Custom Kids Mugs

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By Kid’s Craft Contributor, Gillian from the blog “Dried Figs and Wooden Spools”.

With all the cold weather that has swamped our part of the country this winter, we’ve been drinking a lot of hot chocolate and warm tea. And while my kids are generally pretty careful with dishes, I prefer not to hand them their treat in one of my vintage tea cups. I could, of course, pick up a plain old mug somewhere for each of them or dig into the collection of sentimental, but not valuable coffee mugs that reside under the kitchen sink, but where would be the fun in that?

When I was a kid I remember carefully coloring a picture that my mother sent off to be made into a mug in some mysterious factory. While that’s still an option, a homemade version is also easily done now a days thanks to inkjet waterslide decal paper. Whew, that’s a mouthful, I know. Basically this is the stuff that model makers use to add details to cars, planes and trains. It’s a printable paper that, once sealed, can be soaked in water and applied to just about any surface you want.

My kids put in requests for images (a Welsh Dragon and a crown) but you could easily scan some artwork of their own making and size it to fit on the mug. Either way, once you have your art, here’s what else you need:

Waterslide decal paper – this is available at model shops, I like 5 x 8.5 inches because there is less waste
Clear gloss lacquer spray
Old mugs – white is best
Your computer and a printer

Size the document (look under page set up) to the size of your actual paper and import the art you want to put on your mug. I generally like to try to fit it all on one half a sheet, this way I can still put the other half in the printer at a later date and have little waste. Print your images and allow the ink to dry completely, give it a good two hours otherwise the ink may run when you seal it.

Once it’s dry, spray a thin coat of lacquer over the paper and allow that to dry. Go back and add a second and maybe a third coat, allowing it to have a few minutes of dry time between each layer.

Cut out the art as closely to the edges as possible. The decal will slide off clear but you want as little extra material as possible. Drop the decals into a bowl of cool tap water. They will curl up at first then sink. If they float on the surfact, push them down so they are totally submerged.

After about a minute the decal will slide freely off of the paper. Being careful not to let it fold on itself, arrange the decal onto the clean, flat surface of the mug, smoothing out any bubbles. When you are satisfied with the placement of the image, lightly spray two more coats of the lacquer, again allowing a few minutes of dry time between each layer (hint – turn the mug upside down on a piece of cardboard before spraying to avoid getting any inside the mug)

While not dishwasher safe, the decals will last through handwashing and is a great way to repurpose old mugs.

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About Gillian

Gillian Grimm lives in Charlottesville, Virginia where she balances writing, cooking and crafts with eight chickens, two kids, a dog, a cat and a husband. As the daughter of a Journalist, she grew up all over the United States, switching schools, towns and newspapers every few years and loved every minute of it! She now works as a freelance writer, primarily in the craft industry but with a few forays into travel writing, narrative non-fiction and educational matters. Gillian was recently published in the literary journal the “The Northville Review”. You can find more of Gillian’s work at “Dried Figs and Wooden Spools”.

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