a PAIN and tedious to scrape off. I tape down a plastic garbage bag so nothing moves around.
- Set out one plastic cup for each coaster – this will hold your coaster as you brush the resin into place. I actually progressed to using 2″ wood blocks beneath each coaster, but used plastic cups to start.
- On the back of each tile, put masking tape around the inside border to catch any resin drips. That way you can just peel off any drips that escape, rather than laboriously scraping or sanding them off.
- Put on disposable plastic gloves BEFORE you mix the resin.
- I use wood craft sticks to mix the resin.
- I use 1 oz each of the resin and hardener, and mix in disposable plastic drinking cups. With this amount, I can usually do 8 coasters.
- If you need to do more than 8 coasters, do them in batches of 8 so the resin doesn’t start to harden before you get to all your coasters.
- I learned a lot from reading this post on resin tips, including the comments.
- See also: ResinObsession.com-Resin FAQ, including What Kind of Resin Should I Use?
Have you experimented with geek-crafts and/or resin? Let me know in the comments!