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I want to paint ceramic coffee mugs.
December 16, 2005 4:23 AM   Subscribe

I want to paint ceramic coffee mugs without going to one of those bake places (too expensive.) If I use acrylic paints and a gloss varnish, will they last a careful handwashing? (I'm not going to expect to make them dishwasher safe.)

A lot of the people in my family specifically asked for gift cards for Christmas, and I want to hand them something other than an envelope, so I'm putting the cards in these mugs.

As I'm already at the spending limit, I need a fairly cheap solution. I searched local craft stores and was unable to find the bakeable ceramic paints. Tips or ideas to make them last? Or should I just tell everyone not to actually drink from them and use as decoration? BTW, the paint is only going on the outside, so no worries about it being toxic, etc.

As a side note, there is one male among the gift card askers who a) would think the coffee cup is too girly, and b) his gift card comes in a cd case (best buy,) so its too big anyway. Any ideas what I could put his card in?
posted by saucy to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I can't see acrylic paint working under any circumstances unless these mugs are going to be shelf ornaments only. Enamel paint (used for model painting) is more hard wearing, but I have no idea if that would work either.

A quick google search turned up this which makes it look rather easy.

Craft sets for doing this do exist, they give you the blank mug and the correct paints in the kit, and some of them are oven fireable I'm sure. You can get them on eBay (which is timing out for me right now.)
posted by fire&wings at 4:41 AM on December 16, 2005


You could always buy a kit.
posted by medium format at 5:00 AM on December 16, 2005


I know you probably looked, but what you want are Porcelaine paints or pens. They are sold in any craft store for a few dollars a color. If you go back to the store try asking for this brand specifically. I have used Porcelaine pens many times and they work great for me.

However, if you insist on using gloss varnish I have had good results with Krylon's Triple Thick Glaze. Use two coats. I use them on coasters and they work well for water proofing. However, I'm not sure how it will hold up to repeat scrubbings.

You could add seeds and a little bag of dirt/gravel and call them mug planters. That way no one will be handling them regularly and they will only be scrubbed occasionally.
posted by Alison at 5:04 AM on December 16, 2005


Thanks for the comments. I already have the mugs, so I don't really want to buy a kit. I have searched for pebeo and other porcelain paints but haven't turned up anything. I should have mentioned that I really don't want to do an internet purchase, as it may not get here in time.
posted by saucy at 6:09 AM on December 16, 2005


I'd second Alison's suggestion for the Pebeo porcelaine pens. If you're in the States you could ring their toll free number to find a stockist local to you. I'm sure most craft shops (unless they're specifically for yarns etc.) would stock at least a small range of colors.
posted by ceri richard at 6:38 AM on December 16, 2005


Put the guy's cd-size gift card inside a baseball cap. Or, open up a bag of cheetos or other snack, stick it inside, and reseal the bag (which can be done with a meal sealer type of thing, or with an iron if done carefully).
posted by yesster at 7:06 AM on December 16, 2005


About the Pébéo. It says "Not recommended for use on surfaces that come in contact with food" right at the bottom of the Dick Blick page. If you want to make food-safe ceramics, the only way I know of is to get the glaze and clay fired in a kiln.

You can't use varnish of any kind on mugs you want people to drink from. Sorry. I would suggest painting them as a planter pot, as Alison suggested.

For the CD sized gift cert, you could get a used book that has something to do with the gift cert, and carve out a niche in the pages which would fit the jewel case.
posted by iconomy at 7:11 AM on December 16, 2005


I don't know what the price is at the paint-your-own shop that you find too high, but if you can get your hands on the raw materials and just need a kiln I'd suggest posting to your local craigslist. Odds are there's a number of local artists who would let you use theirs for a small fee. There's also kiln-sharing postings here.
posted by phearlez at 7:41 AM on December 16, 2005


About the Pébéo. It says "Not recommended for use on surfaces that come in contact with food" right at the bottom of the Dick Blick page. If you want to make food-safe ceramics, the only way I know of is to get the glaze and clay fired in a kiln.

On the inside of the mug it would be a problem, however on the outside of a coffee mug it's safe. Actually, the pens themselves are non-toxic, but the colors can be altered by contact with acidic foods. You can find non-toxic art materials by looking for this seal.
posted by Alison at 7:57 AM on December 16, 2005


Right. I just want to impress upon saucy that he/she can't give the mugs to people as drinking vessels unless they've been glazed and fired.

So the answer to this question: Or should I just tell everyone not to actually drink from them and use as decoration? - is yes!
posted by iconomy at 8:35 AM on December 16, 2005


Right. I just want to impress upon saucy that he/she can't give the mugs to people as drinking vessels unless they've been glazed and fired.

I don't get it. It sounds to me as if you can perfectly well use them as drinking vessels as long as the painting is on the outside.
posted by redfoxtail at 9:41 AM on December 16, 2005


Craft store employee here. Those paints should be fine on the outside of the mugs, and even on the handles. Try to keep away from the rim though. Like Alison said, the recommendation is just so your colors and designs don't get messed up by certain acidic stuff. I've recommended these products to costumers and done corporate-sponsored demos using mugs and glasses before, and if they shouldn't be used for food consumption, they'd have given us that info to pass to customers.
posted by luftmensch at 10:00 AM on December 16, 2005


What about automotive paint? Comes in some nice, shiny metallic colors and you can get small tubes of touch-up paint that even have the little brush included.
posted by Ostara at 10:50 AM on December 16, 2005


Ah you guys are right. Me no read good. I thought all along that the mugs were unfired and that saucy was starting with raw clay. Carry on, people who can read.
posted by iconomy at 6:42 PM on December 16, 2005


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