DIY Painted Mugs That Won’t Wash Away

DIY Painted Mugs That Won't Wash Away |

You’ve all heard or read how to draw your own designs on a coffee cup then bake it in the oven to make it permanent. And half of you have probably tried it only to see your beautiful masterpiece wash down the drain – literally – even though you followed all the directions, used an oil-based marker, and gently hand washed the darn thing.

Well I have the secret solution just in time for the Christmas gift-making season – these magical glass markers from DecoArt!

DIY Painted Mugs That Won't Wash Away |


I know they don’t look like anything different but I promise they work miracles. I bought mine at Michael’s but you can find them at most craft supply stores or online.

I won’t bore you with a “draw-n-bake” tutorial since they’re all over the internet (this is one of my favorites although I don’t know anything about the markers they use) but I do want to share some tips I discovered when working on these mugs for a client. (My first custom project! Go me!)

DIY Painted Mugs That Won't Wash Away |


First things first. If you’ve been burned on a DIY marker mug before you might be a bit gun-shy to try another. I get it. I was too. I recommend doing a test draw then. Turn your mug upside-down and make a mark on the bottom. I wrote the year. Then bake it and wash it. Once you’re sure it’s really going to be permanent you can get down to serious creative business.

DIY Painted Mugs That Won't Wash Away |


Before you start drawing gather up a few items from around the house. These supplies, along with some warm soapy water for drastic cases, are your “erasers”.

  • rubbing alcohol
  • cotton balls
  • cotton swabs
  • paper towels (I cut mine into little squares so they’re easier to work with.)

Let’s say you’re writing “Merry Christmas Uncle Joe” on you mug and you accidentally end up with “Uncle Joo”. No worries. Simply dip a cotton swab in the rubbing alcohol and carefully wipe away the mistake. It may smear the ink and seem a mess at first but that’s ok. Just keep dipping and wiping until your mistake and any smears or haze are gone. Let it dry, then grab your marker and try again.

You can use the cotton balls and paper towels the same way. It all depends on the size and detail of your mistake.

What if you totally screw up and think it’s the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen? Just go to the sink and scrub your mug with warm soapy water. Voila! You’re back at square one with a new blank slate.


So you’ve finished your masterpiece and now you’re itching to pop it in the oven and make it permanent. WAIT! The ink needs to cure for at least eight hours first. Set it aside, go to work, run your errands, drink a few pots of coffee – whatever you need to do – then come back and get your bake on.


There are a few baking rules which are all printed on the back of the marker for easy reference.
1. Don’t preheat your oven. Put your piece in first then turn on the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Set your timer for 40 minutes AFTER the oven has come to temperature, not when you put the mug in.
3. Don’t take your mug out when the timer goes off. Instead, turn off the oven and open the door. Let the mug cool as the oven cools.

Again, all this info is on the back of the pen in case you forget. So convenient.

DIY Painted Mugs That Won't Wash Away |

I hope you decide to give these markers a try. I’m so happy to finally find something that works although I will admit I haven’t tested any pieces in the dishwasher yet. I’m content to wash mine by hand just to be safe. I’m planning to try some plates next then glass canisters. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.


A tale of two red chairs – Part two

Last week in A tale of two red chairs – Part one I shared how a red leather chair became one of “the things that matter” in my life. Today, Red Chair #2.
red lawn chair 2


The back story:
My closest friend’s mother died in 2010. It was hard watching her struggle with the loss of a parent but gradually, over time, her life settled into a “new normal” and we resumed our summertime routines together – cooking out, drinking strawberry sangria, and hitting every yard sale we could find. Ironically, one of my prized sale finds was from her yard – an old, powder blue, metal lawn chair. (One person’s trash . . . ) It wasn’t pretty but it reminded me of the chairs that used to sit on my aunt’s porch so I had to have it, rust spots and all. Besides, I knew I could make it shine so I took it home, cleaned it up and got busy covering up the tired old rusty blue with a shiny coat of red.

