How to Make Embossed Clay Coasters

A pair of clay coasters with a drink on top and a flannel tablecloth.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 5-20
What You'll Need
Parchment paper
Wood rolling pin
Air-dry clay
Adhesive cork circles
Random items (plastic grid canvas, chain, hardware, keys, etc.)
What You'll Need
Parchment paper
Wood rolling pin
Air-dry clay
Adhesive cork circles
Random items (plastic grid canvas, chain, hardware, keys, etc.)

When it comes to spending quality time in your kitchen, refreshments are a staple. This is true whether you’re hosting a huge party or entertaining just a few friends. And whether you’re serving lemonade or sangria, drinks are often the highlight of the gathering. That’s where the beloved coaster comes in. These household items are both practical and simple. The best part is that they can further emphasize the style of your home. Instead of spending a chunk of change on fancy coasters, try making your own with air-dry clay. The finished look is similar to concrete, creating a rugged, industrial style that is extremely popular these days. If you’re not loving the raw look, feel free to add a wash of spray paint.

Step 1 – Gather the Supplies

A grouping of coaster supplies.

Before taking on this project, you'll need to purchase and round up the necessary supplies. Air-dry clay can be found at most craft stores and is inexpensive and easy to work with. Adhesive cork circles can be purchased in the furniture, table, or chair section of most hardware and convenience stores. Alternatively, you can use adhesive felt circles. Both cork and felt versions will protect your table when the coasters are in use. Lastly, you'll need miscellaneous items to emboss the clay. This can be absolutely anything—spare keys, bottle caps, or scrap fabric. Each item will produce a unique, interesting pattern. Don’t hesitate to experiment until you find a design that suits your taste and style. This is the beauty of DIY home décor, after all.

Step 2 – Roll the Clay

A ball of clay.

If you haven’t already done so, break off a small handful of air-dry clay. Roll the clay between the palms of your hands to create a ball measuring 2 ½ inches wide. Continue rolling and kneading the clay to warm it up. This will make it easier to flatten in the next step. It also increases the chances of creating a better embossed design.

Step 3 – Flatten the Clay

A slab of clay and a rolling pin.

Protect your work space with a sheet of parchment paper. It's important to work on a hard, flat surface such as table or counter. Place the clay on top of the paper and use the rolling pin to flatten it. Each time you move the rolling pin, alternate the direction. This will encourage an even distribution of clay. Continue until the clay creates a circular shape. Double-check that the clay’s thickness is fairly even throughout the coaster—this is a crucial step.

Step 4 – Emboss the Clay

Clay with a plastic grid on top.

Use one of the random items to print the clay. For best results, place the object on the clay and press down. The pressure you place on the clay must be firm, yet gentle. This is vital for maintaining the shape and thickness of the coaster while guaranteeing that the object leaves a mark. To reveal the pattern, carefully remove the item from the clay. If necessary, repeat until the print is embossed on the entire coaster. This is also your chance to decide whether or not you're happy with the embossed design. If not, you can simply roll the clay back into a ball and try again. Air-dry clay is extremely forgiving.

Step 5 – Set Aside to Dry

A flattened piece of clay with a plastic grid on top.

Once you're happy with the pattern, leave the clay in a cool, dry place. Check the packaging of the air-dry clay to determine the number of hours it needs to harden completely. For most brands, the clay will require 72 hours to harden. It's vital that nothing touches the clay while it's drying. Otherwise, the clay might break or warp before drying.

Step 6 – Create More Coasters

A piece of clay with a silver bracelet next to it.

After finishing the first coaster, repeat steps 1-5 to make additional pieces. Most sets include a total of four coasters. Feel free to use the same design for each one or mix things up. This is your chance to create a set of coordinating designs that suit the room in which they'll be used. A set of four coasters also makes an excellent housewarming gift for a new homeowner.

Step 7 – Experiment with Designs

A gathering of supplies to make coasters with.

Don’t be afraid to test miscellaneous objects. You’d be surprised at the prints and patterns random items can create. This is an awesome way to give ordinary items an extraordinary purpose; check every room for inspiration and ideas. Everything from office supplies to toys have the potential to yield a distinctive embossed pattern. Keep scrap clay on the side just for testing purposes.

Step 8 – Add Cork Circles

A coaster with pads on the back.

Once the clay coasters are completely dry, adhere four cork or felt circles to the back of each coaster. Position the circles at equal intervals around the diameter of the coaster. Press down gently to ensure that each one is completely adhered to the coaster. Another option is to glue a small segment of cork or felt to the back of each coaster.