Dinnerware Decorating

Written By: Anya Uzo - 7/23/2019

One thing that always amazes us is how creativity comes out in the most interesting ways, whether that be planning your garden or plating a dish. The opportunities for being creative are endless.

This summer we saw creativity and artistic expression come out in one of the more magnificent ways: dinnerware decorating! Young people were given the option to decorate a plate, bowl or mug to their liking, and the results were spectacular.

A lot of people drew inspiration from the garden itself by designing their dinnerware with flowers and their favorite fruits and veggies. Others took a more abstract approach, marking their pieces with intricate patterns, minimalist dots, and squiggles or some free expression lines. Others seized the opportunity to make the plate or bowl they always wanted, whether that be a dragon in the center of a soup bowl or a plate with their favorite sports team logo on it.

The cherry on top of all of this is that after our campers' dishes were decorated, they just needed to seal their designs by baking their dishes in the oven. Then they're water-resistant, dishwasher safe, and ready to use!


  1. Select a microwave and dishwasher safe piece of dinnerware.
  2. Purchase an oil-based non-toxic paint marker. (We used Sharpie)
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Decorate your dish however you want!
  5. Bake your dinnerware in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Helpful Tips

  • We cannot stress this enough: Make sure your oven is at 350 degrees and these dishes bake for exactly 30 minutes. The color of your design is very sensitive and can seriously change; off temperatures and cook times can make your neon yellow turn into a deep amber.
  • Don't go too heavy on the ink. A lot of people wanted to make opaque colors with their markers to get a rich, deep color. But the downside is that when you bake it, it can cause some areas to crack and chip off. Coloring in shapes are fine, but if you're looking to make a multilayered Monet on your mug we would suggest moving to pottery paints instead.
  • Plan it out! We encourage people to draw on their dish with pencils first. This allows you to map out how your design is going to look, and it clears up any mistakes you might have along the way. Because these are oil-based paint pens your marks on your dish are final. You can't use water or even your spit to smudge things out if you mess up, which is why planning it out in pencil helps.
  • Slow and steady wins the race. Go slow with this project. As mentioned prior, marks are final. It would be unfortunate to see a stray mark be made because you were trying to draw something in 10 minutes. We think this project is great for a rainy day when you're cooped up inside, looking for something to do.
  • Goodwill is your best friend. Goodwill is our best friend for many reasons, but for this project it can mean a $10 to $25 difference in your cost. Goodwill is loaded with great dinnerware for this project; mugs are usually 50 cents and a set of 5 plates can be anywhere from $3 to $7.
  • Keep an eye on your dinnerware. After the dish is baked and sealed try not putting it in the microwave or oven, just so the colors stay intact. As mentioned before, heat can alter your colors so do your best not to reheat the dishes.

Have fun, and please share what you make with us!

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