Friday, 7 February 2014

Valentine's Day Is For Mugs!!!

See the romantic in me isn't dead!!! Lol. Incase you're wondering this project for my oh so patient Hubby who really appreciates handmade gifts. This is a bit of an unusual project which I kind of hope you'll like. It's also a bit of a product comparison/review which for those of you who commented on my last post regarding the Graph 'It Markers. Also if you want to see them in action Nikky Hall is on Create & Craft demoing them at 2pm today - I know she has some amazingly cool techniques to share with us :)

Now, you've all seen the Sharpie Pens projects on Pinterest and I'm pretty sure that most of you will have pinned it onto your "Must Do" board? Yeah, well so did I! Infact I decided that it looked such fun that I'd let the kids in my Arts and Crafts Class have a go (the results of which can be seen here). Now whilst prepping that project, I got to wondering if it would be possible to stamp on a mug and use marker pens to colour the image. A bit of googling didn't provide the answer, I could only find tutorials for stamping using porcelain paints. So I decided the only way to find out if my idea would work was to play and this is what I ended up with.

Now I have to say when I did this project with the kids they drew on the mugs with Sharpies and coloured them in. Before they went in the oven the colours were really vibrant but once fired the colours altered drastically and in many cases went really flat, patchy and dull. Whilst the mugs still looked amazing I have to confess to a tinge of disappointment that the colours didn't hold.

With the above results in mind, I knew that if at all possible I wanted to avoid using Sharpies. However, as I don't have an unlimited stash of permanent marker pens I knew that there was going to be a good chance that I might have to use the odd one or two! So I gathered my pens together and set to work.

The first thing I noticed about the various pens was the way they grabbed the surface of the mug. Sharpies instantly grabbed the surface of the mug and created a nice even vibrant coverage as did the Graph 'It Markers. The Promarkers didn't grab the surface very well and the colours were really translucent with very little depth.

Now this instantly created a problem for me as the majority of my pens are Promarkers and I really didn't want a "wishy washy" colour effect. I tried adding further layers of the pens to create depth but it caused the ink to reactivate, bleed and go patchy, so that was a no go. At this point I started to think that maybe the reason why I'd found no tutorials online other than the Sharpies one was because quite simply other permanent markers just didn't work. At this point I felt really disheartened  as it had taken me a fair bit of time to stamp the images to an acceptable standard and in addition it meant that I'd have to rethink the whole Valentine's gift thing! But you know me I'm not a quitter and decided that even if it was a complete disaster that at least I'd tried but not only that I'd have an understanding of what results I could achieve with each type of pen.

So with that in mind I thought I'd start the whole colouring process from scratch. So I grabbed a baby wipe and went to clean the ink of off the mug. The Promarkers and Sharpies wiped off instantly but to my surprise the Graph' It Markers didn't. I actually had to use an old blender pen to loosen the ink and bit of elbow grease before it would wipe off cleanly! Now this in itself was a fab discovery because potentially it means that the pens can be used on lots of non -porous surfaces with great effect, think of the endless possibilities.......... :)

Once the cleanup operation had been finalised I started the task of colouring again. The first thing I did was the ground and rocks with Graph' It Markers. Much to my amazement I found that if you allowed the pens to dry for a couple of minutes you could start to add another layer or even a different colour without the ink underneath starting to bleed or move. This meant that I could add shade to the rocks and soil, so I was pretty impressed.

The soil, rocks and notice frame have been coloured with Graph' It Markers. You can see that the pens allowed multiple layers to be added without bleeding or lifting the base colours.
I then switched to Promarkers and Sharpies which drove me to distraction! Firstly I found that it was almost impossible to darken any colour already applied to the surface with Promarkers as the ink just re-activated, so it basically meant that I couldn't shade. The only way I found I could create any depth within the image was to work from dark to light, but even this was tricky as the ink would lift away leaving white areas. Eventually I found that if you allowed the ink to dry for a few minutes and then used a stippling action you could with extreme care create shading. I also found that if you applied Sharpies first you could successfully blend a lighter coloured Promarker. However, the Promarker then needed cleaning as it obviously picked up the darker ink, so not really an ideal method to be using!

