Oooh Shiny…

11 Jul

[This post wanders a little, but if you’re interested in learning about creating hard, glassy surfaces on top of paper crafts please do read on.]

So: DIY Coasters. One of my favorite crafty gifts to make for my friends and family members. Part of me feels like the Internet doesn’t need yet another tutorial on how to make coastersbut then again I couldn’t find a tutorial out there quite like what I’m planning to write. I’m going to save that for another day, however, and skip straight to what I think is the most important step in coaster-making: FINISHING.

The first time I tried my hand at DIY coasters, I made the mistake of using a few coats of regular Modge Podge on top of my completed coasters to finish them off. At first they looked alright… until I put a cup of tea down on one of them. The heat from the cup hit the coaster and did something funky to make the two stick together. When I pried my cup off the coaster it actually ripped off part of the image I’d originally Modged on top — yikes! Such a mess. Did I mention that this wasn’t even my set of coasters? That I’d made them for a family member?

After trying my hand at a few different solutions, I’ve found that the best finish for coasters comes from Envirotex Lite.

Envirotex Lite

The Good Stuff

When mixed, this little duo creates a thick, glassy surface on top of each coaster, allowing each one to become heat- and water-resistant. The finished product is beautiful and professional looking, not at all like my first homemade coaster disaster.

Unfortunately, using Envirotex Lite does have it’s downsides. This product is somewhat toxic so it’s essential to use it in a well-ventilated area. In my tiny windowless apartment that’s posed a bit of a challenge for me. The biggest problem, however, has to do with the potential for creating hard, clear drips hanging off the sides of your project. Let me explain: Once you pour it on, the Envirotex-lite levels itself — pretty cool, right? Well, mostly. This happens really quickly at first; as soon as I pour on the clear goo it creates an even coat on the surface of my coasters and then the excess slides off the sides. The problem is that if you’ve poured a little too much on (as I inevitably do), over the course of a few hours the goo will move slowly from the center of the piece to the edges and then drip down. This process continues ever so slowly for hours, long after I think I’m in the clear. All too often I return to my project to see if it’s finished drying only to find huge clear bumps under the sides of my coasters that then prevent them from ever sitting flat on a table. Thankfully I’ve been able to cut some of those bumps off using a regular paring knife from the kitchen.

This is really only a problem if you’re impatient like me or like to do your craft projects in the middle of the night (again, like me). If you don’t mind checking on your coasters every hour or so to scrape off the drips then you’ll be fine. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about those pesky things.

Another drawback is that applying Envirotex Lite isn’t a quick and easy process and sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth if if my project is relatively small. For example, I recently made old timey medicine magnets (see my previous post here) and wanted to give them that same glossy finish. After a little poking around the internet, I found a few posts related to this subject on one of my favorite crafting blogs, How About Orange. I also found a thread on the Etsy forums that proved illuminating. Allow me to sum up my findings.

According to Jess, Aleene’s Paper Glaze can be used to top off paper crafts like my magnets with a “clear, raised glass-like surface.” Sounds exactly like what I’m looking for! Jess goes on to explain that she hasn’t “used it on photos, but it works the same way on fabric—makes a clear, plasticky coating on it and doesn’t seem to affect the color. Or maybe the color gets a little brighter, if anything.”

Another option is DecoArt Triple Thick Gloss Glaze. In the comments, user Micheroo says that she has used ArtDeco Triple Thick glaze with the following results: “It was good; glossy like in the [How About Orange] tutorial pics – but NOT GOOD for pinks and reds!! It washes them out to an orange colour!” Apparently it’s also water resistant but not waterproof , making it a good product for finishing my magnets and other paper crafts but perhaps less than ideal for coasters. In the Etsy forum, user WindAndRain mentiones that in her experience “It hardens beautifully, has a wonderful gloss, doesn’t yellow or crack with time, and doesn’t bubble.” A different user does point out that it can be a little gummy once dried and doesn’t leave surfaces scratch-resistant like Envirotex Lite.

Modge Podge Dimensional Magic
is another product that aims to provide that thick glassy look on top of paper crafts. According to a different tutorial by Jess, the results were as follows:

“No unicorns, leprechauns, or rabbits in hats materialized, but I can report that after the stuff was dry, the surfaces of the disks were super glossy. Probably not captured to full effect in this photo, I’d say the stuff gets shinier than Aleene’s Paper Glaze, though it doesn’t create quite as thick a coating since the liquid is thinner. It dries in about 3 hours as opposed to 24 like Aleene’s, and because the directions say to shake it gently before using, it tends to get tiny, almost unnoticeable air bubbles in in. Which didn’t bother me at all, but maybe next time I’ll shake less.”

So there you have it, folks. Have you discovered a product that leaves a nice shiny surface on your paper crafts that isn’t mentioned here? If so, please let me know!


2 Responses to “Oooh Shiny…”

  1. Erica August 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    Hi! I am about to try this Envirotex stuff on my DIY coasters. Did you elevate the coasters off the table prior to the application? I am trying to figure out the best way to have a bunch elevated at once (I have about 300 coasters to seal). Any ideas would be GREAT!


    • peronunca September 5, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

      Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you!

      To answer your question, YES, definitely elevate the coasters if you can. I always end up pouring a little too much on my coasters which leads to drips or sags along the edges of the coasters. Those are easily fixed by brushing them off every once in a while during the first few hours of drying. If you don’t catch those drips, however, and you’ve got your coasters flat on newspaper/wax paper/whatever surface you’re working on, you’re going to have trouble. Your coasters are going to stick to your surface OR you’re going to rip that surface right off when you go to try to pick up your dried coasters.

      I usually place my coasters atop cans from my pantry, but I’ve also used plenty of other items to elevate the coasters. Just make sure that whatever you use to achieve that elevation is level or else you’ll end up with coasters that have a thicker layer of envirotex lite on one side (I’ve made that mistake before!)

      Hope that helps!

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