white glue stuff (aka DIY souvenirs)

Nearly two years ago, the ever-innovative J-A gave me a housewarming present for my (then) new apartment. It was a kit to transfer copies of photos or other graphics onto little tiles of champagne-coloured marble and make coasters out of them. Since I was in the throes of moving house at the time, I stuck the kit on the top shelf of my front-hall closet.

It sat there until this spring, when I pulled it down and read the instructions. Some of the process sounded like what I had done to my old coffee table when I ruined the surface (long story) — I cut up bits of an old Ansel Adams calendar a co-worker gave me and collaged the whole thing, then sprayed it with several coats of varethane. Here's an old photo that shows the table top:

I'm not big on what I call "white glue crafts" — anything that involves sticking bits of things together with white glue purely for decorative effect. But, as the refinished coffee table shows, even white glue can be used to fix things so that they're not only useful, but look good.

The coasters are useful too, of course. I wasn't too keen on getting photos laser printed on special paper at a printing services place, though, especially when the kit came with a special list explaining to the printer that although the supplied (and required) paper was plastic-coated, it wouldn't melt in the (required) colour laser printer.

That sounded like too much negotiation to make four coasters.

Then I went to Amsterdam on vacation. At the van Gogh Museum gift shop I found a pack of serviettes printed with one of my favourite van Gogh paintings — his Butterflies and Poppies still life. It seemed to me that serviette paper should be thin enough to glue well to the marble, and usually serviettes are printed so that the ink doesn't run easily (they wouldn't work well as serviettes otherwise).

It worked! Each serviette had two layers: a printed layer and a plain white layer. I separated the layers and just glued the printed one in place, then kept adding thin applications of glue/glaze until I ran out. Then I added the little cork feet that were included in the kit. The results look like this:

I love how they turned out, and I'm sure they'll be very useful.

As always, I have to wonder with a kit like this how easy it would be to just collect the materials yourself and make your own. Certainly cork pads are cheap and easy to find, as is white glue (and water to thin it with), foam brushes, and cheesecloth to wipe away excess glue. The little square of sandpaper came in handy too, so add that in to the list.

That leaves the marble squares themselves. From their size and thickness, I'd guess that these were originally destined to be part of a wall or floor, but they have irregular edges and some badly damaged corners. For coasters, that adds a little design element, but I can understand not wanting to grout them. If they can be had (and had by the each or in small quantities, with no mesh backing), then I can see making more of these.