Art idea supplied by Ewan McDougal
One of the problems often found with children’s craft activities is what to do with the art work after it’s done. My favourite craft activities are always the ones that leave you with something that you can use afterwards. After all how many drawings and colouring-ins can you really pin to your fridge. One solution could be to create personalised mugs that proudly display your child’s art work for years to come. One way you could do this is by photographing your child’s creation and using a mug printing company to have it transferred on to a mug. Having the mug printed can produce great results, however with a little extra effort you could consider having your child paint directly onto the mug. This needs a little more preparation than some craft activities but the results are a lot of fun.
Porcelain paints: For this activity, you’ll need to get some special paints. You can find porcelain paints at most craft shops or online. You can also buy porcelain pens if you think your child might find these easier. When choosing your paints, make sure you find the variety that can be fired at low temperatures in an oven rather than a kiln.
Tracing and transfer paper (for older children): Not essential, but if you have older children who want to paint a more complicated design, using tracing and transfer paper will allow them to perfect their drawing on paper first then copy the outline of this onto the mug for colouring in.
Masking tape and a sponge: To cover the areas that shouldn’t be painted (more important for young children)
A Home Oven: When your mug is painted you’ll need to fire it in an oven, if you’ve got the right paints any home kitchen oven should do.
A Mug: Last but certainly not least, the mug you want to paint. Any plain porcelain mug will be fine, you can probably find one at your local pound shop or other cheap discount shop.
What to do:
Now you know what equipment you need the activity really becomes quite self-explanatory. Pour out the paints onto a plate for your child, give them a brush and the mug then see what their imagination comes up with. The only real rule you need to make sure your child follows when mug painting is not to paint the inside or rim of the mug. This is because although most porcelain paints are non-toxic, when they come into contact with acidic foods there is a slim chance this could change, so it’s best not to let the mug user’s mouth or drink come into contact with the paints. If you think your child might struggle with understanding this rule or just doesn’t have the hand eye coordination then you can fill the mug with a sponge and wrap the rim in masking tape to prevent these areas from accidentally being painted.
If you have an older child who wants to practice and perfect there design first, let them draw it on paper. Once they have done this either you or they can trace it onto the tracing paper. Then stick the transfer paper onto the mug under the tracing paper, use a pencil to go over the design one more time. After this removing the tracing and transfer paper should reveal the outline of your child’s design faintly on the mug ready to be coloured in with the porcelain paints.
Once the mug is fully painted, you need to fire it. Read the instructions that come with your paints for the exact details, but you will need to bake your mug in an oven for about 30 minutes at 150°C (300°F). It is generally preheating the oven the temperature of the mug should increase slowly. You should of course also remove the sponge and any tape from the mug before baking it.
With some luck and practice, you should now be able to create beautiful personalised mugs with very personal designs on them, great for identifying a mug as your child’s own personal one or giving it to friends and family as a gift.