Saturday, June 22, 2013

Show-and-Tell Saturday: Mug Garden

If you have checked out our newly updated Schedule page in the last two weeks or so you'll see that we decided to add another fun day to the blog...Show-and-Tell Saturday! Here's how we described it: "Each Saturday we will be showing you a project we did from Pinterest. The idea here is to show you techniques we learned, pins we tested, store knock-off projects we did, and to share our "marvelous" ideas on Pin Spins. Now...we'd love to say that we're crafting/cooking/handyman/beauty/gardening gurus...but we're not. We're pretty average 20-something year-olds, so these projects most likely won't be magazine worthy...but that's not what we're going for. We just want to create and enjoy the process and to help you be motivated to get out and try something. Life isn't Pinterest-perfect, and that's perfectly okay!"

We're really excited for Show-and-Tell Saturdays, especially during these theme weeks! Emilee and I will be switching weeks off so that one week I get Mix-it Up Monday and the Wednesday/Friday posts and she'll get the Tuesday/Thursday posts and Show-and-Tell Saturday, and the next I'll get the Tuesday/Thursday/Show-and Tell Saturday posts and she'll get the Mix-it-Up Monday/Wednesday/Friday posts. I was pretty excited to get to do the first Show-and-Tell Saturday and to plan a project around mugs for the finale of Mug Week. Perusing Pinterest I found a number of different ideas that I smashed together for my project and I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. 

So to start, here were my pins of inspiration:
I've been trying to incorporate these decorating mantras in my house. #3 is harder than you'd think! So my goal with this project was to get something living in my dining/living room. 

Here was my plan:
-Hit up thrift shops to find mugs.
-Spray paint and hand paint the mugs to cover any pictures I didn't like
-Write on them with sharpies or paint pens
-Buy fun succulents to go in the mugs
-Plant the succulents
-Have a fun mini succulent garden in mugs!

The day before my planned thrifting day I had to make a Walmart run and decided to go through the dishes section just to see what they had...and they had some great mugs for pretty decently cheap (the cheapest ceramic mug was $1.25 and the most expensive one I bought was $3.29). Plus, they were already plain and I wouldn't have to paint over any pictures already on the mug. I was sold. So I picked out 4 mugs in various shapes, colors, and sizes:

Next I went to the paint and craft section to pick out my paint pen colors and I discovered something else I wanted to try...crafting enamel paint!

Did you know Walmart has this stuff?! I didn't. On the description on the shelf it said that this paint is good for glass, ceramics, and enamelware. Now, for this project it's not essential that you use the enamel paint since you won't be washing these like you would a regular mug. If you're turning mugs into planters, you can use just regular craft paint. I just really wanted to try this paint out and see if it works. The back of the bottle does says this paint is dishwasher safe, so you can use it on your drinking mugs! I decided I wanted to give this a try and see how it worked so I picked two colors from their very limited selection and then grabbed some of those awesome Fine Tip Tops (see my eagerly opened Fine Tip Top package below). 

With a big Youth Conference and a wedding this weekend, I knew my time was going to be short to be able to get this done, so I pulled a late night on Thursday and worked on painting the mugs until about 2 in the morning. The fine tip tops worked great, I loved them! And the paint was really easy to use too. I ended up restarting on the mugs a number of times because I didn't like how they were turning out. It was really easy to just run them under water and wipe them off with my green scratchy pad. I finally got the mugs how I liked them and let them dry overnight. The instructions on the back of the paint bottles said to "air dry for 21 days or air dry for 1 hour". Well...I wasn't going to stay up for another hour to let them air dry, and then another to bake them (as this is enamel paint, you bake it to get it to finish)...and as I was doing the project this past Thursday night I didn't have 21 days to wait between then and Saturday. I figured it wasn't an either/or kind of deal and just let them dry overnight (but I still think 21 days or 1 hour seems a little odd). 

So Friday morning I got out of bed, and followed the baking directions on the paint bottles: I put the dried mugs in the cold oven, turned it on to 350, started the timer once the oven had fully warmed up, let the mugs bake for 30 minutes while I got ready, and then I turned off the oven and let them cool in the oven while we were gone for the day. During the day I stopped and got my succulents (which I should have bought about a month ago when there was an awesome selection...there was very very little left, so I ended up with kinda an odd assortment of plants) and I couldn't wait to get home and see how the mugs had worked. 

We pulled in, I ran to the oven and it'd worked! The paint didn't run and I tried to scratch it away with my fingernails and the scratchy pad and it stayed firm. YEA! So I picked which plant I wanted for each mug, potted them, and found them a home on my shelf by the dining room table. 
I know, I know...bamboo isn't a succulent. But I'm telling you, the selection of plants was awful.
For the life of me I couldn't get the succulent in the tall white mug to stand up straight. Oh well. The blue mug has "hope" written on it in shows up better in real life than it does in these pictures. 

The bamboo came in a container of gel substance to hold in water, but there wasn't enough of the gel stuff to fill the mug. I didn't figure just straight soil would be the best bet, so what I did was I put a layer of dirt in the bottom of the mug, the porous gel container, then a layer of dirt over the top. I'm hoping that works. We'll see! Good thing the bamboo was on sale for $2 so if it dies, I'm not out much.

So there I have my inspirational succulent mugs! I'm pretty happy with them. Now we'll just see if I can keep the plants track record is not very good. 


  1. These turned out BEAUTIFULLY! I love your colors.

    1. Thank you Kendra! I was determined to not do orange and blue since that's all I've done lately (I'm slightly obsessed)...but as you can see that didn't work out so well, hahaha. I do love them though.

  2. These look great! I'm going to have to raid my mug stash. And I didn't know those tips existed, thanks!! FYI...bamboo grows best in water. Most people use rocks/pebbles to hold it up and then keep water in the pot. I saw in the pic you had it in dirt. Not sure how good it will work in dirt since you have to keep it wet at all times. (trying to help you avoid a future pinstrosity) ;)

    1. The bamboo came in a container of gel substance, so what I did was I put a layer of dirt in the bottom of the mug, the porous gel container, then a layer of dirt over the top. There wasn't enough of the gel stuff to fill the mug, but I wanted to use it I'm hoping that works. We'll see! Good thing the bamboo was on sale for $2 so if it dies, I'm not out much.

  3. So beautiful and yet so simple! Love it!

  4. This turned out very nice! Plants always die on me, but I've used a coffee cup once to pot a beaded plant and I plan to do more, it's a pretty and convenient way to get rid of extra cups.

  5. These turned out great! I would love to do something like this but my husband makes fun of me every time I try to buy a plant. He says he can hear them screaming as soon as they see me....and yes, I have managed to kill cactus...more than one even ;-)

  6. fun and fabulous project. I'll have to watch GoodWill for containers to use. I did not know about that paint so thanks for showcasing it.

  7. love the mugs! never knew enamel paint, or those fine-tips, existed! so good to know. Thanks

  8. The mugs turned out great! I too am excited to find out about the enamel paint and writing tips at Walmart. Will definitely be trying them out in the near(ish) future.

    But I just had to ask... what in the world is that opposum/troll looking little creature on the shelf behind your orange mug?! He gave me a bit of a start as I was admiring your handiwork! ;)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.