DIY Cork Coasters Tutorial – Avatar Elements


Jeff mentioned he needed coasters for his desk at his workplace so I scoured the Interwebs for cool-looking coasters. Sadly, after a half hour of wasted window browsing, I didn’t find any that were worth buying. So I decided to just make the coasters myself! Random fact: Avatar, the Last Airbender, is one of our favorite animated TV shows (he grew up watching it so I was forced to watch it after we started dating haha).

So here are the supplies I used for this project:

avatar cork coasters supplies

1. Find out what size and shape you want your coaster, draw it and cut it out of a piece of paper

The ones I made here are 3.5″ x 3.5″ rounded-edged squares. I drew my shape in Photoshop, printed it, and cut it out of a regular piece of paper. You can simply measure and draw out whatever shape or size you want onto a piece of paper, and cut it out.

2.Trace the square template onto the cork and cut it out

Note: DO NOT USE a box cutter or X-acto knife to cut the cork, it will break into pieces!! Use a strong scissor and make sure your hands are steady. Try to cut along the edges using one long motion rather than short spurts because it’ll keep the cork edge smooth. Should look like this:

cork board tiles

3. Choose a background color to paint your coaster

This is pretty self explanatory. Only thing is to make sure your paint goes on evenly and covers the entire surface. Wait for it to dry before painting the back (duh). Don’t forget the side edges!step3 - painting cork coasters

Optional Step:Created a stencil of the image by using an X-acto knife and tracing the image out of its background.

step4 - cut outline out

This step is optional if you can draw but since I can’t, I decided it’d be neater to make a stencil. I also used a small scissor to smooth out any sharp edges left over in the stencil. Note: this takes a lot of time and your hand may cramp a little, as mine did 😦

4. Paint your design onto the coaster after the base has dried completely

If you are using a stencil, tape it down with double-sided tape to the position you want it an use a thin paint brush to fill it in. Make sure you don’t have too much paint on the paintbrush or it will spill into the cracks (see second photo below). If that happens, just paint over the mistakes with your background color. (This is why I suggest using card stock instead of regular paper to print your image because the card stock is thicker, so the paint can’t seep through as easily.)

avatar earth element cork coaster

5. Repeat steps 4 & 5 for each image

Cut the doublesided tape into small pieces to tape down the smaller sections of the stencil so that it doesn’t move while you are painting (see first photo below).
avatar fire element cork coaster
Here’s how it looks with all four finished. You can stop here if you want to keep these as art pieces but to make them coasters you should apply a sealer to finish off the project. It’s not completely water resistant (don’t put it in the dishwasher!) but it does hold up against accidental drink spills. Honestly I wanted to stop here because they looked so neat!!avatar earth water air fire elements DIY cork coasters

6. Paint on a layer of varnish or sealer after your paint has dried

step7 - paint modpodge with foam brush
This is my first time using Mod Podge (matte formula), which I read was a great all-in-one glue, sealer and finish. I used a foam brush to apply my Mod Podge because I didn’t want to see any brush strokes but you can use a regular brush if you don’t mind. It looks white when you first paint it but it will dry clear.

7. Wait for sealer to dry and there’s your finished product!
avatar earth water air fire elements DIY cork coasters with mod podge sealant

The coasters will have a harder, plastic texture after the Mod Podge has dried. In the photo above, the shininess is more apparently because of the lighting from my windows but below is a photo of the coasters with less direct lighting.avatar earth water air fire elements DIY cork coasters pekkle cup

I think Pekkle likes it! Hope this tutorial was helpful. Let me know how it goes when you make your own! 🙂


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This post was originally published on August 12, 2012, but has since been updated.