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Four cork coasters from a 1-euro-shop transformed into something stylish and useful :)
using not much more than some decoupage-adhesive and a coffee-pattern table napkin

Step 1: Material

What I needed:

- Cork coasters (wooden, plastic, glass etc will also do I suppose - only paper & cardboard should be avoided, had only bad experiences with that. The papery structures tend to soak the adhesive too much, and the coasters tend to bend concave or convexly and they also tend to stick when stacked!)
- (Nice pattern of a fitting size from a) table napkin (I needed 2 for 4 coasters but you might need less - reason follows in the steps)
- Acrylic white paint + brush (to undercoat)
- Scissors
- Decoupage adhesive
- some patience (each coat dries in 1-2 hours. Mine needed 4 coats in total)

That's about all - ready to begin!

Step 2: Paint

I used some acrylic plain white color, you could use any other light color depending on your choice, off-white would also look nice with this napkin I suppose.

Better go for lighter and neutral colors than darker ones, because napkin layers are thin and the background will shine through later on. (this is why we are coloring them white in the first place, otherwise the pattern of the napkin won't be seen due to the background color)

Just brush, wait for it to dry, and if it's still too transparent a white, repeat. 2 coats were enough in my case.

Hint: Cork items can be rather rough textured, I had to file mine (using a nail file :P) on the sides a bit to make it smooth and hold the paint better.

Step 3: Cut Out the Pattern

- First lay the item down on the (wrong side of the) napkin and trace around with a pencil or just "score" strongly with the round tip of a similar object
- Now you need to make another circular trace, slightly larger. You can use different methods:

1- (long, exhausting but precise way) measure the diameter of the coasters, then depending on how thick they are -mine are not more than 0.5cm- add around 2 cm on each side (= 4cm), divide by two to find radius and draw the bigger circle around the smaller one using a pair of compasses
2- (shorter, easier way. Still precise) use another circular object slightly bigger than the coasters and trace around it with a pencil
3- (easiest method) just don't draw anything else :P and use free hand to ...

- Cut out the patterns from the napkin. For the 3rd method, try to cut at an even distance (~2cm) to the circle.

- Remove the lower 2 (or 3) layers from the napkin. You should end up with the layer with the pattern on it.

Step 4: Apply Onto the Coaster

Now we need the adhesive. Note that the acrylic paint must be completely dry before doing this.

- Apply the adhesive on one (the front) side of the coaster using not too much. Cover the sides and an outer circle from the backside a little as well - it will overlap around the edges.
I usually spread it with my finger, for me this works well, you could of course use a brush.

- Carefully place the cut-out pattern from the napkin trying to center it BEFORE it touches the adhesive (after that there is no turning back :P) and gently press onto the adhesive, starting from the middle and trying not to stretch the napkin too much. Wrap around the edge and fold step by step making it as flat as possible. If necessary, add little amounts of adhesive on corners and flaps that just won't stick.

Step 5: Repeat for the Backside

Now if you wish to, you can cover the backside with some pattern, too like I did.

For this I used the same napkin, only this time instead of cutting out the pattern larger than the coasters, cut out circles that are slightly smaller so they stay on the backside and don't wrap around the edge to the front! ;)

The careful reader will notice that the "apply" step actually shows the pictures for the backside, since these were the only pictures I had suitable for the "applying the napkin onto the coasters" stage!

Still, for the sake of completeness, I would like to give some pictures for this step as well.

- Apply the same way, only this time pay more attention to centering the cut-out pieces, if you can't, they will stick out from the sides. If it happens it's also o.k, then just trim them with a pair of scissors :)

Step 6: Finishing Touches & Result ^^

So now both sides of the coasters are covered with nice patterns. Dried. Looking good already?

Do NOT use them yet! Right now the coasters have a papery surface and will soak up water rather quickly when in contact with them. To avoid this, just apply another coat of the adhesive, this time a bit more generously but still always smoothing it, and let dry.

I did this for both (front & back) sides to avoid bad surprises later on. The special decoupage adhesive (in German: Serviettenlack) seals the surface and makes it more robust, waterproof (still don't try to wash them :P) and gives it a nice glaze!

This one was thought of as a gift but I'm still thinking about keeping it ;)

Hope this was helpful, I know many of you have done this before but everyone has their own experience with this technique, I just wanted to share mine and perhaps inspire some others for similar projects!

So enjoy!

-- * -- Eda -- * --

ps. Comments and ideas are welcome on my first (and quite long :P) instructable!

really cool project! Came out good too. I will share this with users of my <a href="http://www.coffeemugrack.com">coffee mug rack</a> site.. thanks
Thanks!<br>Glad it turned out good.<br>Feel free to link to this instructable.<br>
Love this project... I'm just getting ready to try this now, so thanks! as for air bubbles and wrinkles, I watched someone else do this...what they did is spread a small amount of adhesive on a small part of the substrate, laid the napkin on, and then brushed on the adhesive a little bit at a time, smoothing the napkin over the coated part as she went...I'm having enough trouble with things that aren't tissue, lol, so hope this helps!
The other option here is to just glue 4 more round cork coasters to the bottom of the decorated ones. Less fiddly if you chubby fingers like mine!
I really like this project! I was wondering if you could use photographs and if so, what would the process be?
An idea that might work would be to take the photos (I assume you mean the type rendered from film), and scan them into the computer (<em>IF you have a color photo printer</em>) and print them off under the <em>photo setting</em> but not on photo paper, but print rather on regular printing paper. Although the quality might not be as good, they would be thinner and easier to handle, as per the instructions above. <br/>
<strong>Nice project, and very practical! I saw sunglasses/faces, esp. in the thumbnails. I have done this using cardboard and paper....sealed with acrylic varnish...seems to resist some moisture and nothing lasts forever!</strong><br/>
These are great! In the small pics I thought they were faces of some kind! Very cool! Thanks for sharing!
I thought so too, they looked like tribal faces of some kind, and they sort of scared me :) Good instructable though!
They look great!
Thanks a lot! <sup></sup> <br/>I've noticed I'm also admiring some of your work ;)<br/>Eda<br/>
Thanks! Cute seal icon, btw.
<sup>_</sup> thanks!<br/>
Nice job! They actually look like faces in the end. :P Nice job once again!
Thanks, Miko! <br/>Well, never seen it that way but indeed they do! :) Not very pretty faces, though.. :P<br/><br/>Your soldering help unit (&quot;helping hands&quot;) is also a very nice project, one of those simple but useful ideas, well done! I'd probably never think of that! <sup></sup><br/><br/>Loves,<br/>Eda<br/>

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