January 30, 2013

Design Your Own Coffee Mug and Saucer Set

When I was first married, my husband and I went and purchased some dishes that sort of matched our separate plain white functional sets from our separate kitchens. Even after a number of years it seems we haven't stepped away from the plain white Corelle ware that the kids seem to find hard to break so I figured it was time to spice up the dishware in the cupboards with a fun technique I've seen echoed all over Pinterest.

Now- here I must warn you- the Pinterest technique you know and love is about to get poo-poo'd. Have you seen the posts that show a cute design done in Sharpie marker that looks all artistic and perfect? Then it says all you have to do is bake it for a while and it will stay like that forever. *Ahem* The truth is that a Sharpie marker is much more permanent on paper or other porous surfaces. Even if you baked it on there for several days- you can wipe it right off with a little window cleaner and it will only last a few washings before fading and flaking off. I know- bummer- but better you know now then spend countless hours perfecting a Sharpie masterpiece only to have it wash off with a light scrubbing- and I want you to be able to clean your dishes.

Therefore and henceforth we shall dispel that fun little rumor and go with a more permanent route. My daughter and I sat down one afternoon after her schoolwork and doodled around on our dishes with a Pebeo Porcelaine 150 marker I picked up for under $8. You can find them at the Internet Mega-Mega-Mart that starts like Applesauce or your local craft store retailer. They come in several colors so you can get fairly detailed and they work on porcelain, china, glazed earthenware, terracotta, metal, enameled sheet steel, copper and glass- so after you get confident with my short tutorial you can go craft-crazy.

My budget (and my fear of artistic permanence) limited me to one. Also- I haven't seen how the husband might react to the new dish designs so for now I'll stay close to the Minimalist period we accidentally stocked up on. This could make a fun project on some thrift-store dishes and just the right quote on a pretty tea cup and saucer would make the perfect gift. Think of the updates you can make to  your drinking glasses and silverware and.... Enough babble- let's get started.

Porcelaine Marker 0.7mm- Black
 Get'yer marker. I bought black. You can invest in the colors that you like. The 0.7mm is perfect for outlines. A thicker tip is better for filling in larger spaces.

Mish-Mash Plain White Ceramic Dishes
Gather up the odds and ends dishes that sort of but don't really have too many cousins in the cabinet. Or grab your mom's best china- totally up to you. You can see my chosen ones sort of but don't really match and not in that cute country chic kind of way.

I wanted to have an interresting quote from Albert Einstein on my mug so I went online and found a fun picture of him. I enlarged the photo to the size I needed for the mug and held up a white piece of note paper to the screen. With a light touch, I outlined the basic shapes of Mr. Einstein on my paper straight from the screen. I just wanted the idea of him on my mug- nothing that might highlight the lack of a formal art education or I could be totally embracing the minimalist look- I'll let you guess.

Voila- Albert Einstein-ish outline- note paper front
 Once I was happy with the outline I turned my sketch over and scribbled kind of dark with my pencil on the back so that the lines of my sketch were backed up with lots o'graphite.
The back of the note paper sketch
Yippee- time for the part that gives me confidence with future permanence. If you are not quite so much of a perfectionist or have more confidence you can try winging it. I like having a little guide so I don't accidentally make the eyes bigger than the ears. Now for the fun part. Place the sketch on the mug (or plate) where you want the design with your original sketch facing out. Try to not let it slide or wiggle.

Trace kind of hard with your pencil back over your original drawing. This will transfer the outline onto the ceramic surface using the scribbled graphite except it will look perfect- like you are an art master. I know this technique was really exciting and you have all kinds of new ideas for transferring art to your walls and decor but stick with me.
Can you see the faint Einstein outline?
Now- this will rub off easily so if you made a mistake or only half of it came out- that is totally normal and just means you need to scribble some more. Start again on the scribble side and make sure you have plenty of graphite back there. Rub off the poor traces on the mug and try again. Scrub. Rinse. Repeat. Until you are happy. I got mine looking like I wanted it on the first second third try.

Now for the permanent part. Shake up the Porcelaine marker and on some scratch paper press in the top to the barrel until ink starts flowing. Then carefully go over your graphite outline on the mug. Now you are almost done- just go back in and fill in the parts that need the silhouette treatment.
Yeah- I know it's also possibly Cheech on a bad hair day. I'm going with Einstein. 
I searched around for a fun good morning quote and free-styled on the other side of the mug with the marker. Next time I might graphite on some horizontal guidelines so I don't end up wonky at the end. Obviously this time I meant to start going sideways- totally planned- because it's all relative. (*snicker* Einstein jokes are hilarious.)
There are only two ways to live your life...
The quote says, "There are only two ways to live your life. Once is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." After I finished my mug I realized I'm not sure which way Einstein saw things so it's become a good early morning ponder. We also tackled a fun tea-bag string with "Tout est bien" on the tag and I did a matching inspirational saucer for my daughter that says, "Remember you are braver than you believe, Stronger than you seem, Smarter than you think, and twice as beautiful as you imagine." I saw something like that somewhere and it stuck. I hope it sticks with her too.

Tout est bien (Translates to "All is Well" or "Life is mad dope here")

Remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and twice as beautiful as you imagine.
My daughter worked hard on a Valentine's saucer for her dad with a silhouette of Princess Leia. I think he will be pleased with the cabinet updates. Or not. But it's too late to go back so I'll go with pleased and excited even. 

Princess Leia ready for tea cup action

There were no clear instructions about food safety so it's probably best not to lick the ink pen but I think for general use and no steak knives you should be fine. If you want to gently wash them or just have them for display- let them air dry for 72 hours before handling. If you want them to survive some dishwasher action let them air dry for 24 hours and then put them in a cold oven, heat to 300-350 degrees for 45 minutes or so and then tun the oven off and let them sit in there until the oven cools off. This will bake the design on with special Jedi forces that no Sharpie can master. A less geeky description would be "enameled surface treatment". Enjoy and I'd love to see some of your original creations!!

This post was authored by Sarah at Sima Design. Visit her Etsy Shop (Just Off Normal) for custom engraved wooden toys and gifts or hang out at her blog for fun tips and visual treats.


Buffy said...

LOVE the idea of spiffing up junk store purchases. Bet you could decorate just about anything made from ceramic that'll fit in your oven.

And anybody who can put Einstein AND Jedi Master tricks in the same post and make it work is her own special kind of Genius in my book!

PS- I laughed at the "relative" joke too...

Sarah at Sima Design said...

Quick update- I did research the food-safety issue. The Porcelaine 150 paints are fine to use on dishes but is recommended to not use them on the parts where they will come into contact with food- so on wine glasses and coffee cups stay down from where the mouth contacts the glass (the "lip line") and on plates- the edges are fine but it's not recommended to paint the area where food is placed.

Craftypants in Chief @Bespangled Jewelry said...

This is awesome! I have been wanting to try this. Thanks for the head's up on the Sharpie. I probably would have wasted a lot of time perfecting my design then been super swearing mad when it all came off in the dishwasher.
Thanks for the post. I love your designs!