Altered Art: Enamelled Mugs

You know how it is… you’re idly scrolling through your Facebook timeline and up pops one of these videos. Five Minute Crafts. Crafty Mom. Tasty. I got drawn in by one on marbling (always something I have been fascinated by) using nail varnish on water. It looked so simple. So I had a go at doing some enamelled mugs.

Enamelled Mugs

These are the mugs I use for guests in my studio, and I thought it would be great to add a splash of colour. Hmmm – I now know why some people watching me say ‘you make it look so easy’. First off, some nail polish doesn’t float on water. It just forms a ball and quietly slips to the bottom. Second… the nail varnish likes to dry quite quickly, so you have to work quickly. Third – the nail polish film is just as slippery as a water decal transfer, for the same reason. A little layer of water gets trapped under, and it’s very easy to smudge your colour film. Fourth, said water layer also slows drying – try to speed it up and you end up with bubbles under your nail varnish.

Needless to say, working on glazed mugs was an excellent idea, as with a wipe of acetone, I could try again. And again. And again. These might be the only three mugs of eight that get the colour treatment.

I ended up backing the mugs with their varnish on at 100 deg C for 30 mins in the oven to make sure they were absolutely dry. I then put three layers of Mod Podge Dishwasher safe sealant over the top, and allowing it to cure for the required 14 days before running them through the dishwasher.

The mugs inadvertently ended up in the dishwasher about ten days after sealing them. The result was bubbling, slipping and peeling of the sealant, and lifting of the enamel. I’ve just finished scraping off the resulting mess, with the hope that the dishwasher will remove the rest. Moral of the story? Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and consider ‘dishwasher safe’ to mean ‘hand wash only’ in this circumstance.

used in this project