Photo Coasters

This is a classic craft that you can find a lot of places and one that I find works great in a pinch, especially around the holidays. It’s very simple to put together and requires cheap and easy to find materials, some of which you probably already have in your craft room/area/toolkit.


  • Mod Podge – I like to use the dishwasher safe Mod Podge for this one so I can wipe down the coasters without worrying; it looks pricey, but I’ve had the same bottle for 10+ projects and still have about half a bottle left!
  • Plain white 4″x4″ tiles – I usually go to Home Depot to get mine – they run about $0.20 -$0.40/tile, so a decent size set of coasters is still super cost effective
  • Cork – I like to line the tiles in a cork bottom to protect whatever your coasters may be sitting on; this cork has a nice grid backing which makes cutting perfect and consistent squares a cinch
  • Printed photos cut to 4″ x 4″ – I’ve found that the online ordering at Target is the easiest/cheapest/quickest when I’m using photos from my phone
  • Hot glue & gun
  • Alcohol and paper towel/cotton ball/equivalent

First things first – you need to choose your photos. This will determine the number of coasters you want to make and therefore the amount of supplies you need for the rest of the project. I like to gift coasters in sets of 4, but I have actually done a gift set of 5 (it was photos of the couples in one family). I have a set of 8 coasters because my dining table has 8 seats. Anyhow, my point is – you can do whatever you want – just determine that up front. When you’re choosing photos, make sure you consider the amount you will have to crop the photo. When you print at somewhere like Target, your photos will come out as 4″x6″, so you’ll need to crop out 2″ from the longer side. This is especially important for photos with faces – you don’t want to have to crop out a forehead or chin.

Once you have your cropped photos and other materials, the first thing to start with is the cork bottom. Use the grid lines on the paper backing to cut out the appropriate size square to cover the bottom of the tile, leaving a little bit of room around the edges so it doesn’t overlap the sides. You should cut one cork square for each tile. Once all your cork is cut, then you want to start applying. Flip all the tiles over and use your hot glue and gun to apply the cork to the bottom. Don’t forget to remove the paper backing to reveal the sticky side of the cork. The hot glue acts as an extra bond to ensure the cork doesn’t come loose, especially since the bottom of the tile isn’t smooth.back of coaster.jpg

**Note, I can’t stress enough how batch working is the way to go when doing crafts, especially when you have repetitive actions like cutting out a certain number of the same thing and applying a step to multiples. This type of organization will save you time and stress and will also ensure your creations are made consistently.

Once all your cork bottoms have dried, flip your tiles and use your alcohol and paper towel/cotton ball/equivalent to clean the top of the tile. Rubbing alcohol is fine – you really just need to remove any oil / hair / finger grease from the area where you’ll be applying the Mod Podge, which is the whole top of the tile. Once you’ve alcohol’d all tiles, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to each and place your pictures on each. I like to use a tissue or equivalent to place between the picture and my fingers so I can press down the whole area of the photo without leaving a bunch of fingerprints. Just be careful not to get the tissue stuck to the Mod Podge! Allow your Mod Podge layer to dry for a few hours and your picture to set into place. Apply 1-2 additional thin layers of Mod Podge to the photo and tile, allowing each layer to dry in between. When you’re applying, it may look streaky. Don’t worry – Mod Podge dries pretty clearly, so you won’t see this. It’s probably a good idea to use uniform straight rows, but you won’t notice them in the end.


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