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Easy DIY Coasters with Sharpies and Alcohol!

Create abstract art on DIY tile coasters using Sharpies and alcohol! It’s an easy project for kids and grown-ups alike! Learn how with this simple tutorial.

Sharpie Coasters: A Super-Easy DIY craft: image of hexagon tile coasters with blue abstract design and gold edges with mug of coffee and a spoon

A friend and I were asked to come up with an art project for B’s second-grade class to make for the school auction. I wanted it to be something cool and useful… who wants to pay $70 for something you can’t really display or use?

So we came up with the idea to have the kids make coasters out of tiles. I did quite a bit of experimenting to get here. But what I didn’t realize until after I’d bought most of the supplies, was that it involves fire. And everybody knows the best kids’ art projects always involve alcohol and fire!

But stick with me- the fire part is actually really cool and not scary.

how to make tile coasters

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • 4″ square or hexagon tiles (I found that white ceramic tiles with a matte finish work best- you can see the others I experimented with at the bottom of the post)
  • colored sharpies (I liked the blues and greens best)
  • 91% isopropyl alcohol
  • squeeze bottle
  • aluminum foil
  • lighter
  • gold leaf paint
  • small paintbrush or Que-tips
  • gloss clear coat spray paint
  • peel-and-stick cork backing
  • scissors
diy coasters tile supplies: hexagon ceramic tiles, aluminum foil, lighter, blue and green Sharpie pens, clear enamel spray paint, isopropyl alcohol, and a squeeze bottle

1. remove tiles from backing

If your tiles come on a netted backing like some of mine did, carefully pull them off. You’ll want to get all of the netting peeled off- it will be important later.

close-up of hands removing white hexagon tiles from mesh backing for making tile coasters

2. color tiles with sharpies

Color the whole surface of your tile with sharpies. I found that the coolest looking ones used multiple colors, but all in the same color family. I chose to go with blues, greens, and teals for the kids’ project because they just looked best. It’s important to cover the whole surface with ink.

close-up of blue Sharpie pin drawing on a white tile to make DIY tile coasters
close up of hand drawing on white tile with a navy blue Sharpie in a tile coaster tutorial

3. Drizzle tiles with alcohol

I poured my alcohol into a squeeze bottle, but I’m guessing it would work without one. Lay down some aluminum foil on the ground (this is an outside activity!) and then place your colored tiles on the foil, face-up. Drizzle the alcohol on them.

close-up of bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol
close-up of hand using squeeze bottle to drizzle alcohol onto tile coasters

You’ll see the colors start to blur and run together- that’s what you want.

close-up of tile coasters with alcohol on the top

4. burn the tiles

This part is actually really cool! I was imagining an explosive fire like you’d get with gasoline, but it’s just a little tame fire. Use a lighter to light the alcohol. You can burn them all at once if you want. The flames will create a design with the ink and alcohol.

DIY coasters on a piece of foil, with flames burning off the isoproply alcohol
close-up of DIY tile coasters sitting on a piece of foil after the ink has been transformed with alcohol and fire

5. cook the tiles

Once all the fire is out and your tiles have cooled, place them in a cool oven, and turn the heat to 300 degrees. Bake them for about 2 hours, letting them cool in the oven. Before you cook them, the ink will easily rub off, so try not to touch the tops when you’re moving them to the oven.

colorful DIY tile coasters in the oven

6. paint gold edges

This step is optional, but I feel like it makes the project look more finished… and not just like someone spilled something on a tile! This is my favorite gold leaf paint. It’s not water-based, so use a small paintbrush you don’t care about or a Que-tip to paint the edges of the coasters, and let that dry for at least a few hours.

7. Clearcoat

Once the gold leaf paint is completely dry, spray the coasters with a thin coat of clear gloss spray paint. Let that dry for an hour or so, and do a second coat.

hand spray-painting clear coat on DIY tile coasters to make them waterproof

8. apply Cork Backing

Once your spray paint is very dry, apply the cork backing. With the hexagon-shaped tiles, we had to trace and cut them down a bit.

hexagon-shaped tile and square of self-adhesive cork backing with a hexagon traced on it to made a DIY coster

These cork pieces are self-adhesive, so sticking them on was easy. And I’ve used this brand before and never had problems with them falling off.

Hand peeling paper backing off of cork before attaching it to DIY coaster
back side of DIY coaster with cork backing attached

And that’s it!

helpful hints for Making Tile Coasters

  • I tried 4 different kinds of tile while experimenting for this project. Here’s what I found: cream-colored tiles didn’t look great with the colors on them, I think bright white is the best background.
  • The most successful tiles had a matte finish. I tried some very porous tumbled travertine tile, and the alcohol didn’t really move the ink around much. I tried high-gloss ceramic tiles, and the ink rubbed right off them, even after baking!
  • As you can see, I only gave the kids blue and green Sharpies to work with, because I didn’t want muddy colors.
Easy DIY Sharpie Coasters: blue, teal, and green abstract tile coasters made with Sharpies and alcohol

more DIY Coaster Ideas…

Kintsugi How-To: Easy Tile Coasters

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  1. Wow, Jessica, I absolutely love this project! I’ve been reviewing acrylic pour techniques for a few weeks; however, I’m afraid all I foresee is a messy permanent disaster left behind. This DIY project appears totally doable (-:

  2. Terrific Jessica! Tx for sharing. Looking forward to trying it out. I hope to find matt tiles here in Cape Town, South Africa.

  3. Do you know if there’s a big difference if you use 70% alcohol instead? 91% seems to be unavailable to me except for online.

    1. Hi! I haven’t tried the 70% myself, but I remember reading that it’s important to use the 91%. I found some in the pharmacy section at the drugstore- but that was pre-pandemic. Good luck!

      1. Hi Katrina!
        I know-it’s harder to find now. I haven’t tried it, but I remember reading that it was important before I did the project. Good luck!

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