Greetings, fellow LadyNerds! As LadyNerds, I am sure you are all very busy and important. Not only do you have a charity luncheon to host, but you also have to rewire your internet router and do a system restore to remove a nasty computer virus you received whilst googling "spotted dick."
It's been a long day, so it's best you relax with a nice cup of tea, some fresh scones, and some Downton Abbey recordings on your DVR. But wait! What's that, you ask? "Erin and Meghan, I don't HAVE a teacup!" Never fear, LadyNerds! Not only are you going to have a teacup soon, we're going to show you how to decorate it yourself.
The great thing about this LadyNerd post is that we're going to show you two different ways to paint your own teacups! One you can do in the privacy of your own home, in which I can only hope you are lounging in a pair of pajama jeans that have "LADYNERD" stamped on the ass. The other involves getting out into public, which is always scary, but can also be a fun way to meet people! People are these human being-shaped things that generally cause problems in your life but make up appropriate numbers for a dinner party. So, as a LadyNerd, you should try to meet some.
First up!! Meghan and Mr T are going to show you how to paint your own teacups using craft store paint!! This is the perfect project for a rainy day and/or any day in which you don't want to leave the house because you think you might stab someone to death just for looking at you wrong.
Take it away, Meghan!
It's not unusual for me to avoid going out in public for fear of stabbings, though it varies whether I'm the stabber or stabbee. And with a wee one, it's always good to have an art project or two for rainy and/or shabby days. With a handful of craft-store paints and a cheap mug from Goodwill, you can be sipping fancy tea in no time.
1. Pick up some ceramic paint at a craft store. Make sure to get paint marked for already-glazed ceramics, usually called "enamels" (I used FolkArt enamels). It should be the kind you bake in the oven for 30 minutes, not paint requiring anything crazy like a kiln.
You might want to use paint pens instead of messy paint pots and brushes. Pebeo Porcelaine is excellent.
2. Find something to paint. I picked up white coffee mugs at Goodwill for 50 cents each.
3. Knock yourself out with the painting. You can trace the design on the mug in pencil first -- it'll come off. I suck at painting, so I like to go with quotes, like my favorite teapot adorned with a quote from P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster (a contemporary of the sisters Grantham). If you screw up, you can remove the paint with rubbing alcohol.
Hot and strengthening.
IMPORTANT NOTE SO YOU DON'T DIE OF POISONING: Most paints aren't safe to come in contact with food. So don't paint the inside of your mug!
4. Follow the directions on the box! It's usually something like, "air dry for one hour, place in cool oven, bake at 350 for 30 minutes, let cool, remove." Hey, presto! And you have lovely, personalized china worthy of Lady Cora. Or at the very least, Cousin Isobel.
PAINTING AT A CERAMICS STORE
Now that Meghan has taught y'all how to paint your teacups at home, I'm going to show you how to paint them at a pottery place!
Lots of towns have pottery places, because they were really popular a few years ago. They're often owned by eccentric "artistic" people who somehow have managed to scrape a living off twelve year old girls, drunk college students, retirees and people with no artistic talent whatsoever (i.e. me) who like to fork over money to spend a few hours painting something.
So let's visit a pottery place and paint ourselves a teacup!!!
Pottery places usually work in one of two ways (well, I've been to two, and they've both worked different ways. For all I know, they could work in a MILLION different ways, just by mixing them up! So do la fa mi do re.) - either you pay for studio time and the pottery pieces themselves are at a flat rate, or you pay an all-in-one price for the pottery piece, plus the time to paint it, plus the paint you use. The one that I went to for this post is an all-in-one, which is great when it's just you, hanging out, painting one piece. It's less than great when you decide to take your eight year old and her friend there a few weeks before Christmas and they both pick out four ornaments each to paint and your bill comes to 120 dollars. Ahem.
Your first job is to pick out your teacup! I picked out a set!
It actually doesn't look bad, as is! But don't worry, I'm about to ugly it up!
Your next step is to choose your colors. Some pottery places limit you to 3 or 5 paints. This place lets you use as many as you like (see above, in re: high price for the pottery piece). The most important thing to remember about choosing paints, as my friend and Badass Managing Editor Meredith instructed me when she took me to a pottery place on a friendship secret date, is that you have to choose your colors based on what they'll look like AFTER they've been fired in the kiln. Do not base them on the color of the paint as it comes out of the bottle! Otherwise you will end up with a very strangely colored teacup, and the Dowager Countess Violet will not approve.
You actually can't see the colors I chose, but there was a light pink, a dark purple, a grass green, a true white, and a medium-shade pink.
Next, paint your teacup! I know! IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE.
Oh! Wait! Stop right there! Before you can paint your teacup, you have to do something very, very important. No, you don't have to go back in time, tell your parents to fuck off, and finally major in art like you always wanted. No, you don't have to channel the spirit of Basquiat and have sex with Madonna.
You have to take off any rings, bracelets or watches you are wearing. Otherwise, they will be covered in paint.
HEY LOOK MY RING IS FROM TIFFANYS NO BIG DEAL OR ANYTHING.
Okay! NOW it's time to paint! You always want to paint your base colors first, for obvious reasons. I like to have lighter colors be the base color, but hey, if you want to paint your teacups black and then scribble death metal slogans on the outside, that is totally your prerogative.
I painted my teacup true white on the outside and light pink on the inside:
Thinking about "true white" always reminds me of that part in Invisible Man. That book made me really racist about paint.
You can paint your cup a few ways. You can be super artistic! You can use stencils! Or you can start out doing one thing, then turn it into something else, and then screw it all up entirely!
I thought it'd be a simple ivy pattern.
Then it sort of turned into . . . this.
Since I obviously can't be trusted to do art, I then turned to a stencil for the cup. That worked. . . not that well.
Using a stencil on a curved surface is sort of not recommended, by the way.
Doing all of this takes however long it takes you to paint things. It usually takes me about two hours, because I'm completely incompetent at art. But! Painting is so soothing! So you can feel your troubles slip away as you pretend to be arty. Or you can be driven slowly insane because the store owner only plays a mix of Meatloaf, Celine Dion and Sugarland over the stereo system. It's really a toss up.
After you're finished, you just give your teacup to the people! And they put it in a kiln and fire it! And then you come back later and pick it up!
Here's my finished teacup! In all its . . . something.
So you guys should totally go out and make your own teacups! Whether you make them at home or out in a pottery place, painting your own teacup is a quaint, olde-tymey activity that will serve you well in your path to LadyNerdom. Plus! In a few weeks, we'll have a LadyNerd post on how to actually make a proper cup of tea, from a Certified British Person! So you can drink your tea in your teacup! And have some scones and marmalade (also upcoming LadyNerd posts!)! While you steep your ratafia! You guys are about to get EVEN MORE AWESOME, YOU JUST DON'T EVEN KNOW!