I received a request for a customised mug. A friend wanted a new mug with a particular quote and wondered if I would be able to make one. I have never done any ceramics before but you see mugs that people have designed themselves all over Pinterest so I figured it couldn’t be that hard…right? Wrong! I assumed that all the people who had gushed on Pinterest about how easy it was to use a Sharpie to design a mug had actually tried out their craft and checked that the ink didn’t wash off but this did not seem to be the case.
Attempt number one was with a normal Sharpie. The instructions all said to make sure the mug was clean (check) and to transfer the design to the mug with a pencil (fail – the pencil wouldn’t mark the mug). All you had to do now was trace over the pencil design with the Sharpie (I had to free-hand the design because of the pencil-transfer fail). The mug then had to go in the oven. Guidance ranged from 150°C to 180°C and times ranged from 20 minutes to 40 minutes. I plumped for 30 minutes at 170°C. The mug didn’t crack like I was worried it would so I attempted to wash it to check that the ink stayed on (another fail – it washed right off!). Attempt one was a disaster!
I did some more reading and tried again…
Attempt number two required a Paint Sharpie. I ordered one and waited for it to arrive. I thought that this must be the answer. I repeated all the above steps (well not the pencil tracing part since that didn’t work) and I substituted the normal Sharpie for the Paint Sharpie. I adjusted the heat and time in the oven to 180°C and 40 minutes and this time left the mug in the oven to cool instead of taking it out. I left the mug a further 24 hours before I attempted to wash it. This time the design didn’t wash right off, however it did chip. After a second and third wash most of the ink had come away and the deign looked a mess. I was gutted – attempt two was also a disaster!
I decided that Sharpies were out. It is obviously a myth that they actually harden and stay on ceramics so I bought myself a ceramic paint pen instead (I probably should have done this in the first place – the name kind of suggests its the tool for the job!)
I repeated all the steps and followed the instructions on the pen for baking in the oven. The designs have been much hardier and have stayed much better. You can’t scrub really hard with anything like a scourer (I was testing to see how well the paints stands up to scrubbing) but it washed well and doesn’t chip. I don’t have a dishwasher so can’t try that out, but the pen claims to be able to withstand dishwasher washing so I am confident that this time I have cracked it. My friend received her mug and was (I think) delighted with it. I tried my hand at a couple of other designs (mainly to test out the paint) but just love how the mugs have turned out. If anyone fancies one with a specific quote or a name etc. then I can easily make them to order. At only £5 each they are a complete bargain!!
This project was much more of a challenge than I ever imagined it would be, but the end results have been pretty awesome.