Sharpie Mug... Fab or Fail?

So before the whole Pinterest craze, I did a tutorial on how to make your own mug. My mugs have made wildly successful gifts. The older I get, the more I appreciate the thoughtfulness of handmade gifts. Aside from the fact that I'm a sentimental sucker, they're also great because they cost near to nothing and can be done by anyone no matter their artistic skill level. (Use a stamp or graphite pencil if you can 't draw so much as a stick figure, see my original tutorial here).

In the past I have always used Pebeo Porcelaine pens. (find the here) For my most recent mug however, I visited my local Michaels only to find that they no longer carry this product! In a bind (nearest Hobby Lobby an hour drive away, needed the project done NOW), I asked the sales associate if there was anything else she would recommend for such a project. She pointed me to the Sharpie oil-based paint marker (here) and referenced the ever-so-popular Pinterest mug project that has been circulating the internet, of which I was previously unaware (apparently I live under a rock). (They can be found here, here, and here).

The creative geniuses behind the Sharpie projects made the whole process look deceptively easy and delightfully cute. After doing a little research however, I found that people were having mixed results. After experimenting with both, here's my results. The Pebeo pen is totally permanent. I have run my mugs through the dishwasher probably over a hundred times and still no sign of fading or smudging. NONE. I didn't like the consistency of the Pebeo pen, it doesn't go on thick and it doesn't go on smooth. It takes a lot of meticulous work to get it on the way you want it. The thing I liked about the oil based Sharpie was that the consistency was soooo smooth. It was a delight to use. The paint went on thick and smooth as butter. BUT... it hasn't weathered the elements as well. It came with NO instructions at all. I baked it at 350
as a precaution. I handwashed it (as a test) before giving it out as a gift, and even then paint started flaking off. I wouldn't even think of running it through the dishwasher. There would be nothing left! And this was using the oil-based Sharpie, which is designed to mark permanently on glass and ceramics. After using this, I wouldn't even consider using a regular Sharpie (like the tutorial's recommend).

I still highly recommed the Pebeo Porcelaine pens. In fact, I swear by them. People on the internet say that they are "pricier", in reality they are about 2 dollars more than the oil based Sharpie. They run $7.20 on Dick Blick's, maybe even less if you visit your local art supply store. A small price to pay for something that will help you make permanent memories. The Pebeo pens are not that user friendly. It takes some practice to get your design to look right, but you gotta trust me on this one... it is well worth it.

I did like the Sharpie oil based marker... just not for a mug or anything that would need to be washed. I think it would be great for other projects. If you wanted to make some cute containers to hold sugar and creamer or decorate a porcelaine flower pot I think it would be the preferred marker. I love the way it marks. It is user friendly and goes on evenly and smoothly. I don't recommend it for mugs. Doesn't hold up under washings.

Hope this helps! I wanted to share my findings, because I think this is a fabulously easy craft that has endless possibilities. Your mug's gonna be awesome! Just make sure you have the right materials for the job.

How to Paint Tutorial for Beginners.

Ever thought you'd like to try painting, but have been intimidated by the extensive and expensive supplies in that section of the arts and craft store? I've met so may people that say "I wish I could paint like YOU do"... well, you can! Painting is not as hard as you might think. Its a great way to express your creativity, relieve stress, or find fulfillment through creating your own art. I wanted to break it down for a beginner. I assure you that no matter what your current level, this is something achievable and not as hard as you might think!

1. Figure out what you'd like to paint- Let's start simple. No portraits or pets (until you get a feel for painting). Trust me, you'll get frustrated. When I am finding inspiration for a painting I will sometimes just browse the internet or my photo files for pictures that I or others have taken that inspire me. Once I have compiled enough I start getting an idea of what direction I want to go in. A similar way you can do this is to go through magazines and cut out pictures that you like. You can fit the pictures together as a collage (think 8"x11" ish sized) or find a large picture that you'd like to try to paint. Print this picture out at its full size (I like Walgreens, its cheap, get the matte if possible).

2. Supplies- Depending on the dimensions of your picture, try to find a canvas in a corresponding size. Go as big or as small as you want. (I recommend Michael's for canvases, bring your coupon). Next invest in a set of acrylic paints (or oils if you're feeling adventurous). A sampler set is very reasonably priced. (You can check Michael's or Walmart). Also get a set of starter brushes. If you find you love painting and want to advance to the next level you're going to need to invest in some more expensive brushes, but a starter set will do for now. Make sure you have some paper plates and cups on hand for paint mixing and brush rinsing. Or buy a small plastic palette if you're feeling froggy.

3. Graph your stuff- Graph out your photograph and canvas (USE PENCIL ON CANVAS). I can't spell this one out for you because canvases and pictures run different sizes, but you need them to correspond. I usually break my photo into 1 inch chunks and then graph my canvas into a corresponding grid. Sometimes I need to knock off a row or column on my photo to make it work. That's OK. You won't miss it. If you have trouble with this step, consult someone who's good at math. That's usually what I have to do.

4. Draw your photo onto your canvas (use pencil)- Using your grid as a guideline, transfer your picture onto your canvas. The grid should make it much easier to get the dimensions right.

