DIY Gift Idea: Using A Paint Pen On Some Glass Tumblers

You could call these tumblers titillating. That’s right. I said titillating. Who doesn’t love a good set of small glass cups that can be anything from charming votive candle holders to drinking glasses or even holiday candy serving dishes grouped en masse on a coffee table? I’ve always wanted to try my hand at glass paint (the kind that you apply with a pen and bake on in the oven) so I figured using it to create a cute little DIY holiday gift would be just the thing. Or it could be another epic fail- you never know when you start these things…

For this project I originally planned to go to a thrift store for cheap $1 glasses to paint, but when I stumbled across this matched set of four tumblers at Target for $2.50 (less than 65 cents a pop) I couldn’t resist grabbing it. Oh and I got the paint pen – called Vitrea 160 in Scandalwood Green – from Michael’s for just a few bucks (around $3 I think).

When it came to application, I just followed the directions and freehanded some seasonal designs on the outside of each tumbler (feathery spruce trees line one cup, pine needles are the chosen scheme for another glass, and wavy lines and straight stripes round out the other two cups). After allowing the cups to dry for 24 hours (according to the instructions on the ol’ paint pen) it was time to bake them in the oven for 40 minutes at 325 degrees (instructions probably vary, so be sure to follow the ones on your pen when it’s time to get your cook on). Tip: we didn’t preheat the oven and we left them in there to cool for a while before removing them, which seemed to help keep the glass from cracking since major changes in temperature can cause that).

The result was a gorgeously sweet and subtle design that feels festive without looking too over the top. In other words, we figure as far as gifts go, these cups could probably live in nearly any house without feeling too out of place (since we opted for a pretty subtle season-appropriate color scheme, and avoided more kitchy illustrations like colorful snowmen or santas- although those could be really cute if you’re sure your giftee would like them).

They’re nearly impossible to take photos of (but are very charming and even semi “professional looking” in person):

Wouldn’t those look cute filled with candy and grouped on a table or even paired with small votive candles on someone’s mantel? They could also be used to serve warm cider to guests on Christmas or even New Years (since once the ink is baked onto the outside of the glass, it’s ready to use and can even be popped into the dishwasher). So I thought they made nice little versatile homemade gifts for around $5.50 (including the pen and all four glasses). And of course they could be personalized instead of seasonally decorated (with a scripty monogram, each family member’s name, a favorite icon like a horseshoe or a heart, etc). Have any of you guys tried your hand at glass paint? Do you have any other cheap DIY gifts on your to-do list? Tell me all about it.


    • says

      We closed it and hoped for the best. Seemed to work just fine (they didn’t feel like they were on the verge of cracking or anything when we removed them- although we did let them cool in the oven for a while before taking them out).


  1. jeanna says

    I know you said it was dishwasher safe, I would love to hear how yours did through the wash cycle! This is a great project my mind is reeling with ideas! Thanks for sharing.

    • says

      Hey Jeanna,

      We actually probably won’t put them through the dishwasher since we’re certain we’re going to gift them (and don’t want to risk them fading or otherwise getting less cute)/ But if anyone else has used a paint pen and dishwashed the items afterwards, we’d love to hear how they look! Anyone?


  2. Misty says

    Too cute! I bought three sets of these tumblers about a month ago because my Target had each set for $1! Can you believe it? And Jake is now into drinking everything from a glass instead of a cup..he said it makes him feel “fancy”. Hey, whatever it takes to get milk down him…

  3. says

    These are super cute! I was thinking about using your “Thanks” jar etching tutorial to decorate similar glasses for a homemade gift with the word “cheers.”

    I’m posting my ideas for homemade gifts all week on my blog:

    If you’d like to check it out! I’m always inspired by you two!

  4. says

    You may have just solved a major dilemma I’ve been having. We’re currently designing a Moroccan-themed theater room and have been totally dying over Moroccan hand painted ceramic tiles, but they’re seriously like $30 for one tiny tile. So we grabbed a box of 100 plain white ceramic tiles for $10 from a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, drew a stencil from a Moroccan tile we found, and planned on finding some way to paint them, but we’ve been unsure because of the glassy ceramic finish. Given that it’s about the same surface type as glass, I’m wondering if these will do the trick. I’m thinking they might and I may have to run out and try some today!

  5. Erika says

    Too bad my free-hand isn’t as pretty as yours!

    That’s a really good idea, and a great way to make affordable Christmas glassware.

    • says

      We actually tried filling them with milk, slipping paper into the glass, etc – we still kept getting an annoying glare! Might just because of all the light bouncing around in the kitchen (where we were trying to take the pics). Oh well, you get the idea! The pic of the single glass is really very true to life, it was just hard photographing them all as a group with that much accuracy.


  6. Dawn SC says

    I think this is being added to my decking the halls to do list this weekend. :) Looks great!
    Regarding the oven question – generally speaking, it’s uneven or rapid temperature changes that cause glass to crack (well… type of glass too, but in general). So I will definitely be letting them cool in the oven before removing, and won’t be preheating the oven. Unless the pen says to, but that would somewhat surprise me. Then again, I’m not an expert, so I’ll also be using cheap glasses as opposed to any heirlooms! :)

    • says

      Great tip Dawn! We didn’t preheat the oven and we let them cool a while and it worked! I added a little note about that in the post to hopefully help anyone else who’s tackling this project.