Pinterest Project: Handmade mugs make for a thoughtful, easy gift

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With Valentine’s Day approaching, many college couples are tempted to show their affection through exorbitant gifts, but nothing says “I love/like/tolerate you” more than a personally designed mug from a do-it-yourself Pinterest project.  

Or for singles, these mugs could attract the eye of a potential beau or babe. I’m not promising these mugs will turn a friend zone into a desired end zone, but it’s worth a shot. 

To begin, this project cost me about $10. And since craft projects are fun with company, I invited my friend Kyrie Mason, a senior psychology major from St. George, to help me.  

The project is fairly simple: Draw on a ceramic mug and then bake it. We bought black and red oil-based paint Sharpies from Michael’s for $3 each.  If the markers are not oil based, the ink will not become a part of the glaze after baking.  We got several mugs at Tai Pan costing between $2 to $4 and a tea pot. I had rubbing alcohol and cotton pads at home.

I was a little skeptical about this project since those “Nailed It” galleries started appearing on the Internet, which showcased immaculate Pinterest project photographs side-by-side with failed replications. However, I surprised myself with the results: The ink didn’t scratch or smear after it was baked.  

The only problem I ran into was the red Sharpie ink turned a purple-maroon hue after baking. It still looked cool but a surprise nonetheless. To avoid this, try using solely black Sharpies or test different colors on a prototype before the final project.

This process can work for anything ceramic: bowls for cereal, candy and popcorn, vases for flowers and potpourri, or platters for the dinner table.

This project is definitely worth a go. Even without an artsy friend, the project is entirely do-able. And there is nothing wrong with a Helter Skelter gift from the heart. A significant other will appreciate the time, effort and personality imbued into a personally designed mug for Valentine’s Day.  


  • Ceramic mug 
  • Oil-based paint Sharpie marker (non-toxic)
  • Rubbing alcohol 
  • Cotton pads
  • Cookie sheet
  • Oven
  • A friend who’s talented at art and drawing (optional)


  1. Use rubbing alcohol and pads to wipe away dirt and smudges from mug.
  2. Draw designs.
  3. Let designs dry.
  4. Place painted mug in oven on cookie sheet.
  5. Set oven to 425º F, allowing mug to heat up with oven.
  6. When oven reaches 425º F, set a timer for 30 minutes.
  7. After 30 minutes, turn oven off, allowing mug to cool with oven.  
  8. Remove mug from oven when cool (hand wash only.)