What is an office without coffee or tea? I think of caffeinated beverages as productivity tools. So they are just as important in the office as a computer. And to get your creative stenciling juices flowing, why not make a stenciled mug for coffee or tea that is full of original of color and pattern?
Small surfaces like coffee mugs are a great way to use the free bonus stencils you get with Royal Design Studios orders. Each month there is a different free stencil. I received the Ashley’s Autumn Heart Stencil with one of my orders last year. Its small size is ideal for decorating a mug. If the stencil you like is bigger than the mug, no problem, just use part of the stencil on the mug. Other inexpensive small stencils that would look good on mugs are the Amisha Motif Indian Stencil, and tile stencils like the Small Sicilia Stencil and Eastern Tile Wall Stencil. The Daisy Chain Border and Bitty Borders stencils would look cute. You can paint a whole set of mugs for your kitchen or to give as gifts.
Supplies for Stenciled Coffee Mugs:
- Ashley’s Autumn Heart Stencil and Classic Fleur de Lis Set 1
- White ceramic or porcelain mugs – I used Crate & Barrel Aspen mug and Verge latte cup
- Pebeo Porcelaine 150 Paint Markers, 1.2 fine point – Agate Orange, Peacock Blue, Peridot Green, Scarlet Red
- Pebeo Vitrea 160 Paint Marker, 1.2 fine point – Mauve Frosted
- Painters masking tape
- Pens or pencils in similar colors for practice
- Scrap paper
Look for straight-sided mugs. They would be easier to stencil than curved mugs. The Aspen mug and the larger Verge 11 oz. latte cup (to hold LOTS of caffeine!) from Crate & Barrel have straight sides. You can also find mugs at stores like Target, HomeGoods and dollar stores. You are not limited to plain white mugs, of course, and can experiment with these stencil techniques on colored mugs as well.
I used paint markers for stenciling, but you can also brush on ceramic and glass paints. The Pebeo Vitrea and Porcelaine paints are sold at art stores. At craft stores like JoAnn and Michaels, you can find DecoArt and Martha Stewart paints that are designed to use on ceramics and glass. For all these paints, follow their directions to bake them in the oven. When properly baked, the color should stay permanent even in the dishwasher.
Some people are also using Sharpies to decorate mugs. If you want to use Sharpies, don’t use the regular Sharpies that are made for writing on paper. Those Sharpies tend to rub off the ceramic over time. Look for the Oil-Based Paint Markers from Sharpie. After doing all this work, you want your designs to last!
First I recommend practicing on scrap paper. I wouldn’t use up the porcelain paint on test samples, so I tested color combos with gel pens in similar colors as the porcelain paint markers.
Once you’ve decided your stencil colors, it’s good to get a feel for the paint markers on scrap paper, especially if you haven’t used paint markers before. When you first use a pen, you will have to shake it (with the cap on or you get paint splatters!) and then press the tip on paper to get the paint flowing. I found when the paint first started flowing, it was a bit heavy and oozed under the stencil. After using the markers for a bit, the paint flow was lighter and became more predictable.
I was inspired by the henna T-shirts project with Tee Juice pens to draw outlines of the stencil shapes. Then, play with filling in the stencil shapes with lines, dots and solid color. You can see some of my results were a little better than others! Yikes! I ditched the dots in favor of lines inside the bigger shapes.
As you’ll see with the Fleur de lis pattern, I didn’t even bother to outline the stencil shape. I just drew light casual diagonal lines inside the stencil which formed the decorative shape well enough to see it.
I think this practice step is important so you can make messy mistakes on paper, as I definitely did! Also remember the paper is obviously more absorbent than a ceramic mug, so the paint might behave differently on the mug.
Next, let’s paint on a mug!
I masked off the top 3/4″ or so of the mug, so lips won’t touch paint while sipping drinks.
To attach the stencil to the mug, you can use painter’s masking tape. Pull the stencil tight against the mug and tape it down. You might have to trim around the stencil so it will lay flat near the mug handle. If any pieces of the stencil stick up while you’re drawing with the pens, just push that part down with a finger.
Also, your stencil might be bigger than the mug. That’s okay. I placed the Ashley’s Autumn Heart Stencil in different directions to fill in the whole mug, so it became an abstract pattern instead of a heart shape.
The paint markers flowed really well onto the mugs, much easier than using them on paper. I enjoyed working with these markers. You can paint heavy or light. You can see, the Fleur de Lis lines in the olive green color fade out toward the top.
If you wanted to, you could write words on the mug, like a funny phrase or a quote.
The paint dries immediately to a tacky finish. So you don’t have to worry about accidentally smudging it.
If you make mistakes or if the paint oozes under the stencil, it’s super easy to fix this type of paint. I used a wet Q-tip for bigger spots, and a fingernail to scrape paint away in tiny spots. Both the Q-tip and fingernail easily removed paint where I didn’t want it.
You can even wipe off big areas and start over if you need to.
Don’t wait too long though – the paint cures as time goes on. I fixed my mistakes as soon as I lifted the stencil off the mug.
When you’re happy with your design, bake it in the oven to make the design permanent. Set the mug in a cold oven. (It might not be safe to set a cool mug in an already-hot oven.) Then turn on the oven. Porcelaine 150 product instructions recommend baking at 300 degrees for 35 minutes after the paint has dried for 24 hours. Vitrea 160 product instructions recommend baking at 325 degrees for 40 minutes after the paint has dried for 24 hours. Because I used both paints, I baked at the higher temperature – 325 degrees for 40 minutes. Start the timer when the oven reaches the full temperature, not when you place the mugs in the cold oven.
Note: If you used a different ceramic/glass paint, your paint might have different instructions for baking.
I love my creatively stenciled coffee mugs, and find them colorful way to start my day. Because stenciled mugs are so easy to personalize with stenciled pattern and paint they are easy to match with your existing dinnerware. I think they would also make great hostess or birthday gifts, and may even be a fun stencil project to do with the kids. Cheers!