I’m toying with the idea of making this into a series of sorts and doing other custom coffee cups applying different techniques than those used in this post. Let’s hope I do it – I guess you’ll have to come back to find out (if you’re into coffee cup crafts, that is…). This craft is pretty easy if you just take your time, relax and enjoy the experience. I made a few of these for Christmas for my siblings-in-law since we decided to not exchange gifts this year. I thought’d it’d be a fun way to still give them something to open. Plus, I filled them with candy, so they were an easy hit. The below design is for a cat face, but you could customize for any animal face (or design, really). I even made one cup that was a deer face and neck for a hunter we know.
First, take the paper and put it inside the cup and press it against the side where you want to put the image (consider which hand your user will drink with if you want to do a face design). Mark the edges of your coffee cup ‘canvas’ (aka the design area of the cup) on the paper so you know how big to make your design. Then, draw your design (cat face, deer face, etc.) within that area of the paper. I looked at a couple of different photos for mine and did some editing to my drawing before I was ready to put it onto the cup. Once you’re happy with the design, put the paper back into the cup with the design pressed against your ‘canvas’ side and trace the design onto the cup using the permanent marker.
Once your design is on, you want to paint. I had two different colors to do – white and pink, so I used my batch assembly approach and drew on all of my cups, then painted all the cups with white and then the pink paint (which was a blend). You may have to do a couple of coats of paint to get the desired opaque. Once your paint is FULLY dry (I did this over 2 days, I think) go over any areas with your permanent marker, as needed.
The final step is to Mod Podge over the whole area. I used my clear dishwasher safe Mod Podge from my Photo Coasters post. You want to apply 2-3 coats of Mod Podge so that your user doesn’t have to worry about throwing the cup in the dishwasher (because NOBODY likes hand wash only items).
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.
**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.