How To: Sharpie Mugs and Non-exploding Ceramic

I got a little crafty for a Secret Santa exchange at the Day Job. My person, like me, loves BioShock. His favorite vigor is CHARGE, so what better gift that a mug from which to consume any number of physically and mentally altering chemicals?

B5pLFp0CYAA1-6nI’ve seen the Sharpie Mug DIY floating around the internet for months but never had cause to try it out until now. They instructions are sometimes strange depending on which tutorial you’re reading. Some say you need oil-based Sharpies, unglazed mugs, a sacrifice to Satan, the ability to remove said glaze, or an array of oven temperatures and baking times.

I definitely didn’t succeed the first time, so here is how I got this to work.

You will need:


  • White ceramic mug(s.) I bought two because I was convinced I’d explode the first one.
  • A pencil
  • A Sharpie. I used a plain, boring, run-of-the-mill black Sharpie.
  • Your image/phrase/pattern. Template or free-hand. You are the master of your own destiny.
  • Nail polish remover and cotton tips/rag
  • An oven

Step One: Buy a mug
Target, Walmart, whatever. Cheap. Mine were from Target, they were glazed. I did nothing to it before beginning.

Step Two: Select your pattern
For the Charge mug, I used the in-game symbol found on the bottle. I traced it off my computer screen in order to make a template, taping the parts to the mug and tracing around them. I used a thin Sharpie, but pencil works if you’re not comfortable making those first lines with ink. Just be careful not to smudge your lines.

If you DO commit with Sharpie and make a mistake, the nail polish remover will take it right off. It may require an initial swipe and then a follow-up since the Sharpie leaves a bit of a purple haze.IMG_2410


If you want quotes/phrases, pick a font you like and type out the letters. This will help prevent spelling errors and give you a visual for the text. For my “Feminist Killjoy” mug, I chose the font “Jane Austen” and free-handed it onto the ceramic.

Step Three: Fill in your design
The Sharpie won’t leave a solid color, so you may have to go in and touch things up. I found that small strokes worked best for even coloration.

I do not recommend using thin Sharpies for this step. The ink tends to turn brown when baked and it just doesn’t have enough pigmentation.

Once happy with your design, let the Sharpie “set” overnight. You may touch up any “bald” portions in the morning.

Step Four: BAKE


This is the adult supervision portion of the tutorial.

Place your mug into a COLD oven and set the temperature to 425 degrees. The ceramic will crack if not allowed to adjust to the heat. Once the oven hits temperature, set a timer for 30 minutes. It may smell a bit odd. Because you’re baking a mug.

The first time I tried this, I started the time when I first put the mug in. The Sharpie didn’t cure and was easily scratched off. The second time made it solid.

Do not remove the mug from the oven upon baking completion. Seriously, this shit HOT because you just turned your oven into a makeshift kiln and again, the sudden shift in temperature could cause it to crack. I left mine for a good hour and a half.

Step Five: THE TESTS

Scratch test: scratch a tiny portion of the design with your nail. Does it chip? If the answer is no, move on. If the answer is yes, bake again following Step Four.

Should the scratch test prove successful, GENTLY hand wash the mug.

Also successful?



After cleaning, brew some tea or coffee or pour in your beverage of choice and enjoy!


1 Comment

Filed under Writing

One response to “How To: Sharpie Mugs and Non-exploding Ceramic

  1. Pingback: A Geeky Gift Guide for Horror Gals and Goths | Girls in Capes

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