How to Paint Coffee Cups

coffee cup image by andrew chambers from

Things You'll Need

  • Paper and pencil
  • Ceramic or porcelain coffee cups
  • Dish soap
  • Newspaper
  • Fine point marker
  • Enamel paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Stencils (optional)
  • Sponges (optional)

Hand-painted coffee cups make thoughtful gifts and attractive conversation pieces for your home. The versatility of this craft makes it ideal for creating mugs to coordinate with your kitchen decor, celebrating an occasion, or as a fun activity for kids. All you need are a few supplies from your local craft store and an oven. Start with a simple ceramic coffee mug of your choice and let your caffeine-assisted imagination run wild.

Draw your idea for a design on a piece of paper as a mock-up. You will have better results if you know what your design will be before you put anything on the cup. Practice any difficult painting techniques on a piece of plain paper before trying them on a mug.

Wash the coffee cup and dry it thoroughly. Lay the cup on its side on a piece of newspaper so it is in an easier position to paint. Brace it with a book if you have trouble keeping it in place, since you do not want it to roll while you are painting.

Draw the design you made for the mock-up on the mug itself with a fine point marker. You can either do it by eye or cut out your mock-up and trace the edges.

Use enamel paints and a thin paintbrush. If you will be covering large areas of the cup with a single color, paint with brush strokes all moving in the same direction. Vertical strokes will be easier and neater on a tall mug, while a teacup-sized mug will look cleaner using horizontal strokes. Wipe the excess paint from the brush each time you dip it into the paint to help the paint go on evenly. Turn the cup over or stand it up to paint the opposite side. Apply several coats for more vibrant shades; allow paint to set between coats.

Place your coffee cups in the oven when it is still cold. Follow the instructions on the bottle of paint for baking times and temperatures. You will be using the oven only on a low temperature for a brief time. Do not overbake.


  • To make a set of coffee cups, start with cups that are all the same base color and give them different designs, or use the same design on several different colors of cups.

    Check at your local craft store for kits that allow you to adhere a photo to a coffee cup and also include paints or markers to decorate it.

    Use sponges instead of brushes for an artsy look.

    Use stencils for precision. Flexible, reusable stencils with an adhesive backing are ideal for curved surfaces like mugs.


About the Author

Suzanne Akerman began writing in 2000. She has worked as a consultant at Pacific Lutheran University's Writing Center and her works have been published in the creative arts journal "Saxifrage." Akerman holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in education from Pacific Lutheran University.

Photo Credits