Create this beautiful, gift-worthy Sharpie mug with some simple markers and a mug. And you’ll learn what to do so your beautiful designs don’t wash off!
Sharpie mugs are a super popular craft, that make great gifts for birthdays or holidays, and would make a perfect mothers day gift! After seeing how gorgeous they are, you might even want to make one for yourself!
I ended up making 3 of them, because they were so fun to make. Check out my mustache Sharpie mug that I gave to my husband on father’s day!
In this tutorial, I will show you, step by step, how to make these super cute mugs. No fancy artistic skills needed….if you can make dots with a Sharpie, then you can do this!
Oh yes, before we begin if you’re looking for a pretty card to go along with this Sharpie mug, check out my cupcake liner flower card tutorial.
What is a DIY Sharpie Mug?
If you’re not familiar with what Sharpie mugs are, then your in for a treat! When I first discovered them, I was super amazed and couldn’t wait to try it myself.
Basically you use Sharpie markers to draw designs on a plain mug. Once you’re happy with it, you bake it in the oven to set the marker design in.
And you can wash it too! You just have to make sure you use the right type of Sharpie, which brings me to my next point…
Use a Cheap Mug
This DIY works best with cheap Dollarstore (Dollartree in particular) ceramic mugs. This is because there is less glaze on them so the paint can adhere better to the ceramic when baked in the oven).
Choose the Right Sharpie For Mugs
To make your Sharpie mug washable and usable, you need to make sure you use an oil-based Sharpie marker.
You can buy them in the store in the same section you get the regular Sharpies from. They will say “Oil-based” on them.
If you use the regular Sharpie’s, they will wash away when you clean them. This is because regular Sharpie’s are water-based. Anytime water touches paints that are water-based, it tends to wash away.
Since oil and water don’t mix, the oil-based paints shouldn’t be affected by water touching it.
Baking it in the oven seals it even more. I will talk about this in more detail a little later on.
Sharpie Mug Ideas
You can draw anything on your Sharpie mug and make it as custom and personalized as you want.
If you’re looking for some nifty ideas, a popular trend is to create letter initials. These also make nice gifts. Like the “J” I created below.
I used a large “J” sticker from the Dollarstore to create the negative space while I made my dots with the Sharpie.
After I lifted the sticker, I was left with the following design.
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Here’s a list of other ideas:
- Monogram Letter
- Shapes: hearts, star, moon, mustache etc..
- Meaningful quotes written in your handwriting
- Doodles (by kids or adults!)
The secret to getting the shape/letter looking perfect is: using stickers (like the “J” sticker above) or contact paper! With the contact paper, you can cut out customized shapes and letters, peel and stick them to your mug before you begin.
I also used this method on some Dollarstore Canvases and paints, in this super easy DIY heart painting tutorial.
By the way “contact paper” is the stuff you use to line the bottom of your kitchen shelves (you might even have some at home!)
After your done your design work, you peel the sticker or contact paper away. You’re left with a perfect shape or letter with your colorful artwork around it!
It’s easy peasy.
This also makes a great craft for kids. They can use their imagination and doodle, scribble, or dot on the mug and when the sticker is lifted it will look super neat!
If you want more inspiration, check out Cool Crafts list of 50 DIY Sharpie Mug ideas. Or you can check out Pinterest and Google.
How to Bake Sharpie Mugs
Once your Sharpie paint is dried on your mug, the next step is to bake it in the oven. This sets the paint even more and cures it.
An important thing to remember is to put your mug into a cold oven, then turn it on. Also, when the time is up, let your mug cool completely in the oven before taking it out. This prevents any cracks in the mug from a sudden temperature change.
In terms of the temperature and timing, bake your Sharpie mug at 250 for 2 hours.
I have gotten feedback that at higher temperatures, the color change of the Sharpie was quite drastic (and not desirable). Since color preservation is important, I have adjusted the baking instructions to account for this factor.
If the color is absolutely important to you, you can skip baking the Sharpie mug in the oven altogether, and just seal it with special Mod Podge (instructions below). This will result in NO color change, plus your mug will be wash-proof!
