Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Homemade Gifts Episode III: Revenge of the Coaster

Happy first day of 2013!

(I sincerely apologize for the abused Star Wars reference. It makes no sense. I know.)

I am determined to make today a better day than yesterday. Due to the windshield incident, followed by an epically failed attempt at making yogurt, I was not my cheerful self. I recovered pretty well from Leo's injuries, but when my yogurt culture died and the milk separated into curds and whey, I was a TOTAL grump for about an hour. I am still unsure of what exactly I did wrong. Maybe in a week or two after I let my grudge against the recipe go, I will try to make yogurt again.

Luckily, the foul mood did not last long because, shortly thereafter, my first ever ham turned out amazingly! This is definitely Mr. J's week of dreams. We have more ham than I know what to do with! I made a ton of ham stock last night (tutorial to come) and a huge batch of ham and bean soup is simmering away in the crockpot. I am still relaxing in my snuggly, fuzzy robe and I'm looking forward to a quiet last day of vacation filled with easy chores and making my first loaf of homemade bread! I am using this recipe, FYI.

On Pinterest many moons ago, I saw a pin for coasters made out of Scrabble tiles. Of course, there was not a linked tutorial. I decided I would figure this project out on my own. Here's what I came up with.

Word Tile Coasters

Such a creative project name, I know. What can I say? I have skills.

1.  The first thing you need to do is acquire tiles of some sort. I went to Home Depot looking for ceramic tiles that were less than a dollar a piece. Keep an open mind when you're on this hunt: be flexible and let what you find guide your end product. It can be easy to get discouraged if you can't find exactly the item you see in your mind's eye. I found myself facing this dilemma. I finally found some tile at the right price, but they were quite thick and had a odd edge: not exactly what I had been dreaming of. But I figured, I could get 8 tiles, enough for two coaster sets, for less than $8, so these babies were worth a shot.

2.  Next, get yourself some heavy duty glue. I used E6000. Don't get that crap on your hands, though. It stinks to high heaven and is not as fun to peel off your skin as hot glue.

3. Now you can give your coasters some feet to avoid damaging surfaces when you use them. I used a serrated kitchen knife to slice up corks and used E6000 to attach a cork slice to each of the four corners on the bottom of each coaster. As you can tell from this picture, I was not particularly worried about making all of the slices even. It really wasn't a problem down the road, so don't worry yourself about making them perfect!

Next, use Scrabble letters to create the words you want (My grandparents gave my an old set so these were free!). Use the glue to attach the letters together. Let the words dry for at least an hour before you glue them to the tile. I found I could fit four four-letter words maximum on a 1" x 1" tile.

Here's the set I made for my dad. I used one word at the top of each coaster. This left enough room for a glass to rest on the remainder of the visible tile.

You can see here how thick the coasters were, but I loved the rustic appearance, especially paired with the wooden tiles and cork feet.

 And here's the set I made for my grandfather. He's a salt of the earth kind of guy with lots of outdoor hobbies, so I gave each coaster a theme: hunting, gardening, logging, and his grandkids. Luckily, all four of us have a short name or nickname that I was able to fit on there! He really loved this set :)

I was lucky to find this tile: it had a cool, distressed-looking surface. I can't recall if these tiles were made of real rock or not... guess I should have paid more attention!

Once you acquire the materials, you can throw these coasters together in less than two hours.