They are actually very easy to do - and turn out great if you follow a few simple guidelines I figured out along the way.
1. Use a cheap mug. The cheaper, the better the sharpie will adhere to the mug when it bakes. I used a mainstays on from Walmart, and it made it through the dishwasher fine. The ones pictured here are Better Home and Garden ones from Walmart, they ran about $3-4 a piece. I haven't tried to run them through the dishwasher yet, but I washed them by hand and they held up.
2. Only use Oil Based Sharpies. Regular ones won't hold up for this. You can find Oil Based ones at a craft store for about $10 for a pack of 5. If you go to Hobby Lobby or Michaels you can use a 40% off coupon and save some money.
3. While we are on the topic of sharpies... some of them will discolor when you bake the mugs. I splurged on a big pack of colored sharpies on Amazon, and now I wish I wouldn't have since many of them didn't hold up in the oven. To get the best results, follow these color rules. If I was to do it again I would only invest in the good colors, and maybe red since you can use it, just know that it will darken.
- Good Colors (ones that hold up perfectly in the oven) - Black, Silver, Gold, Yellow, Pink, Brown, Dark Green.
- Bad Colors (ones that change - use with caution) - Orange (turns brown), Blues, both dark and light (turn green), Purple (turns pink), Red (turns a dark burgundy), Lime Green (turns to more of a pea green), White (yellows).
4. The sharpies work great, as long as you limit your designs to smaller lines and words. However, if you try to color in a large area, or layer colors on top of one another, the paint will chip off after it bakes. If you were doing a platter or something that would never need to be used, and you could get by without baking it, you could color large areas. But if you are doing mugs and planning on baking them, keep your designs limited to lines, dots, and words and it will turn out great. For example, my pig noses and the buck started to chip off after baking, but the deer prints were small enough to stay on. I tried coloring over the chipped off parts and baking again and it totally failed.
5. If you can, try wiping the mug down with rubbing alcohol (and letting it dry) before writing on it to remove any oils from the surface, it will help the marker to stay on better. If you make a mistake, the marker will come off easily with rubbing alcohol before it is baked.
6. To get many of my designs, I found an image or saying that I liked and traced it off of my computer or printed it out. I then used graphite paper (also found at the craft store) to transfer my image to the mug. Basically just tape your image where you want it, place graphite paper underneath, and use a pen to trace over your image. The graphite paper will leave an imprint on the mug you can then draw over, but it will wipe away easily so you have to be careful not to touch it. You can also try drawing your image first on the mug with a pencil, but I found my mugs were too "shiny" to be able
to draw well.
7. Let design dry on the mugs for 24 hours if possible. When ready, place mugs in cold oven (I always turn mine upside down to help prevent tipping). Preheat to 400 degrees. Once it reaches the temperature, set timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the over off, but leave the mugs in. I sometimes crack the door open just a bit. Remove when completely cooled. Be aware that these do put off a chemical smell while they are baking. Hopefully, this doesn't cause brain cancer or anything, but you've been warned. Open a window if you want, or just try not to get high off the fumes like I do.
The possibilities for these are pretty limitless! You can completely customize to what your gift recipient likes - and they would work for all kinds of gifts, not just Christmas! There is an investment when you first buy your sharpies, but overall it's a budget friendly easily personalized gift!
Anyone else ever try this? What was your results if you did? I've heard you can also use BIC markers, but haven't tried them myself. I think these would make super cute wedding gifts or as personalized plate for Santa cookies! If anyone attempts this let me know how they turn out! Even if the designs don't stay forever, it's still a cute gift for a last minute project!
Update: As far as I can tell, these WILL eventually chip if washed in the dishwasher (mine has anyways). For me personally it doesn't matter, and I can't say how they hold up to hand washing, but if you do give these as gifts I would advise that you caution people these are gentle hand wash only!