I’ve got quite a few gamers in my life. I’m a gamer myself. *REBEL YELL* Yeah, I’m a chick and I play Xbox. And no, I’m not a “girl gamer.” I’m just a gamer. That phrase pisses me off. It’s just another way for chicks who only play the video games their boyfriends play to take cute pictures of themselves looking like Lara Croft and get some attention.
Lara Croft is a p*&sy. I could kick her ass. And I’d do it in sweat pants instead of short shorts. Cause that’s how I roll.
Gamers are a bitch to buy for because normally all they want is video games. Video game components. T-shirts. That gets boring, for both you and them, and leads you to a pretty limited list. So I’ve been opting to MAKE my gamer loved ones gifts. This way you can get super creative.
I personally love Bioshock. A whole lot. So a few years ago I made myself BioShock coasters, and thus the gaming gifts were born. This is only one of many of this type of gift I’ve made. And before you have visions of money dancing in your head, you can’t sell these. It’s infringement. So don’t even try. Not to mention no one will pay you what they are worth either. That’s the cruel hard truth of the hand-made world.
This gift is fairly simple, gives you a little bit of an artistic outlet, isn’t terribly expensive and is pretty gratifying, actually.
First off, figure out what game theme you wanna work with. Look up pictures in guides, the internet, whatever. You’ll need to print the pictures off either by high quality Xerox or your own printer. Now, that being said, if you own an inkjet printer you may want to seriously consider going to a Kinko’s or something to have them print it off for you because otherwise it will EAT your ink that you wouldn’t believe and probably NOT give you the quality you want.
Use REGULAR paper, no photo stock. Photostock is too thick for this project. Regular old paper works perfect. Here’s what you’ll need:
4 tiles (or as many as you want in the set). I use the standard 4×4 or 6×6 tiles for coasters. Regular bathroom tiles. You can use old or used ones, new ones, whatever you want and the color generally doesn’t matter cause you aren’t gonna see the color anyway.
4 pictures from whatever game you want. I suppose you could use all the same picture, or mix up games, that’s entirely up to you. You can put a picture of your dog on it, it doesn’t really matter.
Spray paint: Just general spray paint. If your tiles are a wildly different color than the background you want OR has a pattern, I’d seriously suggest you buy white spray paint to sort of “prime it” first. Otherwise, buy the colors you want for the background of your tile. Keep in mind that if you want the picture to be the sort of “centerpiece” of the coaster, then it’ll take up most of your tile, so the only colors peaking out will be around the sides of the picture. I.e. you can’t get too intricate with your pattern.
Spray Adhesive. Krylon or Elmers make good ones.
Glaze. You can use spray or brush on glaze. Up to you. If you use a brush on glaze, you’ll need a brush or sponge. Duh.
Felt sheets. You can use the stick back kind of use the regular kind. You’ll need enough to cover the backs of your tiles. If you use the non-stick back kind then you’ll need:
Embellishments like stickers or numbers/letters/whatever (totally optional)
A couple of paint liner trays. Like the kind you use to line your paint roller tray when you are painting a room. They are flimsy plastic. (optional but extremely useful)
All the safety equipment like glasses gloves mask blah blah blah
Once you decide on the pictures you want, you’ll have to decide on the size. If you have a 4×4 tile, obviously the picture needs to be smaller than that, say 3×3 or better yet 2.5 x 2.5 to give it a good tile border. This is assuming that the pictures are perfectly square. If not, try playing with sizes in a photo editing program and printing out some dummy pictures to get a good idea of the size. They don’t even have to be the actual pictures, just squares cut out to that size so you can hold them up to the tile and see if you like it. Play with the placement a little too. If you’ve got some stickers or embellishments you want on there, you’ll probably have to play with the placement a little bit if not the size.
Once that’s done and you’ve decided on your pictures, your size, etc now you get to print them out either on your home printer or at Kinkos. I chose Gears of War (GEARS OF WAR!!!! YEAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!! BROTHERS TO THE END!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry, I’m a fan…)
Cut them out VERY carefully and try to get straight edges. Paper cutters work awesome for this.
Now put those aside. You may want to put them between a set of heavy books for the time being to flatten them out because regular paper tends to curl when there’s a lot of ink on it. Make sure they are dry before you do this. Duh. You are gonna leave those alone for now.
If you want to avoid accidentally scratching the paint off the sides of your tiles when you are done, you might want to trace the tiles onto your felt with a Sharpee now. They’ll act as your backing when you are finished.
Make sure you are in a well ventilated area cause you are gonna be using spray paint. And you don’t wanna get high. Or maybe you do, but seriously that’s REALLY bad for you. Don’t do that.
Place your paint trays (or newspaper if you don’t have paint trays) on your work surface and place your tiles well spaced apart on these trays. This is why I suggested you get a couple because I can only ever fit two per tray on the flat surface (paint trays kind of slant down remember?)
If your tiles are a bold color or have a pattern, you are going to “prime” them with white paint. If not then you are going to use your base color first. My finished coasters were going to be Red with Black accents. My tiles were black. Sounds like I could have just gotten away without priming but not true. In order for me to get a nice rich red color, I needed a white surface to work with.
