Crafts Crafts

Hand Painted Porcelain Dishware

When I saw a post on — where else — Pinterest, for using something called a porcelain pen on china that you then bake in the oven and it becomes permanent, I thought to myself  I had to try that. I found one brand called DecoArtGlass Paint Marker at Joan’s Craft Stores, and I found the Uchida DecoColor Opaque Paint Market at my local Jerry’s Artarama, but any opaque oil-based paint marker should work.

Now why weren’t these pens around 16 or 17 years ago?

When Amanda was young, maybe 5 or so, for her birthday party I asked each child what their favorite book was on the invitations. For their party favor, I used one of those kits where I drew my picture freehand on the melamine plate they provided and send it into the company where they somehow treat it and made the design permanent. At the party the children got to use their new plate for the birthday cake, and then they got to take it home and use it again and again. For years after that moms would stop me to say that their child still used that plate all those years later.

I was so excited when I looked and found I still had some of these plates tucked away.

A picture from the book The Strange Blue Creature by

And to prove how old I'm getting, I cannot even remember the name of this book!

And I must have done this plate for India's 4th birthday.

The problem with a project of this magnitude, just like the dreaded “Lunch Bags” became, is that while they were pretty significant undertaking with one child, they were impossible to tackle when I had two, let alone when 2 turned into 4. My younger kids still feel like they got the short end of the stick in life because they didn’t get hand-painted lunch bags to take to school every day or custom cake plates to send home with their friends at their birthday parties.  So use this page for inspiration, or for a good laugh. Oh, and if you actually manage to paint custom lunch bags or plates as party favors and you have more than one child, drop me a note because I want to personally tell you that you are amazing.

So I bought  dinner plate, salad plate and coffee cup at Target. Simple white porcelain. Dishwasher and microwave safe. I removed all stickers and washed it well. I knew I wanted a simple design. While the pens claim to be “fine point”, it would be hard to do something very detailed with one on a plate. I chose barbed wire for some strange reason. Must  be the Wyoming in me. I went to the trust internet and printed out some images of barbed wire so I had a general idea of what it should look like in detail, measured the area where I wanted it on the plate, and drew the design to fit the areas. I did 4 separate strips of wire to go around the outside of the dinner plate. I used the same sized circular wire design on the center of both plates, but shrunk it on my printer/copier for the coffee cup layout. The circular wire around the top edge of the coffee mug I did freehand.

A technique I learned the hard way while teaching myself to do linoleum cutting is to use paper, a #2B or #4B art pencil and a bone folder to transfer designs easily onto another surface. What is a bone folder you ask? I did too. Sounds like something a serial killer keeps in his handy tool kit, doesn’t it. Well, it looks a bit like a letter opener and it is actually made out of bone. You can find it at most craft or art supply stores.

It’s such a simple concept, yet when I first realized I could transfer images this way I felt like crying at all the time I’d wasted using other methods.

Take your pencil drawn design and lay it in the desired area on the porcelain piece. Tape it securely down all around. Using the bone folder, rug all over the image, pressing firmly. Lift a corner to see if design has transferred, and if not, rub the image some more until you can see the image pretty clearly. Now I did find that it was hard to transfer onto the porcelain surface, but it did transfer lightly, which was all I really wanted in this case. This method works great when transferring my designs onto linoleum.

Design is taped around outside edge of plate.

Design is transferred onto plate with bone folding tool.

Then I just took a black porcelain pen and carefully traced over my design. The paint dries pretty quickly, but use caution not to smudge anything.

Using the pen, I just drew over the transferred pattern, being careful not to smudge anything.

I used the same method to transfer the center design when the outside was dry.

Transfer the design with a bone folding tool.

The transferred design.

The finished plate.

I just continued this with the salad plate and the mug until I had a finished set.

The finished set.

Now in my spare time I just have to do 5 more sets.


  1. Love the plates. Congrats on winning the Country Living readers choice contest.

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