Chica and Jo
...simplifying life
Chica and Jo
...simplifying life
Chica and Jo

Make coasters from curling ribbon

by: Chica

Make coasters from curling ribbon
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Years ago when I was a college student, I had a part time job in a card store. One day on the job, I was fiddling with the curling ribbon we used for balloons. As I twisted and curled it in my fingers, I found myself rolling it into a tight spiral. As it grew and I added more colors, I soon realized I had a really cool design forming, and without too much effort I would have a spiral of color large enough to use as a coaster. I bought some rolls of ribbon and that weekend I sat down and made several fun coasters by carefully coiling the ribbon around itself.

Ever since then, whenever I get balloons or gifts that are tied with curling ribbon, I save the ribbon in a special box in my craft room. When the box gets full, I pull it down and make more coasters. What a fun and easy way to recycle ribbon into a real conversation piece on your coffee table!

colorful ribbon coasters

You probably haven’t been saving up used curling ribbon from balloons and packages (not yet, anyway), so you might need to buy some new ribbon to start on this project. You can use any curling ribbon you like, in as many colors as you like, as long as they’re all the same width (standard size is 3/8″). Fortunately, curling ribbon is the cheapest kind of all. The best way to go is to buy 500-yard spools of curling ribbon, which you can get for just a few bucks each. Six or eight of these large spools will give you enough ribbon to make one or two dozen coasters, depending on how big you make them. You’ll also have a great stash of ribbon in your gift wrapping supplies box! If you want to start small, look for an assortment of several colors, or shop the clearance shelves after big gift-wrapping holidays like Christmas.

To start your coaster, just grab a piece of ribbon and roll the end up as tightly as you can. You have to have nimble fingers and be patient, but eventually you’ll get a nice tight spiral of ribbon. If you have trouble starting the coil, try wrapping the ribbon around a toothpick and pulling it tight.

colorful ribbon coasters

Once you’ve got a coil about a half inch in diameter, cut the ribbon off and use a tiny piece of tape to tape the ribbon on the side of the spiral. Now breathe a big sigh of relief, because the hardest part is done!

colorful ribbon coasters

Now for the fun part. Pick your remaining colors and tightly wind them around and around the coil. Each time you want to change colors, cut off the current ribbon and tape the end in place, then attach a new end with another piece of tape. The tape you use should be regular household tape, and you’ll need to cut it into tiny strips that are more narrow than the ribbon itself. You need to make sure the tape doesn’t stick out past the ribbon on the top or bottom of the coaster, or else you won’t have a nice smooth surface.

Once the coil gets about an inch wide, you’ll find it’s too hard to hold in your hands and wind, so just place it on the table and keep on wrapping. You need to wrap tightly, but don’t strain or pull hard, Just make it tight enough to be able to pick the coaster up without the coil falling apart.

colorful ribbon coasters

You can see a lot of potential fun here with patterns and colors. You can make each stripe the same width, or random. You can use a couple of colors or many. Your only limit is your imagination! You can stop winding ribbon whenever you reach the size you like (4 or 5 inches across is a good range).

These coasters won’t last very long as they are, so we need to protect them. The easiest and most effective way to do that is to coat them with polyurethane. You can find polyurethane in the hardware store or the craft store, and it’s available in spray or brush-on varieties. You’ll want to apply several coats, until you get a nice, thick, glossy finish and the ribbon is sealed together very well. Coat the top and bottom and don’t forget the sides!

colorful ribbon coasters

Let the polyurethane dry thoroughly before using the coasters. It will be dry to the touch after a few hours, but it may take 2-3 days to fully cure and be rock hard.

To finish off the coasters and better project the surface of your table, you can add some cork to the bottom. Place your coaster on a cork sheet and trace around it with a pen.

colorful ribbon coasters

Then use scissors or a utility knife to cut about 1/8″ inside the line.

colorful ribbon coasters

Now use your hot glue gun to glue the cork onto one side of the coaster.

colorful ribbon coasters

Press the cork onto the coaster and hold until the glue is cool.

colorful ribbon coasters

Voila! You’re done! Just wait til your friends see these awesome coasters on your table. It’s fun to see people guess what they’re made of.

colorful ribbon coasters

colorful ribbon coasters

Make coasters from curling ribbon
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89 comments so far:

  • 1
    kimbowest 09/26/2010 at 2:42 pm

    gave you an award at my blog

  • 2
    PeaceLoveTerri 09/27/2010 at 10:31 am

    Oh my goodness.. So creative!!

