The project I am talking about today has intruiged me for quite some time. If you spend any time on Pinterest or Etsy, you have surely come across this fantastic idea. Sharpie painted mugs and dishes! There are so many amazing inspiration pics, I just knew I had to try myself at this sooner or later. But with various methods and instructions, there were also a few questions I needed solid answers for before proceeding on with this post. The most obvious being whether or not it was really possible to create durable personalized dishes. I mean, it does sound kind of too good to be true, doesn’t it?
Here they are before getting their makeover:
It was important for me to find the answers before presenting this to you, because my gut tells me that you might be wondering the same things.
So, let’s get right to them.
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Is it really possible to create durable personalized dishes with sharpies?
The short answer is yes. There are a couple of different methods. One uses regular sharpie markers (the water based kind) and seals them with a dishwasher safe sealant like this formula of Mod Podge. The benefit of this method is that you can use whatever sharpie markers you may already have on hand. You don’t need to bake the paint on, but have to seal it. A major drawback I can see with this way of doing it is that the sealant needs 28 days to fully cure. I won’t be talking about this method, but you can check out this post by apieceofrainbow.com, which describes it in detail.
This post focuses on the second method:
Baking oil based sharpie (or marker paint) onto the porcelain or glass surface of your painted dishes. I tried to bake on regular sharpie paint, but found two things:
- the colors changed, some of them significantly
- the paint washed right off
Bummer, but I had to see it for myself. I had read that using a regular black sharpie and baking it on would work, but it also comes right off.
More on the type of marker used later in this post.
Related: from old jars to new treasure
Is oil-based sharpie marker paint safe to eat off?
Here is what the manufacturer of oil-based sharpie pens recommends:
“While Sharpie markers are AP-certified non-toxic, we do not recommend using them on areas of items that may come in contact with food or the mouth. Sharpie has not been tested as an oven proof product and should not be used anywhere where a consumer could possibly ingest the ink.”
Is that a deal breaker? Not really. When decorating mugs and bowls, be sure to keep to the outside part that will not come in contact with any of the liquids or foods. Keep decorations on plates limited to the outer edge and use sparingly in the center part.
Are Sharpie Painted Dishes Truly Dishwasher Safe?
To be honest, for me the jury is still out on this one. So far so good. Still, I hesitate to call anything dishwasher safe, until I have used it for at least six months before I can feel confident about recommending it for dishwasher use. I will update this post once that has happened.
Update: I intentionally put some of my sharpie painted dishes through the dishwasher on the bottom rack. Sadly, they did not hold up very well. The sharpie paint will eventually wear off even if baked twice, as some other instructions I found recommended. While the paint is fairly durable, I strongly suggest that they be handwashed.
Can Sharpie Painted Dishes be Microwaved?
Yes. As long as the dishes you are painting are microwave safe, you are good to go. Since the paint will be heat cured you can microwave the finished result. Just to be sure, I tried this with dishes painted with the metallic version of oil based sharpies and was pleasantly surprised to find that they were just fine. Update: my sharpie painted dishes continue to hold up very well despite frequent microwaving.
Can this method be used with plastic or melamine plates?
The answer here is a resounding NO. Since the paint will have to be baked on, plastic or melamine plates just will not hold up. If you have your heart set on marker painted plastic plates, try the method mentioned above.
Now on to the good stuff. Actually decorating real dishes. What makes this method so simple and fun, is that this is a DIY project even the least artistic among us can master. Unlike regular ceramics, this project uses inexpensive dinnerware and mugs that can easily be found at any dollar store. Paint pens such as those used here allow you to draw and design pretty much anything you’d like, from fun doodles, inspirational quotes, funky patterns. You are only limited by your own imagination. Not too good at freehanding designs? Why not give a stencil a try? Simple patterns like circles and lines look amazingly stunning with this technique.
Once you get the feel for the paint pens you’ll become a master at decorating plates and mugs in no time.
Here is what you will need:
- OIL based sharpie markers – regular ones will not work
- white porcelain dishes like plates, bowls or mugs (Dollar Store of Thrift Store dishes work well)
- covered work surface
- can of plain hairspray
- cotton swabs, paper towels
- wax paper
Before you begin:
Cover your work surface. Several layers of newspapers covered with a sheet of waxpaper work well. You don’t want the marker paint to bleed through.
Thoroughly wash all dishes to be painted with hot water and dishsoap to remove any fingerprints and/or grease.
Decide on a design. Begin with something simple like lines or polka dots if you’re not sure or need practice.
Keep cotton swabs, paper towels and hair spray handy for quick touch ups. Spray a little hair spray on a swab or papertowel to help remove unwanted paint. If you don’t like the final result, you can spray the entire surface of the dish with hairspray (best done over a sink). Wipe all paint residue and wash again with hot soapy water before repainting the dish. This works well to remove any paint until as long as it isn’t baked on.
Shake each pen you are going to use well to insure the paint will come out evenly. Try a little bit of each paint color on the sheet of waxpaper to get a feel for the pen and to see the true color.
Begin painting just as though you were doodling on paper. The rim of a dessert plate is a fun easy place to practice.
Let me show you the steps of painting the dishes shown in my title picture. It couldn’t be any easier. For this project I used a fine tip black and a gold oil based sharpie marker.
You see these are wrapped individually in plastic to keep them from drying out.
Unwrap your marker and shake well. Gently push down on the tip until the paint begins to seep into the tip, like this:
Next, begin drawing your design onto the dish. A flat surface like a plate rim is easiest at the beginning. I wanted to create a plate, bowl and mug set with houses. Here is the first outline.
Then add details as you go…
The houses are beginning to take shape!
Now the windows!
I had to gild the lily with gold stars!
Didn’t they turn out nice? The matching bowl and coffee mug round out the set!
After you are done painting, put your dishes on the center rack of a COLD oven.
Do not let your helper crawl into the oven with the dishes!
Walli loves to photobomb!
Shut the oven door and heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or about 175 degrees Celsius.
Heat the oven fully, then set timer and bake for 30 minutes. Once the dishes are done baking, turn off the oven and leave dishes inside with the door closed until the oven is cooled completely. For me I have found that this works well if I bake the dishes in the evening and just let them sit to cool in the oven overnight. That way you are not tying up your oven in case you need it for cooking.
Some tutorials suggest that the dishes might be made even more or truly dishwasher safe by repeating the baking step. I have not tried this for myself. If for some reason certain areas of your baked dishes need a little touchup, you can go over the area again with the right pen and re-bake them.
And that’s it. No big mess. No fancy equipment. You won’t even need a tremendous amount of space. Actually, I just recently drew fun designs on a cup, plate and bowl, while sitting in my favorite living room chair watching TV. Just don’t wear your favorite cashmere sweater while doing that;).
Here are a couple more designs anybody can easily copy!
Now that the days are shorter and we are spending much more time indoors I look forward to creating fun gifts like mugs, dessert plates and breakfast sets (plate, bowl, mug) for friends, family and as hostess gifts. Because nothing beats a lovely personalized gift in my eyes. Personalized gifts never go out of style. Any gift instantly becomes more meaningful if it includes that extra personal touch.
So grab your kids or make it a fun evening with friends and create fun, inexpensive gifts that will surely please. Why not invite friends to paint dishes, then have them take their creations home to bake in their own oven?
Have I inspired you to try your hand at creating your very own personalized dishes? If so, I would absolutely love it if you could share a picture in the Witty Gritty Life facebook group. Not a member yet? Just pop on over, we’d love to have you!
Keep it simple!