DIY Geek Dishes (LOTR, Star Wars, Zelda, more)

DIY Geek Dishes tutorial

Originally we were going to make a few DIY geek dishes, using only geeky maps (you know… Middle Earth map, a map of Hyrule, Westeros…) but then decided we needed a whole set of geek dishes, since they were so easy and fast to make.

DIY Geek Plates

**UPDATE! CLICK HERE for a quick video tutorial for the project!**

We first teased this project on our Instagram a couple of weeks ago, but technical difficulties put us behind on projects for awhile. We’re back up and running now!

DIY Geek Dishes - Portal, Borderlands

What you will need:
-Clear glass plate(s)
Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge (yes, this is a thing!)
-high res images printed out on 11 x 17 paper
-a paint brush or sponge
-X-acto knife
-pencil

DIY Geek Dishes - Supplies

If your dishes will only be decorative and not used for eating, you can just use regular Mod Podge decoupage glue. We knew we’d want to actually use our plates, so even though we don’t have a dishwasher (gasp!), the Dishwasher Safe formula seemed a little more appropriate for regular washing.

Geek Home: DIY Star Wars Plates

We picked up the clear dishes at Joann, for a few dollars each. You can probably get similar dishes from a dollar store, thrift store, or buy a set of 12 from Amazon, here.

Google Image search whatever your favorite fandoms are. We started with images of the Lord of the Rings and Legend of Zelda maps, but couldn’t stop there so kept collecting more and more images. Be sure to only search for large images. Once you’re set, print them out on 11×17 paper. Our home printer doesn’t do this, so we did it at a small copy shop for 35 cents per print.

Center the plate on the print and mark where the edges of the plate are. Since the plate is square, it’s pretty easy to figure out where you need to cut slits in your paper (one slit for each corner). The reason for cutting the slits is so that everything lays more smoothly. If you want to avoid this step and make things even easier, only glue the print to the flat part of the plate, instead of bringing it all the way to the edges.

DIY Geek Plates Tutorial

Clean the bottom of the plate and lightly coat it with Mod Podge. If you’re a stickler for following directions, Mod Podge also recommends that you paint a thin layer on the paper as well, where it will be adhered to the plate. Make sure that your print is centered, and press it face-down onto the Mod Podged plate back. GENTLY SLOWLY SLOWWWWWWLY press the print down all over the dish. Seriously, as slowly as possible, to avoid air bubbles.

DIY Decoupaged Dishes

Push the paper down all the way to the edges of the plate, overlapping the paper where your slits were cut.

DIY Decoupaged Plates

When the print is completely stuck down, let it dry for at least 15 minutes. The more the better (we waited a couple of hours between coats). Then apply a layer of Mod Podge to the backside of the paper, continuing to smooth out wrinkles and air bubbles. Once that coat is dry, apply a second coat.

After the Mod Podge is completely dry, cut the excess paper off of the plate using an X-acto knife. Add more Mod Podge to the edges to seal everything down.

DIY Geek Dishes - Super Mario Bros, Hyrule

Done! Be sure to let your new plates cure for a couple of weeks (they recommend 28 days), before washing them. And even though it says it’s dishwasher safe, we recommend that you be gentle with your new geek dishware, and hand wash them instead… Or you can use them for decorative purposes:

DIY Geek Dishes - Lord of the Rings, Hyrule, Westeros

What do you think? What artwork would you use? If you don’t want the back of the each dish to be solid white, you could always print double-sided – Mod Podge dries clear!

DIY Lord of the Rings dish

Video tutorial, on Youtube.

Comments

  1. says

    My goodness, there really is a mod podge for everything! These look so great; I especially love the Stormtrooper and the Companion Cube. I think I would make a Marauder’s Map dishware set so I could pretend I was at Hogwarts everyday ^___^

  2. says

    Wow!!! I want the companion cube, the middle earth and the westeros maps, and the storm trooper! They all rock and I cannot wait to get my hands on some dishwasher safe mod podge!

