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DIY Sharpie Mug

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There’s a trend going around the world of craft blogging right now, especially on websites like Pinterest & CraftGawker, & that is the DIY mug, decorated using only a sharpie, which you set by baking it in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes. I’m a coffee-holic, & can never have enough coffee mugs in my life, so I was determined to give this one a try. So, after going through some trial & error, I wanted to do a sort of “review” on my experiences with it & how well it actually works.

I had seen this project done with both a regular Sharpie & a paint Sharpie, but the first thing I tried was an original Sharpie & mugs I found at the dollar store. There are various how-to’s & reviews of how this went for people out there on the interwebs, but this was one of my favorites because her creations are just so darn cute.

I drew my inspiration for the design from this blogger. I just thought it was so gorgeous & I’m really not that creative usually. It actually turned out pretty good considering that I have no hand-eye coordination or talent when it comes to drawing or creating anything with a paper [or ceramic] & a pen. So I stuck it in the cold oven, turned it on to 350, waited til it got up to temperature before timing it for 30 minutes, & then turned off the oven & let the mug cool in there.

After letting it cool & then leaving it to sit on the counter for a few days beyond that, I had my mom hand-wash it while she was doing dishes. Immediately the ink became cracked & faded. I also tried using it for my coffee & found that where my lips touched became faded very quickly as well. Not so great. I was pretty disappointed.

I was determined to make this work somehow, so I decided to try another technique I had found by Wild Olive, which involved using a Sharpie Oil-Based Paint marker instead of a plain Sharpie. I actually used the same mugs, I just used a Mr. Clean bleach eraser to get my previous designs off of them, which wasn’t very hard to do. I also chose to brush rubbing alcohol onto the cleaned surface & let it dry before attempting my new designs, because after doing some research I found that that’s something you do when using actual ceramic paint to make it stick better. I created a similar design to the one I had originally done in regular Sharpie, as well as a text quote that read “All if fair… In love & War”. I put it in the oven for 30 minutes on 350, & as far as I can tell, this technique works much, much better. The Paint Sharpie is made to be used on things like this [it even says so on the package] & it’s really obvious. Not only is the design more opaque, but it looks and feels a lot more permanent & professional. I created mine a few weeks ago while at home with my family, & just recently used the text one for my coffee. I had no issues hand washing it the first time around, but only time will tell.

Overall, I would tell you to not even waste your time trying to use a plain Sharpie on a mug or other piece of dinnerware. If you’re truly interested in creating a personalized work of art that has the potential to be used and stand the test of time, spend a little bit of extra money on a Sharpie Paint pen, or other similar pen. It works MUCH MUCH better! 

After my failed experience with the original Sharpie, I got super interested & almost obsessed with finding something that would work & be mostly permanent on ceramics. What I really wanted to find, but had hardly any luck with, was the Porcelaine paint that I have heard such good things about. I found a little bit at Michaels, but it was all on clearance, which means mostly cleared out, & they didn’t seem to have any more of it. BUT, on that note, they had other ceramic paint [Delta PermEnamel] on crazy clearance [like $.79 a bottle] & I went a little crazy & bought TONS of it. I also got a few starter kits that came with surface conditioner [basically rubbing alcohol, which is where I learned that trick I mentioned earlier], a bunch of small pots of color, & glaze. It was air dry, so you didn’t have to bake it in the oven, but you have to let it dry for 21 days before use. So I made some fun mugs with that paint, & hope to create more & possibly sell them on my Etsy.

I hope this post was helpful for anyone considering trying out the DIY Sharpie mug idea, or anyone interested in getting into ceramic painting! It’s so much fun & not a super expensive hobby to take up. I really enjoyed learning something new, & I hope you give it a try as well!

Dani

PS: Please check out my latest post on this subject here.

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About Dani

23. Graduate student. Knitting, crocheting, sewing, coffee drinking, makeup & fashion loving, dream following, traveling, working, living, laughing, loving.

62 responses »

  1. They turned out lovely!

    Reply
  2. Aha. Finally, someone who has actually tried this! I was very doubtful with using sharpie, and thought it wouldn’t really stick. I guess my suspicions were correct, one DIY mishap averted. :)

    Really cute mugs by the way, thanks for sharing. This was really helpful! :)

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for the great feedback. I’m glad my post was helpful for you, & you were able to use my mistakes to avert your own DIY mishaps – that’s what I was hoping for! :]

      Reply
      • Thanks so much for all your ‘investigative crafting’! My 13 year old son wants to make a coffee mug for Father’s Day and I was just going to use the sharpie – so glad I happened on to your page :). This will be a fun adventure for both kids and myself to see what fun creations we can come up with!!! Am saving this page for future reference – have a fabulous summer :)

        Off to buy the materials….

      • So glad I could help! I bet the mug will turn out beautifully! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Thank you!!! I did the normal sharpie and it did not work well at all!

