The Pinterest fad of using Sharpies on ceramic mugs got me wondering if it would work. And sadly, it didn’t. So I decided to try some products that were actually made for glass and ceramics. All of them were found locally in those national chain craft stores. I included an oil-based Sharpie, and a Silver Sharpie.
The good news is that the products designed for glass and ceramics actually hold up pretty well through my washing, scrubbing, and steel wool tests. You can read about that here. All I had left to do was a dishwasher test, which would take a while.
A quick summary: the stuff designed to work on ceramics and go through the dishwasher actually works pretty well! I left the test tile in my dishwasher for two weeks, running it through about 10 times. It’s a brand new dishwasher, an LG, that has a 2 hour run cycle. I used 1 Great Value dishwasher pack per cycle (why Great Value? It got great reviews in a consumer magazine — and it works great and is really inexpensive!). Some cycles were normal, some heavy, and some “quick” (meaning only about an hour and a half instead of two hours).
Here’s the before and after (click on them to enlarge them):
I wish I had better pictures. But, I think it’s apparent that the Rainbow markers washed off after the first wash. To be completely fair, the markers clearly stated they weren’t dishwasher safe, therefore, they performed exactly as they said they would. Other than that, it’s pretty clear that the other media will do good to great in the dishwasher.
Looking at each one individually, here are my comments:
The PenTouch Metallic pen stayed on quite well. It did shift colors a bit, becoming duller and less metallic. However, for a fun project that doesn’t need to last forever, it performs quite well. Other than the color shift, the paint is in great condition. The dull/less metallic color isn’t a bad thing…I’ve had other drinkware that has gold-tone printing fade like this. It’s not a bad thing, just a bit worn.
The Oil Based Sharpie and the Silver Sharpie both performed fairly well. There seemed to be some wear on the writing, particularly where it had been abraded by the steel wool. That tells me that it should hold for a fun project until the paint gets a bit damaged from normal wear and tear, then it might wear quickly.
The Porcelaine paints were outstanding. There seems to be absolutely no change. It looks like they’ll hold for a long, long time. I would use these on a project I’d like to keep for a long, long time.
The Folk Art paints and the Americana Gloss Enamel paint performed great. The gold showed a slight color-shift, much like the PenTouch Metallic (and I think that’s a function of the pigments used to make gold metallic paints/inks). The other colors may be slightly faded, but not enough for me to recommend against them. In fact, based on this test, I was quite pleasantly surprised at how well a $2 bottle of paint performed. I’d use these on long-term projects. I’ve purchased plastic, glass, and ceramic drinkware that has faded more over the same 10 washings.
Remember that in that blank space was a Regular Sharpie that didn’t make it through all the tests. The Rainbow Markers did a great job as a craft marker — something that I’d use for projects that aren’t expected to have a long life.
In my opinion, the Porcelaine products are the best. The Folk Art and Americana Gloss Enamel paints are also quite nice. The PenTouch Metallic makes a lovely line, but does color-shift after repeated washings — not in a bad way, but it does shift. And the Oil Based Sharpie and Silver Sharpie makes up nicely, but won’t wear quite as well as the others. They are in marker forms, while the Folk Art and Americana paints require a paint brush. The Porcelaine paints are available in markers, though I haven’t tried them.
All in all, these are some wonderful, readily available, inexpensive media to create your own dishwasher-safe decorations on glass and ceramic surfaces.
Note: None of these products should be used on surfaces that will come in contact with food or one’s mouth. Avoid decorating the top rim of mugs and glasses, avoid the interior areas of bowls and plates, and keep the decorating to the handles of cooking, serving, and eating utensils. Please be safe![There is a Part IV to this series that tests sealing glass and ceramic Sharpies with Mod Podge.]