I come from a pretty proud Italian family... not like Jersey Shore proud... I mean I am from Jersey, but not like Jersey Jersey... This isn't helping. My great-grandparents immigrated from Italy as children in the early 1900s, came through Ellis Island, and settled somewhere along the Hudson outside of New York City. As far as I know they received an 8th grade education and spent the rest of their lives doing various odd jobs and pursuing different entrepreneurial ventures. One family legend suggests that my great-grandfather won the family farm in a poker game... not sure how true it is, but we have a lot of stories like that. One of their ventures in the 50s and 60s was owning and operating a restaurant in Kinderhook, NY and I recently stumbled upon an internet archive of the Chatham Courier, a newspaper that ran their ads. They're so cute and vintage, I really wanted to get them off the internet and turn them into something functional and fun. So for Christmas I made my brother and father each a set of coasters. They are extremely easy to make and require only a few inexpensive materials. Here's how it's done:
I started by saving the ads I found online to a word document and printing them out on standard computer paper. Once I cut them out I used a paintbrush to apply craft glue and smooth the ad onto the tile (which I found at Home Depot for like a dollar each). I'm not sure if it matters, but I used a glue called Weldbond that specifically states it adheres to ceramic. This step is really just to make sure the image stays in place when you apply the lacquer, that's what will actually seal the piece. Once they're all glued, take the pieces outside and evenly coat each tile with lacquer (again, I bought a lacquer that listed ceramic as a compatible material). Read the can to find out how much time to wait between coats. I did three, waiting a half an hour between each coat. Give them 24 hours to fully dry before moving onto the next step.
Once the tiles are dry you can flip them over and attach the cork bottom. This part is extremely simple.
Con-Tact Brand makes thin sheets of cork in rolls that are already adhesive and provide you with a grid for easy measuring. Just use a tile to determine which grid section to cut, peel the paper back, and stick the square to the back of your tile. I'm not sure how permanent the adhesive is, especially on ceramic tile, so I let each piece sit under a few weighty books before calling them complete. They seem to stick fine as long as you don't actively pick at them, but I guess time will tell with this one.
Overall, the project is extremely simple to complete and is really not too time consuming aside from waiting for them to dry. They were a huge hit with my father (who on principle generally does not accept gifts from anyone... he leads a "minimalist" lifestyle or something... I don't know) and I've now been commissioned to create a set for each of the remaining family members. What I like about these though is that they are a cool conversation piece, can be personalized in any way you want, and are super cheap.
I realize now that I neglected to photograph these coasters actually functioning as coasters... I promise they are sturdy and waterproof... Blogger fail.