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Secrets to the DIY Sharpie Mug

Updated on January 9, 2013

Sharpie mugs are all the rage! If you are new to the Sharpie mug phenomenon it is simple, take some Sharpies, draw on a mug, and place it in the oven for a hand crafted permanently designed mug. However, there are a lot of sites giving different information about the process that does not always rein true. Many people have had failures in doing these mugs. I have tested these mugs multiple times and have come up with some tricks and info to maximize the potential for a Sharpie mug that does not come off in the dishwasher.

Note: If you are seriously interested in this, there is always the option to purchase the oil based Sharpie paint pens which are pricey but work really well. Part of what makes the Sharpie Mugs so popular is that it is a craft that you can do immediately because you already have the supplies at home.

So, if you are still interested in doing a regular Sharpie Mug, read on!

Tips and Tricks

  1. Get a ceramic mug. Now, this may sound simple but from my trials and errors I have noticed that the more expensive the mug, the better the glaze on it will be. A better glaze is not good. You want the glaze to be able to meld with the markers in order to make it permanent so usually dollar mugs work the best. I have had the most success with Mainstays mugs at Walmart and the cheap dollar store mugs. This is where most people go wrong. Get a cheap mug!
  2. Your mug has to be clean. I don't mean that it has to be washed, but there can be no oil residue left on it. This is really important. If there is any oil between the marker and the mug, the marker will not become permanent. The best/easiest way to clean the oil off your mug is to use rubbing alcohol. Once it is clean, you need to be very careful touching the mug while drawing on it. Use gloves if you must.
  3. If you plan on writing words on your mug, use painters tape to make a guideline. It is very difficult to write straight on a curvy surface.
  4. If you plan to draw an image, I recommend that you practice on a scrap sheet of paper first.
  5. Not all Sharpies stay the same color once baked! Many colors tend to fade. For instance I discovered that red, fades to a pale yellow. However, a BIC permanent marker red stays the same color after baking. If you can, fire a test run on a small plate. I will be adding a test plate to my blog for those who are interested. It should be up soon at
  6. Did you mess up? Did the marker run a bit? Use a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol to clear the mistakes. Be careful not to let the alcohol run onto the other designs.
  7. Is it all done? I recommend waiting 24 hours for the marker to fully dry. Some people have had better luck after doing this.
  8. Place your mug in the oven first. Then turn it to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. You are probably wondering why I am not saying 350 degrees like everyone else. Well, I had no luck at such a low temperature. The problem is the glaze is not hot enough to bond with the marker. Once I turned the oven up, there was a noticeable difference in the longevity of the design. The mug needs to be in the oven before you turn it on so that it slowly heats with the oven. This will prevent cracking.
  9. You can start the timer for 30 minutes once you have your mug in. If your oven takes a long time to heat, start the timer at 30 minutes once it has reached 425 degrees.
  10. I recommend checking in on your mug every once in a while. You want to be sure that the mug, if white, does not brown in the heat. I have never had it happen but I have read about it.
  11. Once the timer goes off, you can shut the oven off. DO NOT REMOVE YOUR MUG. If you remove your mug immediately after, there is a chance that it might crack.
  12. When the oven has cooled completely you can remove your mug. Test it by running a wet rag over it. Did the image stay? If not, it may need to go in for round two. If it did stay, awesome! The next test is the dishwasher. If it passes the dishwasher, congrats on your DIY Sharpie mug!

I hope these tips and tricks help out those of you crafty people who want to do these as gifts, or just for fun!


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    • Craig O profile image

      Craig O 11 months ago from Las Vegas

      So smart, if only there was a ceramic mug with a lid, I need cups with lids because my coffee gets cold before I can drink it. I must be a slow drinker.

    • profile image

      Jo 22 months ago

      I want to start making these sharpie mugs, just writing messages on them. I don't know whether to buy fine or medium tipped pens. Please help. They are not cheap, so I want to get it right. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Marigrace 2 years ago

      I would like to ask if how if I will be using microwave oven for sharpie mugs? Is is still be 30 mins?

    • profile image

      mara saquii 2 years ago

      hi! I made the sharpie mug and it turned out well except that I didn't put it in the oven yet! Is it Ok if I place it in the microwave? or are there any other techniques other than the oven. I need the answer quick as I have to gift it! Thanks.

    • BreeLink profile image

      Brenna Link-Barkley 3 years ago from New York

      I am so happy that it worked out for you. I have my first mug that I did still. After a year and a half, it has worn off a bit but hey I am still pretty darn happy with how long it lasted and I could touch it up if I wanted.

    • BreeLink profile image

      Brenna Link-Barkley 3 years ago from New York

      They are usually labeled as oil-based paint sharpies. I hope that helps!

    • BreeLink profile image

      Brenna Link-Barkley 3 years ago from New York

      Sorry for the delay! Not all work. I found that often the lighter colors turn brown. I would stick with darker colors if you can. Otherwise, spring for actual markers made for writing on ceramic.

    • profile image

      Drew 3 years ago

      how do I know if my sharpie is oil based? I used the fine til pen. Would it say on the package if it was oil based? Thanks!

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      Brittany 3 years ago

      I just did this, used oil-based sharpies, let it dry for 24 hours, then baked in oven for 30 minutes at 350 (letting the mug heat up and cool down with the oven), used it, washed in dishwasher last night and used it again this morning. It looks fabulous and I am so excited to do more!

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      Courtney 4 years ago

      will all colors of bic permanent marker work and stay the same color?