I love going to IKEA for so many reasons… since I go to the one in Houston it means that I’m with my family. And my Momma and I LOVE IKEA. My dad loves IKEA and Swedish meatballs but he hates how long we keep him waiting when we go! Oh, and their ribs. My dad likes their ribs. Rob likes going and it’s fun to make decisions together on the direction of the design of our home. Prices are affordable so we can buy a new sofa without having to sign over our souls (a.k.a. credit) to get one.
There are a TON of things in this house that are from IKEA from the mint green cart we keep the animal’s food and water in to Rob’s mid-century made over RAST nightstand. And we show no signs of stopping adding to our space with things from this store. In fact, we’ve got a trip scheduled to Houston, largely around the fact that we need to go to IKEA. Oh, and my dad needs Rob and me to lay some sod after the recent flooding damaged his ditch which is another good reason to go :) I don’t know if you know but I’m kind of the sod laying queen. When I’d volunteer I’d often get tossed out in the yard with a few pallets of sod on the driveway and a knife. Everybody else would be giggling and painting walls and posing for photo ops with a paintbrush in hand and there I was down on my covered in dirt, sweaty and laying sod. I was told it’s because I was the only one who’d do it without complaint but that’s just because I figure all things need to get done.
But I’ve gotten sidetracked as I often do… When we go to the big store in Houston I have a tendency to walk the store with crafting and DIYing on the brain. You see things are so affordable that I sometimes even snag things with no particular project in mind. That was the case when I got some Avskild Cork Placemats for $3.99 for a set of 4. I just knew that when I need cork for a project it’s expensive and this seemed a much cheaper option.
It wasn’t until I saw some super pretty photographs at the Library of Congress online of the Grand Canyon that I decided what I wanted to do. I downloaded the images and saturated the bejesus out of them and now I’m going to show you how to turn them into awesome little placemats!
For this project you will need:
- Free print file of Grand Canyon Placemat sized images
- Cork placemats – They are $10 higher on Amazon but they are available.
- Mod Podge Matte
- Large bristled brush
- Toothbrush + water
- Spray polyurethane
- Very sharp razor blade/craft knife & a straight edge
Now this isn’t the file you want to print. Click the pic and it will take you to box.com where you’ll download the BIG BOY. It’s 36″ x 48″ and if you print it at Staples you can do it online. Choose the over-sized engineering print in color, size 36″ x 48″. There’s a little bit of unused space but I went with the size I did to avoid any accidental printing where the files were too small. It should cost around $12 to print. You can also download the photos from the Library of Congress directly and print them however you please, possibly even cheaper.
I got mine home a bit bent up and whatnot but in the end it was no big deal. Trim out your photos. Each one should overlap your placemats by about an inch or so around.
Trim out your photos. Each one should overlap your placemats by about an inch or so around.
Brush a thin, even coat of Mod Podge onto the cork of your placemat. Make sure there are no chunks. My Mod Podge has gotten a bit chunky and I wasn’t too careful about making sure they were removed. They WILL dry white rather than clear.
Now you may notice I brushed onto the paper. DO NOT DO THIS. As it turns out when you get a piece of paper this big covered in Mod Podge and it gets all wet it’s just a big, nasty mess. I did it both ways and directly onto the CORK is the way to go!
Just see all that extra Mod Podge. YUCK!
Right on the cork. THAT is the way to go, see! So much nicer!
It goes without saying, but I will anyway, you want the printed side AGAINST the cork and Mod Podge so that the toner can transfer onto the cork.
Place your paper onto your mat and turn upside down. Place something heavy, I used a few books on top of the backside and place somewhere to dry for at least 24 hours. If making many just be sure you don’t have any Mod Podge on the backside of your cork because it will glue to whatever it’s touching, be that a fancy book or another cork placemat.
Now did you give your stuff at least 24 hours to dry? Is it very humid out? Maybe give it a bit longer. If your business isn’t dried enough your transfer won’t work and you’ll have wasted a lot of time and a lot of effort, not to mention the money for supplies. Patience is key!
Apply water to the backside of the paper and begin rubbing away the paper, leaving the toner from the print in the Mod Podge. Woot! That’s how to transfer a photo onto cork!
Now after rubbing my hands raw and getting bored in my office I took this business to the living room and a little thing I like to call “television”. I was watching Miranda on Hulu Plus, have you seen it? It’s what I like to call “hilarious”. I guess that’s an inside joke for anyone who HAS seen the show :)
Grab an old soft bristled toothbrush and a cup of water and get ready to get going. Spread a small amount of water over the surface of the paper on the mat and give it just a second to properly soak in. Now take your brush and move in circle motions to scrub away the paper. Dear WORD this is so much faster and so much simpler. You can totally use your hands but, heck, why would you want to?
Let the cork mats dry completely. Are they hazy and not colorful? Then there is still more paper to clean away. In the end you’ll see the cork beautifully through the colors.
Now, did you accidentally glue your mat to another and it tried to tear apart on you? No worries! Hit the backside with strong duct tape and it won’t go anywhere even through all of the water you’ve put them through.
Now any place that your Mod Podge went beyond the actual cork you’re going to get an overhang of clear-ish photo transfer sticking out.
Now I first tried to just trim away the Mod Podge overhang but that did not work out well for me at all. Because you need your blade to be SUPER FLIPPIN’ sharp you can cut through that cork like butter.
And apparently your knees. I sliced my knee open 5 times before I realized that my ankle was wet. What is that? Blood? What? I hadn’t been sleeping well for weeks, only getting a few hours a night and having those hours plagued with horrible nightmares filled with death and family missing part of their faces. It was horrible and poor Rob was often having to calm down a crying me at totally random times of the day when being tired and sad was too much combined. I was like the walking dead during the day and I made myself stay awake until 2-3 in the morning because I was too frightened to sleep. Add it all up and I just wasn’t paying close enough attention for something potentially dangerous and I was so worn down I didn’t even realize how out if it I was. Not that I learned… I sliced the top of my foot open about 5 inches with a box cutter the very next day. Double ugh. Stupidity hurts! As always, please be careful when using anything sharp. Stitches suck. Hospital visits are expensive. And if you don’t seek medical treatment the scars can be gnarly at the end of it all.
Now you can see that my edges are nice and straight and my corners perfect. I wound up getting out my yard stick and trying at the mats when I was a bit more alert. Perfection!
To make the colors POP add a spray of satin polyurethane. This will also help to seal them as cork is porous and will easily stain.
And if you’re wondering where you get that AWESOME gold flatware, it’s from Target BUT I wouldn’t spend that kind of money on it so these are just spray painted silver ones from my drawer. (Sorry, Rob, it was for my art!!!)
I’m really pretty happy with the end results. I couldn’t seem to photograph them without glares and just general awfulness (learning to use a new camera) so you don’t actually see them on my dining room table, but with those colorful chairs and that brown stained top I recently made over the dinette set over with, these look KILLER in my kitchen!