There are a millionty-billionty blog posts on DIY coasters.  This is not meant as a tutorial as much as an inspiration for making something meaningful of your own.  You can make coasters out of a myriad of materials but this post is specifically focused on cement because of its’ desirable color and texture.  I LOVE cement.  It’s so versatile and it can easily contrast or compliment, depending on what you are going for. Here are some ideas and FREE printable designs for creating your own vintage coasters.
In the past month I made a slew of cement coasters to sell in my Etsy Store.  My goal was to create a product that told a story or had some kind of meaning.  Since I am in love with all things historical, I tried to implement some of that into my creation.  Several years ago my grandfather passed away and left a basement full of stuff that he had been saving for over four decades.  He was a product of the Great Depression and felt like he had to save everything in case they ended up with nothing.  From this habit, I inherited an original 1927 Montgomery Ward Catalogue. What a treasure!  The pages are seriously like art and I wish I could preserve it forever.  As time passes the pages are beginning to disintegrate (it wasn’t in mint condition to begin with) so I needed to find a way to preserve and share it with others rather than have it sit in a storage container under my bed.
The cement coasters now share a piece of history on each piece.  Each set has been carefully coordinated to tell a story about lifestyle, people, fashion, and culture during the 1920s. Reading the copy in the catalogue is seriously better than reading a history book.  It tells such a fascinating story and I hope these coasters catch a glimpse of that picture.
To make these cement coasters is quite easy.  First, I use a 3 1/2″ hole punch and cut out four “scenes” or circles out of the magazine page. FREE printable copies of a few pages out of my 1927 Montgomery Ward Catalogue are at the end of this post. Transfers are super popular these days and if you prefer to place the images onto your coasters that way, go for it.  Just don’t forget to reverse the image.  For this particular project I wanted to use the actual paper from the catalogue as a way of preserving a piece of history. But a transfer would look super cool. I may try that in the near future.
Some coaster forms require a light coat of petroleum jelly but the clear coaster forms from Hobby Lobby don’t need it.  I’ve used these forms over and over again and they seem to hold up quite nicely.  The size and depth of these coasters is perfect.  I also purchased a couple of silicone molds.  They are much easier to use but the depth is not as desirable.  The coasters come out way too thick. I still use the molds but add less cement.
Mix the cement (Quikrete Sand/Topping Mix) with roughly 4 parts cement to 1 part water.  The consistency should be like pancake batter. Add cement to coaster forms and tap lightly to work out air bubbles. This process should also help smooth out the cement.  It should be as level as you can make it. After about twenty minutes carefully place your magazine cut-outs onto the cement using your fingers to gently press the cut-out flat. It will eventually completely absorb the water.
Let dry for 12 hours and carefully remove from form.  Allow to completely dry for another 12 hours.  When dry, you have the option of adding some antique wax, if preferred.  But I usually just seal the coaster with 2 coats of Modge Podge and then 2 coats of matte sealer.  The Modge Podge protects the cement from discoloring when the sealer is applied.  Add a piece of cork or felt to the bottom to protect your furniture from scratches.
Sometimes I will wait for the coaster to dry and turn it over onto what was the bottom and use it as the top.  It’s super smooth and perfect for adding a transfer or a label.  First, I apply some antiquing wax to the entire coaster and let dry. Then I print a design onto full, clear label sheets, cut them down to size, and apply them to the coasters. Using a credit card I rub the label until there are no bubbles and the edges almost disappear, and then finish them off with a few coats of matte sealer. I love how these turned out.  The labels worked really well for this particular project; however, I would love to try the transfer technique with these designs.
This set shown below is inspired by a famous American song, I Bought Me a Cat by Aaron Copland. Copland studied early American songs and compiled them into a collection in the 1950s, including Long Time Ago and Simple Gifts. Most Americans would best know Copland’s iconic Americana sound from a very famous ad campaign during the 80s: “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” The instantly recognizable “western” music in the background is Copland’s “Rodeo”.
I love these Copland coasters so much.  I actually have made a set for my own home as well as my Etsy store. The set shown below was designed as a nod to all the mom and pop businesses that have formed America’s culture over the ages.  None of these businesses are real but are a conglomerate of people and places that I know and are dear to my heart.
For this post, I personally designed a FREE sheep printable to be applied or transferred to a cement coaster.  I love how these turned out.  I prepared a finished set as a birthday gift for a friend and kept a set for myself because I’m in love with the mood of these cute little sheep. My husband is wondering what we’re going to do with all of these coasters that I’m accumulating – throw a party, I say. Cement coasters are really so cheap and simple to produce that you could easily personalize a very large dinner party table. The sheep coasters would look so cute for an outdoor tea party, or a farmhouse breakfast.  I’m imagining our annual family Scottish feast with tartan coasters (yep, that’s happening). Give these pretty little sheep a try. The download is available at the end of the post. 🙂
Here is the sheep design (sized for four 4″ coasters): Oxford Branch Sheep (Single)
You can also try a full-size (8.5″x11″) version of this design for another project: Oxford Branch Sheep (Full)
Here are some pages from the 1927 Montgomery Ward Catalogue (55th Anniversary Edition):
Montgomery Ward–Boytown
Montgomery Ward–Girls Hats
Montgomery Ward–Lively Boy
Montgomery Ward–More Ladies Hats
Montgomery Ward–Womens Coats
Montgomery Ward–Womens Hats
PLEASE SEND ME A PHOTO OF YOUR FINISHED PROJECT.  I would love to see it!  Cheers!