The purple character has been coloured with Promarkers and Sharpies, Notice how the colour has been leached and gives a mottled effect when colouring from light to dark. However the blue character has been coloured with Sharpies and then Promarkers which gives a much smoother finish.
Next came the firing of the mugs. Now at this point I was fully expecting the inks to either fade or reduce in vibrancy during the process, but I actually got a really nice surprise! The Graph' It Markers didn't appear to change, the colours remained true and vibrant. The Promarker colours intensified slightly but retained an even coverage, which on this project was fine, but could be potential problem with other projects. Sadly the Sharpies behaved exactly as they had done in previous projects and changed colour, went patchy and dull.

The character with the black heart was coloured with an Orange Sharpie - as you can see the colour has changed upon firing and looks flat and lifeless
Considering this project was one massive experiment I was actually  really pleased with the way the mug turned out and even more pleased that I can now use this experiment as an excuse to buy more Graph' It Markers. Maybe another new set will be my Valentine's pressie to myself  ;) 
Claire x

Graph' It Markers
Images - Whisker Monster With Sign, Line Up

I'd like to enter this mug into the following challenges:
Stampotique - Heart in your art
Simon Says Stamp - Have a heart


  1. Claire, After all that trial and effort with all the different markers, I think this mug is just FABULOUS !!! Those little monsters from Line Up really look great, and I'm sure will keep your Valentine happy for quite a while. I'm so glad you and your terrific creations are back in blogland :-) Helen

  2. When I say, "Thanks for participating in the Stampotique Designers' Challenge this week," Claire, this means YOU! What an amazing project--and I do mean PROJECT in every sense of the word--this mug turned out to be! I love, love, love it! You have taken all of the guess work out of this for the rest of us, so thanks for your effort and sticktoitiveness! ;-) KayW

  3. You have the patience of a saint lady .... however what a brilliant end result x

  4. Even with all the ups and downs this mug is great. What a lovely Valentine's present. I love it.
    Thanks for joining us at Stampotique this week.
    Corrie x

  5. Oh Claire this is fab you are so clever I love this and I'm sure your hubby will to.
    Jenny x

  6. Amazing results, glad you have a firm 'stick to it' attitude! I'm sure hubby is going to be thrilled!

  7. What a lot of effort you put into this mug...... I love it!
    What a great gift to give!
    Thank you for the step by step I found it very interesting
    Thank you for joining us at stampotique

  8. Interesting...and frustrating for you at the same time. I remember reading on Sharpie pinterest experiments that people said only the black sharpie worked. I also remember someone else said to only use the Sharpie paint markers if they want it to be dishwasher safe. Others said to just go with the porcelain painters... I do like the idea of using stamps on the mugs though and yours looks great. Had a look on your children's art group page too, what a fun thing to do. x

  9. I'm so glad to see you back creating Claire and I love this mug! Brilliant!! xxx

  10. I'd say your experiment was a rousing success! Your mug is fabulous and will become a family heirloom!

    Thanks for joining us this week at Stampotique Designers Challenges!

  11. Your mug turned out amazing, love it!

  12. it knocks me off my feet. LOVE it...

  13. Fab make Claire I love it! May even pick myself up a mug! Just hope I can do it justice. I presume it washes up fine?

    1. I've only hand washed the mugs and left them to drain atm, but am about to run a test mug through the dishwasher to see what will happen with each of the pens! I will report back :D

  14. fabulous i love it, what temp did you set oven to pls xxx

  15. This is soooo cool and lovely!!! Great work
    Thanks for joining us at Stampotique DC this week :)

    xx Arwen

  16. Where can I place my order! - great project

  17. What an awesome project and great keepsake. Thank you so much for playing along with us in the Have A Heart Challenge over at the Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge Blog this week!

  18. Oh. My. Word! You are amazing. Truly amazing! I would be scared to use it as a cup - If I were Daz it would be on my desk with all my pens in. But I am a klutz with cups and do smash a lot. Hence my treasured Marmite cup is a pen holder ;)

    Going to pin this so LOTS of people can come see how amazing you are!

    1. Aww thanks Carmen. "Daz" can probably give you a run for your money in the smashing stakes! Even with a dishwasher we seem to have more than our fair share of breakages!

  19. Brilliant, love the compositional nd the colours look great even after all your experiments
    So cool! Love it!!

  20. What a fabulous post! Kudos to you for sticking with it and I've no doubt the hubs loved his Valentines' Day gift. I'm sure you're starting a trend here. I wonder how Copics would do...

    1. Lol. Funny enough I tried my limited Copics on another one that I did and they fared no better or worse than Promarkers. My pen of choice at the moment is definitely the Graphic 'It Markers.


Thank you for your comments, they are very much appreciated.

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