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Published: Sunday, February 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Old dishes make great art

  • These vintage plates were personalized using a stencil (shown below) and a marker to fill in the letters.

    Anna Nicholson / Angel in the North

    These vintage plates were personalized using a stencil (shown below) and a marker to fill in the letters.

  • A vintage plate upcycled with a modern letter cut-out traced by pen.

    Anna Nicholson / Angel in the North

    A vintage plate upcycled with a modern letter cut-out traced by pen.

  • Craft blogger Christine Dinsmore decorated these two plates for her kids with her own monster drawings.

    The Plumed Nest

    Craft blogger Christine Dinsmore decorated these two plates for her kids with her own monster drawings.

  • Anna Nicholson / Angel in the North 
The vintage plate with a modern letter "E," filled in with a Sharpie.

    Anna Nicholson / Angel in the North The vintage plate with a modern letter "E," filled in with a Sharpie.

Vintage dishware doesn't have to gather dust in the china cabinet.
Outdated table settings, such as a stack of your grandmother's old plates or a bundle of used mugs you scooped up at Salvation Army, can find fresh life with a little TLC. All it takes is a marker or a drill and a basic plan.
"I always find it a bit sad when things so loved by previous generations are thrown on the scrap heap," said lifestyle blogger Anna Nicholson, based in Yorkshire, England. "I'm always looking for ways things can be reused, upcycled and overhauled to fit in with our 21st-century style."
Here are some ways to spruce up old china and dollar-store dishes.
Markers and paint
The popular craft-swapping website Pinterest is full of plate-decorating projects that tap into the "magic" of magic markers.
Nicholson, whose blog is "angel in the north" (www.angelinthenorth.com), uses Sharpies to personalize vintage floral plates. In one set, she adorned each plate with a letter in the word "EAT," to display in the kitchen. In another, she used four plates to spell out the word "HOME."
She prints her own letter cutouts, using the font Bodoni MT, onto thick paper or cardstock. She traces around the letters onto the old plates with a pen, then goes over the outline with a Sharpie and fills it in.
"This is an easy project, but you do need a steady hand," she said.
Others take the Sharpie idea to another level and -- if the dishes are ovenproof -- bake the marker on to make it permanent. Many crafting blogs call for drawing with a Sharpie and baking the ovenproof dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Christine Dinsmore, based in Portland, Ore., has used the Sharpie method for free-handing original drawings. On her blog, The Plumed Nest (www.theplumednest.com), she shows how she drew original monster pictures onto plates for her children.
"I would often see cute little dishes for children, but they were usually made out of plastic," Dinsmore said.
She has tried to rid her kitchen of plastic "and didn't want to purchase any more."
That's when she got inspired to draw her own kid-friendly characters.
Dinsmore advises using non-toxic Sharpie paint pens, found at most craft stores and online. Also, she recommends cleaning plates gently, never with an abrasive sponge or dishwasher.
Other bloggers suggest ceramic or glass paint if the dish will have frequent contact with food.
Danielle Warner of the blog "The Yarn to Tell" (theyarntotell.wordpress.com) recommends Delta PermEnamel paint for a more painted -- rather than drawn -- look. It's also available at craft stores or online.

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