Easy gift idea: DIY Aztec-inspired tile coasters

Last month I got to hang out with a few of my amigas to celebrate a birthday. A few of us are now in our 40's but no cares given--40 is the new 30 and if we want to wear Vans (or in her case, blue metallic clogs) and eat at bougie French bistros in downtown L.A., then so be it.

Left: Exploring L.A arts district. Right: Lunch at Church & State Bistro
Anyhow, I made the birthday girl a really cute set of tile coasters. Handmade gifts trump store bought gifts in terms of sentimentality, amirite? Don't get me wrong, I love gift cards and expensive handbags as much as the next gal. But if a friend makes something for me, odds are I will love it and cherish it forever. Now my dear friend will always think of me when she is trying to prevent water rings on her furniture. Yesss.

I loved the way her coasters turned out. Seriously though--these tile coasters are almost like small works of art, just like these painted tile squares my kids made a couple weeks back. They were so fun and easy I thought I would make another, slightly different set and share them on my blog.

This is what you do. Find some art that you'd like to see on a set of coasters. Do you have a favorite scrapbooking pattern? Grab a couple sheets. A few quilting fabric squares? Cut them to size. An old book with some vintage illustrations? A beloved photo? You can put them on the coasters, too. Are you beginning to sense a theme here? You can personalize your coasters however you like, squirrelfriend.

For me, I'm always inspired by my Design Motifs from Ancient Mexico by Jorge Enciso book. Whenever I want to create an Aztec-inspired pattern--or just some really cool geometric designs--I thumb through the pages. Before Pinterest and the “chevron” craze, there was this book and its abundant resources on ancient Mexican designs. I’ve had my copy for nearly twenty years and its dog-eared and taped up, but it never fails to inspire.

Whether or not the fashion/home decor gods decree Aztec print is in this season, this book will always be a resource for me. Remember my Aztec print shorts? Or the Aztec print lamp I made for Latinamom.me? All of those patterns came from this book.

I decided to use this geometric design on my coasters so I scanned the page and printed out four black and white copies. Let's make some cool coasters, friends.

What you'll need:

4 white, unglazed 4 x4 tile squares
craft paint
paint brushes
Mod Podge Gloss
9x11 sheet of felt
tacky glue

Cut your copies down to the size of your coaster. Paint a layer of Mod Podge across the tile.

Press down the art that is going on your coaster. Smooth down any air bubbles, if any.

Let it dry. Now you can start painting on top of the art, which is technically the printed paper copy. I use this technique over and over again because there are lots of cool ideas I like to build off of and I don't want to get bogged down having to trace stuff and make it look the way I want. You can call it cheating but the art world has a fancy name for it: post-modern appropriation.

Can I get an amen?

Using craft paint, I decided to stick with a color palette of five colors and make each one different from the other. This makes them unique but they still appear to be a set. I also added some freehand designs to my coasters in small areas, to make them extra fancy. You can paint over the black areas but I wanted to keep them black. Make sure you paint the side of the tile, too.

Once the tiles have all been painted and it is dry, you can brush on two coats of Mod Podge Gloss. Let it dry for a few hours.

Your coasters should now look pretty legit.

So bright and the colors are perfect! Don't forget to cut felt for the back of the coasters.  Just cut the felt into squares and glue to the underside of the coaster. This will protect them from breakage and protect whatever surface you're placing the coasters on. Enjoy!

If you don't want to make your own--buy these! I just listed this set on Etsy.


  1. I loooove it. Great job, you inspire me!

  2. I looove Aztec motifs!! The coasters turned out beautifully :D

  3. This is amazing! Love it!!!

  4. Te quedaron increibles!! I'm pinning them ;)

  5. Anonymous11:25 AM

    Do you know where someone can find unfinished/ unglossed tiles?


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