We recently learned the principal at our son’s school will be leaving at the end of this school year. My son’s principal is a wonderfully kind and thoughtful person and very good at her job, so it will be sad to see her go. My son always speaks very highly of her and our interactions with her have been great, so I knew we had to get her a goodbye gift.
I wanted to find something nice my son could make her or something useful we could personalize for her. I gave him these 3 options: Button Tree Art, a Monogrammed Tote, or an Apple Print Tote. As is always the way, the project that I liked the most and knew would be the easiest to complete (the button tree) was not my son’s #1 pick. He wanted to go the personalized gift route and make the monogrammed tote bag. That plan was all well and good until, after multiple stores and a couple hours later, we still had found no tote bags. We couldn’t even find basic ones to make the apple tote. So the monogrammed tote bag morphed into a mug we would monogram. In a perfect world, we would’ve just bought one and called it a day, but all the shopping misadventures up to that point made it clear that monogram mugs would not exist either – it would have to be made.
This was still a complicated craft idea because, A – I have never seen such heated, mixed reviews on a simple craft as I have with the Sharpie Mugs you find all over the internet, and B – my young craft visionary didn’t like the void style monogram mug. He wanted a letter stencil neatly painted in gold. All things considered, after reading this post (and many of that post’s comments) along with reading the walk-through here, I felt like I had a solid plan to successfully pull this mug gift off.
Boy, was I wrong. I’ve never had a project spiral into chaos as badly as I did when trying to paint this mug. It was made all the more infuriating by the fact I knew if we had just made the dang button tree – we wouldn’t have wasted a day hunting for bags that didn’t exist and I wouldn’t be cursing at a marker/mug when I’d rather be sleeping.
Obviously, it doesn’t end there because this post is filled with pictures of my fancy little monogrammed mug. 🙂 So allow me to tell you my original plan and why it failed, along with how I made it better so I could successfully make this mug – and, hopefully, so you can be successful if you try to make a sharpie mug yourself.
The Sticker Stencil
I have a Cameo with the PixScan mat, so I knew I could easily cut a letter ‘F’ with that. What I didn’t have is a good material to cut the stencil out of so it would securely stick to the mug with no leaks while painting. I also didn’t have any jumbo letter stickers, so I devised a way to make my own sticker. I basically made a rectangle by overlapping painter’s tape on top of a piece of wax paper. This way I could put it through the Cameo to cut my stencil and still easily peel the tape off and stick it on the mug. This DIY sticker worked perfectly UNTIL I painted with the marker. The paint marker leaked between the overlapping strips.
The fix: Seal the painter’s tape with a few coats of Mod Podge before cutting the stencil. This made a HUGE difference. Any leaks were minor around the edges of the letter and easily scraped off with an exacto knife.
The Oil Paint Marker
A majority of the errors here were simply due to the fact I was working with a new medium and didn’t have much information about it going in. The Sharpie brand oil paint pen has very little information on the pen itself and reading through the different posts about making paint mugs, I didn’t see much information about how the pen paints or drying time. Even when trying to figure out which size pen to buy, I had a hard time finding pictures of the size differences online for comparison. I hope this was mostly because I wasn’t searching thoroughly enough.
What I learned – You need to shake super well and continue to shake occasionally while painting. If you’re painting for too long without shaking, the formula seemed to separate some and wreak havoc in the painted area. The paint pen flows well, but avoid going over an area that isn’t literally just painted. This was what caused my first attempt to end in disaster. When I tried to fix a spot that had started to set, the marker removed more paint than it put on. And going over a larger area to fix the small problem just made the problem bigger and look worse. My guess is if you wait the couple hours for the paint to dry before painting on top of mistakes, it would work just fine, but the end finish might not be smooth. Luckily, if things really take a nosedive – get out some nail polish remover and remove everything, regroup, and restart.
Lastly, a personal tip on marker painting. My project was more successful when I was very careful to make neat lines, in the same direction, one after another, across the whole area to be painted. On my first try, I painted more willy-nilly and that looked like a hot mess. The careful line painting looks almost like a solid finish when dry. You can only see some texture around the edges from where I outlined the stencil before flooding with paint inside.
Drying time ended up being around 2 hours and then I removed my stencil. As I said before, I just scraped off any little spots of leaked paint. If you have a steady hand (and are very brave) you could probably also use nail polish remover and a q-tip. The last step was baking the mug to set the paint.
To finish up this gift, I filled the mug halfway with paper crinkle filler, added some tea bags, and attached a little tea pun gift tag.
I made a few different tags to make this gift versatile for any school staff members. Feel free to print/download them: Orange You Crafty – Tea-rrific Tea Tags PDF