Friday, April 13, 2012

{diy: homemade polaroid coasters}

Ever since seeing the Polaroid coasters made by {just noey}, I haven't been able to get them out of my head. The current coasters in our household are dreadfully un-creative, and something about this potential crafty project struck a chord with me.
We need new coasters + I like making stuff + I have 673875 photographs on my hard drive = homemade Polaroid coasters. Ding!

And believe it or not folks, this was my first foray into the world of Mod Podge (or as Tanner calls it, "Hodge Podge"). I'm not sure how I've gone so many crafty years without Mod Podging anything, but somehow it escaped me. No more! This fun craft I've been trying to do for a few months, and once I got started, it took a few trial-and-errors, several weeks, and many, many hours of painting-and-drying to get everything finally finished. I'm going to share my process and some tips and tricks with you that I learned along the way.

Be prepared, folks. This is an intensely long blog post. But it's also awesome. Promise. :)

{homemade polaroid coasters}



Supplies needed:

4x4 white ceramic tiles ($0.79 at Lowe's)
3.5 x 5 photos (RitzPix does prints for 6 cents on Tues/Weds)
Mod Podge (glossy or matte... or the one made for paper if you want archival)
Sponge brush (for mod podge)
Clear acrylic spray
Small felt circles (like the ones that go under furniture legs)


First you need to prepare your photos. Pick out a bunch you like for printing (you should overestimate how many you need... I printed out 20 and went through a bunch of "trial-and-error" photos before settling on my final 8).

Before printing, you're going to want to "tweak" them a little in Photoshop. For my photos, I played with the color, vignetting and contrast to make them look more "antiqued." If you know how to do this already, have fun messing around with it. If not, I'm bad at explaining the process since I just make stuff up until it looks right, but the Pioneer Woman has some great actions you can download to make the process really simple.


(Keep in mind when you're formatting your photos that they will be printed at 3.5 x 5", but you'll be trimming them smaller than that, so make sure your main subject doesn't fill up the entire photo.)

As an example, here are some before/ after shots I changed to make them look more "polaroid":


A lot of my chosen photos came from my photo shoot from the farm in Salem, but I do have some great ones of the coast and waterfalls of Oregon, too.

Now for the diy process:

1. Once you have your photos printed and ready, you'll need to trim them down to 3.25 x 3.75", which means you're shaving off 0.25" height-wise and 1.25" width-wise.

2. Clean and dry your ceramic tile. I've also heard that "roughing up" your tile with some sandpaper helps the Mod Podge adhere better. I didn't do this, but I did have some issues with slidey photos and my Mod Podge scraping off with little effort, so it's probably a good idea.


3. Using your sponge brush, paint a thin coat of Mod Podge on the back of your photo. Carefully place the photo on your ceramic tile, leaving about 1/4" border around the top and two sides, and about 1" border at the bottom.

4. Smooth down the photo with a credit card or something similar, taking care not to let the photo slide around on the tile too much. Let dry.

5. Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge with your sponge brush over the entire tile, photo included. Make sure you're using even, straight brush strokes, since these will still be somewhat visible on the final product. The Mod Podge will look white when you paint it on, but it dries clear. Let dry for several hours.

*Tip: I know there's a lot of "let dry" after each little step going on here, but I highly recommend doing this project with a lot of patience. My first couple attempts I got impatient and tried to keep layering Mod Podge or just slapping it over a not-dry photo before it was completely dry, and it always turned out badly for me. Moral of the story: don't do this project with a deadline, and be prepared for some watch-grass-grow and watch-paint-dry style patience.

6. Repeat step 5 two or three more times until you have a good strong coat on top of your photo. Let dry between each coat.


7. When the Mod Podge is completely dry, spray the tile with a coat of your Clear Acrylic spray. This should remove the "tackiness" of the Mod Podge and make the coaster even more water resistant.