I keep my paint in the garage and although I did this project in my garage, I had to bring the cans inside to let them get to room temperature. I live in Chicago. It gets cold in my garage. Spray paint + cold= thick nasty spray paint that doesn’t cover neatly.
Now shake the can. Before you start spraying it’s IMPERATIVE you know a couple things:
#1 Don’t hold the can too close to your project. You want to be AT LEAST a foot away, more is a bit better. If you spray too close, you end up with super thick spray paint that either remains tacky, peels, is lumpy, or all three. None of these are good for a coaster.
#2 You need thin layers. Kind of goes with the one above. You want even, thin layers. You can always do another coat.
#3 Work in a back and forth motion. In other words, starts spraying a few inches to the left of the tile and work your way right in a straight line across. Then work right to left in the same fashion a little lower on the tile, so you are covering the tile nice and evenly in back and forth strokes.
#4 The edges of the tile can be annoying to get at. This is where that liner tray is so handy. Make sure once you’re done doing the main face of the tile, you turn the paint tray and get the edges. Remember, lightly spray at a distance, one good right to left swipe should do it for each side. You don’t want to end up with globs of paint on the top of the tiles, so make sure you kind of aim the can downward when you are doing the sides.
#5 Sometimes one coat will cover completely, other times it won’t. It depends on your paint, your tile, your technique. You can ALWAYS do another coat!
Ok, now. Ready. Set. Spray.
Repeat that process for all of your tiles. Now you wait. I would suggest waiting at least 3-4 hours before considering another coat. I know. But patience patience!
Once the tiles are dry from the first coat, you can do your main color if you used primer OR you can do your accent color if you didn’t need primer. If you are doing your accent color, make sure you are gently depressing the spray nozzle AND holding it really far away to give yourself an “accent” coat. Otherwise you’ll just completely repaint your tile. When doing accent colors with spray paint the name of the game is distance. You want a light sprinkling, not a full on coat. Too many colors and too much paint will make it peel, so keep it simple.
Once your accent color is done (if you want one) let that one dry even longer. I’d suggest overnight. The next step is going to be adhering the picture to your tile, so you want it totally dry.
Once it’s dry, you are going to take your pictures and spray the back of them VERY lightly with the spray adhesive. REMEMBER: DISTANCE AND PRESSURE! They don’t need much glue! DO NOT coat the thing because if you do, the paper will get wet. If it gets wet, it looks horrible because it doesn’t dry properly (it’s glue for the love of god).
Once you do that, give your tile a gently spray with the adhesive. Now put the picture ON the tile and position it (kind of quickly but gently) where you want it. Make sure the paper is completely flat, as flat as you can possibly get it. You don’t want the edges curling up. Use the palm of your hand or your finger tips to flatten it out as you place it on there.
Now do that for all of your tiles and leave them sit again. Let them dry at least 4 hours.
I know. Patience!
Provided your final coat of paint was dry when you glued on your picture, and you let the glue dry at least 4 hours, you are probably ready to use a spray glaze. If you’ve opted to use a brush glaze, wait overnight. You don’t want the paint being ever so slightly tacky and coming off on your paint brush. Cause you won’t be able to fix it.
If you are using spray glaze, again DISTANCE AND PRESSURE! If you use TOO much glaze at one time, it’ll stain your pictures. Use a little bit, let it dry about 30-45 minutes, come back and see if you like it. If you want more, then you can add more again using DISTANCE AND LIGHT PRESSURE! Do this until you are satisfied.
If you are using brush glaze, remember to use a soft brush or sponge and glaze evenly and quickly. Brush glaze tends to want to leave brush strokes and gets tacky SUPER fast, so you gotta work quick and even. I only recommend brush glaze for those of you who have worked with it before. It’ll give you a kind of “lacquered” look to the tiles but it also is much more of a pain in the ass than a standard spray glaze coating.
At this point, you are nearly done. I know. Patience. Here are mine done and glazed:
Now you’ve got to do something about the back. Because if you leave them bear on the back they will scratch up your table or the table of whoever you give them to. Kind of defeats the purpose. This is where the felt comes in.
Trace the tiles onto your felt with a Sharpee. Mind the sides because the paint probably isn’t completely hard yet and you can scratch it pretty easy. I like to trace my tiles BEFORE I paint them to avoid this.
If you didn’t get the stick kind (and I didn’t) it’s a pain in the ass. But it’s simple. Just cut out the felt and glue it to the back. Make sure the middle is glued and the very edges. It works best if you kind of work in a line from the top of the tile to the bottom, that way you can cover it pretty even a little at a time. If you try to just glue the whole thing at once, the glue dries super fast and the felt doesn’t stick. Then you are all pissed off trying to get the dried glue off the back and doing it again.
If you have leftover felt hanging off the sides, don’t panic, there’s a way to cheat. Just trim off the excess with scissors after you’ve glued. Again, mind the sides so you don’t scratch them.
And you’re done! An awesome set of gaming coasters for the gamer in your life. Sit back, relax, get the rest of your cursing out and perhaps chuck the extra tile across the room. You aren’t Martha Stewart so you can do that. And after all that, if the recipient doesn’t like them, threaten to put them where the sun don’t shine. Bet you’ll get a nice big thank you and a warm smile then. 🙂