Make: DIY Children's Plates made with Sharpies

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Meet Nom Nom and Chomp Chomp they love their veggies and their creator (that's me) loves simple and inexpensive DIY projects that look super fabulous! So I have seen this idea floating around and it's one where I wonder "does it really work?" because it just looks way too good and way too easy to be true.

So after seeing the wonderous Emily Henderson tackle a similar project I had to try because since she used one of my pillows on her HGTV show we are (imaginary) BFF's. And BFF's need shared experiences. I am mostly joking here. But the fact does not ever go unnoticed by me that she pretty much single handedly catapulted my Etsy business a mere two days after opening, I do love her so and completely trust her recommendations. I also might have sent her one too many "OMG thank you. You totally changed my entire life!" emails, oops. (If you have a little extra time to kill you can read about my pillow being on Emily's show here and here).

So, back to the project . . .What did I find after trying this project myself? I found that it is as easy as it looks and it actually turns out pretty well too! It cost me a whole 2 dollars for the plates, add one more dollar to that if you don't already have a sharpie, but I have about 8,000, so it was just two bucks at the dollar store. Just beware that $2.00 can turn to $20.00 real fast at the dollar store. I rarely allow myself to go in because of this fact. This particular trip, these "$2" plates actually cost me fifteen because I couldn't pass up this and that for only a dollar! But as always I don't even remember what this and that was now.

What To Do:

  • First make sure the plates/bowls/mugs are porcelain and oven safe. To start I made a sketch of what I wanted to draw and then used a pencil to trace it by sight. Then I went over my drawing with the sharpie. And don't worry if you freehand it like I did, if you make a mistake just use a little rubbing alcohol to "erase." I also made sure I didn't smudge the drawing so I would let it dry for a minute or two as I was drawing. *Please note a regular sharpie was used for this tutorial but you can get sharpie paint pens that are non-toxic, which I would highly recommend using for dishes that will come in contact with food. These pens can be purchased for just a few dollars at any craft store.*
  • Then let your plate sit for a half hour (I just made that part up but it seems like a good idea.) Turn your oven on to 350 and "bake your plates" for 30 minutes. Definitely let them cool for awhile before you touch them, they will obviously be hot!

Afterwards I washed them to "test" the durability and get any chemical residue off (that also seemed like a good idea). If you use a soft cloth you are good to go. Use an abrasive sponge and some of the drawing comes off. I don't have a dishwasher so I couldn't test that but based on my abrasive sponge test I am thinking these are something you will want to wash by hand and with care.

In the end it was probably one of the easiest and most satifying DIY's I have done recently. M+L love them, like really love them! I have washed them for every meal and snack in the last couple days and Nom Nom and Chomp Chomp are holding up really well!

* Again, if you are concerned about the toxicity of sharpies or sharpie paint pens being food safe I suggest using this project on the outside of a coffee mug and not placing it on a dish where it will come in contact with food.


  1. This is amazing it really does look too easy to be true. I have spent hours with a tiny brush and some porcelain paint to get pretty much the same effect! I will have to try this.


    1. yes, it is just so simple it's crazy! do try and let me know how it turns out!

  2. This is so clever! LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!

  3. While I like the idea, the problem for me is that sharpies are not considered "food-safe". Even enamel pens can be non-toxic but not food-safe.

    1. True! It's a great point that non-toxic does not mean food safe! It's definitely always a good idea to assess whether a project is something that you are comfortable making.

  4. I've been DIY failing all over the place. Here's what I learned with this one, you have to put the plate in the oven before you preheat and dishwasher = disaster. I did read, though, that Sharpies are actually non-toxic when dry. So that's a plus!

  5. I've been told it needs to be ceramic?? I tried porcelain and it didn't work :(

  6. I've been told it needs to be ceramic?? I tried porcelain and it didn't work :(

  7. I tried ceramic and the sharpie turned different colors and wiped right off

    1. I used porcelain and it worked on these guys. I haven't tried ceramic, so I am not sure about that. Also, working for some and not for others may have to do more with the glaze that is used than whether it's done correctly is my guess. For these plates they have been going strong but I did the same thing on a porcelain mug and it came off after a few washings???

      My advice now would be to buy the special sharpie pens that are just a couple dollars more because I have had great results with those no matter what I have used them on : ) Hope that helps!

  8. Uh... porcelain IS a ceramic. Just sayin'.

    1. haha, yes, porcelain is ceramic but not all ceramic is porcelain. kind of like all balsa is wood but not all wood is balsa wood ; ) how is all applies in the land of sharpie painting, i cannot say : )

  9. Does it make a diff. if you use BIC Permanent markers vs. Sharpie? I ask b/c I did these plates abt . an hr ago and I LOVE the drawings but I can scratch them right off. I thought maybe i hadn't given them time to dry but it's been a a few hrs now and they are the same. I can still scratch it off ;(

  10. Yes, I may have to agree that not all ceramic is porcelain. I just want to ask if this is applicable to blue and white ceramic?

  11. can this work with plastic plates and hairspray for decorating use only? i found this in a facebook group and they said use plastic plates then i found this and it says use ceramic so i'm hoping it works with plastic and hairspray, as long as no one eats from it.

  12. That may have been the cutest thing that I've seen in my life! Always keep their works of art 'cause time flies by so fast, one thing you'd know is that they would be attending school and after a few years they would be adolescents.

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  16. I have a question (sorry for being so late). I made a mistake with a Sharpie. Is there anything that I can do without using whiteout to erase it?

    I would've used ball pen, but I was in a hurry.

    Can anybody help me? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks so much!

  17. Oh, and sorry to add: I don't have any rubbing alcohol. Like I asked, are there any other solutions?

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