Awhile back, I was in the Walmart plant section and noticed they had theses great cork mats for putting underneath plants. The smallest, were coaster sized and had MDF on the bottom and a layer of cork on the top. I figured they'd be perfect to decorate. So I bought them, and then they sat in my crafting stash for quite a while. In fact, I'm not even sure that Walmart still sells these (I'll have to check the next time I'm there).
For my birthday in June, my sister gave me a bag full of crafty freebies that she had laying around, and one of the things in the bag was some stencils. I have never stenciled (aside from tracing letters with magic marker onto poster board, which doesn't really count). So I grabbed my craft paint and a foam brush and I tested out my stencil on paper....it failed big time. The paint got underneath the stencil and it looked a total mess. So I ran upstairs and grabbed a makeup sponge and tried again. So much better. Now I was ready to stencil on my coasters.
I grabbed some black craft paint because I knew it would contrast well, and I was being boring and safe since I had never really done this before, and certainly never on cork, so I didn't know what would look best. I spread out my paint and stamped it on the paper plate until there were no globs of paint and it was even on the makeup sponge.
Then I carefully held down the stencil and stamped. There was no way to take a picture of this in process...my hands were all tied up and getting paint on them. So I took a picture immediately after I pulled the stencil off.
Here's where I could lie and say that I thought it looked a little plain so I put the stencil back on and painted the trunk of a tree along side the branch. But that's totally not true. On my second coaster, I accidentally got paint over the edge of the stencil. I panicked. I thought I had ruined it. So in an effort to salvage it, I went ahead and filled in all along the edge with paint. When I pulled up the stencil, I was pleased to see that it looked like a tree trunk and actually did help to balance the space better, so I went back and did the previous coaster, and made sure to ink along the edge with the last two.
I think they turned out pretty cute for my first stencil project. I'm leaving them unsealed so that the cork can soak up the water from the dripping drinks, but if you want the coasters to last longer, you could always spray them with some clear acrylic sealer