Mod Podge Coasters & Wine Charms

A good friend of mine loves traveling; in fact, there was a time about two years ago where she was out of the country (in various other countries too, not just one) more than she was in it. She also has a November birthday, and since I am the worst her birthday gifts always inevitably become birthday/Christmas gifts, and this year was no exception. I decided to document her many travels using Mod Podge, a roll of cork, and some photos, and make coasters for her.

First I decided what I’d want to put on the coasters – I chose a few of her own photos, as well as a map of each of the places. I had everything printed at Target (including the maps…I just saved images and had them printed as a 4 x 6″ photo – no use in spending money on a map that is ultimately going to get destroyed). I think a 4 x 6″ photo is something like $.27, and I got a few printed for other purposes, so let’s say it was about $2. Then, I was GOING to get Mod Podge, but Pinterest inspired me to just combine equal parts of water and craft glue in a jar, shake it, and VOILA, Mod Podge that cost the price of craft glue and a mason jar…let’s say $5 total for those. I forget how much the cork was, so I’ll say $7 for argument’s sake. I got it at Michael’s, and the roll had WAY more than I needed for these coasters, so now I have cork for…something else.

First, I found something that was the size and shape I wanted the coasters to be (for me, a little dessert bowl), traced them on the cork, and cut them out with regular scissors. I learned after the few two I cut out to make lots of smaller cuts because thin cork rips very easily – I had to go back and clean up some edges. So, I wound up with nine circles…nine CURLY circles

Well, that just won’t do, so I did what anyone would do – I asked my mom how to fix it. Her suggestion of wetting the cork and pressing them under something heavy worked well with my copy of The Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes, so I wet the rest and pressed them between a VCR (yes, a real VCR) and and XBOX.

The Xbox sounds like a jet plane. I've used it more as a cork press in this process than as a video game console.

After waiting a day, they were totally flat! (I was going to take a photo of the flat cork, but I forgot…I’m going to assume you can imagine what flat cork looks like.)

For the first group of coasters, I cut out the photo to match the shape/size of the cork and then glued it on. Inevitably they weren’t EXACTLY the same, so for the second group I glued on the full size photos and cut out the shapes after they were dry. This just worked out easier for me – I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way. But regardless of when I cut it, I brushed a coat of my ghetto mod podge (GMP) on the cork, and pressed the photo on. I left it for about a day to make sure it was fully dry, then brushed another coat on top of the photo and on the sides (but depending on how to make them, this would be the time to cut the photos to the shape of the cork base) (cork bits were falling off everywhere, so I thought it might help that). I left it for another day or two to dry completely.

After the first coat of GMP, I highly suggest using a fine sandpaper and sand the top slightly (I used 150). I noticed the glue had picked up a lot of dust and other particles from sitting around, so I wanted to make it smooth for the second coat. I sanded it until it was satisfactorily smooth, wiped of any sandpaper-related dust with my shirt (because I’m a professional) and applied the second coat, and left it to dry for another day or so. When that layer was dry, I sanded them again and called it done. I kept them pressed under the Xbox again until I saw said friend, who at least claims to like them which is good enough for me.

If I had to redo anything about this, I wouldn’t have used the cork on a roll. You can get thicker cork, or some other material that won’t be so prone to being curly. They still had a bit of a curl to them when I gave them to the recipient, but we justified them by saying that there was going to be glasses on them anyway so it didn’t really matter. Also this was my first time decoupaging; the next time I use it I think I’ll look up some sort of tutorial to make sure I’m doing it the right way, not the me-way.

To go along with this kind-of drinking related gift, I also made wine charms for said friend – it was so easy! I ordered these 25mm hoop earrings and these antiqued wine-related charms from Fire Mountain Gems (because I couldn’t find anything comparable at my craft store). But I DID find silver filler beads (Bead Landing Spacer Beads) and multicolored glass beads (Jewelry Essentials Glass Seed Beads) at Michaels, so I purchased those in person. Then I just strung on a silver bead, a color, a charm, a matching color, and another silver bead, and WHAM instant wine charms. And I still have over 40 more hoop earrings…there are a lot of wine charms in my future.