I had high hopes for a wonderful Mother's Day craft idea this weekend. It would involve my two small boys, who would sit happily and quietly at the table being creative. I would take some heartwarming how-to photos as they shared pens and gently encouraged each other. There would be no tears, no arguments and no broken mugs. I should have known better, though admittedly some of those tears were mine.

If you can rally the troops, using porcelain pens to paint your own crockery is fun for the whole family. You can tailor it to the age of your crafters (scribbling for the littlies, like here, or something more freeform if they're older). It doesn't take too long and you end up with something cool and practical. And if you're lucky, it will keep them entertained while you hide yourself in the bathroom to scoff the last of the Tim Tams.


Ceramic mugs

Masking tape


Porcelain pens - you can find them at art supply stores, Spotlight and online.

Craft knife

Oven, if you want your mugs to be dishwasher-safe


Mask out a design on your mugs with masking tape. Make sure you cover up the rim too as porcelain pens are typically not food-safe. To make a trickier design like a heart, first criss-cross two layers of masking tape on a sheet of plastic - for example, the lid from an icecream tub. Draw out your design with a felt-tip pen, then carefully peel the whole lot off and cut it out. Then stick the design on your mug.


Using your porcelain pens, scribble all over your mugs. Try not to lift the masking tape in the process, though you'll get the chance to clean up any mistakes later. Focus on the edges of the masking tape so your design stands out.


Air-dry your mugs according to the directions on the porcelain pens. Once dry, you can use the back of a knife blade to scrape away any mis-scribbled ink. Supervise children getting involved at this step, or do it yourself.


Add any final details, repeating the air-dry instructions.

If you leave your mugs as they are, you will be able to wash them by hand with no soaking. If you want to be able to put them in the dishwasher, you'll need to first bake them in the oven. Follow the directions on the porcelain pens.

Aren't they lovely? The perfect gift for all the mothers and significant maternal figures out there - and not a gold-sprayed macaroni photo frame in sight.