I love designing coasters, coming up with a little series of artworks on tiny 4" canvasses. From petri dishes to Platonic solids, coasters are just fun! They add a little bit of visual interest to home design, while protecting furniture.
However, coming up with the perfect coaster took quite a bit of trial and error! In this post, I'm going to explain my process for making a coaster, from start to finish.
It all starts with the design -- thinking, sketching, turning the design into vector artwork in Adobe Illustrator, and having photopolymer plates made. These plates are used to print the artwork onto coaster blanks on my hand crank press, one by one.
Once the coasters have been printed and dried for a few hours, the coaster is mounted to a cork backing using spray glue.
Here at Proton Paperie & Press, quality is of paramount importance! I went through countless products trying to come up with a great waterproofing solution for the coasters -- polyurethane, polycrylic, plain Modge Podge, shellac, varnish, and more.... all of these had problems, and none met my standards. Some turned the coasters yellow. Others were only moisture proof when water touched them, but not ethanol (and at least at my house, wine IS going to be sitting on these!). Still others left the coasters sticky when hot beverages were put on them.
Finally, I figured out a solution -- epoxy resin! Resin is a material that leaves a thick, glossy coat on the coasters, making them waterproof as well as lovely. It comes in two parts, which when mixed together cure into a hard coating. The edge and top of each coaster is sealed using two layers of Modge Podge, and then the resin is poured onto the coaster and spread out using cardstock. The resin is about the consistency of honey, and a level surface is required for the coat to reach an even equilibrium across the coaster surface during curing. The resin is a bit bubbly after being mixed, so I use a heat gun to pop the bubbles on each coaster.
Finally, after 24 hours, the coasters are ready! I hope you've enjoyed this look into the process of creating a handmade product! Check out my coasters for yourself in the shop!