permenamel air dry basic color value set
PermEnamel Air Dry Basic Color Value Set

Air Dry PermEnamel Review – Espresso Cup Challenge

It’s fun to personalize your own gifts.  It’s cheap and cheerful and seems more thoughtful, especially if you can personalize to the exact taste of the giftee.  I bought the Air Dry PermEnamel Paint Sets Basic Colors

in the Basic Colors to make a gift for one of my bosses.


PermEnamel Air Dry Basic Color Value Set
PermEnamel Air Dry Basic Color Value Set

We just recently had our company Christmas party and for the party I wanted to give something special for everyone, instead of just my Yankee Swap present. It’s a small office, mostly women, so they were easy to buy for. I got them each a purse hook.  Unfortunately, for the two bosses, who are men, purse hooks really isn’t appropriate.  However, each got a purse hook to give to their respective wives anyway.  Now one boss was easy, he liked the Grateful Dead.  One mug from Newbury Comics did the trick.  The other boss, I found out the hard and time consuming way was a little more difficult. Never mind that I left finding this present to one hour BEFORE the Christmas party.

This particular boss is a lover of espresso.  So I thought finding him a cool espresso cup would be nice.  I mean really, HOW HARD IS IT TO FIND AN ESPRESSO CUP?!?!  Well, driving up and down Route 1 and hitting TJ Maxx, Starbucks (whose espresso cup was a little lame this year, just a white cup with their logo on it. Boring.), Ocean State Job Lot, and Bed Bath and Beyond and finding nothing I finally had to give up the search. I ended up showing up to the party a half hour late with just the purse hooks for the women. I didn’t think it fair to give one boss his gift without gifting the other.

So what to do next? Google Search! He also likes cars… alot.  So I did a quick search of ‘Espresso cup cars’ and turns out BMW, Porche, Jaguar, and Mini have espresso cups sets ranging from $30-115!!   WHAT?!  Yeah. You read me right. In this economy, that’s ridiculous. So back to square one.

Okay, so what else does he like? Well, he has a Boston Terrier.  Ok!  So I’m thinking the dog cups might be less expensive than the specialized high end car ones. So in the search box goes ‘espresso cup boston terrier’ and up pops a PERFECT set of 2 espresso cups and saucers on Etsy with handpainted Boston Terriers on them! So cute! and for FIVE DOLLARS!!  Eight includes shipping! Sold!…and I mean sold as in the cups were not in stock anymore! UGH! Just my luck!

Now what? I’m an Aries, so once I have my mind set on something it has to be done.  And my mind was set on getting these espresso cups! Well, then I started thinking “I can draw. I can paint. I can do this myself!”   So I did a quick search online on how to paint on ceramics/porcelain. Turns out there’s special paint you can use, it can be set via heat from an oven or air dried, in pen or paint mediums.  Seemed like you can buy this stuff at an art store. Great. So into my Honda Element I went to gather my art materials.

First stop: Crate and Barrel in Cambridge for the espresso cups.  Perfect!  There was a Utrecht Art Store across the street.  I hit the Utrecht first, but they told me that they didn’t have the kind of paint/pen that I was looking for and that I should go to a Michael’s Arts and Crafts Store or an AC Moore.  I picked up my pair of espresso cups and saucers, then headed across town to Michael’s.  If you go online you can find online coupons.  I got the PermEnamel Value set for 40% off!

The set I bought was good for Glass, Tile & Ceramic and in Air-Dry Formula! Comes with the colors: Ultra White, Red Red, Crocus Yellow, True Green, Emperor Blue, Ultra Black, two Clear Gloss Glazes, and the Surface Conditioner (which is just rubbing alcohol).  You prep your “canvas” with the Surface Conditioner first.  Then you paint with your chosen colors.  Let the paint dry for an hour.  After the hour, apply a coat of the Clear Gloss Glaze, wait another hour, and apply a final coat.  Then your masterpiece is done!

Per the packaging, this paint is NOT INTENDED FOR USE ON SURFACES WITH DIRECT FOOD CONTACT!! The paint contains a chemical that can cause  birth defects or other reproductive harm. I have painted my pieces where the lips will not contact any of the paint.

I brought my materials home and started researching my first espresso cup art: the Boston Terrier.  I started off with a free-handing with pen the outline:

Boston Terrier - Phase 1 - Pen
Boston Terrier – Phase 1 – Pen

Then drew over it with a black permanent marker (use the colors that you want to paint with. It will give you a better idea of what the final piece will look like):

Boston Terrier - Phase 2 - Permanent Marker
Boston Terrier – Phase 2 – Permanent Marker

Then I used the Ultra Black and painted over the marker.  After I finished the cup I painted the saucer.  Then I waited the hour. You can use the alcohol to erase and repaint any mistakes during any of these stages prior to the glaze being put on. At this point I used alcohol on a Qtip to clean up any protruding pen and marker. Also I found that using a lead pencil tip dipped in paint can correct or fill in any fine tuning you need.  Below you can see the final glazed pieces:

Boston Terrier - Glazed Cup - Final with signature
Boston Terrier – Glazed Cup – Final with signature


Boston Terrier Espresso Cup with Saucer Set
Boston Terrier Espresso Cup with Saucer Set

The second set I wanted to do was the Ferrari 458, but with so much detail on such a small cup I did not have the time or the proper brushes for the task.  And if you look at the drawings I wasn’t going to do that beautiful car any justice either.  So I decided to go on the more simpler route. Here are the final pieces of the second espresso cup set:

Ferrari Symbol - Saucer
Ferrari Symbol – Saucer


Ferrari - Phase 1
Ferrari – Phase 1


Ferrari - Espresso Cup - Final
Ferrari – Espresso Cup – Final
Ferrari Set – Final
Ferrari Set – Final 2

PermEnamel gave me a way to express my creativity and let me make a gift I couldn’t otherwise find or feel justified in paying for in these hard times. I have not had a chance to mix the colors, but if I have any new projects I will experiment and update this post accordingly.

I really enjoyed doing this, so if you’re looking for a personalized hand-painted gift for yourself or others, please contact me and I will scope the project for you and see if I can do it.  Order from my store on Etsy, chEErful Choices.

E-rating (1-meh, 5-Eenae Endorsed): EEEe only due to the possible toxic portion of this, but an EEEEE for bringing out creativity!

Again, PLEASE be careful where you paint!!

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