November 29, 2013

Handmade Gift Idea: Hex Sign Cork Coasters

Our wooden end tables have been taking some abuse from the many cups of hot tea and coffee I've been consuming in the last month.  I might perch my hot cup on a magazine, but sometimes I'm guilty of just setting it on the table.

A friend gave me some crocheted coasters, which I've used at times, but they always seem to be tossed like frisbees around the living room by my boys.  I think one of them is still under our sofa.

I thought maybe some less-inviting ones might be worth a shot.  I saw these swakny glass ones at Target the other day, but of course glass+boys=second thoughts.
I saw some nearly identical ones in the dollar store the other day, but plastic with cork centers.  They begged to be decorated, and at one dollar for four and weighing about 5 lbs less, I thought they were worth a try.  I'm pleased at how they turned out.
Living in a Pennsylvania Dutch town, I'm inspired by the arts and crafts and designs that make up this region's heritage.
So I had a little fun creating my own versions of hex signs.
I have a book on Pennsylvania Dutch designs that proved helpful, but you can search online for hex sign designs and find plenty of options.

It was a very inexpensive project, considering I only had to buy the coasters since I had the rest on hand.  Here's what I used:
  • Cork coasters 
  • Acrylic paints or a paint marker
  • brushes
  • pencil
  • Mod Podge (for sealing the paint onto the coaster)
First off, I found a simple design that I liked and used that as a starting point.  I wanted to copy a hex sign I have on my wall, but change the colors.
Then I lightly sketched it onto the coaster with a pencil.  I apologize for not snapping photos of the craft in progress, though I think you can fill in the blanks with your imagination.

Next, I painted the design.  You could make it all one color, like white, or use a lot. I went with primary colors and white, and I made sure that some of the cork was visible underneath. I like the contrast of the natural brown color and the brighter hues.

Once the paint dried, I added a thin layer of Mod Podge to protect the paint.
They're not perfectly painted (I was lazy and didn't meticulously measure my designs), but I like the handmade look.
So far they haven't been whipped across the room, but if/when they are, I'm not worried about them shattering into pieces or clunking someone on the head.

I definitely see more sets of these in my future; they would make great Christmas gifts.  If you're not so artistically inclined, you could always use or make a stencil to add a monogram to the coaster. 

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