The story that matters:
A few weeks later my friend asked how I liked the chair.

Me: “I love it. It looks perfect on my back patio.

Her: “Good. I’m glad you’re the one who bought it. It was my mom’s chair and I’ll always remember her sitting on it out in our yard.”

My heart sank. I had no idea. No idea it was her mother’s chair. No idea it was a tangible connection to someone she would never touch again – a connection I had smothered with layers of Krylon glossy red.

I had to tell her. She would know anyway the first time she came over to sip sangria.

“I painted your mom’s chair,” I blurted out. “Red.”

She smiled.

“Red was my mom’s favorite color,” she said quietly.

With those six words my horrible mistake became a tribute – a way to honor her mother’s memory, not erase it. And that red lawn chair became one of the most valuable things I own. Not because it tells my story, but because it tells the story of someone I love, and someone she loves. Turns out “the things that matter” aren’t always about us at all.

I have to confess the chair isn’t looking that pretty these days – my paint job was a little shoddy. Some of the red has flaked off and while I would normally scrape, prime, and repaint those ugly little chips I think I’ll just let the faded, slightly rusty, blue shine through this time.

A tale of two red chairs – Part one

Nate Berkus The Things That MatterMy aunt gave me Nate Berkus’ new book, “The Things That Matter”, as an early Christmas gift. Let me just say, this isn’t your mother’s decorating book. It starts with an intimate look at Nate’s life then invites us into his home, as well as twelve others, to show us how the things we gather in our life’s travels are a part of us – and therefore, should be a part of our homes. They tell a story, our story. In Nate’s words:

“The truth is, things matter. They have to. They’re what we live with and touch each and every day. They represent what we’ve seen, who we’ve loved, and where we hope to go next. They remind us of the good times and the rough patches, and everything in between that’s made us who we are.”

Before I go on let me say that I started reading this book the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Like every parent in America, I was in a haze of sadness and anger and sympathy. So it was with this level of raw emotion that I started looking around my own home, thinking about “the things that matter”. One thing immediately stood out, my red leather chair.


The Things That Matter

The backstory:
Our house in Colorado Springs was around the corner from a small, uber-expensive furniture store. The kind where I could always browse, but never buy. One afternoon I was floating through the showroom, dreaming of the day I could lounge on one of these plush sofas in a silk robe and kitten-heel slippers, when I spied a red leather chair. The perfect red leather chair. It was slim and modern and . . . red.

Not surprisingly, it was out of my price range. So I visited it frequently, sat in it lovingly, and told myself, “someday.”

Shortly after discovering the PRLC (perfect red leather chair) my husband left for Chicago on a business trip. As he walked out the door I joked, “wouldn’t it be funny if I was sitting here in a red leather chair when you got home?” He laughed.

I bought the PRLC while The Hubs was gone – I’m sure you already figured that out – and I was sitting in it when he got back from Chicago. It was, and still is, every bit as perfect as I dreamed.

The story that matters:
One of the first things I did was call my mom and invite her over to admire my new treasure. She oooooed and awwwwwed like any good mother should and then this odd look washed over her face.

Mom: “Hmmmm.”

Me: “What? Don’t you like it?”

Mom: “I like it. I was just wondering, did you know your grandma has always had a red chair in her living room? Always.”

Me: “Really? No, I had no idea. That’s weird.”

Mom: “And your great grandma had a red chair too. For as long as I can remember, til the day she died.”

It’s important to note that I’ve never really known my grandma. And while I do have some fond memories of my great grandma (Granny), she died when I was 10 years old. I never knew her favorite color, or food, or singer. I certainly didn’t know anything about her furniture. My point is, these women are virtual strangers to me. Is it really possible for them to have such a strong influence on my choices? I don’t have an answer. I just know that what started as a chair was suddenly promoted to heirloom status – like a secret tradition that’s been handed down over generations. It became something that really mattered. And somewhere in the back of my mind I can see Granny curled up in her red chair, draped in a silk robe with one kitten-heel shoe dangling from her toes.