    • says

      Thanks! We had no idea that dishwasher safe mod podge was even a thing, until this project. We did some testing (hand washing the dishes) and so far so good!

  3. says

    This is completely fantastic! I love the versatility of this idea! Thank you for sharing and giving inspiration! (PS Thanks for the tip on the Dishwasher safe mod podge! That product is a crafting miracle and I didn’t know it came in this mode!)

    • says

      Thanks! Someone else just told us that Martha Stewart crafts also makes a dishwasher safe decoupage glue, so we’ll have to check that out too. Who knew?

    • says

      Etch cream is high on our list of things-to-try (I want to make Star Trek glasses). Good warning about the smell! I’ve been nervous to use it, for some reason.

  4. whoviantrish says

    I need to make TARDIS, dalek and probably Stargate ones! How awesome would these be as gifts? I definitely need to try this! Mod Podge for dishwashers? Brilliant!

  5. says

    This is awesome! I’d make my kids their own set (I assume it could be done with glassware as well) And of course my husband and I would have some too. — Great nerdy gift as well!!

    • says

      Great idea! It seems like it could be done on glasses as well, but handling it a lot might cause some wear and tear to the glue. With the plates, since the glue/paper is on the bottom, we’re thinking it won’t get touched quite as much.

  6. Sara says

    Would these be microwave safe? I hand-wash dishes so that would not be a problem but I won’t make them if I can’t put them in the nukker (PLEASE let me make them)

    • says

      We just sent a couple of messages to the Mod Podge company, asking if it’s microwave safe! Our microwave is pretty much just a popcorn machine, so we haven’t tried yet. :)

    • says

      Sara – we heard back from the makers of Mod Podge (via Twitter)…. and bad news. They say it’s not microwave safe. :( So you’d have to microwave in one container then transfer the food over to these plates.

  7. Ken Hackman says

    Y’all should just make these and sell them. All geeks aren’t craft-minded people. I’ll buy a whole set of the LOTR Middle Earth plates. C’mon, Timmy! Make some plates!

    • Chris Miller says

      That would be illegal, assuming you haven’t received licensing on these images that someone else owns.

    • says

      We talk a lot about opening an Etsy shop – but like Chris said, I don’t think we could sell these plates, since it’s not our artwork. Eventually we hope to partner with some artists to do original art for projects like this! :)

    • says

      Yep! That should work! We’ve mod podged coasters before, and they came out pretty well. The trick is just to go slow and push all of the air bubbles out immediately, or the paper gets bubbly.

    • says

      We do plan on opening an Etsy shop for some of our other projects, but I don’t think we could sell these since we didn’t make the artwork. Hopefully we can eventually find some cool geek-artists to partner with, for projects like these! :)

    • says

      We would recommend having a copy of the poster made, like John suggested. We have found that thicker paper (like posters) tends to bubble and warp with mod podge. A mid weight paper seems to look more smooth. Plus that way you still get to keep your poster! :)

  8. says

    Could you post your edited maps for download? I love the Westeros map, but noticed the original was longer and yours was cropped and edited to fit the square while keeping the border.

    • says

      You know, that one was actually a bit of a cut & paste experiment, on our part (literally, cut and paste). We cut out the border of the picture separately, trimmed it to fit the plate, and glued it on first. After the border dried we put the map portion on over it (all from the back of the plate, face down, if that makes sense).

  9. JoyAnna C. says

    This is a really cool project! Knowing me, I will go totally overboard and my walls will be filled with plates!

    • says

      It wouldn’t really work with white plates, because then the glue/paper would have to be on the area that you eat off of. The good thing about the clear plates is that we actually glued on the bottom of the plates, so no food/utensils ever touch the mod podge.

      If they’re only decorative though (not for eating), then yes! White plates would work fine.

  10. says

    would this work with photopaper? I’m a photographer and I have nature scenes, fractals, abstract, etc that would be epic and sell like crazy on etsy if I had them as plates.

