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DIY Sharpie Mug Fails

DIY projects are a wonderful way to express your creativity—but sometimes they end in disaster. These DIY sharpie mugs are proof that when crafting goes wrong, all you can do is laugh.

By Heather Mann

Craft Fail

Written by Heather Mann, self-described “failure enthusiast” and publisher of the popular Craft Fail blog, CraftFail (Workman Publishing, 2014) illustrates the gruesome underbelly of the creative process. Inspired by her own craft experiences, Heather gathered real-life home décor fails, fashion fails, holiday fails, food fails, kid fails and best of all—EPIC fails (those projects that are so inspiring that they are attempted again and again by members of the crafty tribe to, quite frankly, disastrous results)! These DIY sharpie mugs from Chapter 7, “A for Effort,” fall into the epic fail category.

Sometimes you do everything right. Except that one thing. Whether it’s using fabric you have on hand instead of what is recommended, making do with the wrong tool, or forgetting to read just one word in the instructions, sometimes, despite your best intentions, it just ends up wrong. Some prefer to skim the directions, others view crafting rules as more of what you’d call “guidelines,” or are paralyzed with performance anxiety—it’s not always the craft’s fault. We hope you’ll find some kindred craftfailers among our collection of right crafts gone wrong.

Original sharpie mugs

The DIY Sharpie Mug

The Sharpie Mug first came on the scene in a big way through the popular lifestyle blog A Beautiful Mess. The project, published in June 2012 as “His and Hers Sharpie Mugs,” became a viral hit on Pinterest, and many crafters attempted to replicate the project the world over. Although Elsie and Emma can do no wrong, their followers, it appears, can—and how!

Spoiler alert: Don’t put your Sharpie Mug anywhere near a dishwasher.

I’m sorry, I mustache you to try again

Mustache mug 

Philip tried to use the Sharpie Mug technique to make a birthday present for his friend who has a mustache and soul patch.

Don’t bother reading directions, it’s obvious what to do

Avatar mug before washing  Avatar mug after washing

It’s a common trait of craftfailers: doing a project without reading the actual instructions.

My love for you is fading

You and me mug before washing  You and me mug after washing

Randi initially had good luck with her Sharpie Mug, making sure to only hand-wash. For months she deemed it a success—until some disgraceful person put it in the dishwasher.

The Immortal Sharpie Mug

Tips, in case you DO decide to make a Sharpie Mug:

• Cheap mugs fare better because of their inferior glaze (all the better to stain you with, my dear). Check the dollar store or other discount stores.

• Before applying your Sharpie design, clean the mug with rubbing alcohol and allow to dry. This will clean any residue off the mug that could interfere with the design.

• To set the ink onto the mug, cure the mug. Set it in a cold oven, and heat the oven to 450 degrees F, then let it bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the mug in there until the oven cools completely.

• Hand-wash only, with no abrasives. These mugs are not dishwasher safe.

• If all this mug mollycoddling sounds like too much work, use a pen that was designed to work on ceramic in the first place, such as a Pebeo Porcelaine marker, or apply a design with glass paints (such as Martha Stewart Glass Paints), and make sure to follow the package directions.

Reprinted with permission from CraftFail: When Homemade Goes Horribly Wrong by Heather Mann and published by Workman Publishing, 2014.

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