Every other week, Anna Hezel talks about the innovations, decorations, and other quiet touches that make a party memorable.
Today: Impressive china, custom-made for your kitchen.
Like my mother and my grandmother, I love dishes. I love old dishes, I love new dishes -- I even love dishes that I bought for $.99 when I was in college. I love having big stacks of impractically heavy and fragile items in all of my cupboards, quietly lying in wait for the next dinner party, and I love to envy dishes that aren't in my cupboards.
It's no surprise then, that I was blown away by a recent discovery. I discovered that hand-painting china is not a skill reserved for grandmothers in Russia. In fact, for about $5, anyone can pick up a bottle of porcelain paint from a craft store and have a go at it. Furthermore, I discovered that with the help of your favorite rubber stamp, you can custom-print your china with beautiful and intricate designs, no matter what your artistic skill level is.
Naturally, this opens up a world of possibility for personalized gifts, themed favors, and more. I started by buying a stack of these little $.60 dishes from Pearl River Mart in Manhattan, but this would be a great project for any boring old dishes you have lying around.
- some plain white dishes
- opaque porcelain paint, like Porcelaine
- some nylon paintbrushes
- the rubber stamp of your choice (it works best if the stamp is a distinct shape and doesn't contain too many very fine lines)
1. Be sure to start with clean, dry dishes and a clean, dry rubber stamp. Brush some of the porcelain paint onto the rubber stamp so that the rubber surface is coated lightly and evenly.
2. Turn stamp onto dish and press gently, making sure not to slide the stamp around on the dish's surface.
3. Gently lift the stamp off of the dish, and presto! If the image doesn't turn out perfectly on your first try, don't panic. Just wash the paint off of the dish with some warm, soapy water, dry it thoroughly, and try again. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even hand-paint your own image or experiment with some patterns of dots, lines, teardrops, crosses, and diamonds, like I did.
4. When you are satisfied with your designs, allow your dishes to dry for 24 hours. Then, preheat your oven to 300° F. Spread the dishes out on a sturdy cookie sheet, and bake for 35 minutes (or follow the baking directions on the bottle of paint that you're using). This will make the dishes dishwasher- and water-proof. Porcelaine recommends that decorated surfaces should not come in contact with food, so be sure to decorate only the underside of your plates and bowls if you plan to use them for serving food.