DIY Oil Portrait Coasters

Red House West//Oil Portrait CoastersThe other day I was casting about our living room looking for a place to put a dripping glass of ice water.  When I set the glass on the floor because I was worried about marring the surface of the teak end table, I realized there was a problem that needed fixing.  So I started daydreaming (as one does) about making some coasters. Practicality was the initial motivator for this project, but it was when I started thinking about quirky little pieces of art scattered around the room that I began to get excited.  These (functional) little portraits were easy and inexpensive to make, and are making me super happy!

I downloaded the portraits from the National Gallery of Art, which has images that are in the public domain and available for free download and public use.  I had a lot of fun browsing the collections, and my brain is now teeming with ideas for other projects using this resource.  I liked the idea of mixing the portraits with a floral print, so I also used some of the  Rifle Paper Co. gift wrap leftover from my hutch project.

These took less than two hours –  plus drying time – to make (though I think it would go faster now that I’ve done some troubleshooting and if I weren’t constantly stopping to take photos for the blog).  I had most of the supplies on hand, but even the ones I had to buy (Mod Podge and cork) were inexpensive and easy to find at our local craft store.


  • Printouts of images – I used Microsoft Word to make each image 4″x 4″ and to put them in a grid of four
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam brush
  • Cork Board ($3.99 a sheet, I used three sheets to make about 35 coasters)
  • Utility knife, ruler, and a cutting surface

Step One:  Cut the white space off of your printouts (but leave them in their grid).  Apply Mod Podge to the back of your paper and also the cork board.  Use your fingers to spread out any wrinkles or bubbles and allow to dry completely (I left mine to dry overnight).

Red House West//Oil Painting Coasters

Red House West//Oil Portrait Coasters

Step Two: Use your utility knife and straight edge to cut off the excess cork and then to cut your images into individual squares.  Make sure your blade is super sharp or it will tear the edge of your paper!

Red House West//Oil Painting Coasters

Step Three: Use your knife and straight edge to cut the corners off of your images.  This step is optional, but I think it gives the coasters a more polished look.Red House West//Oil Portrait Coasters

Step Four: Apply Mod Podge to the edges and top of your images.  Allow to dry completely (I left mine for a couple of hours).

Red House West//Oil Painting Coasters

Red House West//Oil Painting Coasters

And that’s it!  Seriously simple, and I love how they turned out!

Red House West//Oil Portrait CoastersThat high-browed profile of the 15th century Franco-Flemish Lady is really giving me a lot of joy.  I’m planning to give some of these away, so I made a couple stacks and tied them together with baker’s twine.  These would make a great holiday or thank you gift!

red house west//oil portrait coastersI will definitely make these again.  The top coat of Mod Podge seemed to give them a good seal, but if they do get ruined fast I might try applying a spray-on sealant the next time I make them (if I do, I’ll make sure to update here).  I also think it would be fun to paint the edges of the cork in a bright color – it would probably work best to do it before applying the top coat of Mod Podge so the glue doesn’t repel the paint.

And lest you think I’m not giving these puppies a thorough testing, worry not!  This glass of wine and I are putting them through their paces, and so far so good.

red house west//oil portrait coastersThanks for reading along and I hope you’re having a wonderful week.  Check back in on Friday for a new post!

22 responses on “DIY Oil Portrait Coasters

  1. Cindy Biboux

    What a great idea, Katie! After 20 years of using cracked porcelain pictures of lighthouses, I finally bought some plastic sunflowers from Down to Earth; yours are much, much classier and would make lovely gifts.

    Aunt Cindy

  2. papict

    That’s a great idea. I assume your print outs were on a laser printer? I only have inkjet and I’m wondering if the ink would run when the mod podge was applied.

    1. k80bennett

      Nope, I used my ink jet printer. The ink didn’t run at all, and the Mod Podge has made enough of a seal that liquid beads up on the surface.

      1. papict

        Thanks! That’s really good to know. I now have the germ of an idea about using some of my own artwork in this project. If I find the cork board, I will make these.

  3. dwhmmatthews

    Terrific project, Katie. I can think of lots of images, including personal photos, that would make wonderful personalized gifts using this technique. Thank you!

  4. Carol Crump Bryner

    Very sweet – and a good project to do with grandchildren, except for the utility knife part (which is exactly the part my grandson would want to do). I salvaged a bunch of coasters from my parents’ house which were like this – cork with paintings of horses on them. They’ve been incredibly useful, and make great toys for toddlers.

    1. k80bennett

      I had hot tea cups sitting on them yesterday and no rings! They also still look good after putting damp water glasses on them. I can’t speak to the long term, but so far they’re holding up really well.

  5. Jen

    Hi Katie, I am thinking of making some coasters for my mom as a part of her Christmas gift. If you see this comment, could you let me know how yours have held up now that it’s more than a year later? Is the modge podge still going strong, or would you recommend a spray sealant for longer term durability? Thank you!

    1. Katie Post author

      Yes! Thanks for the reminder; I’ll update the post. I definitely recommend using some kind of sealant. I used MinWax Polyacrylic for a second batch of coasters, and it’s gone a long way into helping them last longer. I have some that have been in use for months and months and they still look great. I haven’t tried the spray sealant, but there are lots of favorable reviews online and it seems like it would work well. Hope you try the project!

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