Day 50? The failed DIY.

Day 50: You may have noticed (or not) that I never reached Day 50 of my 50 DIY Days of Christmas. Well, I had a project for Day 50. All finished and ready. But, it failed. Yup. I was too frustrated to get my butt in gear and make a new DIY for the final day. SO, I just ignored it.

Not all of my DIY’s work. There are many that I try out, and just decide to scrap the whole idea. Instead of pretending I never have failed projects, I’ll try and share some with you. The Permanent Marker Mugs… well, that was a big ‘ol NOPE for me. I tried a few different methods, and all different types of ceramic. No go. It’s sad since I was so excited for these to work.

Here are the different things I tried:

– First, the kiddo and I tried colored permanent markers. That was the biggest fail. Color, bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, let sit for 24 hours, and run a test through the dishwasher. The result: Most of the colors were gone. I just figured this might be a colored marker issue. Onto the next test.

– We only used black permanent marker this time. Draw, bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, let sit for 24 hours, and run a test wash in the dishwasher. The result: most of the marker washed off.

– Ok, I researched online and found some comments from another permanent marker post mentioning different cook times/temperatures. I tried that. We tried half of the mugs at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, and the other half of the mugs at 450 for 30 minutes. Wait 24 hours and run a test in the dishwasher. The result: most of the marker washed off.

– I also tested out washing these by hand, and it did rub off with a scrubber. It stayed on when just rubbing with my hands… to be honest… I’m never going to hand wash a mug. Ha! <—-I’m lazy.

I KNOW this project has worked for others. That’s awesome! I purchased all my mugs/bowls/etc. from a thrift shop…. SO, they all had different glazes. All had the same results, which leads me to believe it’s the sharpie. From now on, I’m just going to stick to a porcelain paint pen. Those have to work, right?

Well, even though the products didn’t turn out, the kiddo and I had a lot of fun drawing on them. We laid down an old towel, put on our aprons, and were VERY careful. There were lots of reminders to not touch our face/clothes/whatever with a pen in hand. So much fun!

Have you tried this DIY? Did it work for you?

– Chelsey


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  • Jenni on said:

    I've had better luck with the Sharpie "Paint" pens and doing the baking cure as well as letting it sit for a few days… I did the regular sharpie one for the Portland Bloggers meet-up and mine washed off (hand washing) after about 5 uses. Blah.

    I love the porcelain pens though!

    And, now, because I know it isn't permanent… I use the sharpies to decorate tableware for parties. I can have different dishes for every party without needing to buy/store several sets of plates.

  • Maryam on said:

    I haven't tried the sharpie BUT I have used a Porcelaine pen on numerous occasions. DISHWASHER SAFE Y'ALL!

  • jkossowan on said:

    We did this project with coloured Sharpies and it DID work for us (check out the results here:… but there are two catches… Firstly, we don't own a dishwasher, so everything in our house is always hand washed. Secondly, they had a good long run, but after about 4 months, the designs really started disappearing…

  • Rin on said:

    I tried a porcelaine (I think that's the brand) pen to do an elephant shillouette on a plate and was not too impressed. It comes out of the pen like sticky paint and is not easy to get even. It would work for the patterns you hand on cups but not bigger ones.
    It stayed on after washing but wasn't really even anyway. Worth a try. I might just be a craft n00b.

  • Karen on said:

    I think the confusion comes from the fact that Sharpie makes a ceramics/porcelain marker (like here… ). And I believe the suggested baking times apply to this type of marker. A regular sharpie doesn't cut it.

    On the plus side, I have one of those ceramics pens everyone is talking about and it works great. But the dishwasher is still a bit cruel to my art. So I tend to handwash the things I've drawn on.

  • Gina_AcuteDesigns on said:

    well, your drawings on the mugs were adorable, so at least you've got that down :).

  • The Paper Mama on said:

    Try out the porcelain pens. I'm betting those will do the trick… just not sharpies. Darn-it.

  • Kylie on said:

    A friend of mine has a BFA in ceramics, and she's explained this to me (because I thought this was a cool idea too!)

    You either have to get a plate/cup/whatever that has not been glazed (unfinished ceramics) and then draw on it, then glaze it. OR you need to find a ceramics marker/paint that is made for these projects. An art store should have the pen/paint (Sorry, can't remember which! But it's a ceramics-specific tool) or any art/ceramics store should have cups or plates that are still porous (and therefore able to take in the ink and seal after being baked in the oven).

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      I'll definitely be sticking to specific pens made for this sort of thing, from now on. I was really hoping the sharpie would work. Oh well. 🙂

  • celiaroundtown on said:

    Isn't there a paint pen that's specifically for ceramics? I did that a few years ago and it worked but I don't remember exactly what I used. My fail was that the mugs broke in the mail!

  • Joanna on said:

    I wanted to make a similar mug for my husband for Christmas (from the kids). In researching the project I read that I would need to hand wash the mug if I used permanent marker and decided against it. I couldn't find porcelain paint pens at my craft store and had waited too long to buy them online, so I bought Martha Stewart glass paint. The project turned out great and so far has held up to several trips through the dishwasher. I recommend it!

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      I've heard great things about that glass paint! Thank you, I'll check it out.

  • Tawny on said:

    Ive tried this a few times myself, and had the same results, the colored markers where a bust and the regular sharpie was a tad better, but still came off 🙁 But it was a fun project and we thought what a great way o customize mugs for your house guests for the weekend, then once they go home you can pop the mugs in the dishwasher and start all over again!

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      It's just a continuing/never ending project. 😉 My kiddo did have a ton of fun doing this. That made it worth it. 🙂

  • Rhonda on said:

    It's so funny that there are SO MANY mixed reviews on this DIY project! I've been wanting to do it myself, but get overwhelmed reading so many different methods, materials, and results!

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      I agree. I just had to try it. BUT, those porcelain pens should work. I'll let you know how those go. 🙂

  • Rachelle on said:

    Hi! I've been a lurker on your blog for a while. 🙂 This is one DIY that I've seen floating around Pinterest for a while, but really what you need are paint markers specifically made for china (well, actually, for porcelain, china, glazed earthenware, terracotta, metal, enameled sheet steel, copper and glass):

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      Hello! Oh yes. I bet those will work well. I really was hoping the sharpie one would work. 😀

  • Kelly on said:

    This one didn't work for me either. Glad to know it's not just me!

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      I've heard it's worked for others. Oh well. We'll have to stick to paint pens. 😉

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