May 24, 2012

Recycle Craft: Reclaimed Floor Tile Trivets

Last weekend we here at Sine Metu Designs sponsored a free make-and-take demo at the 4th annual EcoChic Craftacular which featured local artists and artisans who have an eco-friendly spin to their art, crafts, and business practices.  The event is sponsored by Etsy Team Columbus, a collaboration of local indie artists, and of which I'm proud to be a member!  The Team worked very hard to bring the community this fantastic event and it was a huge success:  raising $1000 for the Whetstone Community Center, $250 for two local animal shelters, ADOPT Pet Rescue and Colony Cats and Dogs, and $100 for a local Arts foundation, all serving Columbus-area and Central Ohio.

In the spirit of being eco-friendly, we chose an arts & craft project that made use of reclaimed building materials--which are often in ready supply this time of year as folks get to work with home renovation projects. The reclaimed tile we used I found for free on FreeCycle, which I continue to mention often because it's such a great recycling resource.  

We transformed reclaimed ceramic floor tile (ours are 9-inch by 9-inch) into artsy trivets in a few easy steps, then showed all who cared to learn how to do the same; then we went wild with the enamel paints and produced some functional masterpieces!

Supplies:  Reclaimed tile, cork or felt, spray adhesive, thin quick-tack glue such as super glue or jewelry glue, wooden furniture buttons (optional), enamel acrylic paint for ceramic or "patio" grade acrylic and brushes, Sharpie or permanent marker (optional) and clear spay sealant (optional, but recommended).

First, we removed as much grout as possible from the tiles, using a pair of channel lock-style pliers to remove the line of grout along the edges.  The way these pliers "bite" provide a lot of torque, and it's very easy to snap the grout right off the edge, whereas it was impossible to do so with the bare hand.  Thanks to my hubby for always knowing which tool to use!

Next, I trimmed a pice of cork to the size of the tile.  I purchased a roll of thin cork with a self-adhesive sticker-back at Hobby Lobby for less than $5 and it was enough to make more than a half dozen trivets and several coasters.  If preferred, simple craft felt can be used and adhered to the back with spray adhesive.

To add "feet" to the trivet (optional) I used a thin layer of jewelry glue to adhere round-top wooden furniture buttons to the corners of my tile after I attached my cork.  You can find wooden furniture buttons in the woodworking aisle of craft stores such as Hobby Lobby or at the hardware store--they are used to cover cam-screw holes and are inexpensive.  I purchased a pack of 30 for $1.47 at Hobby Lobby.

Once the feet have dried, you can flip over and begin to paint! Because of the sealant glaze, I recommend ceramic paint or "patio" grade acrylic paint as it's more permanent than general-purpose craft paint.  If you plan to use the tile as a garden marker or step stone, or as an actual trivet for hot pots and pans, you want a more durable finish to take weathering and scratching.  If the tile is strictly decorative, it likely doesn't matter.

Get your inspiration and plan your painting.  If using enamel, you can't just "wipe-off" if you mess up, so draw carefully.  I outlined my images in Sharpie.  A couple layers of paint will cover the marker, or you can use permanent marker to add fine details over the dry painting.

With enamel, build your painting in layers. You can add light colors over dark colors if you let the bottom layer dry first.  It is better to apply two coats of thin layers to build up blocks of color than to try to glob on one thick coat.  You can also paint the sides of the tile for a more finished look.

When the paint is dry and you're finished with your design, spray with a clear glaze or sealant, let dry, and repeat.

Other ideas:  Make a bold geometric print by spraying with a textured spray paint (pictured, hammered copper) and paint acrylic lines in a complementary color when dry (I used cobalt blue enamel).

Make a chalk board server and tell your guests exactly what they're eating by painting several layers of chalkboard paint over the tile.

Let your kid go nuts with the paint for a recycled art experience!

Try some garden tile markers, like the below "Avi & Daddy's Garden" we made.

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