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DIY Photo Coasters Tutorial

I was provided with the materials to craft this DIY Photo Coasters Tutorial as part of a HP #StickaPic Party- an exclusive HP Smart Mom opportunity. I was not otherwise compensated, and all opinions remain my own.
DIY Photo Coasters Tutorial

I’m the mom who never finds the time to print photos. My baby books remain uncompleted, but when I have the opportunity to do a little crafting with some of my best friends, I put my thinking cap on, and we had an absolute blast creating these DIY photo coasters. We loved how easy they were and how the drying time between Modge Podge coats meant we had plenty of time to chat and catch up – a perfect party craft activity.

I love gifts and items that serve a dual purpose – they aren’t just fun to look at but they have a practical function, as well, which is exactly what makes these DIY photo coasters such a winner. In fact, my mom saw them awaiting delivery (I did the acrylic finish the next day to allow the Modge Podge to fully dry) and has already asked if she’s getting any for Christmas. Needless to say, that sparked an idea in my head and my in-laws may be receiving a set, my brother in law may receive a set, and more – our principal is retiring after serving a ton of years at our school, and this may be a perfect gift for her as we already have families submitting so many photos from across the years to remember her.

I may even solicit photos from my PTO and provide a set of these DIY photo coasters to each of the graduating 5th grade PTO moms. We have a $5 budget for a gift for each of them every year, and while we used to provide a giant cupcake or a small plant, something that’s more personal – I gave jars of homemade sugar scrub last year – go over so much better. I can definitely make these for less than $5 per set, and it’s a great craft that I can do over the course of a week or so when making several batches, doing a step here and there as I have spare moments.

Given the reaction of my friends to the craft once they arrived, I’m pretty sure this will be a winner no matter who receives these DIY photo coasters. This was a super easy craft to set up and have waiting for everyone as they arrived. I cut up cardboard boxes I saved from items I’ve ordered (or pick up some at your local warehouse club) and placed one at each person’s spot at the table. I picked up white 4×4 tiles and set four of each on the cardboard along with a foam brush and a package of the new HP Social Media Snapshots sticky-backed photo sheets for them to take home and enjoy on their own.

HP Sticky Paper party setup

Have you seen the HP Social Media Snapshots sticky-backed photo sheets yet? They are so fun and cool and readily available at Staples. They are 4×5 photo paper, but the back peels off so that you can stick it on…just about anything. And the best part? You can remove it almost as easily as you put it on. I’ve placed these on my walls and moved them around and to date only the photo has come off the wall, no paint! Needless to say, these were the perfect items to use to make our DIY photo coasters.

The first step was to make sure everyone downloaded the HP Social Media Snapshots app (which is available both in the Google Play and iTunes stores for free). It was easiest for me to connect their phones to my home network to allow them to print the photos needed for the DIY photo coasters. Each friend selected 4 photos from their camera roll, Instagram, Facebook, and/or Flickr accounts, and that was probably the hardest part. How do you narrow your favorites down to just four?

Select your photos

As they printed the photos one by one, my HP Envy got a great workout though an HP printer is not required to use this special paper or app. Though you can select all sorts of fun background frames for the HP Social Media Snapshots, because we planned to trim the sticky-backed paper to fit the 4×4 tiles, we went with the plain white background. For crafts outside these DIY photo coasters, the different frames could be so much fun to play with and print. I can’t wait to use more of the sticky-backed paper for other fun crafts.

Printing photos on HP Sticky Paper

Once my friends selected all their photos and printed them, we used a paper cutter to trim the bottom white space to turn the 4×5 sticky-backed paper into a 4×4 print.

Slice to be a 4x4 square

The fun really began then. We got to actually stick the photos to the tiles. Though you could make these DIY photo coasters with “regular” photo paper, I loved making them with the HP Social Media Snapshots sticky-backed paper because I didn’t have to worry about them sliding around the tile while the glue was wet because they simply stick where you place them.

