Making your very own customized drinking mug is not only useful but fun at the same time. Moreover, it is an inexpensive DIY project that you can do it with your friends or family members together. The best part is when you are done, you have a one-of-a-kind handmade gift for someone you care about or for yourself!
Step 1: Choose the mug and start designing
The first thing you need to do is to look for a plain white-colored mug in a shape that you like. Think about how the shape of the mug can integrate well with your design. It does not have to be completely white, you can get a mug with a colored rim or handle but do make sure that most part of it is white so you have ample space to draw your design on. Look for a mug with a thin layer of glaze because it works better with the ink of permanent markers and they tend to be on the cheaper side too.
When you have found the mug of your choice, wipe it down with some cloth and rubbing alcohol. Then, make sure that the surface of the mug is completely dry and free of any oil stains or fingerprints before you start drawing on it.
Oil-based permanent markers work best for this project. Otherwise, you risk having your design fading or getting smudged easily if you use regular markers. The oil-based ones are a bit more expensive but it is well worth the price for your design to last longer. There are many brands of markers you can use with Sharpie being the most common one.
Now you are ready to get your design on to the mug! You can first draw out your design on paper and then trace it on the mug or if you are confident enough, just directly draw on the surface of the mug. Do not be afraid to get creative and use as many colors as you like. If you want to draw a straight line, use the help of masking tapes. You can even blend different colors to create a gradient effect. The possibilities are endless here so let your creative juices flow!
Once you are happy with your design, it is very important to let the marker ink dry thoroughly. Set the mug down in a well-ventilated area. You can place it under a cover to ensure that no dust or debris will fall on the mug and ruin your design.
Step 2: Curing and finishing
Once the marker’s ink has completely dried out, it is time to put your mug into the oven. The dry heat from the oven will fuse the marker’s ink with the mug’s glaze, turning your design into a permanent one. First, preheat the oven to 425 degrees but put your mug in just a few minutes before it reaches that temperature so that the ceramic and gradually warm up. Make sure that the temperature in the oven does not go over 450 degrees or you risk the mug cracking or shattering.
Let the mug sit in the oven for about half an hour while you keep a careful eye on it so that it does not get damaged in the heat. If you are putting more than one mug in the oven, allow plenty of space between the mugs to ensure that the heat circulates evenly. When you reach the 30-minute mark, turn the oven off. Leaving them in a hot oven for too long will increase the chance of them breaking.
Do not take the mugs out of the oven immediately after you have turned the heat off because the abrupt change in temperature as they enter room temperature will likely cause the mugs to crack. Instead, leave them inside the oven (turned off) to cool down gradually. Once the oven is not too hot, take out the mugs and put them in a cool, dry space. As the melted ink of the markers cools down with the glaze on the surface of the mug, they are fused together and become a permanent part of the mug. Leave the mugs to cool down overnight and out of reach of young children or pets.
Step 3: Taking care of your mug
Only hand-clean the mugs and do not put them in a dishwasher which could compromise the design on the mug. To wash them, just dispense a bit of detergent on a sponge and clean the inside, outside, rim, and handle of your mug. Then, carefully dry it by using a towel. Although some people claimed that these mugs are dishwasher safe, the heat and pressure of a dishwasher is pretty harsh and can damage the delicate designs on the mug.
Step 4: Tinker around with other designs
Now you are ready to make more mugs with other designs. Here are some inspirations you could use for your next customized mugs:
- Geometrical shapes make for very nice designs. You can use a masking tape and a pencil to outline a precise design before painting it with your marker. You can go for simple shapes or use a bunch of them for a more intricate look. There are also stencils that you can buy to trace out a design on your mug.
- Go wild with abstract looks. Do not overthink it and just let your hand do the work. Feel free to use many colors and even smudge them a bit to add in a random element to your design.
- You can also write on your mug! Write your favorite quote or even your very own poetry on the mug along with some beautiful illustrations. If you are making the mug for someone on a special day, write a personalized message and it will forever be sealed on the mug.
- Draw your favorite character on the mug! Official merchandises are so expensive and it costs next to nothing to make your own. Not only that, your design will be unique which no one else has, making it extra special. If you cannot draw well, you can print out a template and just stencil it on your mug. You do not need to be a drawing genius to do this.
- Make themed mugs like one for each celebration of the year. Draw colorful fireworks for the 4th of July or adorn a mug with snowmen and gingerbreads for Christmas. Make a spooky-looking mug with your friends at Halloween for something out of the ordinary to do on October 31st.
When not in use, your collection of holiday mugs are great as a decoration in your home – practical and beautiful!