  • 3
    Joyce Finch 10/10/2010 at 9:50 pm

    How clever and very pretty. Thanks for the instructions. How often beautiful things are made of the simplest products. Joyce

  • 4
    Natalie 10/21/2010 at 7:51 pm

    I love this project. I can’t wait to try it out. I just need to stop on my way home and pick up some ribbon. Thx for the great idea!

  • 5
    Lori 11/20/2010 at 11:07 pm

    HELP!! I made 2 coasters that looked great until I put the polycrylic on them. In a couple of places, the ribbon buckled or drew-up or something. Has this happened to anyone else? Does anyone know why this happened? (They were tightly wrapped….so I don’t think that was the problem.)

  • 6
    Chica 11/21/2010 at 8:13 am

    Lori that sounds really strange, and I have not seen that before. You’re sure the ribbon was plastic and not paper, right? I could imagine paper buckling with the moisture, but I plastic shouldn’t. Hmm… Was your first coat of polycrylic nice and thin? If you applied it too thick, maybe that would cause the buckling?

  • 7
    Lori 11/21/2010 at 2:27 pm

    I just double-checked…I used polyurethane and not the polycrylic. (I don’t think that’s the issue, though.)

    Chica…I did use the plastic ribbon. Maybe I did apply it too thick. I remember thinking that the ribbon really seemed to soak up the polyurethane and that I couldn’t even see where I had applied it. I added more poly until it looked “wet.” I didn’t think I was using too much, but I’ve never used polyurethane before….lol! Do you remember how many times you had to do a coat before the coasters got so shiny and amazing?

  • 8
    Chica 11/21/2010 at 3:15 pm

    You definitely want to apply the polycrylic / polyurethane thinly, especially for the first couple of coats. It might take between 5 and 10 coats to build up a really nice, smooth sheen.

  • 9
    Lori 11/21/2010 at 6:58 pm

    Thanks, Chica. I’ll make a new one, try again, and report back. :-)

  • 10
    Tiffany 02/15/2011 at 10:11 pm
  • 11
    Chica 02/16/2011 at 6:52 am

    Great job, Tiffany. Thanks for sharing!

  • 12
    Jodi 04/05/2011 at 5:56 pm

    I’m totally making these for my coaster obsessed friend for her birthday!!!

  • 13
    Lynda from Oz :-) 05/21/2011 at 9:21 pm

    These coasters are beautiful, thank you for sharing your idea with us. Best Wishes, Lynda :-)

  • 14
    Avery 05/26/2011 at 7:49 pm

    You could also put poles in the bottom and they could be candy suckers

  • 15
    Ayla 09/06/2011 at 3:13 pm

    Do you think that you could use Mod Podge to coat it instead of poly?

  • 16
    Chica 09/06/2011 at 6:02 pm

    Hi Ayla! I would not use regular Mod Podge on the coasters, because it is not waterproof and the moisture from a wet glass would cause it to dissolve and get all gummy. You might be able to use outdoor Mod Podge, though, because the label says it’s water resistant.

  • 17
    Taylor 11/14/2011 at 3:03 pm

    I made a couple of coasters with a wider ribbon and after applying the polyureathane there were gaps in the roll. What would cause this?

  • 18
    Chica 11/15/2011 at 7:18 am

    Taylor, I would guess that one of the following things went wrong: 1) you didn’t wind the ribbon tight enough 2) you put the poly on too thick or 3) the ribbon was some material other than plastic and absorbed some of the poly.

  • 19
    Tasha 11/24/2011 at 9:17 pm

    Fantastic idea!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • 20
    Gretchen 01/28/2012 at 8:05 pm

    really fun thing to do when I get board around the house and tryed it right after I found out about it!!! love it!!!♥♥♥♥♥♥

  • 21
    Steven 01/31/2012 at 9:40 am

    I am interested in making some of these, on average how long does it take to make one?

  • 22
    Chica 01/31/2012 at 10:41 am

    Steven, you’re probably looking at about an hour or so, depending on how big you make the coaster and how fast you work!

