Creative Ways to Upcycle Dishes with Lead Paint for DIY Home Decor
Believe it or not, decorative dishware produced as late as 2004 has been found to contain lead paint. While no longer deemed safe for eating, you don’t have to toss your favorite vintage dishes. Instead try one of these creative ways to upcycle dishes with lead paint to create unique, DIY home decor!
Your Dishes May Not Be Food Safe!
I think most families have some Corelle dishes in their cupboards. They are a popular plate and dish brand thanks to their durability and trendy designs. Today, people covet the old styles, scouring flea markets and thrift stores to complete their collections.
I bought two sets of Corelle dishes years ago because I was sick of chipped or broken plates. Corelle plates are virtually indestructible, so they last for many, many years.
A word of warning though, if they do break, they shatter! You’ll be finding glass shards on the floor and in the next room for weeks.
Your beloved Corelle dishes may bring back fond memories of sitting around the dinner table with family and friends, but they may also be slowly deteriorating your body due to lead paint exposure.
Tamara Rubin, Lead Safe Mama, recently tested several vintage Corelle pieces and found lead paint in the decorative designs.
They are vintage, so it doesn’t apply to you, right? No, for these purposes vintage is anything before 2005. That’s only 15 years ago. Considering the durability of the plates and bowls, it’s definitely possible that your dishes are older than 2005.
In her article, Tamara shows screenshots of conversations with Corelle. Corelle states that lead paint was common in glazes and decorative designs before the 1990s. Corelle has not used lead paint for decorative designs since the “mid 2000s”. They recommend using any pieces made before 2005 to be used as decoration only.
Plain white plates are testing okay. The lead is found in the paint that was used for the design on plates.
Creative Ways to Upcycle Dishes With Lead Paint
No one wants to just throw away their plates, but you can’t use them to eat off of. So what can you do with them?
There are a lot of ways to upcycle dishes and plates. You can use them in a number of ways to decorate your home both inside and outside. Following are some creative ways to upcycle dishes with lead paint.
Painted Elephant Wall Art via Sabotage900
Creative Way to Upcycle Dishes for Wall Decor
Hang Them on The Wall
If your plates have a decorative design, you can hang them on the wall. Many people hang them in their dining room or kitchen because, well, that’s where plates are used most often.
Don’t be limited to just food related rooms. Use a grouping of plates above the bed for a whimsical and fun grouping that won’t cost you anything.
Paint Plates for Unique DIY Art
If you don’t like the design of your plates, paint them! Painting plates is easy to do. Since you won’t be washing them, you can use acrylic paint or enamel and not have to worry about the paint being food safe or washable. You could even prime them and spray paint them if you want to completely change the color and design.
You can use a stencil or paint them freehand. This is a great way to get custom decor that matches the colors in your home.
This wall art idea from Sabotage900 features an illustrated deer for fun & quirky, unique home decor using repurposed dishes.
I also really love this idea for Painted Plate Octopus Wall Art from Homebody UA for using groupings of painted plates to create unique, painted plate wall art for your home.
Or, you can paint a decorative pattern or a mandala design on your vintage plates as another way to upcycle your dishes.
Decorate Without Painting
If you’re not artistic or don’t want to paint them, you can change the look of old plates with some greenery or flowers. Simply use hot glue to attach sprigs of flowers or greens and maybe a bow or some other decoration and hang the plate on the wall.
If you don’t want to paint, decoupage your plates. Use patterned scrapbook paper to die cut or hand cut cute shapes. Animals and flowers are always popular.
You can also use fabric to decoupage plates. Either cut a shape or cover the entire plate with fabric like you would with the scrapbook paper.
Use Mod Podge to glue the paper to the plate. You can also use Mod Podge as a sealer to easier cleaning.
If your plate has a decorative edge, it might make cute chalkboard sign. Use chalk paint to paint the center and leave the pretty edge. Then hang on the wall or use a plate stand to display. You can change the sign easily for different holidays or use it for inspirational quotes.
This chalkboard style plate from Ranch Life Gifts illustrates a cute way to use chalk paint to upcycle your dishes with lead plate that are no longer food safe. You can also use this same concept to create an upcycled plate, chalkboard countdown calendar for Christmas.
