I would love to have different sets of dishes for different table settings every time we had guests over. But that’s just not in the budget. Honestly, if I told Michael this want he would give me the sideways-are-you-going-crazy look. So instead I switch things up with centerpieces and different decorations to fulfill my whims. The only way I am going to get a myriad of differently designed dishes is if I make them myself, but it seemed like every tutorial I found the dishes were just for looks, not food safe, or not washable, and that just wasn’t gonna fly. So I filed the idea away for a rainy day….
I have a little bowl of sea glass on a shelf that I have added to for years. It’s always something I look for whenever we get to the ocean. It is so beautiful, but is always so small. I always thought it would be amazing to have pieces big enough to actually make something useful with, like a set of dishes. After our last excursion to Larabee State Park with the kids I was adding the few small pieces I found to my slow-growing collection and the wheels began turning. Hmmm….
This is a really fun, easy way to get colorful patterned dishes for an affordable price. We are going to use a technique called reverse painting on these plates. The reverse painting technique is what allows us to paint these plates and still be able to eat off them. Usually when you paint something, you add the background colors first, then add the details on top of that. We will be doing the opposite of that. This is a really easy, simple pattern that anybody can do, but go ahead and get as detailed and intricate as you are comfortable doing.
- Glass plates
- Martha Stewart Translucent Frost Glass Paint in Surf here
- Oil Based Paint Pen in Gold here
- Marker that can be wiped off glass
I started with clear glass plates from the thrift store. A set of four was $2.99 half off, so for plates for $1.50- I’ll take that! I was specifically looking for a plate with no pattern or texture to the glass because that’s what I needed for the design I had in mind, but you can do anything you want to do. The important thing is that it’s clear glass. I brought them home and ran them through the dishwasher while I gathered the rest of my supplies. After making sure the glass was 100% dry, I was ready to begin. I decided to use a simple Greek key pattern around the rim in gold. I grabbed one of my kid’s markers and sketched out my pattern on the top of the plate. (It might help to work on top of a white piece of paper so you can see your design clearly)
Any markers that can wipe away will work. DO NOT use a permanent marker, like sharpie. After you have sketched out your design, flip the plate over. You’ll be working on the back side of the plate. This is where the reverse painting technique comes into play. If we first painted the background and then added the details, those details would not be seen since we are working on the underneath of the plate so that our plates are food safe and can actually be used as a plate is intended to be used. So we begin with the details. I grabbed a gold paint pen and use light pressure and steady, sure strokes. With most paint pens either pushing too hard or pausing in the middle of a stroke can cause more paint than you want to to ooze out. This is the exact reason why I sketched out my pattern ahead of time, it takes the guesswork out of it when you have the actual paint in your hand.
After I finished painting my pattern along the rim I wiped the temporary marker from the front of the plate and set it aside to dry. If you are doing a set, this is a great time to start the next plate, like an assembly line. 🙂 These paint pens dry pretty quickly. After about 20 minutes, I felt confident enough to add my background color on top of my detail work. I wanted my plates to look like sea glass, so I picked up Martha Stewart Frost Translucent Glass Paint in Surf. I squirted some of the paint right onto the back of the plate and then spread the paint around evenly with a sponge. To make sure I had even coverage, I would occasionally flip the plate over and check out how it looked from the front. I did this because with this paint, an area with a heavier amount of paint will be noticeably darker when it dries. I assume this is because of the translucent nature of this type of paint, as I don’t have this problem with more opaque paint, but I could be wrong!
After I was satisfied with my coverage, I began pouncing the paint with a sponge to give it texture more reminiscent of sea glass, once more flipping the plate over occasionally to check out how it looked from the front.
After I set the plate aside to dry for a couple hours, I added a second coat, repeating the previous step of first spreading out the paint and then pouncing with a sponge for texture. Here is a picture of the difference between the first coat and the second coat. After the second coat these plates are still slightly translucent, so you could increase the number of coats to three or four if you wanted these plates to be completely opaque.
After you are satisfied with the look of your plate you have a couple different curing options. You can let it air cure 21 days or you can pop it in the oven. Me, being pro-instant gratification, decided on oven curing.
It’s important to note that you do not make your plate until the paint is completely dry. I do not know what would happen if you put it in the oven while the paint is still wet, but my imagination runs riot with images of fumes, smoke, peeling paint, ruined oven, ruined craft, profound embarrassment. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU! 😉
So the baking instructions for my paints are as follows: After your paint is dry place plate in cool oven. Then set your oven 350 degrees for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn off oven and allow plate to cool in oven to room temperature, then remove. Keep in mind, these instructions are for the particular brand of paint that I used. If using a different brand, please follow their instructions for curing. The care instructions for this paint is: either hand wash or clean in dishwasher on the top rack as long as your dishwasher does not have a pot scrubbing feature or top jets.
And we are left with food safe, dishwasher safe seaglass looking set of plates! Are they gorgeous?! These would be so beautiful as a table setting with a beach vibe or coastal decor. It was hard to get a good photo showing off the texture, but it really looks like seaglass, like this plate was rolling across the ocean floor for years, being lightly scrubbed by sand as it rolls with the current until the edges smooth out and the clear glass gains some opaqueness. (Is that a word- opaqueness? Whatever, it should be if it isn’t) But keep in mind, you can create any design that matches your decor / color aesthetic. Go nuts! Have fun! Get messy! Amazing things can happen when you do!
P.S. Here are the fun parties I link to!