    • says

      Hi LaChele! Great idea. It would work with photopaper, but any thicker paper like that has more of a chance of getting warped (in our experience, anyway). It might be better to make color copies of the photo paper.

  11. Dana says

    Do you think this will work with any paper cause I would love to make some out of rolling stones magazine..

    • says

      Hey, Dana! It technically should work with any paper, but we’ve had some trouble/trial-and-error when working with magazine type paper. You might want to photocopy the magazines and just use the color copies – plus then you can still have the master copy of the magazines in case you want to use that for another project. :)

    • says

      We had a local copy shop just do a light-mid weight inkjet paper (11×17). I was something like $0.35 a print. No need for glossy, since it’s going on the back of the dish, the dish makes it look glossy anyway. And thank you! :)

  12. MIchael says

    How many plates does a container of Mod Podge last you? I’m trying to get a feel for how much I need to buy for this. It’s a great idea and I’m excited for the video tomorrow.

    • says

      Hey Michael! We did 10 plates, using an 8oz Mod Podge, and we have MAYBE used 1/4 of the bottle. So it will last for a lot of plates (at least 40)! And we’ll have a slight delay in getting the video up – the print shop was closed this weekend that we use to make our 11×17 copies. :(

  13. Sarah says

    Since the plates are glass, would they be microwave safe?? Or would it not be safe with the mod podge? I can’t wait to surprise my boyfriend with Batman themed plates!!!

    • says

      Hi Sarah! The mod podge is not microwave safe. :( So you would have to use a microwave safe dish while you nuke stuff, then transfer it over to these plates.

  14. says

    working on making a set of atomic elements plates with my son – so we can set a “periodic table” for lunch! but our images, which look like the squares in the periodic table, have a lot of white, The end result appears streaky -you can see the brush strokes and different streaks of grey and white- did you encounter this problem? we’re planning to retry with images that have more color in the background.

    • says

      Hey there! None of ours had very much white on them, but we did notice a tiny bit of Mod Podge streaking on our yellow Borderlands plate (but it was minimal enough that we didn’t mind). The trick seems to be just to do a very thin, even layer of Mod Podge on the plate – a sponge brush might help avoid brush strokes – and yes, like you said, maybe try an image with less white. There is a website called Mod Podge Rocks (http://modpodgerocksblog.com/learn-how-to-mod-podge) that has A LOT of great tips for using decoupage glue. We tend to reread the tips and FAQ whenever we work with Mod Podge. :)

  15. says

    I loved this idea so much I went out and did it myself. Just finished ten plates yesterday and they look great! Thanks so much for the inspiration. I did have a problem getting the edges of the paper to stay sealed to the glass though, no matter how many layers of mod podge I used or how firmly I pressed the paper to the glass, so now I’m apprehensive about actually using them because the paper might peel when I wash them. Do you have any tips on how I could go about fixing this?

    Thanks again!

    • says

      Hey John! We actually did have that issue on the final plate we made (a George Takei portrait… why not?). We ended up peeling back the paper from the edges a tiny bit, putting some mod podge on the plate AND on the paper, then pushing the paper down again and holding it there for a minute or two. That seemed to work for us – we’re using a pretty lightweight paper.

  16. says

    Mine turned out pretty well! I got a picture of the Exploding TARDIS off the internet, and made a poster for the show Arrow on Photoshop. Both turned out very nicely, thanks for the idea! Dad loved these for Fathers’ Day!

    BTW, looks like the record right now is $2.99 for square plates, I found mine at Target for $1.99. They’ve got rounded edges, which made fitting the images on more interesting, and they’re glass, but like I said, they worked phenomenally.

  17. Jenny says

    These are great. Do you guys have any ideas about what to do with old game cards like Magic the Gathering cards? I want to upcycle them into something but I don’t know what.