*Another tip: I got a little frustrated by how much the Mod Podge streaks showed up even after it was dry. I used glossy Mod Podge, so it may be that Matte is a little more forgiving. I also don't think Mod Podge is completely necessary. For one of my coasters I experimented with just gluing the photo down with the stuff and then spraying the whole thing with the Clear Acrylic. So far it appears to be fairly water resistant and the overall "look" is vastly improved. I don't know how well it will hold up to melting ice water over time, but that's another option.

UPDATE: I've had some great suggestions from readers about how to improve this process! If the mod podge or the acrylic spray doesn't work well for you, other ideas include: an automotive clear sealer, a two-part epoxy resin, or a diluted mod podge (or homemade mod podge tends to be thinner, too). I haven't tried these personally, but they sound like viable options to me! :)

*Another another tip: I tried to get "extra crafty" with my non-Mod Podged tile by adding a little Sharpie caption to the bottom of one of them. It looked awesome until I sprayed it, and then the Sharpie ran a little and now it looks really smudgy. You have been warned.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A few people have suggested that if you want to add a sharpie caption, try baking the tiles in the oven before adding the photo to "solidify" the sharpie and keep it from smudging.


8. Adhere felt pads to bottom corners of tile to protect your tabletops.

9. Wait 48-72 hours before placing cold liquids on your tile, to make sure the Mod Podge and the Acrylic spray has set.

Enjoy your coaster set!




(Psst... check out my guest spot on Julie Ann Art today!)

80 comments:

  1. I stopped over here from Julie Ann Art. Happy I did. Love the coasters.

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    1. Glad you like them! Thanks for stopping by! :)

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    2. Do you print it on just regular printer paper? I am just curious what to use! I am so excited to do this!

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    3. I'm sure you could use regular printer paper if you want to, but I had mine printed through RitzPix since they still do 3.5"x5" photos. You could also print them at home on photo paper, if you'd like.

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  2. I stopped over from Julie Ann art also. I was reading through some of your posts, and you've had a very interesting life! You lived on a boat for 4 months! Wow!

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    1. Tam - I have to say that living/working on a tall ship has been one of my most favorite life adventures to date. There's nothing quite like spending your days at sea, finding a new kind of peace while the sky and sea slowly turns around you. It's indescribable! Thanks for dropping by. :)

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  3. Just wanted to add that if you want to use your own pictures to do this and make them look like Polaroid pictures, you can upload your picture to Pic Monkey (www.picmonkey.com) and use their built in action called Polaroid to age it.
    Great craft! I hope that I can find some tiles that aren't rough on the bottoms. If so, I can always glue felt on the backs, I suppose?

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    1. Pic Monkey is a great suggestion! There are a lot of great apps out there that do very simple aging techniques (including Instagram, of course) if you're trying this craft and aren't too Photoshop-savvy.

      I did put felt tabs on the back of my coasters. This definitely helps protect your tabletop from scratches! :)

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  4. Oh I love this idea! I'd use PicMonkey too since I'm obsessed :)Glad I found your site- actually it might be dangerous.

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  5. I noticed your comment at the end about adding a caption in Sharpie under the picture. I wonder if you could write the caption in Sharpie before mod podging the picture on, and bake it in the oven to set the Sharpie? I have seen this technique on pinterest for ceramic cups and plates, and they say it is even dish washer safe afterward. Then maybe when you mod podge over it, it wouldn't smudge?

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    1. Ooo, this is a great idea! I hadn't thought about baking the tile before mod podging the photo, but I bet that would work. Very clever; thanks! :)

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    2. I have done these and I did use a sharpie before the mod podge with out baking it, just make sure it is dry before adding the mod modge. Mine looks great love this idea they will make great christmas gifts with personal pictures.

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  6. Do you have any tips on how to make photos look more "polaroid-y"? Thanks! :)

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    1. And by that, I mean the photo itself, when you edit it.

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    2. Sorry about the delay, I've been on vacation for a couple weeks!

