Fun and Funky Coasters

>> Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Last spring I wandered into Anthology expecting to peruse the selection, lust after some beautiful handmade paper, and ask the owners if they would be interested in selling my belts. About an hour later, I walked out of Anthology with these:

A huge box of these new treats had just arrived and I couldn't help but paw through the options. What a great idea -- take images from classic children's books and make coasters out of them. The upper left coast, with a smirking Max from Where the Wild Things Are, tempted me first, and I figured that if one is going to buy coasters, one needs a set, not a single item. So I bought 4 of them. I'm sure my sister, lover of all things Curious George, would happily take those two from me, were she ever to visit me up in the great cold eastern Midwest. But I digress.

The more I looked at the coasters, the more I realized that making them was well within my abilities. (It turns out ceramic tile is fragile and I sort of broke one; that incident served as another push to make more.) With some tile, some books, some glue, and some felt circles, I could generate an infinite supply of coasters for every occasion. Despite my enjoyment of domestic activities like baking and quilt-making, I am not and do not ever aspire to be Martha Stewart. Thus, there would be no Halloween, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, July 4th ensemble. Rather, children's books and funky, modern paper would rule.

I found an ample supply of tiles at the local ReUse Center, where I also trolled for books. I'm not sure if the extensive collection of Barbie, Finding Nemo, and Flintstones books is good or bad -- good because people relinquish the crap easily or bad because they buy them in the first place. Finding higher quality books (yes, I am a snob when it comes to reading; blame my reading teacher mother) required more persistence and dust-inhalation. My surveying informs me that people seem to keep copies of Miss Rumphius, Corduroy, Where the Wild Things Are, and Eric Carle illustrated books. I also realized that some books, though illustrated, are not well-suited for coasters. Caps for Sale and Blueberries for Sale were disappointments in that regard. However, I found a nice copy of The House at Pooh Corner, Curious George Goes to the Zoo, and Dandelion (by Don Freeman, the author and illustrator of Corduroy). The latter may reside in my collection of children's book rather than transmogrify into coasters, but we'll see.

Cutting apart the book was, admittedly, a bit traumatic. But I recovered from the admonitions echoing in my head that one should not deface or harm books. The end result in this case is worth it, I would argue. I did realize, though, that the illustrations in The House at Pooh Corner are a little sparse, in that they use a lot of white space. Nevertheless, I thought they rose to the challenge and make a nice set.

I also played with some paper I had to make these matching pairs.

I think the only substantial difference between my coasters and the ones I bought is that the purchased ones appear to have been dipped in high gloss varnish while I painted varnish onto mine. You can see the textured look this yields in the bottom-left coaster above (right where the flash hits it).

This was a fun (and quick!) project that I will definitely do again. If there's a book you'd like to see in coaster form, leave a comment. I'm thinking a series of book covers could be interesting -- The Great Gatsby through the years of publication, for example. I'll also try and write up a tutorial so you can make them at home.


-Sarah October 8, 2008 at 12:50 PM  

Hey Ronit! I hope all is going well with you. I love these coasters. I think they are really cool. I was wondering what type of adhesive/finish you used. I'm not a super crafty person, but I was thinking these might be do-able for Christmas gifts for my family. --Sarah Noyes Seene

two hippos October 8, 2008 at 1:18 PM  

Hi Sarah! Good to hear from you. I used Mod Podge as the glue and then painted on 2 more layers to cover and seal the paper followed by 1 layer of Satin Varnich from Delta Ceramcoat (basically the varnish my local Joann's had in stock). I think these are definitely do-able for the crafty and non-crafty alike. [I'll try and a post a true tutorial in the next week.] You could even use the big paper cutter in the library computer lab to cut the squares. Have fun!

Naomi October 8, 2008 at 8:59 PM  

I'm glad you liked my coasters from Anthology. They are a very long process to make (around a week per batch) and have taken three years to perfect. I love making them though.

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