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Pottery/Sealing Hand Painted Art Work on Glazed Mugs


My daughter has been painting art work on store bought mugs that are glazed already.  Is there a food safe glaze/sealer that she can use to protect the art work from washings.Thank You
Lisa Schaaf

Dear Lisa,

Thank you for your recent question. I am assuming your daughter is using a paint, rather than a glaze on the mugs, therefore, they can not be fired to protect the artwork. The following answer to your question is a fix that works well for hand painted artwork on glazed ceramics, but has some drawbacks that I will explain after the instructions.

The Big Ceramic Store sells two types of sealers, a gloss and matte that can be applied either by spraying or by brush. The page to view these products is:

Personally, I would use a spray due to the delicate nature of the painted artwork. Being that it is on top of a slick glazed surface, you would not want to brush over the paint and risk smearing it when it becomes wet from the application. The use of gloss or matte is purely your choice depending on how you want the artwork to show.

Once you have applied the sealer, let it dry for up to two days in a window where the sun can cure it. This will help the sealer attach itself to the glaze.

Now for the drawbacks:

1. Once a mug is painted on and sprayed with sealer, it is rendered "Not Food Safe" if any of the paint or sealer comes in contact with any area where food touches the ware or the ware enters the human body. So your daughter should keep this in mind when painting her mugs for safety reasons.
2. You will never be able to wash these mugs in the dishwasher. The water gets too hot and the force of the jets will eventually peel away the sealer and then the artwork.
3. When washing, take care around the artwork. Do not soak the mug for long periods of time.
4. Although the sealer may hold up, it is unknown whether her paints will in a microwave. Therefore, I suggest she takes a test mug and paints all known colors onto a mug, seals it and then tests it in the microwave to see what, if any colors come off and how the mug reacts.
5. If she sells these mugs, she should tell her customers the same instructions concerning washing and handling as I have above. If the mugs are determined "Not Food Safe" she should drill a hole in the bottom of the mug before selling to keep people from using them for food consumption.

I hope this has assisted you. My apologies for the timeliness of your answer. I only received notice today that I had a questions pending. Sometimes there are snags in the mailing system with If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me again at any time. I am always at your service. Much luck to you and your daughter. Happy Holiday!

Ms. Ti Phillips
Earth Stoke 'N Fire Pottery Studio and Artist Retreat


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Ti Phillips


Will answer any questions on hand building, wheel, glaze, firing. Speciality questions to include those in glaze calculation and development, firing techniques. Please do not send questions on identifying pottery. Although I would love to add this to my question topics, I have a retreat to run as well as the studio and volunteering on AllExperts, and therefore do not have the available time to research indentification and marks. Thank you for understanding.


Experience includes 30 years in pottery design and education. Have taught online and studio classes worldwide for the last 20 years. Own a pottery retreat specializing in firing techniques. Have 12 years solid experience in glaze calculation and formulation as well as problem solving in glaze chemistry. I am the first potter in the United States to have developed a complete package of pottery equipment blueprints for a studio. The blueprints include wheels, kilns, studio furniture, wedgeboards, raku kilns, slab rollers, ball mills and studio tools.

Alliance of Pottery Artists Worldwide Association

Ceramic Industry - PPP Wyndstryder Press - Pottery Journal

University of Sciences and Art's of Oklahoma, studied under Professor Jaymes Dudding.

Awards and Honors
Potter of the year with APAWA, various awards for showmanship and design.

Past/Present Clients
Available upon request.

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