Friday, December 9, 2011

Cork Backing for Coasters

Hello again, crafters and pity-readers! It's Friday, and you know what that means. Blog post day! As a bonus, I want to give you a gift: read this post while giggling at the knowledge that my hair looks like something that would have happened for comedic effect on I Love Lucy. Seriously. It is wider than my head is tall. Also, I have a big ol' grown-up office party to attend with some boy, so I can't just wrap a scarf around my head and refuse to leave the house. Aah, well, at least my bad hair day won't stop me from typing out this easy tutorial for a removable cork backing on all of those coasters I previously posted.
When I was finishing all of those coaster + mug cozy sets myself, I was not looking forward to trying to block them flat in a way that would still look nice after being wrapped up and traveling across five states or so. I hate everything about finishing projects- weaving in ends, blocking, realizing that you made a mistake in the first third of it and it can never be undone. So, instead of making something I hate that much harder, I decided to turn the process into an entirely separate craft project! I sifted through site after site looking at coaster tutorials, but they all seemed to have one thing in common: glue. I loved the idea of cotton coasters because they could be easily washed, even tossed into dish water for a rinse, whenever my coffee dribbled all over them. Aside from being icky and stiff, gluing my coasters to any kind of backing would prevent easy cleanup! I also knew that a cork backing would not last forever, and if I could easily remove the knit/crocheted cover, it should also be easy to replace the backing when it got all chipped and nasty.
Here, friends, is the solution I devised, and partly the reason I started blogging.

Easy Removable Cork Backing:
I know you've seen this picture before, but just in case you forgot what we're going for with the sets, I thought I'd repost.

Cork Sheets- My coasters were 4"x4" so I bought square foot sized sheets in an office section of an unnamed big store
Hot glue gun and sticks
Buttons- 1 per corner of coaster (match the buttons on your mug cozies for a fancy set)
Craft scissors
Flat-faced thumb tacks, with smaller faces than your buttons. Same amount as buttons.
1. Cut your cork sheets into squares to match your coasters.
2. Hot glue buttons onto the heads of enough tacks for each corner of each coaster
3. When everything is cool, try tacking your coaster to the cork backing at each corner. If the cork and coaster together are thick enough that the push pin does not peek out the back, you are finished! If, like mine, your pin peeks out a little bit, that's okay. You have two options for solving this.
Option 1) Use the hot glue to simply glue two cork squares on top of each other for double thickness. This is the fastest fix, but I found it was harder to make it look nice. I made a set like this before discovering Option 2, but didn't want to give them away because they looked less awesome. They were still completely awesome enough for around my apartment though, so I kept them for myself.
Option 2) I googled "parts of a thumbtack" to make this easier to explain, but couldn't find anything helpful. For clarity and hilarity, I will now refer to the flat part you push with your thumb as the "base" and the long part with the pointy end as the "shaft." Oh, yeah. Turn your button covered thumbtacks shaft side up. With your hot glue gun, which you have totally not left on over night like I did, make rings of glue on the base, circling the shaft. These should be thick enough that they, in effect, shorten your shaft. This may take a bit of practice, but I did it on 48 thumbtacks, so I think you'll manage. Let them cool completely, and they should be just shortened enough to prevent your coaster scratching up whatever surface you were trying to protect.

And, voila! Now when you slop your fancy Irish Coffee all down the side of your mug, you can simply unpin the cover of your coaster and toss it in the wash, with only a minor break in drinking! And isn't that what everyone wants?

One last thing before I go: I have revised my opinion on my hair. Instead of a hilarious Lucille Ball antic, I now look like watching a Shirley Temple movie during a bad acid trip.

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