TIP: If you really want to set your design to set in, you can bake it in the oven twice
Disclaimer on color change: the color of your Sharpie design can change color once you bake them. Some colors are more prone to color change. Blue’s, reds and greens are more prone to changing color when exposed to high temperatures.
Sealing Your Design (For Wash Proofing)
While following the exact directions above should help set in the design so you can gently hand wash them, there are are many variables that can make these designs not last as long such as not cleaning your mug with rubbing alcohol prior to painting, not waiting the full 48 hours for paint to dry using the right oil-based Sharpies, quality of mugs, oven temperature variability, etc..
To make sure your design is extra resistant and washable (even top-rack dishwasher safe), add a finishing coat of this Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge.
You can even skip baking your Sharpie in the oven and just seal it with Modge Podge directly. I kept the instructions for baking it, for those who don’t have access to this Mod Podge.
DO NOT USE the regular Mod Podge. Use the one in the link above, it is made specifically formulated to withstand dishwashing.
Instructions on how to apply the Mod Podge is in the tutorial below
Caring For Your Sharpie Mug
By using oil-based Sharpie markers and baking them in the oven, you should be able to gently hand wash your mug without the paint washing away. You can use regular dish soap and warm water to clean.
DO NOT put in the dishwasher unless you seal them.
If you really want to make these cups Dishwasher safe, or make designs last longer, add a finishing coat of this Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge over your design. Instructions in the tutorial below.
Now that you’re armed with some important info on making a DIY Sharpie Mug that’s washable, let’s get to the tutorial!
How to Make a DIY Sharpie Mug
- Plain Ceramic mug
- Oil-based Sharpie Markers
- Rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover
- Sticker of your shape or contact paper
- Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge.
Step by Step Tutorial
1. This step is important: Take rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover and wipe your mug before you begin. This helps to make sure the mug is free from oils and dirt, so the paint can adhere properly to the mug
If you skip this step, the paint won’t stick properly on the mug, risking your design peeling off when washed.
Also, while making your design on the mug, make sure you don’t touch the areas where you want your design to go (it will add natural oils to the mug). You can wear non-latex gloves as added protection if you’re really worried.
2. Place your sticker on your mug. If you don’t have a large enough sticker, you can easily make one with some contact paper ( the stuff you line cupboard shelves with). You can grab some from the Dollarstore.
3. Now take your Sharpies and put dots all around your sticker. I chose pink, purple and blue colors. To make a cool effect, focus on making the dots more concentrated near the edges of the sticker, and fewer dots the further you get away from the sticker. This will give a starburst like effect.
4. Once you’re happy with the design, peel away the sticker. If any of the markers got under your shape or letter design, you can use a q-tip and rubbing alcohol to wipe away the excess marker.
5. Leave your mug to dry for 48 hours. This is important. It takes this long for the paint to fully dry. This will let the paint adhere to the mug properly.
7. Leave the mug to bake for 1 hour. Once the hour is up, turn the oven off.
6. After 48 hours has passed, it’s time to bake your mug. Put your mug in a cold oven then turn it to 250 degrees. Let it cook for 2 hours. Once 2 hours are passed turn the oven OFF.
8. Let the mug cool completely, IN THE OVEN. Once cooled take it out.
9. Your Sharpie Mug is now done!
Alternative To Oven baking
If you want to ensure your design is sealed properly you can skip the oven method and use Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge right over top of your Sharpie design. This will also make your mug design dishwasher safe. Let each coat dry for 1-2 hours before applying the next. Cure for 28 days to make Dishwasher Safe.
Note: I used my mug once the Mod Podge dried, I just made sure I gently hand washed it. I waited closer to 28 days before putting it in dishwasher.
Extra Safety Precaution with Mod Podge: While this Mod Podge is non-toxic and waterbased, it is not FDA approved as a food-safe material, so do not apply it where it can be in contact with your lips (leave about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from top of cup, Mod Podge free) or on the inside of your cup (where the liquid is).
And that’s it! You now everything about making your very own DIY Sharpie mug.
Until next time…stay Nifty!
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