Upcycle Dishes to Use As a Backdrop
For more creative ways to upcycle dishes, use plates to decorate your mantel or on a desk or buffet table. Set a larger plate on a stand and then add candlesticks, vases, and other items in the same color scheme.
This is an easy and inexpensive way to decorate. Shop your own home for objects that would look cute grouped together.
Make Creative Centerpieces with Upcycled Dishes
Larger dinner plates or serving trays with lead paint can’t be used for food, but they can still be used as centerpiece. Add potpourri or flowers to make a cute centerpiece.
Change your centerpiece with the seasons by using pine cones, Easter eggs, or dried berries for Christmas.
Make Unique DIY Garden & Yard Art
You can use plates, bowls, and cups in your yard, flower beds, or on your patio. For bowls, paint them red and add some white polka dots to create a cute mushroom for the yard like this example of vintage dish mushrooms from Blue Cottage Creation.
You can also attach a coffee cup to the center of a dinner plate to make a flower. Attach to a stake and place in your yard or flower beds for whimsical flowers.
This upcycled plate flower from Tambrey the Repurposer is a great example of one of the many ways to upcycle dishes for garden art.
You can even make an upcycled vintage dish bird bath, like this example from MsCenna.
Or craft a fun teacup bird feeder, similar to this upcycled teacup bird feeder from GoGo Garden, for another cute way to upcycle vintage dishes.
Craft a Tiered Stand for Organizing or Decor
If you have three plates that match or coordinate in varying sizes, you can create a tiered stand. Use the biggest plate on the bottom and add an upside down wine glass or even a piece of wood or a glass shot glass or short vase as a spacer. Then add the middle sized plate and another spacer and then the smallest plate.
E6000 is the best glue to use for glass. Don’t use this tiered stand for candy, but you can use it for flowers or other decorations and knick knacks.
Cute Way to Upcycle Dishes Into Planters
Upcycle bowls, tea cups or mugs as planters. I’m hesitant to plant in something that I know has lead paint, so I’d use a liner to hold the dirt and plant and set that inside the cup or bowl.
For more way to upcycle dishes as planters, I really like this idea for a mosaic upcycled, teacup succulent wall planter from Peace by Piece Co. As well as this upcycled teacup, mosaic herb planter by Charming Deco Boutique.
Upcycle Dishes for Unique Home Lighting
While repurposed teacup candles are one of the more popular ways to upcycle dishes, this use is unfortunately not recommended other than for decorative purposes. As teacups aren’t designed to be reheated over and over again, like mason jars are, they can potentially explode while burning.
However, you can upcycle your dishes to use as lamp bases and pendant lighting!
I just love this idea for an upcycled teacup lamp from DAUSnGLO.
What are some of your favorite ways to upcycle dishes? I’d love to hear how you’ve repurposed your vintage dishes to create your own unique DIY home decor. So be sure to share your thoughts in the comments! And don’t forget to pin this post with creative ways to upcycle dishes for later reference.
Discover more creative ways to upcycle dishes, along with budget-friendly DIY home decor ideas, on my Pinterest boards. Or keep up with all of my DIY ideas by following me on social media. You can find me on facebook, twitter and instagram. You can also sign up to receive an email whenever I share a new post!
January 14, 2020 at 10:06 am
I have some Corelle dishes from that time, but they are plain white. Phew! I love all of these ideas to upcycle older dishes.
Josiah – DIY Thrill
January 14, 2020 at 12:44 pm
This is such a creative way to upcycle dishes!
Heidi | The Frugal Girls
January 15, 2020 at 12:11 pm
This is so good to know… I had no idea there was so much lead paint still around!
A Life Adjacent
January 18, 2020 at 7:35 pm
Great ideas for using and repurposing old dishes! We love a good upcycle!
Rebecca D. Dillon
January 19, 2020 at 12:35 pm
January 18, 2020 at 7:54 pm
I had no idea! Luckily I don’t have any of these dishes. I’ll have to check if my mom does and let her know. These are cute ways to upcycle them!
Rebecca D. Dillon
January 19, 2020 at 12:35 pm
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