  • 23
    Patti 02/14/2012 at 5:02 am

    I love these. I am off to the dollar store tomorrow to pick up some ribbon. Thanks for sharing

  • 24
    Tracy 02/16/2012 at 9:03 am

    These coasters are really neat. I’m gonna try and make some this week. I love new craft ideas. Accidental craft ideas are the greatest. Look forward to seeing more of your ideas Chica and Jo!

  • 25
    Chica 02/16/2012 at 7:00 pm

    Tracy, you’re right — accidental craft ideas are the greatest. Our recycled phone book pen organizer was the same sort of thing. We hope you continue to enjoy watching our craft collection evolve!

  • 26
    Januel 08/27/2012 at 1:22 pm

    This is a great idea! I’m going to have to try this, I also love the suggestion to make them into Christmas ornaments! Do you know where I can get a big spool of ribbon cheapest? It always seems so expensive and short.
    I’ll be posting once I’ve made them!

  • 27
    Chica 08/27/2012 at 2:42 pm

    Januel, look at your local party store on online for 500-yard spools of curling ribbon, which are usually under $10 and are an affordable way to get a lot of ribbon at once.

  • 28
    Anjie 10/05/2012 at 1:27 am

    Great idea for football teams i.e. Red, White and Gold for the 49ers! :)

  • 29
    Chica 10/05/2012 at 8:16 am

    Anjie, I love that idea!

  • 30
    Lisa 01/05/2013 at 7:12 pm

    Very cute! I would have never thought of something like that!

  • 31
    Caroline Fay 02/15/2013 at 10:24 am

    How creative! A great idea. This is such a useful craft idea. It will be great as gifts. I can’t wait to try it out in my own living room. And, as one of your comments said it would be great to work up with some team colors. Thanks.

  • 32
    Emily 04/09/2013 at 8:05 am

    Ihave made heaps of these ad i tried doing a loveheart instead of circle and it looked great!

  • 33
    Amanda 04/19/2013 at 3:25 am

    I just started making some of these tonight (they’re so cute!). My boyfriend and I made 4, although as we’re polyurethane-ing, one was lost to battle! As a few other people have mentioned, my ribbon on one coaster sort of “bunched up” and created little gaps in the coaster. It would probably still be usable, but the others are so pretty I think I’ll toss that one. I have lots of ribbon, so I can make more! I used the correct kind of ribbon, so I think it bunched due to a combination of being too loose (it was the last one I made and my hands ached a little) and too much polyurethane. I was worried about that one, so I gooped it on a little.

    I’m sort of learning as I go, but I would love more specific directions on applying the polyurethane. For example, I’m applying a thin coat to my coasters every hour. Tonight I plan on doing 4 coats and seeing how they look… The original plan was to do 4 coats on the top tonight, 4 on the bottom tomorrow, then 4 on the edges the next day. I may adjust if need be, though! I don’t know if this is the correct way to go about this, so I would love some more specific directions.

  • 34
    Chica 04/19/2013 at 6:52 pm

    Amanda, lots of thin coats (rather than one thick one) is always the best approach with polyurethane, and this project is no exception. It takes patience, though! It’s hard to give specifics because every situation may vary, but it sounds like you’re on track with what you’re doing. I think you’re right that the bunched up ribbon was due to it being too loose and too thick of an application of poly, both of which will contribute to warped ribbon. Glad you’re enjoying this project, and we’d love to see photos of your creations if you want to share them in our Flickr group for reader photos.

  • 35
    Betty 09/16/2013 at 10:05 am

    I just came across these terrific curling ribbon coasters. LOVE THEM!!!

  • 36
    yenta1957 10/18/2013 at 2:38 pm

    What a great site. I have to come back soon !!

  • 37
    Jennifer 11/30/2013 at 12:23 pm

    Hi, I I just love your ideas and these coasters are gorgeous. I am curious as to why they won’t last if you are putting polyurethane on them?

  • 38
    Chica 12/01/2013 at 11:38 am

    Jennifer, I think you misunderstood my comments. I said they won’t last long are they are (unfinished), so we put the poly on to protect them, so that they WILL last :)

  • 39
    angela 06/13/2014 at 10:28 am

    wow i have to try this at home they are so cute. and to think that i have the ribbons just lying around the house. thanks for the info

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