July 20, 2010

How to Make Glass Tile Magnets

Glass tile magnets are cute and practical. Who doesn't need magnets? Use them to decorate and to organize all those bits of paper you like to keep handy (grocery lists, to-do lists, a calendar) or display (postcards, artwork, that hard-earned A+ test or quiz). A nice set of handmade magnets makes a unique and thoughtful gift.


You will need:
  1. Glass tiles. The ones used here are 7/8" x 7/8" but they come in different sizes and shapes. I buy mine on Etsy.
  2. Magnets. I use 1/2," super-duper strong Neodymium magnets with this size tile.
  3. Wax paper
  4. Mod Podge
  5. Paint brush
  6. Sharp scissors
  7. Adhesive, either 3-D Crystal Lacquer as pictured here or an equivalent (e.g., Diamond Glaze), or tacky glue
  8. Laser-printed images. I create my own but you can also buy them -- search for "collage sheets" on Etsy. To print them I either digitally upload them to a printing service online, like Fedex/Kinko's or Staples. You can also physically bring them to the store on disk/flash drive. Use 28 or 32 lb bright white paper.
  9. Damp sponge (not pictured).


Treat your laser-printed images with a coat of Mod Podge. Let dry. Be sure to cover every image.

Prepare your glass tiles by gently cleaning them with a damp paper towel.

Cut out your images. Trim each to fit the tile you're using. Tiles tend to vary somewhat in size, and "square" doesn't always mean "perfectly square." Check that the image fits by laying it face down on the dry tile. You want the image to fill as much of the area of the tile as possible without going over the edges. You need a bit of space between the edge of the image and the edge of the tile so you can seal it properly.

Next, squeeze a small-ish glob of adhesive onto the back of the tile. You want enough glue to be able to move the image around for best placement without a whole lot gooing over the sides.

Place your image face-down on the glue. Move it around to spread the glue evenly over the back of the tile and to position it.

Lightly press down on the image to keep it in place and then quickly flip the tile over so it's face-up on the wax paper. Press down firmly on the tile starting in the middle and working your way out to the edges. This is to squeeze out the excess glue and any air bubbles that may have formed. If the tile slides around when you press down on it, gently hold it in place with your other hand. To keep both the image and the tile from sticking to your fingers as you do these steps, wipe them off with a damp sponge in-between.

Leave the tiles to dry for at least 3-4 hours. Then peel them off the wax paper and examine your handiwork. You'll probably find that, despite your careful positioning, your images aren't perfectly centered on the backs of the tiles; the corners and some of the edges may need trimming. I like to trim the corners with a knife and the edges with a scissor if they're way over the edge of the tile, or a nail file if they're only slightly over the edge. (You can also trim the corners with a scissor before gluing them down; you want them somewhat rounded.)

With your image trimmed to just inside the edges of the tile (as pictured directly above), it's ready to be sealed. Apply a thin coat of adhesive (or several coats of Mod Podge) to the back of the tile making sure to cover the edges and corners. This will protect the image from moisture and keep your magnet looking fresh and perky for a years to come.

We're getting close to being done, so grab a coffee and stick with me. Let the sealed tile dry, about an hour or two. Get ready to attach the magnet. Neodymium magnets are very strong so separate one from the stack and put the rest somewhere out of immediate reach, or else their mutual attraction may mess up your work. No joke. This has happened to me. It's really a mess, gluey magnets flying off their tiles and sticking to each other. Yuck!

Apply another coat of adhesive along the edges of the tile and put a dab in the middle.

Place your magnet on the dab of glue and gently press down until it stops moving around.

Place your magnets to dry a couple inches apart from each other on a fresh piece of wax paper (to avoid the mutual attraction problem mentioned earlier).

Let dry, at least 8 but preferably 12-18 hours, and that's it! Except that you may want to clean off the excess glue that's dried on the sides and front of the tile. Carefully scrape it off with a knife and/or use alcohol on a paper towel to dissolve and wipe it away. Stick your magnets on the fridge (or locker or message board, etc.) and do a happy dance for all the things you can now hang up there in style!

Until next time --




Mod Podge Amy said...

Very cute! Love the little owl.

Kelly said...

I can't wait to try this. thanks!

Simone said...

This is fantastic. I'd love to try this.

KimmChi said...

what a great detailed tutorial - thanks Linda!

Metalicious said...

Awesome how-to!!!

Kendra said...

Love it! Thank you!