How to Paint on Mugs & Cups

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Painting mugs or cups can be a fun and relaxing activity for kids and adults. Using your artistic skills, you can customize your mugs and cups and give them as gifts for your friends and family.

Things You'll Need

  • Ceramic/porcelain mug or cup
  • Small paint brush
  • Ceramic/porcelain glaze
  • Kiln

Decide whether you want to paint a ceramic or porcelain mug. Ceramic mugs use low-fired glazes that can fade or become distorted after long-term use and exposure to hot liquids. Glazes for porcelain mugs require higher temperatures to set and will be much more resistant to bleeding and mixing. The mugs should already have been painted with acrylic paint and fired to prepare for glazing. Purchase these mugs at a local ceramics store.

Clean the surfaces of your ceramic or porcelain mugs and dry them.

Dip the tip of a small paint brush into the bottle of glaze and carefully begin painting the words or designs onto the ceramic or porcelain mug. Depending on the glaze, use multiple coats to ensure deep and rich colors.

When switching between different colored glazes, clean the brush thoroughly in water to prevent contaminating your color.

When you are finished painting, let your ceramic or porcelain mug dry for two to four hours in a cool, dry room.

Fire the ceramic mugs (at approximately 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit) or porcelain mugs (at approximately 3,000 degrees), Ceramic and porcelain glazes require a kiln to achieve the high temperatures needed to set the colors. The firing process typically takes between 16 and 22 hours. Wait for at least two days for the kiln to cool and use caution when removing your mugs.

Take your projects to a ceramic shop, where you can pay to have them fired, if you do not have your own kiln.

Tips & Warnings

  • Colored glazes often do not appear to be the color they are described to be until they are fired.
  • Use a small-tipped brush for your glaze when painting detailed text and designs.
  • Use glazes that are food-safe if you plan to use your mugs and cups as beverage containers.
  • Use kiln mitts and dark goggles when removing your ceramic or porcelain mugs from the kiln to avoid burns or other injury.
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