Peel off sticky paper film

At the same time, if you made a mistake, it was easy to fix. One friend printed all her photos and realized that one photo was truly a sepia image instead of black and white, so she reprinted the photo as a true black and white in the app and just peeled off her photo and stuck the new one on. That isn’t so easy with photos you’ve glued to a tile.

Change your mind just peel off

We also figured out pretty quickly that the best way to avoid bubbles is to place one edge on the tile and then smooth it out from there. Fortunately, when we did have issues with bubbles or – in my case – placing the photo on the tile crooked, the photo peels back up easily and then smooths back onto the tile beautifully so no one knows you made any changes.

Smooth to avoid any bubbles

Modge Podge was the next step. We simply saturated our foam brushes and brushed enough of a coat onto the DIY photo coasters that they were white but not super thick. The key is to brush in just one direction and cover the tile from top to bottom. We put three coats of Modge Podge on the coasters, letting them dry thoroughly between each coat. See? Perfect party craft, as we were able to chat and giggle and enjoy ourselves while we waited for each coat to dry on the DIY photo coasters.

Apply three coats of Modge Podge to tiles

Between each coat, we used a super fine steel wool to sand the Modge Podge layer to help alleviate some of the brushstrokes that inevitably appear even when we saturate our foam brushes. We waited to sand them until the coat was throughly dry, just before we were ready to apply the next coat to our DIY photo coasters. The key is to ensure you then brush away any of the steel wool or sanded Modge Podge from the tile before applying your next coat or it will be forever trapped in the coaster.

Use supefine steel wool to carefully sand between each Modge Podge layer

Once we had the three coats on each of our DIY photo coasters, we let them dry for a bit and then flipped them upside down. Why? No one wants to have their coasters scratch any surfaces. The whole point of them is to protect your surfaces. Fortunately, the same felt pads you can buy to put on the bottom of your furniture work perfectly for this purpose, as well. We used the smallest ones available, and placing one in each corner of each coaster worked perfectly.

Apply felt sliders to bottom of finished photo coasters

Finally, we were ready to set them aside and enjoy the rest of the night just hanging out. I promised to finish up the coasters with spray on acrylic, which will ensure they aren’t tacky from the Modge Podge because having them stick together after all this work would be a major bummer. That was an easy enough process the next day where I simply placed them outside on the grass – you must do this in a well-ventilated area – and sprayed the DIY photo coasters from about a foot away, coating them lightly but thoroughly. Again, I did three coats of the acrylic spray, ensuring they dried between each coat for at least 20 minutes. Again, three thinner coats are better than any thick coats to avoid the look of drips or drops or other imperfections.

Apply spray acrylic to Modge Podge dried photo coasters

Finally, I packaged them up for each of my friends. I placed the DIY photo coasters atop each other and used a little ribbon to tie them together. This way, I didn’t worry about dropping some of them when delivering them to my friends, and it looks super cute, too. Yep, I think I definitely have a great gift on my hands for Christmas and beyond.

DIY Photo Coasters Tutorial finished product

Are you as in love with the HP Social Media Snapshots sticky-backed photo paper as I am? Lucky for you, I have an exclusive offer available until November 30, 2015. They are BOGO when you use the link here and click redeem now. That gives you 2 packages of 25 sheets to let your imagination run wild for less than $10. Total score!

Have you ever made DIY photo coasters? How would you use the sticky-backed photo paper?

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  4. Jes says:

    What a cute idea!

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  6. I made these one year & they were a HUGE hit:)

  7. candy says:

    Great tutorial. Thanks.

  8. Logan Can says:

    These are adorable and would make the perfect gift for my MIL! I will definitely be trying this DIY!

  9. I’ve never made DIY coasters but I love this idea! What a fun gift.

  10. Shann Eva says:

    These are awesome! Not only is there the personal touch of the picture, but actually making the coaster puts it up another notch. Thanks!

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