Sunday, August 5, 2012

"Iron-on" Tile Coasters

This tutorial was feature a few weeks ago over at Free Time Frolics:

Iron-On Tile Coasters
Here's the deal:  You're at a rockin' party, dressed to the nines, jammin' with the music, a drink in one hand and fist bumpin' your favorite peeps with the other.  You're halfway through the room when you spy the buffet table, piled so high with delish free food that you're going to need both hands to hold your plate.  Here in lies the problem--what to do with your drink.  Set it down on the food table where someone's peeled shrimp might take an unexpected dive?  Carefully sandwich it under your arm and hope none of the margarita salt rubs off on your Armani silk shirt?  Or leave it on the carefully polished coffee table and chance the wrath of your host by leaving a tell-tale ring?

No worries, my friend, because mankind long ago came up with the answer.  No, it's not the beer drinker's helmet or the 6-pack holster--I'm talking about that age-old denotation of ultimate sophistication:  the coaster.

And today I'm going to show you how to make that coaster the envy of all those purveyors of sophistication, by personalizing it with your own photos.  And we're not just going to cut them out and slap them on with a little white school glue--we're going to use heat transfer.

We've all seen tile coasters, either decorated or painted or decoupaged with photos.  Maybe you even created some last year for Christmas as a kid.  I really thought I'd exhausted the different ways to decorate the common bathroom tile, but when I read about transferring photos to tile using iron on's, I couldn't wait to try it!

What you'll need:

  1. 4" x 4" Tile:  This works easier with unglazed tile, but colors are brighter with glazed.  (I sanded the glazed tiles before transferring the photo.)
  2. Photo transfer paper
  3. Tape
  4. Iron
  5. Water-resistant sealer
  6. Cork or felt tabs

1.  Print your photo on the photo transfer paper, following the manufacturer's directions.  Cut around your image leaving a 1/2" border.  Tape it upside down to the edge of the tile.  This will help to keep the photo from slipping.

2.  Preheat the iron using the highest setting (don't use steam!) and fold the photo back away from the tile.

3.  Heat the tile:  working on a protected surface, and using gloves to protect your hands from the hot tile, place your iron onto your tile for 1 minute.

4.  Carefully flip the photo over onto the tile.  Since the transfer paper smears easily when hot, you need to tack the transfer first by lightly gliding the tip of the iron across the back two or three times.

5.  Iron it down:  Using firm pressure, (and being careful not to move the transfer) iron the paper to the tile.  Go back and forth, pressing firmly around all the image.  Make sure to do the edges really well, because that's the area that seems to have the hardest time with the transfer.  When you are finished, set the timer for one minute and do some deep breathing or something.  You don't want to take the paper off too soon, but you also don't want to leave it on too long or the paper will get stuck to the tile.  (If that happens, heat the paper again and you should be able to get it off.)

You can see that the edges do not come off sharp and crisp, and the image has sort of an aged look to it, but I think that only enhances the end result.

6.  Wait till the tile completely cools (at least 10 to 15 minutes), then seal the tile using 2 to 3 coats of sealer.
7.  Attach cork or felt to the bottom.

I just love the look of this!  I can see a whole row of tiles lined up across a backsplash or several grouped together in a frame.  I'm planning on making a tile planter for a friend, and I'm definitely going to incorporate this technique.

If you like this project idea, you would love the book that I got the idea from.  There are 50 projects, and they're not your regular run-of-the-mill projects either!  Just a few I plan to try:  mirror frame, plexiglass accordion frame, rice paper screen and even a shower curtain! I don't usually purchase real hold-in-your-hands books for diy stuff any more, (that's why we have the internet, right?) but in this case I'm glad I broke down and got it.

Until next time,
Go Get Crafty Sister!
~Sister #2

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