    • says

      Thanks, Jenny! We were actually just talking about stuff to make with MTG cards we don’t want. We’ll try to finalize some projects and post them in the next few weeks. :)

    • says

      Hi Kathy. You can actually get away with pretty moderate quality of pictures for this project, since the glass over the image is somewhat forgiving. When we did the Google Image search, we just narrowed it down by Search Tools > Large.

  18. Ashli Barnes says

    Hey! I absolutely love these plates! I’m definitely going to be doing this for my new apartment! I was wondering, though. If you remember, would you mind telling me where you got the picture for the portal plate? I’ve been looking, but I haven’t found anything I like as much as that picture yet.

    Thanks for the idea!!! 😀

    • says

      Hey Ashli! We found it by searching for “Portal Companion Cube Wallpaper” on Google images. We don’t own the image art, so don’t want to post it publicly, but if you still don’t have any luck feel free to email us and we’ll give you details. :)

  19. Rachel says

    Hey! So I am working on these plates right now- did you have any trouble with darker images? I see you used some- I made a plate that has a TARDIS on it, and with the dark blue it seems like the mod podge strokes are showing on top of it. Any idea if this will go away once they dry for a longer period of time?

    Thanks, love this idea!

    • says

      Hey Rachel! We did have a couple of our plates wind up with tiny little streaks, but nothing too major. We realized that the thinner/more even the Mod Podge layer is, the less streaky the final dishes were. The Mod Podge seems to get more clear over a day or two, but after that it stays pretty much the same. We had the best luck with pictures that had a lot going on (like the maps), which camouflaged any imperfections. :)

    • says

      Hey there, Kristen! We don’t have a dishwasher, so we handwash everything, but so far so good! We’re gentle with them, and just lightly wipe down the part with the mod podge on it. No issues with bubbling or peeling or anything.

      • says

        A branch off question, do you guys use them as regular dishes or just occasional and decorative? I’d love, OK, I’d give my left arm, to have these as everyday dishes but I worry about how they’d be stacked and sliding on one another in the cupboards.

        • says

          Hey Jess. We do mainly use them as special occasion type dishes, probably just a few times a month. So far they’re still holding up well (one had a bit of peeling on one side, but we just mod podged it back down).

  20. Adjel says

    I just got finished making several of these, and not a single one came out without streaking. I actually found that the one with the most white in it, it was less noticeable. Those with dark backgrounds ….. yuck. The only way they look good is if viewed in low light at just the right angle. Any suggestions??? I don’t know if I’m using too much or too little mod podge that’s causing this.

    • says

      Hey there! We’ve made quite a few more now (for gifts), and had a couple of them come out with visible streaks (the streaks are pretty light though, and after the plates dried for a day or so they faded further). The trick seems to be to do a light layer on the plate, spread as evenly as possible with a sponge brush, and a light layer on the paper, spread the same way. We put the paper onto the plates VERY slowly and carefully, pressing as we go, to get air bubbles out (which might also help to avoid streaks). There are some GREAT mod podge tips at http://modpodgerocksblog.com/learn-how-to-mod-podge, that we found very helpful! :)

  21. Jessica says

    Hey ournerdhome,
    I was just wondering if you could tell me the size of the plates you used. I just went out and bought plates yesterday that are 11×11 so I am worried that 11×17 paper isn’t going to be wide enough for the plates.
    Thanks!

    • says

      Hey there! Ours are 10″, but you could always have a print shop or Staples type place print onto the size bigger than 11×17 paper (I’m not sure, but there might be something like a 12×20?). :)

  22. Emily says

    Where did you print your pictures? I tried to print them at Walmart and they said I would need a copyright release since they were all copyrighted pictures? I really wanted to do this for my fiance’s 30th birthday next week, so I’m hoping I can still print them somewhere else. Thanks!

  23. Aragon says

    Hi, I absolutely love these plates and am thinking about making a few for some gifts. I was wondering if you have the link for the original/s of the map of Westeros and can post it? Please and thank you!

    • says

      Thank you! We don’t have the original images we used (we’ve switched computers), but if you google image “Westeros Map”, there are some really beautiful options!

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