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Stenciling Cups

Stenciling porcelain cups is such an easy way to make something unique for gift giving.  You can stencil one cup or mug for someone special during a holiday or birthday, but you can also stencil a whole set of them for yourself if you want.  For this particular project it’s best to buy inexpensive white porcelain cups and not use antiques or heirloom china.  Figure out what you want to put on them and how you want them to look, then visit a craft store near you and get your materials if you don’t have them already.

I’ll show you how easy it is to make these nice cups to sip your coffee or tea at home (you can also take one to work for your desk).  The fun part is picking out the color(s) you want to use for the cups you happen to buy.  If you choose one color then it’s as simple as can be.  If you want to use a particular color palette, let your imagination run wild and custom color a wonderful cup.  Personally, I think there is no wrong or right here.  Go with what you like and let no one tell you otherwise.  

These days it is great to find everything under one roof when shopping for crafting materials.  The stencils I used were made specifically for this type of project, because they bend and adhere to curved objects.  There is no need to tape them down to hold them in place as you apply the paint.  The rest is as easy as 1-2-3.

Let’s stencil some cups!

Crafting Materials
  • white porcelain cups & saucers
  • multi-surface acrylic paint
  • paint brushes or pouncers
  • adhesive stencils
  • masking tape or painter's tape
  • bowl of water
  • rags or cloths for wiping
  • palette to hold paints (an old plate or craft paper will do)

This is the paint palette I used for my cups.  I wanted each cup to have more than one color on it, so I chose light tones that I enjoy.  The small bowl of water was there to wipe up any mistakes.  The gray cloth is a remnant from an old shirt.  The masking tape is there to block off any areas you don't want painted.

These are those wonderful adhesive stencils.  Each one clings on to the surface of whatever it is you're painting, even if it's curved.  What's more, they're plastic & reusable!  Look for them at your craft store.

Originally I had thought of adding a single monogram to each cup, but the letters were way too small for my tastes.  For the painting palette I used a square of card stock, but craft paper can work just as well (or an old plate).  To test the stencils and see what they would look like, I applied a bit of paint with a small brush to a piece of paper. 

Before you start this project, pick out the design you want and figure out how you're going to place it on the cup.  You can mark it with a wax pencil so that the design is perfect.  However, if you don't mind having letters scattered in a haphazard fashion, place them wherever you see fit.  Also, make sure your coffee cups are clean.

I decided to write "coffee" on the cups instead of applying a monogram.  I didn't want to have the letters in a straight line, so I went for an arch design.  The "C" & "O" were placed next to each other and paint was applied.  Two coats were given before the stencils were removed.  

As soon as you've finished applying paint, remove the stencils very carefully.  Do NOT let the paint dry.  Also, DO NOT apply too much paint or you run the risk of having it seep underneath the stencil.

Although a pouncer can be used for this project, I found it much easier to work with small paint brushes.  The stencils are small so it's best to contain the paint within the small area of each letter.

Note:  if you make a mistake or if the paint smudges, wipe it off with a damp cloth immediately and start again.  Make sure the surface is dry before reapplying the stencil & paint.

Here I am finishing up with the first cup.  It doesn't take long at all to do this.  After finishing with one side, let it dry completely before you even touch it.  Depending on your environment, this can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.  

If you're working with multiple colors, rinse the stencils under cool water to remove excess paint and wipe them dry before continuing with another color.  The same applies to the paint brushes or pouncers.

For the saucers I used a bracket edge stencil.  I placed it on the rim and applied paint.  After removing the stencil, I made sure to place it directly across from it on the opposite end.  Four bracket edge designs were used for each saucer.
The finished porcelain cups!  I have some expensive Limoges coffee cups that are the exact design as these, but for the project I bought $4 ones.

 The finished saucers!  I love the different-colored bracket rim designs.  

Do you see what I did?  I used different colors on each side of a single cup.  The left side has a color called "Beach Glass" and the right has one called "Pea Shoot".

 This particular cup has "Cloud" on the left and "Putty" on the right.

Coffee anyone?

Have fun working on this easy crafting project.  Create something unique and then share it with someone.  I have a feeling I'll be making personalized cups for a few people this year to give as gifts.  Slip a cup and saucer like this into a clear cellophane bag and add some biscotti to it or some other wonderful cookie from your kitchen.  Tie it up and give it away to someone.   Simple!


  1. LOVE this!! You've convinced me to take on a project like this.

  2. I really like this idea and your provided a wonderful tutorial!

  3. Thank You Kenn & Paula!! I had a lot of fun doing it and having them in my cupboard now is nice. The cups have been used every single day this week!



  4. That's such a cute, cute idea!! I love the colors you chose. Typical of your fine taste and high standards!


  5. Thanks Janet, that's kind of you! Make a "Janet" cup for your desk!



  6. Such a great idea! I've been stencilling onto glass lately with a glass etch paint from the same product line with great easy & the results amaze me everytime

  7. Yes, Alan!

    I've seen the etching kits which I'm going to try soon. I can't wait because it seems like a great thing to do.




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