Personalized Tiles for Holiday Gifts on a Budget



Introduction: Personalized Tiles for Holiday Gifts on a Budget

About: A Chemist, Ham Radio Operator, Maker/Artist, and Communicator. Some days you just wake up and smell the coffee!

This year my wife and I are making our own holiday gifts for friends and family. With the Covid-19 pandemic in full swing, I looked at making gifts that were 1) personalized 2) time-intensive to provide me relaxing projects while social distancing/quarantining, 3) easy to sanitize 4) able to be mailed effectively and cheaply. This led to an older project I did with my wife, personalizing coffee coasters.

This instructable details producing 4"x4" hot drink coasters using personalized images. This shows the initial production of two coasters, though by the holiday season this year, we will have produced 40 of these items! They're a great project for a couple, family, or 'quaranteam.' Stay safe all.


  1. Hudson Brilliant White Glossy 4-in x 4-in Glossy Ceramic Floor and Wall Tile (Lowe's Item 1359866)
  2. Plaid Modge Podge 16 oz/Matte (JoAnne's Item #: 8208480)
  3. Craft Felt Fabric 72'' Solids (JoAnne's Item #: 974808)
  4. 4x4 prints (~$0.28 each, Walmart)


  1. Razor Knife
  2. Glass Surface or Cutting Mat
  3. Absorbent Surface or Clean Table Covering
  4. Brushes
  5. Scissors
  6. Nuts, Cylindrical items (for raising drying tiles off tabletop)
  7. Copy Paper (for protective sleeves during compression and drying)

Step 1: Stage Materials

For this project, we will make two coasters. Two tiles, two 4x4" prints (here of a dancing couple and one of a new family member!), brushers, heavy books for compressing, felt cut to ~5"x 5", and various cutting and gluing tools.

Step 2: Compress and Adhere Image to Tile

We are using 'Modge-Podge' as a glue and a sealant in this project.

  • To begin, clean the tiles with a dry brush to remove any particulate.
  • Brush on a quantity of Modge-podge and brush from the center outward- you're looking for an even application of the 'glue' which is thin enough to not seep heavily from the edges under compression.
  • On a separator (felt shown) place the 4x4 photograph facedown
  • Center the tile on top and 'seat' it on the image, wiggling side to side to disperse the glue evenly.
  • Assign 'light reading' to the separator-image-tile stack, compressing under a heavy book. (note: you may find using a folded piece of copy paper as shown may improve peace of mind with respect to any seeping adhesive.)
  • Leave under compression for 8-10 hours.

Step 3: Repeat As Needed

Leveraging your bookcase can be helpful in increasing your production of tiles in this step and the next.

Step 4: Remove From Compression and Seal Image

  • Remove the photo-tile stack from the compression and inspect/trim for smooth surfaces.
    • Flip the tile over and using a razor knife, remove any minor edges to make a flush interface between the tile and the adhered image.
    • (Optional) Using a ruler, remove ~1/4" from all edges to form a 'frame' around the image. This is especially useful if the photograph was skewed (angled) during compression.
  • Apply a coat of 'modge-podge' over the surface and the edges, which when dry will prevent lifting of the image from the tile surface
    • It may be good after a few minutes to use a clean brush and apply a 'finishing wipe' to the surfaces, this will result in uniform ridges across the surface and a nice finished texture, as well as added grip to the coffee cup
    • With the edges, it is often good to raise them up off the tabletop for uniform drying. I found using 1/4" nuts, cylindrical magnets, or wooden discs were quite useful in this regard.

Step 5: Apply Felt Base and Trim

Once dried, we will apply an over-large felt base to the bottom of the tile. This stock tile had a texture to them that was quite beneficial.

  • Apply an even coat of modge-podge to the base of the tile. While this coating must also be uniform, slightly heavier than the surface is desirable as the sealant will 'wick' in to the fabric, improving the hold.
  • Apply the fabric and place in folded copy paper sleeves. This will be compressed.
  • Enjoy a refreshing iced tea while observing the compression. Leave overnight (~12 hours).

Step 6: Inspection

  • Review tiles for any visible defects such as peeling corners, bubbles, or visible scratches.
  • Repeat and refine your technique! We're always learning. (note: in the background is another great tool- a low cost green screen.)

Best of luck and Happy Holidays! Stay safe!

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