Creating A Photo Mosaic Coaster
Published in Issue 23, June 2013
Written by Carrie from Streutertech
Looking for a quick gift idea for Father's Day?
What dad doesn't love receiving homemade gifts from their children?
Here's a great project that's both quick and easy, finishing in 1 to 2 hours, depending upon your style.
Photograph or artwork
4" coaster tile
2" x 2" clear glass
Package of 3/8" tiles (1/2" or 1" tiles will work, as well)
No Days Mosaic Adhesive film
Scissors or razor
Standard heat gun or embossing heat tool
Long pair of tweezers (or other heat proof tool)
Black sanded grout
Container for mixing water and grout
HoneyDoo Powerbond Glue
Step 1. To create a custom photo coaster, the first thing you need is a photograph cut to 2" x 2". (You can also use a piece of artwork, just re-size it to 2" x 2".)
Step 4. After you've covered your coaster, it's time to heat set the tiles in place with a standard heat gun or embossing heat tool. Begin by holding the heat gun about 6"-8" above your coaster and turn it on low. As the tiles begin to heat, you can begin to move the heat gun closer. You don't want to start too close, though, or else you'll end up blowing the tiles off the substrate with the force of the hot air!
As the adhesive heats up, you will see it start to turn glossy and liquefy. You need to make sure to heat the tiles enough so that the adhesive underneath them also liquefies.
Step 5. Using a pair of long tweezers or other heat proof tool, push gently on the tiles to see if they move. If the tiles skid or stick, then the adhesive under them is not fully heated. If the tiles glide as you push on them, they have heated the adhesive underneath. When the tiles are heated thoroughly, you can easily move the tiles around and position them into place. While heating, you'll need to press down on the clear glass in the middle of the coaster to push out any air bubbles that get trapped under the glass and on top of the photo.
Step 6. After the tiles have cooled down (5-7 minutes), you're ready to grout. Before beginning to grout, check that all the tiles are fully adhered. The tiles along the edges of the coaster will be the ones that may not have been heated enough. If you push and pull on them and they pop off, you need to heat longer. If you begin grouting and still have pieces that pop off, clean the area free of grout, place another small piece of adhesive under it and re-heat the tile to activate the adhesive.
Wearing a dust mask, mix a small amount of black sanded grout (a handful) in a cup with just a bit of water (maybe a teaspoon). Stir the grout around with your fingers until it is thoroughly mixed and about the consistency of peanut butter. Spread the grout on top of your coaster, rubbing the grout across the tiles to force the grout down into the gaps. Don't try to push the grout into the gaps vertically, it won't pack it in there tightly. After you've got the grout in all of the spaces, stain the edges and underside of the coaster by rubbing the grout against them. (Alternatively, you can paint the edges and back after you're finished with the coaster.)
Step 7. After you've finished grouting, wait about 10 minutes for the grout to become hazy on top of the tiles. Then, you can polish the tiles lightly with a paper towel. You can call the coaster finished now, or you can add some rubber pads to the bottom to protect surfaces that the coaster will lay on. Otherwise, you can continue with the instructions below to attach a cork backing. The HoneyDoo Powerbond will take a bit longer to cure, but the end result looks very professional.
Step 8. While waiting for the grout to set up, cut the cork backing (you can find this at craft stores) by cutting it slightly smaller than your coaster (3-7/8"). After polishing your coaster, flip it over to the back side. Smear the HoneyDoo Powerbond glue in a thin layer around the entire surface of the cork backing, BUT stay at least 1/4" from the edges. While the glue is drying, it will expand slightly and fill in the gap.
Step 9. After gluing, flip the coaster over to press the cork backing flat and let the glue dry (2-3 hours). You may want to add a grout sealer to protect the grout, and prevent the black edges from smudging.
Now, you've got a gift that dad can take to work with him to remind him of the littles while he's away!