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  4. Ok so I MUST be doing something wrong…I too tried the regular Sharpie…and of course…didn’t work…so then I went and bought the Oil-based Sharpie PAINT marker…and my goal is for these to be usable…alas it scratched off…so I know that me, myself and I must be doing something poorly…do you still bake it at 350 for 30 min and then do you allow it to cure…do you put it in a cold oven or start baking it once it reaches 350….I love this idea and I love what you have done…HELP…please and thank you!

    Reply
    • Dang, I had a very long reply ready & lost it all!

      Anyways, what I do is prep the surface with alcohol first [like an alcohol wipe] & then let it dry before drawing on my design. After drawing the design, I let it set for a few days/weeks, & then I bake it in the oven on 350 for 30 minutes [put it in the cool oven & allow it to heat up with the oven] & let it cool.

      Beyond that, I think the real trick is to just be really, really careful when washing. Avoid the dishwasher & avoid scrubbing/rubbing on the designs. I would also avoid designing areas that will be used a lot [like super close to the lip of a mug, or the handles]. Unfortunately, I don’t think these would ever be FULLY permanent, but I think with extra care they should be usable for weeks/months. Let me know if you get better results after trying these ideas! :]

      Reply
  5. Does it matter what kind of dishes you use?

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    • I don’t think so – a lot of the mugs I have done have been with dollar store mugs or mugs I got in Rite Aid’s dollar bins. It may work better with higher quality dishes, but I have yet to test it!

      Reply
  6. I read somewhere that you had to let the Sharpie “cure” for 24 hours before baking it. I wonder if that would make a difference? Your mugs are beautiful!

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    • i let my sit for days before baking it, just bc i wanted to savor my hard work before the inevitable fail…it still didnt work. with normal sharpies that is..

      Reply
  7. OMG! Thank you for this post and thank you to the person I re-pinned this from! I have been searching ALL day for some good honest tips and now I have found it! Going to try this tomorrow :) thank you again :)

    Reply
  8. Thank you for your suggestions! I really want to try this on a ceramic dish and turn it into a dog bowl. Your information is incredibly useful.

    Reply
  9. How have the porcelaine paints worked for you? how permanent are they (if they are truly air dry), and do you have any feedback about that process?
    thanks for your review!

    Reply
  10. thanks for the review! :) I’m thinking about starting a mug business :D

    Reply
  11. I’m not sure which porcelain paints you are talking about, but the Martha Stewart line of acrylics has paints which can be used on porcelain and then baked to cure. They are very, very good, even when being put in the dishwasher. I used them to create some cake stands for my wedding and also let my daughter paint some glasses with them.

    They aren’t cheap, but they aren’t terrible either- about $2 a bottle, I believe.

    Reply
  12. great post, very informative. I ponder why the opposite experts of this sector do
    not understand this. You must continue your writing.
    I’m sure, you have a great readers’ base already!

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for your comment! Unfortunately I haven’t been very good at keeping up with this blog as I just graduated from college & am about to start work on my Masters & Ph.D., but hopefully someday I’ll figure out that perfect balance so I can craft to my hearts desire but also get my real work done on time! Thanks again for reading! :]

      Reply
  13. hey :) thanks for this! it’s very inspiring! do you know if it’s safe to draw on pates and then eat from them?? just wondering :) thanks!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for reading & finding it of use to you! I would say no on the plates or anything you’ll be directly eating from – or at least not with Sharpies! Make sure you find something that states explicitly that it is safe to eat from after it has been cured properly. They may be pricey but it would be worth it to avoid illness! Unfortunately I don’t have any good brand suggestions because I was never able to find & try any ‘food safe’ ceramic paints – but I KNOW they exist. I would do a quick google search & see if any of your local craft supply stores carry anything like that. Best of luck! :]

      Reply
  14. Love this little DIY. I’m a coffee-holic (and therefore mug hoarder) too and these would make such a lovely bespoke gift :)

    Reply
  15. did you put it on a cookie sheet to bake it or straight on the rack?
    thank you!

    Reply
    • I believe I placed it directly on the rack, but a cookie sheet might be a good idea if you’re doing multiple or you’re afraid of it tipping on the rack!

      Reply
  16. yes i tried the mugs with the original sharpies and i did the ovenbaking too but mine also washed off.

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  17. my sons daycare used just regular sharpie and after i washed the mug once the writing started to wash off. so i sadly can only use my mug for show until i buy the sharpie paint marker and go over it. regular sharpie is NOT worth wasting your time to make these. spend the extra time and money to buy the proper markers and you’ll for sure be happy :)

    Reply
  18. Hey! I made a mug like these a couple days ago. Just using the sharpie oil based and did a design for a friend. But now I want to add to it..do u think its possible to just add to the mug .and bake again or do you think the color will fade way too much. ?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi there! I don’t think it would fade it, I think it would just make what you already have bake on even more permanently! I would give it a shot! :] Good luck!

      Reply
  19. Thanks for this great information! We decorated tea cups, saucers and dessert plates for my daughter’s birthday tea party. It was a huge hit for the girls…a bit of work getting all the pieces baked in our small oven, but well worth the looks on their faces when they got to drink and eat from their personalised dishes and then take them home with them. Thanks again for sharing your experiences to make it easier for the rest of us!