5. Figure out what colors you will need to do your painting. If you are using a starter paint set, you're going to have to learn how to mix colors. Its not hard, once you get the hang of it. If you need help, here's a color wheel.  Mix your paints and play around with it. If you make a mistake, its no big deal! Acrylics dry fast and you can paint over it. If your photo has a background, work on that first and then work forward to objects in front. Use your pencil drawings as a guideline. If you get stuck, try to view your photo as colors and shapes instead of concrete objects. If you have trouble, try picking a picture to paint that is simpler. Try an abstract piece (like the one I did below).  Sometimes these allow you to learn to see colors and shapes instead of objects. Don't give up! Painting is a wonderful hobby that everyone can enjoy if they are willing to take the time to learn the basics.

Kurt Vonnegut - "To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to 
make your soul grow. So do it."

I painted this reproduction of Van Gogh's Starry Night using the techniques I described above. I used oil paints on canvas 24"x36".  

Tutorial (good for beginners)! decorate your own mug

So I did a tutorial awhile back on making your own mosaic frame that was wildly successful, so I thought I'd post another easy craft. I like things that can be done in varying levels of difficulty (beginner to expert) and that don't require a lot of expensive materials, because lets face it... who has the money for that?! Something that I have had a lot of fun with has been Pebeo Porcelaine pens. It is essentially a permanent marker that writes on glass... permanently.  I love this craft because of its adaptability, and it makes a perfect personalized gift. My favorite glass items to decorate are coffee mugs, because everybody loves coffee, tea, (or at least something they can drink out of a cup... maybe you drink whiskey out of your mug, that's OK too!), but you can use really whatever you want (a vase, plates, bowls, anything glass). The markers come in different colors and are very affordable. If you are just starting out, I'd recommend at least the black one.  From there, let your creative juices flow! If you aren't artistic, you can write a personalized message or use a stamp. For this, all you will need is a mug (or whatever you are decorating), a super awesome, cute stamp (check out your local craft stores), and a pebeo porcelaine pen (preferably in black).  Stamps can be tricky, because on a round surface (like a mug), you have to roll it from left to right, pushing fairly hard, but the end result is amazing and everyone will think you are an artistic genious (even if you're not). If the stamping gets smudged, never fear! You can wipe off mistakes and fill in gaps with your marker pen. When you are getting the stamp inked with the paint, try to get an even coverage of the stamp, but not too thick, because that can cause the aforementioned smudging. If you are feeling really brave, you can use your colored markers to fill in the gaps and embellish the mug even more!

OK, stamps sounds too easy? Draw your own design. Let your imagination run free!  I made a favorite mug for my best friend that had inside jokes, pictures, and quotes all over it! She loved it!

After you have your item decorated to your satisfaction, you follow the directions on the package and bake it in the oven. Then you're done! Everyone will be jealous, and the best part is that the paint is non-toxic and dishwasher safe, so you can do more than just look at your pretty mug, you can actually use it!

Have fun, and be creative!

Update for September

Hello, what has everyone been up to? I have been busy! I just started my first semester of grad school and it is INTENSE, especially with working fulltime hours. I do try to balance some play into routine though. Lately I have been loving loving LOVING cooking. It is my special quiet creative time, with the big payoff of deliciousness. Its like a craft you can eat. Anyways, some of the latest favorites have been quinoa with chicken sausage, guacamole chicken with rice and beans, and salmon with cucumber yogurt sauce. When I'm not cooking (or sleeping, or working, or doing homework) I love playing with my kittens. I never thought of myself as a cat person. In fact, I was the kind of slightly-mean-spirited person always making fun of "crazy cat ladies". Swear to God, I always thought cat people were psychopaths, but suddenly I've found myself in love. They do sweet things like put small objects in my shoes, climb on top of my head, and wink at me. So now you know, the secrets out. Oh and to end the post, I'll leave you with some pictures of my "children"

Real life cat fight!

etsy stuff

I have decided to reopen the Etsy shop. This time around, I am focusing less on quantity and more on quality of items.

Ahem... so uh... so far I have 4. However, not to worry! I will be adding more quality items as time permits!

Here are a couple new ones.

I have also joined the FEST (Florida Etsy Steet Team) and have become obsessed with making treasuries. << The most recent one. >>

creative block?

I must say, I haven't had much to write about lately. I seem to be up against a creative block. I have heard different rememdies for creative block, some better than others.

- Some say: wait it out. Creative block is part of the creative process. Its like sleep. It gives your brain time to recuperate and subconsciosly develop creative ideas. While this sounds good, I have found no evidence to support it and it kind of seems like an excuse for not trying.

- Others say: make art even if you're not feeling creative. Sometimes just doodling or messing around can trigger a great idea. I agree somewhat with this. I have had some creative breakthroughs by just messing around, although, probably not my best ideas.

- Still others say: Go out and look for inspiration! Go to museums, look through magazines, find things that inspire you to push boundaries and break down walls. I have found that this works... sometimes. It has probably been my most successful method in finding new ideas.

So the way I see it, there are 3 ways of finding creativity: passive, active, and aggressive. I think that they all have a time and place in the creative process, but in my experience the harder I push for it, the more I succeed. Being passive has never done great things for me. What about you? How do you find creativity?