Pinspired | DIY Sharpie Mug

I’ve noticed the popularity of DIY Sharpie Mugs on Pinterest pop up over the past year and finally decided to give it a go.  It’s not quite as easy as you might think although the general concept is pretty simple.  Read on to see the steps I took and my thoughts about the process:

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I think this project is a great handmade gift idea.  I decided to design my mug using quotes from one of my husband’s favorite movies, The Big Lebowski, as a gift to pop into his spring basket of goodies (we exchange little treats with each other in celebration of the season every year).  I’m quite pleased with how it turned out especially considering I have absolutely zero artistic talent and rather unsteady hands.


I was inspired by the many tutorials on Pinterest that pop up if you search for “DIY Sharpie Mugs.”  There are varying opinions on what the “right” method is, but from what I gathered the most important things to ensure a lasting design through many washings is to use oil-based paint markers and bake at a hotter temperature (in this case 425F).  After combing through many posts I settled on three from which I gathered all of the information I used for my technique, including prep, template design transfer, and setting advice from Living Your Creative and The Cozy Old Farmhouse, as well as the great tip about designing your template on a computer from Pink Heels Pink Truck.  Here’s how I made my own DIY Sharpie Mug:


• Plain White Mug (mine was from Target)
Sharpie Oil Based Paint Markers (Fine)
• Rubbing Alcohol, Q-Tips, Paper Towels
• Scrap Paper, Ruler, Painter’s Tape, Sharp Pencil


• Wash and dry your mug thoroughly.  Wipe it  down with rubbing alcohol and allow to dry completely.

• Use scrap paper to measure out the template dimensions.  You can design what you’d like on your mug using your favorite computer program (I used Photoshop).  This could include text and/or images.  Make sure the template you design is set to the proper scale to fit your mug.  Print and cut down to size.  Or, draw out your design on paper cut to the proper dimensions.  Keep in mind that thicker lines are easier to transfer and trace onto the mug.

• Flip your cut template(s) over and completely shade the back of the text and/or images with pencil.  Make sure you shade the back of every possible area of your design for the best transfer.  

• Place your template onto the mug where you’d like it with the shaded side facing down (against the mug) and secure in place with tape.  Carefully trace the outline of your design pressing firmly onto the template using a sharp pencil.  When you’re done and you lift away the paper you’ll see a faint outline of your design left by the pencil lead.

• Use an oil based paint marker in the color(s) of your choice to fill in your design.  Please be advised that colors can change after baking.  Make sure you allow one side to dry completely before working on the other side if you have a two-sided design. You can use rubbing alcohol to “fix” any mistakes, but keep in mind that a little goes a long way.  Use it sparingly to avoid running.  I recommend lying down a small towel with a paper towel on top to help keep your mug in place while you work.

• Once you’ve finished filling in your entire design, allow the mug to dry for at least 24 hours before proceeding.  Make sure to clean up carefully around the design to remove any smudges and/or pencil marks.

• Place the mug on a sheet in your oven before turning the oven on.  Doing so will prevent your mug from cracking as a result of drastic changes in temperature.  Preheat your oven to 425F.  Once the oven is preheated, set your timer for 30 minutes.  At the end of 30 minutes, turn your oven off.  Leave the mug in the oven until the oven has completely cooled (this took about 4 hours for me).

• Let your mug sit for a few days before washing.  Now it’s ready to gift or use!  Some claim this setting process yields a “dishwasher safe” mug, but I recommend hand washing only for a lasting design.

*** Please be advised that I do not know whether this kind of paint pen is “food safe.”  There seems to be varying opinions whether the curing process of baking the mug makes it so or not.  If you’re concerned about it, I recommend avoiding placing your mug design anywhere it might come into contact with food or liquid. ***

You can see my step-by-step process in this video:

This is a fun project and a sweet handmade gift, but it is rather time consuming and takes some patience.  I’m very happy with how my mug turned out and I think Don will enjoy it.  I’d love to know if you decide to try this project how it turns out for you.  Feel free to send pictures via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram if you’d like.
Happy DIYing!


* Techniques used adapted from Living Your Creative, The Cozy Old Farmhouse, and Pink Heels Pink Truck.  All opinions are my own. *


12 thoughts on “Pinspired | DIY Sharpie Mug”

  1. I received one as a gift at Christmas from a friend it was personalised with my name on it and it was lovely idea.

  2. Are oil based markers food safe? I know that regular sharpie markers are not which is why you shouldn’t use them on the inside or anywhere that touches food/drink/mouths. That’s what it says on their website which is why I’ve always put this project off.

    I want to do ones for all of my family that say how they take their coffee or tea in a nice font. Eg. ‘Julie: Green tea, strong’, or Nicole: “Milk and one sugar”. Yours is so neat!

    1. I’m not 100% sure but I think because the paint “cures” in the oven (basically sets into the glaze) that makes it food safe. I’ll look into this.

  3. This is so cute! I have an thing for mugs and will definitely be going to Hobby Lobby to buy some plain ones to decorate now 🙂 These will also make great gifts. Thanks for sharing!!

  4. As it has been a few months since you completed this project, how is the lettering holding up? Any fading? Have you been hand washing the mugs?

    1. It’s still intact and Don uses it almost every day. I make sure to hand wash it and not scrub the lettering too hard.

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