Recently, I discovered Martha Stewart’s A to Z Crafts Encyclopedia, which is absolutely chock-full of fantastic ideas, one of which is this project.
The first thing you need is a bunch of solid-color dishes, which is the easiest part of the whole thing. Just go down to the thrift store and get some, they’re everywhere. You also need a little fine-tipped squeeze bottle—I got mine at Hobby Lobby—and you need food-safe enamel white paint, or colored paint, if you’re working on white dishes.
I ran into a little bit of trouble, paint-wise. All my local crafts stores carry several choices of non-toxic enamel paint (meaning, the kind you paint on and then bake the piece in the oven.) The labels on all of them tell you not to use it on a surface that will come in contact with food. Well, Martha recommends a brand called Porcelaine, which I couldn’t find anywhere locally; you can order it from Dick Blick’s Art Supplies, except that the online listing there also suggests that while Porcelaine is “food safe”, you should not use it on surfaces coming in contact with food, either.
I finally decided to compromise, chose a brand that was non-toxic, did not carry the scary warning about its containing substances known to the State of California to cause birth defects or whatever, and then just took my chances. I used Folk Art Enamels in Wicker White, and I had to thin it a little with water so the dots would spread out, rather than just sitting there like pointy little dabs of frosting.
I assume the upshot of all the paint warnings is that while it is not actually poisonous, it isn’t food, either, and if you use it on a plate, it might chip off into your dinner.
If you ever eat at my house, be warned: one of those little white flecks might find its way into your salad. But I don’t think it will kill you.
It is probably best to use these plates for sandwiches or crackers, just to be on the safe side. No gooey lasagna, or anything that might need a knife.
I swiped all the designs directly from Martha’s templates, and just freehanded them onto the dishes, though you could probably search high and low for some kind of transfer paper and enlarge the templates on a copier, blah blah blah. It all seemed like a lot of trouble to me. I just sat down and started painting, and when I made a mistake, it was easy to wipe off the goof and keep going. A couple times, I didn’t like it at all when I was done, so I just washed the dish and started over. Easy!
Thank goodness I had a lot of dishes. I got a little obsessed, and pretty much put a bunch of dots on everything in sight.
Go ahead, see if you can help it! One word of advice: it might be wise to make sure the dishes you choose are oven safe. They bake at 350 for half an hour, and I don’t know what would happen if they weren’t oven safe—cracking? Explosions? The non-oven-safe dish squad coming to your door? Maybe some strange brown stains might emerge from one or two of your most favorite pieces, which you might then have to carefully scrub off, avoiding the paint at all costs, I don’t know, I’m just saying.
Seriously, just look at those! Love, love, love.