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DIY Drink Coasters: Wood Transfer Method

DIY Drink Coasters: Wood Transfer | by
Ptak Reunion circa 1960

Gearing up to attend the Ptak Family Reunion this weekend. It'll be the first time in a long time that all 11 children (my aunts and uncles) will be together. It's going to be a blast! So many "littles" running around and plenty of cousins to catch up with. Not to mention the fabulous potluck meal and "Grandpa Ptak's Memorial Happy Hour" on Saturday evening serving Stanley's Manhattans, Pat's Old Fashioned's, and Mike's Boundary Water Cocktails. 

My sister and I volunteered to design the inaugural tee shirt for the special occasion. She designed the graphic while I researched prices, vendors, and managed the shirt orders. It was fabulous to collaborate with her on the design. Seeing her artwork transform from simple sketches to the refined final design was remarkable. Her illustrations are attractive and stylish and her designs are fresh, yet have a hint of old-timeliness. 

Story behind the graphic...

The reunion graphic uses a swoopy font, similar to retro Burger King advertisements like this one. A little chirping birdie is perched on a branch with a few musical notes floating in the air (Ptak means small bird in Polish). Our family is quite musical. There can't be a Ptak gathering without someone bursting into song or picking up a banjo and jammin' away. The color blue is in honor of my late grandmother. Mother Mary blue was her favorite.

I am excited to reveal the design at the reunion. Bravo, sista! 

DIY Drink Coasters: Wood Transfer | by
Mock-up of design on shirt

I wanted to make use of this trendy graphic. What else can we do with it? Cabin signage, stickers...etc. I wanted to print the reunion graphic on something that attendees could use at the reunion and then take home as a memento. Coasters! Perfect. Everyone uses coasters and they should be an inexpensive project to undertake. 

My sister suggested I try the photo transfer method using old family photos. Yes! I've been waiting to try that. After calling every craft store in the area with no luck, I decided to search online for the wooden circles. The discs needed to be 3+ inches in diameter in order to fit a beverage. sold 3.25" circles in bulk. Awesome! I ordered two packages (It's always good to have a few extra for mess ups). 

DIY Drink Coasters: Wood Transfer | by
Mama Mary likes to crafts too, ya know.

The other supplies needed were: Mod Podge Adhesive, Acrylic matte medium (you can use gesso for a white background-look), a foam brush, scissors, and photos from a laser printer or copier. I went to Office Depot for my prints. Note: A inkjet printer will NOT work for this project. Photos need to be printed on a laser printer for the transfer to work.

DIY Drink Coasters: Wood Transfer | by
Photos for coasters need to be printed in reverse

After cutting the photo circles, I brushed a layer of matte medium over the pre-sanded side of the disc. Then placing the photo image side down, I smoothed the paper using a old library card making sure there were no wrinkles or bubbles between the wood and the photo. 

After 3-4 hours of drying time, I wetted them down with a damp cloth just enough to see the image come through. Then I began to rub off the paper layer by layer. This was tricky. I discovered the best way to get a clean transfer was to work slowly and carefully. I would rub the first paper layer off then rewet the surface and rub again. Rubbing too hard or fast can lift off the ink. (It took me 4 mess-ups to master the technique. Doh!)

DIY Drink Coasters: Wood Transfer | by
Rubbing off the paper to reveal the image

You can feel a difference in the surface as you get down to the bare wood. Sometimes there were chalky spots on my discs, so I dabbed the spots with a wet cloth and rubbed with my thumb to release the paper. 

DIY Drink Coasters: Wood Transfer | by
After careful rubbing, the coaster is clean.

In some areas, the acrylic medium had oozed over the edge and dried. I sanded off these parts for a smooth finish.

DIY Drink Coasters: Wood Transfer | by
Finished coasters. Still need to seal them with Mod Podge.
Finally, the last task was to spray on a couple coats of Mod Podge on the fronts and backs. I created a total of 40 drink coasters for the reunion, two per family. I think I'll let each person pick out their own. 

DIY Drink Coasters: Wood Transfer | by
Ptak Reunion circa 2015

Next transfer project: Photo transfer onto glass! Can't wait to make a few votives like these!


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