    Reply
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  21. Hi, I did the oil based sharpie mugs but I used colors as well. The colors turned into gross versions of themselves and I reaaaally need them to stay. Is there some way to make it stay the true color and still be pretty permanent?

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  22. Hi there… just a quick question… everyone keep saying bake at 350. Is that Fahrenheit of Celsius? :)

    Reply
  23. Pingback: Gifts kids can make for friends | Owlhaven

  24. Thanks so much for posting this! I’m making them for my girlfriends for christmas so this was nice to read beforehand. However, I do have a question: if you make a mistake with the sharpie oil based pen, how easy is it to wipe it off and start over? The lady at Michaels told me to buy this pen for the project and I don’t really know much about it.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • I’m not sure about wiping off the oil pen – it might be possible if you do it quickly after making the mistake. When I used regular Sharpie, I was able to scrub it totally off the mug with some elbow grease, but the point of using the oil-based pen is to stop it from being so easy to do that! I would suggest buying a dollar store white mug and doing some testing. Then you know for sure what you’re working with! :]

      Edited to add that a fellow reader suggests using alcohol on a qtip to fix mistakes. Happy crafting!

      Reply
    • It does wash off if you make a mistake

      Reply
  25. Did you use the fine tip or medium tip to do the writing?

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  26. Actually – a REALLY helpful guide. You’re the first person I know of to mention rubbing alcohol to condition the surface, so I’ll give that a go…. Thanks!

    Reply
  27. Just out of curiosity is the ceramic paint non-toxic? I am looking for something that I can use to print out kiddos foot/handprints on mugs that will be permanent. We have a set of twins in the NICU so I’m being ever so careful with the type of paint/ink to use on their fragile skin. Thx for any info.

    Reply
  28. I wish I would have found this post hours ago! Lol I tried the regular sharpie mug today and I was so disappointed when it came off because I made them as Christmas gifts. I’m going to Michaels tomorrow. Hopefully I find what I need. This was very helpful!!!

    Reply
  29. i was wondering about your expierence with baking your finished products. I tried this last night with my kids using Corelle plates and permanent markers and after baking (350 for 30mins) most of the drawings had faded. So we gave it another try this morning using plastic dollar tree store plates and same permanent markers (like most of the postings I have read suggest) and after baking (350 for 30 mins) the plates melted and folded like tacos. Now, I did not put them in the cold oven first and then heat, but they only lasted 5 mins or so before they started melted and popping so I immediately took them out. Just looking for suggestions on what I may be doing wrong. Thanks!!

    Reply
    • The oil based sharpies fade easily but they stay on the mugs very well. I have washed one of mine in the dishwasher twice and it still looks perfect. I tried using delta perm enamel glaze as was recommended to me and it peels off the mug and takes the design with it, despite baking it on there. I was very upset. I recommend testing several colors in the oven to see what shade they turn and play off of that. I did that with a few and had success doing that. I have some great examples I could post if you’d like to see.

      Reply
      • Thanks for your reply Jessica! I’m sorry the PermEnamel didn’t work, but you’re so right about testing things out and finding what works for you. It’s all about trial and error, and what works for others sometimes won’t work when you try it. I especially like to do a lot of testing if I’m making gifts – I don’t want to give someone something that may get ruined down the road!

    • Well I definitely wouldn’t use plastic plates in the oven (or even in the microwave – no no no). They would absolutely melt, as you learned. The dollar store often has great plain ceramic/glass plates/bowls/mugs in white or other plain colors that work wonderfully. I have heard from reading other blogs that the cheaper the dishes you buy, the better the sharpie will adhere because the glaze is cheap and melts at a lower temperature, helping your artwork to better meld with the glaze already on the dish. I don’t know how true that is, but it makes sense, right? I have had good luck with inexpensive dishes – I have gotten several at the Dollar Tree and in Rite Aid dollar bins in the past. This year, I had trouble finding plain white mugs (of course, because I was looking for them!) around Christmas, so I ended up getting a black mug at the Dollar Tree and used a gold sharpie paint pen! It worked beautifully. The oil-based paint pens on cheap ceramic dishes are definitely the way to go. Those pens actually say on them that they can be used on glass, and I think it’s the best bang for your wallet and for the time spent on the project. You will likely never be able to create something 100% fade-proof (unless you use real ceramic paint and glaze, but who has time for that?!) but the oil-paint pens last well if you avoid the dishwasher and scrubbing on the design.

      That was long winded but I hope it was helpful! If you’re willing to try again, try with inexpensive dishes (GLASS not plastic) and oil-based paint pens, and I think you and your kids will be less disappointed. :]

      Reply
  30. How long did the oil sharpie mugs last?

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    • I don’t know the long term, as I gave most of my creations away as gifts or donated them to charity (I have a huge mug collection and simply didn’t have the space to keep them)! I don’t see why they wouldn’t last as long as you only HAND wash very gently and keep designs away from the lip & handle of the mug – but perhaps someone else who has kept & used their mugs regularly can give some input here! :]

      Reply
    • I still have some that are perfectly fine and I made them in October of last year!

      Reply

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