      To make photos more "Polaroid-y," I usually just mess with the color in Photoshop -- i.e. desaturating the color, giving it a "blue" tone, adding a vignette and brightening the whole thing is usually a good start.
      If you want an easier go of it, try the Pioneer Woman action sets (they do it all for you!) http://thepioneerwoman.com/photography/2009/08/pioneer-woman-action-sets-1-and-2-updated/

      Or, if you don't have Photoshop, I recommend the built-in actions of PicMonkey or other free photo-editing software online. If you have Instagram on an iPhone, this is also a great way to make your photos look older.

      Try doing a Google search for Polaroid Photoshop Actions and you should get some good hits.

      I hope that helps! :)

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  7. Instead of a Sharpie, a Paint Pen could be used. If it were left to dry before proceeding, I would imagine there would be zero smudging. :)

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    1. I have used a paint pen to write dates for this project and it works pretty well, first layer of mod podge must be quick and light though, or it will smudge also!!! Such a fun project to do with the kids...but it took up my whole kitchen table for over a week ;)Was well worth the wait!

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  8. You've got some mad skills lady! I love your photos and I wish you were selling them. Love love love it.

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    1. Aw, thank you! Perhaps someday I will. :)

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  9. This looks like a fun way to display Picture's of your Children or Grandchildren. Can't wait to try it!!!

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  10. My husband and I are making these and we had a lot of problems with the bubbles and the water from the glasses making them cloudy. So we got an automotive glossy clear sealer from Home Depot instead of the acrylic sealer. It makes it SO pretty! Then to get rid of the bubbles we heated up the tile with the photos and modge podge on it with a hot air gun until warm to the touch, then put on a thick coat of the glossy clear sealer. It didn't produce any bubbles and dried SO pretty!!

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    1. Very clever! A few of my coasters are needing touch-ups, as well, so I'll have to try this. Thanks! :)

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    2. I usually use acrylic varnish for my coasters. They have not been used enough to really be tested, but I have read that it stands up to the wetness better than the modge podge.

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  11. Fantastic idea! I love taking photos and have been wanting to do different things to give away as gifts, this sounds like an awesome idea! Thank you!

    www.facebook.com/samanthaemerypics

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    1. ps: you can make your own modge podge! http://doityourselfdivas.blogspot.com/2011/09/diy-mod-podge.html

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  12. First off... I stumbled onto your site and its awesome. LOVE LOVE LOVE the photography and craftiness and just overall tone :D
    What about instead of using modge podge using a clear two part epoxy resin? It's kinda gnarly but its bulletproof once its on.

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    1. Aw, thanks! :)
      Good idea about the resin -- I will have to experiment with my next batch of these!

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  13. Great tutorial! Thanks!
    And I have nearly the EXACT image - looks like from Ecola St. Park, OR? :)

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    1. Good eye! Yep, Ecola State Park. You can see our visit here: http://www.darkroomanddearly.com/2011/08/first-glimpse-of-sea.html
      It's beautiful!

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  14. Awesome idea! Two suggestions for your problems:
    First, diluting mod podge cuts down on streaking but I'd test out just the spray idea first.
    Second, when adding sharpie captions you can first write the sharpie on the tile and bake the tile in 350 oven for a time (not sure exact time but the technique is google-able!). This might work. Then add the photo and sealants.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions! I will have to try it on my next batch!

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  15. Stumbled over to your blog from Apartment Therapy. This is the cutest idea ever! I am so doing this for myself and what a cute gift idea as well! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  16. Would these coasters be suitable for hot mugs too or does that ruin the photos? Would some of the suggested methods and not others allow for hot things to be placed on them? Thanks for the advice!

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    1. I can personally only attest for the mod podge/acrylic method, but I have put both hot and cold beverages on mine without any trouble. Hope that helps!

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    2. Unfortunately, my friend used hot coffee mug and set it on the coaster, he said it left a ring. I'm looking to fix that problem. do anyone know a product I can use to make the coaster waterproof and heat resistant? I used mod podge gloss and mod podge gloss acrylic sealer on the coasters. I'm hoping to fix this and give coasters back to friends and family that I gave for Christmas.

