Monday, February 10, 2014

DIY - a coaster turorial, Part 1

When I get a wholesale order for 24 sets of coasters, I have to get ready to sit down and paint and then glaze and fire 98 individual tiles. Like any project it is always more manageable when it is broken down into the individual steps it takes to finish the project.  If you have ever thought about painting your own coasters this might help you or give you a place to start.  If you don't work in clay or have a kiln you can paint with acrylic paint on the tumbled marble tiles you buy at the home improvement stores, or use glass paints to paint on glazed tiles.
I buy my unglazed bisque tiles by the case of 100 tiles.
I paint the tiles in groups.  My work space fits 12 tiles, and my paints and brushes. I am going to show you the steps I use to paint some of the coasters that Margaritaville Key West gets from me.  They have Jimmy Buffet song lyrics on them, so they are only available through Margaritaville.
The colors you see going on the tiles are ceramic underglazes they call Cover-Coats or E-Z Strokes by Duncan Ceramic Products.    The steps I am going to show you are the basic steps I use on all my pottery decorating.  However here I am decorating a store bought bisque tile rather than handmade greenware.
Bisque means that the clay has gone through its first firing.  Greenware is clay that is dry, but not fired.  If you added water to a greenware piece it would turn back into clay and you could use it to make something else.

The tiles get a quick sponge bath to remove dust and then the first color goes on.  Here I am laying in the shape of the wine glass with a few quick stokes. This Duncan color is Neon Green - CC205


The wine glass gets a highlight with a lighter green.  Notice that at this point I am not worried about being really neat.  The lighter color is Neon Chartreuse - CC203

Now the glass shape gets a blue highlight with a color named Blue Green - CC161.  I almost never use just one color on a shape.  I find layered colors richer and more interesting.

Next I block in the table top area.  The lighter orange and fruit on the glass is a Duncan product called an E-Z Stroke,  it is Orange - EZ 034. The accent stripes are painted with one of the Cover Coat colors called Neon Orange - CC204.

A light coat of Turquoise - CC133, is painted in as the background color.  Notice that I leave some white showing.  I like the look of some crisp white showing. I use a soft bristle brush. 

Next using Neon Red - CC206, I put in a little sailboat shape and that cute little umbrella we all want in our tropical drinks.

In this close up you can see the painting is really loose .  The next step is going add definition to those shapes.

I use a squeeze top to give me nice clean lines for my lettering and outlining my shapes. I like to use a metal tip that I buy from my ceramic supply house. Duncan Bright Blue CC159 is the color I use here.

I buy my colors in pints whenever I can.  Here you can see that it is time to stop and fill up that little squeezie bottle.

Most of the outlines I do in the Duncan Cover Coat, Bright blue.  I outline the fruit on the drink with an E-Z stroke called Coral - EZ057, and add a little accent of E-Z Irish Green -EZ003, on the glass.  I buy some small little squeeze bottles and the caps just happen to fit on these E-Z bottles.

Where to buy the tiles and Duncan products?  The bisque tiles are heavy and I recommend you try to find a supplier close to you.  I buy mine from Axner Pottery in Florida. I buy my Duncan products from Miami Ceramics and New Mexico Clay.

How do fight boredom when you are doing the same thing over and over?  I listen to books on tape or listen to Pandora or some other thing on my I-Pad.

Next the tiles need to be glazed and fired.  I will show you that in part 2 of the tutorial.
See it here.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Maggie! I don't do ceramics but I'm amazed at all of the steps required to paint each tile, to say nothing of the time required to develop the design.

    1. Thanks Linda, I did submit a couple of designs to Margaritaville and let them pick the one they liked best. If I stay really focused I can paint and glaze an order of 24 sets in a day. But after that I just have to sit on the couch and veg.


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