Two Ways to Transform Old Photography Magazines Into Coasters

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Photography magazines are one thing I can’t seem to throw away. My fascination with photography has culminated in a library of magazines filled with beautifully dated galleries, equipment reviews, tutorials and advice. They accumulate on my bookshelves, and quickly migrate to desktops, the tops of fridges, assorted drawers and nightstands.

While having a cup of tea the other day, I realized I’d forgotten to put down a coaster. I quickly grabbed a magazine and rested my cup on it, sparing my furniture. And it got me thinking. Could I transform some of my magazines into coasters themselves? Surely the thousands of pages I’d accumulated could be put to use as an interactive dining accessory. After all, who wouldn’t want a cute photography-themed coaster to admire while having a cup of tea?

Here are two simple ways to create striking coasters out of your old photography magazines.

The cut and paste method

You will need

  • A photography magazine or two.
  • Some coasters to stick your magazine images to. (I used simple round cork coasters from IKEA.)
  • Mod Podge (a glue and sealant) available at art supplies stores.
  • A pen or pencil.
  • A brush.

Method

First, find an image you’d like to incorporate into your coaster design. The choice here is endless. You could focus on text, photographs or whatever catches your eye.

Once you’ve selected an image, trace a circle around it (using your coaster as a template) and carefully cut it out.

Next, apply a generous amount of Mod Podge to the coaster and spread it around evenly with the paintbrush. (I put some newspaper down for this bit to protect my work surface from spills.)

Place your image face up on the Mod Podged side of the coaster and smooth out any wrinkles.

Once your coaster has dried (allow an hour or two), you’ll need to seal it. Spread a layer of Mod Podge evenly over the image with the brush. (Don’t worry, it dries clear.)

Once it has dried (again, allow an hour or two), repeat this step four times. Make sure you let the coaster dry between coatings.

Once the last layer of Mod Podge has dried, your coasters is ready to use.

The coiling method

You will need

  • A magazine.
  • A ruler and scalpel (or a paper shredder).
  • Glue. (Mod Podge works well for this project too.)
  • A paintbrush.

Method

Tear out a few magazine pages – the more vibrant the better. Cut each page lengthways into 7mm strips. (If you have a strip-cut paper shredder, you can use it instead.) You’ll need to cut up at least six pages.

Once you’ve cut your strips, its time to start curling. Select one strip of paper and curl it over itself to create a coil. Once you’ve completely curled the first strip, add a dab of Mod Podge to the end and glue it down.

Now you need to add a new strip to build on the last. Add a dab of Mod Podge to the end of a new strip of paper, and press it Mod Podge side down onto the coil where the last strip ended. Wind the fresh strip around the coil, keeping the paper nice and taut. Once you’ve completely wound it on, add a dab of Mod Podge to the end of the strip and secure it to the coil.

Keep winding your strips of paper onto the coil. For every fifth strip, add a thin a layer of Mod Podge down its entire length and wind it Mod Podge-down, around the coil. This will keep the coil together as it grows.

Keep adding strips of paper until you’re happy with the size of your coil.

It may take you a couple of hours, but the results are striking. And it’s really fun to watch it grow.

Whichever method you choose, it’s a great way to get those stunning images out of the bookshelf and onto your coffee table.

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Megan Kennedy is a photographer and writer based in Canberra, Australia. A lifelong fascination with flight has inspired her photographic practice in documenting the intricate form of aircraft. Megan is also interested in travel photography and documenting human interaction with the modern landscape, through both intentional and incidental intervention. She is well versed in both digital and film practice. Both her writing and photography has been featured in numerous publications.

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  • ernldo

    Will this work on a useless Time or snoozeweak magazine as well?

  • Megan Kennedy

    Sure will ernldo!

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