Raise your hand if you’ve ever given the side-eye because someone is using your special mug.
It’s a proven fact that we become attached to our mugs, maybe even a little possessive. Mugs are more than just a cup; they tell our story. Your mug may channel an attitude or purpose, or hold special meaning attached to a memory. It’s no surprise that mugs make great gifts. This little fact motivated me to learn how to make DIY Sharpie mugs.
I love creating Sharpie mugs because there is little if any investment in new craft supplies – which is perfect for those who don’t live near a craft store (like yours truly).
For this DIY Sharpie mug tutorial you can buy inexpensive mugs from the dollar store, Sharpie oil paint markers from any stationary or big box store that sells stationary, and tape from…well, anywhere.
This DIY is shop local friendly!
What if you can’t draw?
Neither can I, my friend. But can you draw a line? Or a circle? Great, because that’s all the skill you need, I promise.
Being creative is not about skill. It’s a process of using your given gifts and strengths to create.
I love the look of hand-painted pottery and wanted to find a way to make swoon worthy mugs that didn’t look like a pre-schooler made. I honestly cannot draw, but I can draw shapes.
So I played around and came up with 3 techniques that are so easy anyone can do – yes, anyone! With only these 3 techniques you can make UNLIMITED styles and variations to create a unique mug every time.
Make sure to download the free template at the end of this post to add these adorable faces to your mug. Free of course – no strings attached.
How to make Sharpie mugs – 6 tips
The only real way to get a permanent design on a mug is to do a traditional glaze and fire. The Sharpie doesn’t “bake” into the mug, but adheres and cures to the surface of the mug. That being said, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make a Sharpie mug that lasts. With the right tools and proper care, a Sharpie mug can last for a long time.
Time to make before baking 45 minutes.
How to make a Sharpie mug that lasts!
- Choose the right mug
Choose an inexpensive mug from the dollar store, and skip the expensive mugs. This is so important because if you choose the wrong mug, none of the other steps matter. The difference between an inexpensive mug and and expensive mug is in the glaze quality. Expensive mugs have a harder glaze that is hard for the Sharpie marker to stick to – but cheaper mugs love it.
- Use Sharpie oil base paint markers
This is non-negotiable. Regular sharpie ink markers will not work and will wash off despite being baked (yes, this is how we cure the paint). This is the #1 reason most Sharpie mugs fail.
The oil based markers are a bit more pricey than the regular ink markers. The baking process does affect the color, some more than others. A few colors turn out darker and less saturated, and others ( like red and blue) lose their color.
- Clean the mug with rubbing alcohol before you paint
Remove all stickers (check the bottom) and give the mug a quick wash with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol. This will remove any oil or sticker glue that will prevent a good adhesion between the paint and mug.
- Let the paint dry for 72hrs before baking
This one is hard one, being patient. I’m not 100% sure how much difference it makes waiting 72hrs or 24hrs (if you are in a pinch) – but I can say that the mugs I tested at the 72hr mark did hold up to a few washes with a scrubby pad. Now, I don’t recommend using a scrubby pad, but I wanted to see how durable the paint was.
- Bake slow and low
For a smooth and flawless finish, bake the mug slow and low (full baking instructions below). On high heat I found the paint tended to bubble and dry bumpy.
- Hand wash only
While the mug might be dishwasher safe, the paint is not. To keep the mug looking fabulous and new, hand wash only. When gifting, I sometimes include a small card on the handle with hand wash instructions, or paint “hand wash only” on the bottom.
Now that you are inspired here is low down ( read instructions) for creating your personalize DIY Sharpie mug.
- Sharpie oil based marker
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Cotton ball or pad
- Pencil + paper or Carbon paper ( optional)
How to make a Sharpie mug:
- Prepare the mug by cleaning with a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol.
- Tape mug off just under the half-way.
- Paint the mug – the fun part!
- Fix up any mistakes or smudges with a q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol.
- Dry for 72 hrs.
- Bake slow and low in the oven (bake instructions below)
Tip #1 Be smart. Use rubbing alcohol safely – in a well ventilated area away from heat and open flame.
Tip #2 Sharpie oil based markers (and the majority of paint markers) are not labeled as food safe and should only be used on the outside of the mug. Never paint the mug where it may be in contact with food or liquid – including the rim where one might take a sip.
Simple Sharpie mug designs
For these mugs, I used hand drawn circles (different shapes + sizes), and hand painted lines using tape as a resist. To finish the mug off, a simple image transfer to create a quote, or cute faces. With these three techniques (that anyone can do) you can create unlimited unique designs!
Create different sized circles (hollow, solid) or simple dots. To give the mug a little sparkle, add some gold inside or around the circles.
This is what you can do with circles!
If you don’t have a steady hand to draw a straight line (and I don’t) you can use tape as a resist and add some control. I only had medium size marker and I found the lines too thick. The trick here is using tape and drawing on one side of the tape so that the line is straight. The end result is thick to thin lines that look hand painted (which i love).
- Cut washi or painters tape into strips (variety of widths is fine).
- Add to the mug either horizontal or vertical.
- Paint along one side of the tape – or paint black on one side and gold or metallic on the other.
For the weave pattern below:
- Cut tape into strips
- Place the strips along the mug (below the tape line) and paint on one side (or both sides) along the edge of the tape.
- Remove tape.
- Place strips vertical (below the tape line) and paint on one side (or both sides) along the edge of the tape.
- Remove tape.
- Repeat steps 2-5 until you achieve the look you’re after.
This is what you can do with simple lines!
Transfer designs on to Sharpie mugs
Add a final touch to the mug with a adorable faces or inspiration quote.
- Download template below or draw your own design
- Cut out, and flip to the backside and add pencil to the entire back (make sure to cover it completely).
- Tape transfer to mug and outline with a pencil
- Remove paper and draw design with Sharpie marker
To make rosey cheeks that have a watercolor look (in the last photo):
- Draw a small cluster of dots using a pink Sharpie marker.
- Dip a q-tip in rubbing alcohol and swirl in a circle.
- Add freckles (optional)
Download free transfer template
Here is a template download for the faces used in this tutorial. Enjoy!
How to bake Sharpie mugs
Drastic temperature changes will crack or break the mug. It’s important to start with a cool oven and heat the mug slowly. After 1.5 hrs, turn the stove off and cool the mugs in the oven before taking them out.
- Start with a cool oven – read do not pre-heat the oven.
- Add a wire rack on top of a baking sheet and place the mugs on the wire rack. Not sure how much of a difference this makes, but I like the idea of proper air flow around the mug, and not having the mug on a hot metal pan where the mug *might* discolor.
- Place baking sheet in the cool oven, and turn stove to 350-degrees.
- Set time for 1.5 hrs.
- Turn stove off and do not remove the mugs – let them cool completely in the oven before touching or taking out.
Tip: After 2hrs I will crack the door of the oven open a little to help speed up the cooling process.
Sharpie colors before and after baking
Before you purchase the markers, have a peak at this color comparison – before and after baking the mugs.
The colors of the Sharpie paint do change during the baking process.
- Red/Orange lose their color and become more of a muddy reddish brown.
- Blue/Green become less saturated with the blue ending up a soft teal, and the green more of a moss green.
- Gold/Silver end up like a brushed metallic that I really like.
After testing all the Sharpie markers, I found that black and metallics look the best, and last longest on the mugs.
Mugs don’t have to be for coffee or tea. They can be used as a plant pot, pencil holder, office organizer, gift container.
Most of all, have fun.