Make Your Own Tea Service

Ok, not really. It’s not really a tea service, but you can make your own decorated coffee mugs. Yeah, not the same thing, sorry. Tea service just sounded better.

For some time, I’ve been intrigued by porcelain painting. The fine detail and the craftsmanship is just amazing. But of course I’m not that talented so I have to fake it, and I found a way.

Porcelain paint. Or better yet, porcelain markers. Pens, even. When I first bought them I had first tried Pebeo porcelain paints, which I still use. Though I can’t say it’s not a little frustrating having this awesome design in your head and taking little delicate brush to paint and coming out with something like looks like a 2nd grade craft project. So I figured I needed to step down a bit.

I’ve decorated a few mugs. My practice mugs were always just from the $1.00 store and something to mess around on. I didn’t want to ruin anything too nice. I eventually started going to thrift and antique stores for finer mugs and cups. Now I give them as little personalized gifts. But let me warn you, it’s not as easy as it might seem.

Especially lettering! Unless you are FANTASTIC at free hand, using stencils is a bitch and a half because the pen (or the paint) is thin enough to kind of leak around the edges of the stencil. So you are basically left with smeary letters. That’s when I found the wonder of alcohol with this stuff.

First thing you are gonna have to do is prep the surface of whatever you are decorating with alcohol. It gives it a nice, clean, dry surface and gets rid of any residue that may be on there including dust of any kind.

You’ll need your pens or markers too. Use Pebeo, they are the best. I personally like the very fine tip unless I’m planning on really doing a big project. I also use the actually liquid paints as well with a very fine brush. Don’t buy the glass type pen or paint unless you are planning to work with glass. It’s really transparent and doesn’t work well on solid colored surfaces.

You’ll need some alcohol and a q tip.

You should probably bring your patience as well. You’ll need that.

The endless possibilities of something like this (especially the funny as hell possibilities) is very alluring and seductive. It’s much more work than you think, at least if you are a perfectionist like me it is. And I’m never 100% happy with the results. It’s one of those things that either isn’t as awesome as it seems or that I just suck at. I vote the second one.

Make sure you’ve got a good comfortable position. You don’t want to be adjusting left and right while you are doing this, especially if the paint is wet on one side. I’m very impatient, so I actually stick my hand INSIDE the cup, fisted, to hold it in place. I don’t sit at a table, I learned that lesson. It got real uncomfortable real quick. I actually sit on my bed to do this, it’s much much easier.

So, this particular cup was leopard printed for a friend of mine’s mom. I started off by painting little circles in black and filling them in with gold paint. The circles didn’t have to be perfectly round because I actually wanted it to look a little distorted and uneven. Or that’s what I tell myself anyway.

Yup. Child’s 3rd grade craft project.

Notice that it does leave that sort of “marker” streak on the cup too. In the dots and around the black. But fear not, usually a second coat takes care of that. And if it doesn’t, adding MORE dots will usually take away that effect.

But mind you, don’t add TOO many coats because the stuff will just peel off. It really takes a very thin coat, multiple if needed, otherwise it just turns to stupid.

Any mess ups you’ve got, use the q tips and the alcohol. It works wonders. I twisted the end of the q tip cotton really tight and pointy so I could get into fine places with it.

Told ya, more made it look better.

So I just kept doing that until I was somewhat happy. Am I PERFECTLY happy with it? No. but I probably will never be. In order for me (and possibly you) to be perfectly happy with it it’d have to be something I did with the finest of brushes and the finest artists hand. Neither of which I have. Therefore, we must do our best. Did I just refer to myself in the third person?


Here’s ultimately how it turned out

It’s not too bad. Still a little mussed in places, but that couldn’t be fixed. OH WELL! ITS THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS!

That cup was a pain in the butt. I’m not happy with the gold coloring, but they didn’t make brown. The gold has that annoying semi transparent metallic thing going on and I hate that. Stupid paint.

Now you’ve got to bake it in order for it to set. Once it’s baked, it’s hand washable. Just don’t do anything abrasive to it or use scrubbies on it. I don’t put them in the dishwasher because I notice the heat tends to make them go peely.

God my oven is filthy.

I rather like doing repeating work though. I’d made myself a cup awhile back using only black and a vine type theme, that worked rather well.

See? I’m not all thumbs all the time!

And my personal favorite, and biggest pain in the butt, was making a cup for a buddy of mine. I tried using stenciling. That was terrible, as I said above. I used a LOT of q tips and a LOT of alcohol trying to pull this one off. And it’s still not perfect but you’ve got to know the spirit of the thing.

Letters are hard to get perfect, they are even harder to write straight when you are working on a rounded surface. But the effort was worth it I think. Cause you can’t buy these in stores.

Right about now I can almost see your faces lighting up with the possibilities of what you could put on your own mug.

So I’ll leave you with that, the evil little seed firmly planted there in your head. Get as offensive as you want, you are the master of the mug!


2 thoughts on “Make Your Own Tea Service

  1. I love the last mug. It reminds me of how much I hate the new Starbucks logo. You use to be able to black out certain letter to say “Fuck Off.” I use to do it all the time to mine and a random co worker if they left there coffee alone.

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