Picture of Love mug
Use a stencil and bake-on enamel paint to turn a kitschy mug into a valentine (or a piece of coffee-holding art)
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Step 1: Gather supplies

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You will need:
a mug (I found this fine San Francisco souvenir item at my local thrift store)
enamel paint (Wal-Mart craft section)
scrap of contact paper
sharp exacto knife
some sort of design
an oven

Also nice:
a paintbrush

Finally, I'll share the factoids about the San Francisco Cable Car system that are on my dorky mug

Step 2: Attach your pattern

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Wrap the mug with contact paper as smoothly as possible.

Next tape on your design. I drew this (crappy) design but a silhouette image works great and you can find tons online. In fact, if it's birds you want, try here:

Factoid: The first cable car in San Francisco started in 1893

Step 3: Cut out your stencil

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Use your exacto knife to carefully cut around your design. Consider carefully which parts of the stencil to remove. Note that the paint is not approved for contact with food so you probably want to stay away from the rim of your mug.

Factoid: Cable cars were invented by a man named Andrew something or other (I can't read it now that I've stenciled over it. Oops)

Step 4: Paint

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Paint over the entire area but be careful not to force paint under the edges of your stencil.

Factoid: Something about 9.5 miles per hour, maybe that's how fast they go? These are some pretty bad factoids since I can only read part of each one!

Step 5: Remove stencil

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This is the tricky part and I would welcome collaboration and ideas. On the first ones I made, I removed the stencil immediately when I finished painting and had problems with the paint smearing.

This time I waited until the paint was dry (1 hour) and found that the edges peeled up along with the stencil so the edges weren't clean. It helps if you peel really carefully but is there a perfect time to peel?

Factoid: Operation of a cable car requires 2 people, a gripman and a brakeman
mawga6 years ago
can I use permenamel paint? this has been used for painting ceramic tiles and it is diswasher safe and no baking,
mdhaworth (author)  mawga6 years ago
I think you might be able to but I'd keep it away from areas food or your mouth will touch since it might be toxic...
shiroa6 years ago
is there any way to remove the initial logos/paintings?
finfan7 shiroa6 years ago
sandpaper and reglazing
mdhaworth (author)  shiroa6 years ago
Not that I know of--sorry
no worry, great instructables btw =D
The easiest way to lift a stencil without lifting the paint as well is to use that lovely stencil cutting blade and use it to sort of hold down each edge as you lift the stencil. If you come across a spot that wants to stick, use the stencil cutting knife to cut the paint. I do this when the paint is "leather hard," dry to the touch, but not hard as a rock and bonded to each surface. Terrific instructable. Gives me an idea about what to do with the twelve zillion promotional coffee mugs that are kicking around our house.
canida8 years ago
A neat way to reclaim boring or ugly gift mugs! As for the stencil-peeling, I'd guess this is much like figuring out when to remove the tape if you're painting with gloss or semi-gloss paint. There you just want it to lose that initial wet look, and yank the tape after that point but before it develops a skin. This is a trial-and-error method, though; I don't know of a better rule of thumb.