Scrolling through Pinterest for homemade gift ideas, one suggestion that kept coming up was the ‘Sharpie Mug’. In principle, it’s a top notch idea – you get to be personal and creative without really having a whole lot of skill in the craft department. However as I looked into the idea further, it seems half of the internet claim it simply doesn’t work. Like a good student, I did my research, and tried to piece together all the best advice so that I could make these successfully for my housemates, and share with you lovely lot some fool-proof instructions.
One of the biggest problems people of the internet were coming across was which pen to use. From what I could gather, the original claim that you could simply use a normal Sharpie isn’t true. You don’t want to give someone a personalised mug for Christmas only for the design to fade and rub off after a couple of washes. Some people claimed the special oil based Sharpies did work – however I wasn’t taking any chances so I used a Marabu Porcelain marker, which you can pick up from hobby craft for just £3.99.
You’ll be glad to know that, unlike with most craft projects, I’m going to tell you to go cheap or go home. When you bake your mugs, you want your pen to bake into the glaze, and generally the cheaper the mug the thinner the glaze, making this easier. So get yourself down to Poundland, Asda or Ikea for a dirt cheap set of white mugs.
To draw on your design, simply shake the marker well and begin applying it to the mug. If you’re using the Marabu Porcelain pen its consistency is closer to paint than a marker pen, so you have to be super careful not to smudge. If you want to draw intricate doodles make sure you get the thinnest tip; I made the mistake of buying the thicker one which meant I had to simplify my designs.
Once you’ve drawn on your design, it’s time to bake the mugs. Whatever you do don’t preheat the oven, let the mugs warm up with it and then leave them in there to cool down once turned off. The instructions for half an hour on 160 degrees work perfectly for the Marabu marker. If you’re using an oil based Sharpie then there are no instructions, and the general consensus of the internet is that you need to leave them in a lot longer on a much higher temperature, so do your research.
After you’ve baked your mugs, they are ready to use and should even be dishwasher safe! Needless to say you don’t have to limit yourself to mugs, this idea will work on any porcelain china. If you do decide to go for a mug though, bear in mind that it is bordering on a criminal offence to give the gift of an empty mug, so be sure to stash it with a small present or some chocolate coins!