Project Naptime: Painted Cork Coasters

While on maternity leave, I started to get a little stir crazy. I mean, all I’d been doing was taking care of baby and trying to figure out how to abide by the “sleep when she sleeps!” rule — while still managing to shower and eat, too. And it was all I had the energy to do. But after a few weeks, as I was starting to feel more like my old self, I felt the itch. The itch to do something, to create, to feel like myself again. But as any new mom can attest (I hope), I lacked the luxury of time — except for a couple of one or two hour segments in the afternoon when she would finally nap. So I started looking for simple projects that could be done in the space of a baby’s nap (or two).

Thanks to a few months’ worth of Whimseybox supplies, it wasn’t too hard to get inspired to start with a simple project: painted cork coasters.


All it took was two 4-inch cork coasters, a fine tip permanent marker, acrylic paint, a paper napkin and some imagination.

I like the graphic-yet-homey look of Swedish folk art flowers, and after a little Google image searching, I came up with a design that would work with two colors (the natural cork counts as one color).

First, I traced the outline of one of the coasters onto a paper napkin, and sketched my design inside the circle so that I knew it would be the right size and proportion. Then, I positioned the coaster underneath the napkin so that the design was centered (my sketch was slightly off center) and traced over the design with the permanent marker — the marker bled through the napkin onto the coaster, and I was able to reuse the napkin as a template for the second coaster. I saved it, so I can make more identical coasters if I want to.

Finally, I filled in the design with acrylic paint (stiff bristled synthetic brushes work well for detailed work and achieving a smoother brushstroke). I used pure paint for opaque color, but you could water it down in order to keep the cork texture.


Simple, right?! It would be hard to say just how important even such a quick, simple project was in completing my healing process. Rest is crucial, but eventually, it’s time to get back to those other things that make you feel whole. For me, it’s working through the creative process. The new rule? Craft when she sleeps.


42 thoughts on “Project Naptime: Painted Cork Coasters

  1. Beautiful — I’m sure, though, that I would tear up the paper napkin while drawing my Sharpie design. Or travel outside the lines while painting. Or pool too much paint while painting. Or…

    (in other words, while this certainly appears quite simple, I’m sure I would find a way to mess it up!)


    • Ha! That’s the way I feel about sewing projects.

      You do make a good point about tearing the napkin, which I forgot to address. In fact, I drew the design with a ball point pen, and did the Sharpie tracing by making a bunch of little dots very close together so that I wouldn’t tear the napkin, especially when using it over and over.

      Thanks for stopping by! Sarah

  2. I just got cork trivets for the counter and will definitely personalize them with this tip. Yours are very pretty, so thanks for sharing such a simple fun idea. I will also teach this technique to my god daughters; they love crafts.

    • I think it’s wonderful that you craft with your goddaughters. I’m sure one day they’ll treasure the time you spent creating together. Have fun!

    • I used acrylic paint, which is great for projects like this because it’s water soluable while wet (easy cleanup!), but not when it’s fully dry — and it dries quickly. About 30 minutes after painting one coaster, I let a glass of ice water perspire all over it and had absolutely no trouble with the paint dissolving or bleeding.

      What this also means is that you absolutely DO NOT want to get acrylic paint on your good clothes, carpet, or upholstery.

      If you’re still nervous about it, you could certainly use a clear seal or fixative.

      Thanks for asking!

  3. What a great idea! My boys are both grown now, but I do remember the newborn & toddler days. With our oldest son serving overseas in the Air Force, I sometimes miss those days, quite honestly, so cherish them while you have them!

    I love working w/my hands & have found arts & crafts to be a great stress reliever as well as a wonderful source of fulfillment, so I will definitely be giving this a try!

    Thanks so much for sharing, & congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • I come from a Navy family, so I do know how special any time spent together as a family can be. Crafting was a passion I shared with my grandmother — who I didn’t see often enough — and my mother; even my husband and I will set aside a Saturday every now and then for a “creative day” when we need to recharge. I’m looking forward to seeing how the creative bug will manifest with our daughter, and how it will shape our family!

      Thanks so much for stopping by! And keep crafting!

  4. Hi there, thanks for the inspiration! :) you paint really beautifully :)
    does anyone knows where could I get cork coasters online? price matters ;) would be gratefull for your help!

  5. beautiful stuff! i love home DIYs but honestly, my apartment is a hole and i can’t be bothered to decorate. and by that i mean..i can’t afford it. so this is a great, affordable idea! thanks! x

  6. so lovely! also, your napkin/permanent marker technique is genius…i’ve always used either a sheet of carbon copy paper or pencil rubbings on the back of the drawing (that gets transferred to the next surface when the pen presses down on top of the original drawing) but you totally take out the middle man! thanks for sharing…xo

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