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  17. i bet you could do the caption in vitrifying ink (Pebeo vitrea pens )...although that would add another day's worth of time to the project as the stuff has to dry 24hrs then bake a bit. (also, even using the pens its difficult to get the lines neat and it will be a bit raised compared to sharpie)

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  18. These coasters are great! If you paint on a couple of mod lodge layers (alternating vertical and horizontal brush strokes with each coat), you can give the last one a light "sanding" using wet/dry 400 grit sandpaper (wetting it first). This eliminates the uneven brush strokes you would otherwise see after applying the acrylic sealer. This is how I covered dresser drawers with paper and they came out perfectly smooth without any brush stroke marks.

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    1. I'll have to try that! The streaking was the only thing I disliked about using mod podge.

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  19. I'm really looking forward to doing this! I'm planning my own wedding and I think these woukd be a really inexpensive but creative favor...time consuming yes but I have two years so if I start now I should.be good. Thank you for the tutorial!

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  20. Saw your pics on pinterest! Love this idea!! Have been wanting to make new coasters for a while just couldn't quite figure out what kind of look/style I wanted to go for, this is perfect!!

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  21. I've made several attempts at these coasters now...and every time I put something hot on them it leaves a ring. I've used Modge Podge, the spray sealer, the epoxy resin, and even a high temperature sealent made for brakes! No luck...either the hot cup leaves a mark, or in the case of the brake sealent, turned slightly yellow when baked. Have you had this problem too?? Any solutions out there?

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    1. I've noticed with my mod podge coasters that hot beverages can leave a bit of a ring. They aren't too noticeable to me, so I don't mind it, but if you don't like them, you might try just using the acrylic sealer with no mod podge. You'll need to keep treating the photos so they don't peel up over time, but I haven't had an issue with rings on mine.

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  22. Hi there, just curious, are you using printing your photos on photo paper, or are you printing them on like a laser printer, or printer paper? Thanks. Great Idea with the Polaroid Look!

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    1. I printed my photos professionally on photo paper. I imagine the same rules would apply with regular printer paper, as well, though I haven't personally tried it.

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  23. So tried just the sealer and left a glass with ice on it over night... huge puddle of water but the coaster was 100% the way it was before I left it.

    Sealer totally works with out the mod podge. Best part no lines and the coaster come out smooth and glossy!! Thanks for the post. Not only did you give me a new idea, but saved me time.

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    1. I like the sealer without the mod podge option, too. The only thing I've found is that the photos peel up at the corners over time with this method. I recommend retreating with sealer to ensure they stay looking great!

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  24. Have you tried to do it with another material. Not tile. Any other "softer" material. I am asking, because of "clumsiness" I tend to drop stuff not often but seems that this will be something that I or any of my guest will drop and shatter. Any ideas anyone. Thanks in advance.

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  25. This is kind of genius! Would make perfect Christmas gifts this year!

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  26. They sell paint pens at Micheals or any fabric store

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  27. The pictures you used for your coasters are beautiful and thank you so much for this lovely tutorial! I made several of these for Christmas gifts and loved how they turned out! (When I post them I will be linking to your tutorial!)
    Thanks!
    Kate :}

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  28. my friend used hot coffee mug and set it on the coaster, he said it left a ring. I'm looking to fix that problem. do anyone know a product I can use to make the coaster waterproof and heat resistant? I used mod podge gloss and mod podge gloss acrylic sealer on the coasters. I'm hoping to fix this and give coasters back to friends and family that I gave for Christmas.

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  29. Wonderful idea to make for oneself or as a pressie to a friend :-)

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  30. Thank you for this tutorial!
    These are absolutely fantastic - I've already made about 40 (The Home Depot by my house only sold tiles in boxes of 100).
    FABULOUS!

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  31. And I was just saying I need some coasters...this I have to try!!

