Custom photo mugs are a great gift for parents and grandparents, teachers and anyone else deserving of a gift commemorating an occasion. These items can become expensive, though, if made by commercial photo companies. You can create a personalized mug for coffee or tea, decorated with photos and lettering in any style you desire. This project can be made by someone with no experience, or by school children with a small amount of adult supervision, and should take no more than an hour to complete.
Choose a Mug
Purchase a smooth, solid-colored mug in a relatively large size. Make sure that the sides of the mug are straight up and down rather than at an angle. It can be a plain white or any other color that matches the photographs and lettering that you will apply, but avoid mugs with prints or patterns.
Find a photograph that is about the size of the front of the mug. If you are going to add lettering on the mug, take this into account and get a smaller picture to leave room for the words. Lettering can be made in a word-processing program and printed out from the computer on regular printer paper. Cut out all photos and lettering and lay them out on a table to make sure that you have a pleasing design before assembling the mug.
Putting Mug Together
Use a foam brush to spread a layer of waterproof decoupage medium over the entire surface of the mug that will be decorated. While the decoupage medium is still wet, place the photos and lettering on the mug. Use your fingers or the edge of a craft stick to smooth the paper in place and to remove any bubbles or folds. Work quickly, as the decoupage medium will dry in about 10 minutes or less. When the decorations are all in place, allow the mug to dry thoroughly for about 15 minutes to make sure that it is all dry.
Spread a thin layer of decoupage medium over the entire surface of the mug, covering the mug itself and all embellishments. Allow this layer to dry completely, then add another layer and let it dry. Add a ribbon or bow to the handle of the mug and your gift is finished.
Working in sunny Florida, Anne Baley has been writing professionally since 2009. Her home and lifestyle articles have been seen on Coldwell Banker and Gardening Know How. Baley has published a series of books teaching how to live a frugal life with style and panache.