Tuesday, October 8, 2013

DIY Sharpie Mug - Does It Really Work?

So, I'm sure you've seen the Sharpie mugs all over Pinterest in the last couple of months.  They claim, "all you need is a marker, a dollar store mug, and an oven," but...the results seem to be varied.  Some say it worked awesome, others say it was a total fail.  So which is it?  Is it worth the effort to attempt this project, or will it be a total waste of time? 

I'm here to say that yes, it does work, BUT....maybe not quite as simplified as some claim.  
Here's how it worked for me.

I attempted this project months ago with just plain ol' Sharpie permanent markers and a couple of Corelle mugs I got at the thrift store.  I spent quite a while making a design, then I baked it just like the blog post told me to, and.....it was a complete failure.  It washed right off with just a hand washing in the sink. 

 So I did more research and found that in all reality oil based paint markers are really what you need.  These are a bit expensive, I think they were about $3.47 each at Hobby Lobby.  I used 40% off coupons so it wasn't SO bad, plus I figure these should last quite awhile and I can get plenty of uses out of them so they were worth it to me.  (You can find these in the artist's paint section at any big craft store.)

I also read that wiping down the entire mug with alcohol wipes is also a good idea to remove any grease or oils from your fingers that may be on it that would cause the ink/paint to not soak in to the glaze.


A few weeks after my first failed attempt I came across this image/post for BFF mugs, and it was my inspiration to try it again.  At the time, we were living in Ohio and were in the middle of preparing to move cross country back to Florida.  I was leaving a BFF behind, so this seemed like the perfect project to try out.  Fast forward many months to when I finally got around to actually doing this, and that'll bring you to today's post.  : )

  I started with a plain white mug from Walmart, it was a Better Homes and Gardens brand.  Something to remember about these is that, the cheaper the mug the better this project works.  The better quality the mug the better the glaze will be on it and it'll be more resistant to absorbing the paint/marker.  My dollar store didn't have any plain white mugs at the time so that's why I got one from Wally World.

The inspiration post said to practice drawing the states by hand and then use an eyeliner pencil to draw the outline on the mug, then do your marker/paint over that.  I wasn't confident in my state-drawing skills, so I went another route.

1.) I printed out an outline of each state and got it sized to fit the mug.
2.)  I shaded the back of each image with pencil lead.
3.)  I taped them to the mug and traced the outline with pencil.  Because of the pencil shading on the back of the image, it left the outline on the mug.
4.)  I traced over the outline with my paint marker, and drew a little heart where I had placed my dots.

I then let it dry a few minutes before I did my next step.

At this point I used the eyeliner trick to map out a pattern for my dash marks.

Then I went over the eyeliner with the paint marker, and once it was dry I wiped away any visible eyeliner marks. 

Here it is all painted and ready to go in the oven.  Now....let me share a bit of advice here.  As soon as my paint was dry, like 10 minutes later, I put it in the oven, but that wasn't the best idea.  Any areas where the paint had been a little thick ended up chipping off even after the baking process.  I had to fix them and re-bake it.

I should have, and what I would recommend for you, would be to let it dry for 24 hours before baking.

A lot of the posts that you see about these mugs say to bake it for 30 minutes at 350, but I recommend 425.  At 350 the glaze just doesn't get hot enough to absorb the ink/paint, so I did mine at 425.

I put it in while the oven was cold.  This allows the mug to heat up along with the oven so that it won't crack.  Start your 30 minutes once the oven reaches 425.  Also, once the 30 minutes are up, turn the oven off but leave the mug inside until the oven is cold.  Again, this is so the mug won't crack with any abrupt temperature changes.

One more thing I can tell you from experience is the colors can change on you.  The little hearts started out being a bright red, but after baking they had turned into a dark eggplant shade of purple as you can see above.  So just keep that possibility in mind if you decide to attempt a design that needs to have specific colors.

Once I fixed the chipping paint after the first bake and baked it a second time, I tested it out.  I washed it in a sink of hot soapy water just like I would any other dish.  It held up well.  I lightly scraped my fingernail all over it, it held up well.   I don't have a dishwasher so I can't tell you if it would hold up to that or not, but a regular hand washing was just fine.  

* Update - a couple of readers have come back and commented that theirs held up well in the dishwasher.  However, just to be on the safe side (and for the sake of the longevity of your mug) I would recommend sticking with a gentle hand washing. *

I filled it with some tea bags and sent it off to my friend.  It made her day!  : )
She did the last test phase for me, one that I forgot...testing whether the paint in the bottom of the cup held up against hot liquids.  She said she had Hospice on speed dial just in case she ended up drinking the "miss you" and suffered from paint toxification.  But not to worry, it held up just fine and medical personnel were not needed.

So...all in all I would call this project a success and now I know some tips for making things easier next time around.  

Have you tried this little project yet?  Was it a success or fail?  Any other tips you'd like to share to help others out?  Be sure to come back and let me know if this has inspired you to try one out and how it worked for you!

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