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  32. came here via pinterest and i loooove this idea!! have a free white wall in my living room.. i think i will try this and put some nice pictures on the wall! :)

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  33. Fell in love with this DIY Project Brittany and have included you in my last post! check it out at http://www.aimeefrankiedesigns.com

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  34. Great tutorial! here from scrapscene. WAnted to mention you can use a pen called a Slick Writer by American Crafts. They write on pretty much anything and are permanent almost immediately. you can "hodgepodge" over it and no smearing.
    also-Claudine Hellmuth makes a multi-medium in a matte finish and it's fantastic. much better than "hodgepodge"! :)
    Can't wait to make this project! now, i just need some amazing photos like u have! :)

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  35. Awesome project and loved your tutorial, tfs!

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  36. Im having trouble with the mod podge leaving streaks/texture lines after applying.. Any tips?

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  37. How much Mod Podge did you use? I don't know which size bottle to get.

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  38. I love these! I never thought to use the title as the white section of the "Polaroid". I also like the idea of adding a date or marking them with sharpie. Thanks for this grand idea! <3 it!

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  39. This is totally awesome! Using photos hadn't even crossed my mind. Except you paid a bit much for your tiles (unless the plain white are better at Lowes, in which case I might have to trade up). The 4X4 tiles at home depot (I'm usually a Lowes girl but it was closer)are .16 cents each, I got 8 for a total of $1.28 with tax. Or even better if you live close to a Habitat for Humanity Restore they have them for .10 cents each. Just in case you decide to do these again in the future, I made mine with scrapbook paper but I think I'm going to go pick up a few more and make these for mother's day. Thanks!

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  40. These are amazing!!!!! This is going on my craft to do list!

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  41. I am in the middle of making a LOT of these for a September art show. I decided to use the tumbled marble tiles and instead of a Polaroid look, I am covering the entire tile with a photo 4x4 that I printed on card stock. And instead of trying to cut them straight on each edge, I place the image on the tile and hand sand the edges, so it gets a distressed look and molds into the nooks and crannies on the edges of this tile. If I knew how to post a pic, I would! And I agree that no matter how careful you are, you see the mod podge brush strokes - so I embraced them! I intentionally added the mod podge in circular strokes, so it just gives it a nice textured look.

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  42. Just did these! They turned out great (I used Gorilla Glue instead of Mod Podge cuz it was all Home Depot had.) I wanted to do the Sharpie and am debating doing it now...after its all been done but I am not sure if once Liquid starts to condensate on the coaster, if it will run! So I may use my "test" coaster. In any case, the directions were great and I hope all goes well once I start to use them!

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  43. This is absolutely adorable! I've been in the market for coasters for a while now and just haven't found any that suit my taste. Fantastic!!! I must share on my blog :)

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  44. Great blog! I too am looking for the best way to make these waterproof AND heat-proof..Any suggestion, please be specific on brand of products, it would really help!!

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  45. I am so excited to try these!! QUESTION... do I have to use photo pictures, or can I print from my home computer with a glossy photo paper? Thanks so much!

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  46. I made a set of these as a gift & they said glass sticks 2 coaster. Is that because the spray sealer I used may not have been set? I used rust-oleum Triple Thick spray glaze with glass like finish.

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  47. Wow. those look amazing! I've seen photo coasters before, but never with this polaroid look. SUPER cool!

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  48. Did you print your photos on photo paper? and if so were they on gloss or matte?
    Jax

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    1. I had mine professionally printed, but I'm sure you could print at home to either glossy or matte paper, if you'd like!

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  49. I was wondering if you could use a piece of white enamel-painted wood for larger photos and then use them in a display. Several different sized ones might be great for portraits :-)

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  50. not sure if someone already commented this or not, but to help with the mod podge streaks, apply each coat in a different direction. This helps even it out instead of adding to existing streaks.

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  51. Hello love all the comments very helpful thanks. I am hoping to make some also but I want to know what to use if I am putting hot cups on the them?

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  52. I have a little question. I dont know if it said in comments (I did not read them all). But do you use special paper when you print your photos ? Or you use multiuse paper ? )

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  53. can i have another alternative for clear acrylic paint? stores here doesnt sell one :) thanks

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