Today, we’re going to learn how to paint a coffee mug with a stencil.
But – not just any stencil – you’ll cut your own stencil using vinyl on your Silhouette or Cricut machine.
(Also – if you don’t have a vinyl cutter, you can do simple straight sided shapes with painter’s tape easily.)
For all you who make mugs with dye sublimation, this is a GREAT way to deal with misprinted coffee mugs you would have to trash otherwise.
Using a vinyl die-cut stencil to ceramic paint onto a coffee mug is really versatile and upscale method of putting fun designs onto a coffee mug.
The end result is a beautiful, dishwasher safe and microwave safe coffee mug (as opposed to putting vinyl on a coffee mug which I am not a fan of).
But – it doesn’t just have to be chalkboard – You can use this method with any color of paint. Here’s how you do it.
How to Stencil Paint a Coffee Mug with a Vinyl Stencil
In this tutorial I’ll be demonstrating a scalloped wrap design for a chalkboard mug.
Click here to download the cut file for the scalloped wrap and get a bonus frame free (and YES you can use it commercially if you’d like).
- Coffee mug
- Vinyl stencil
- Painter’s tape (not masking tape)
- Ceramic Paint (I highly recommend Pebeo Porcelaine paint, it just seems to work better for me)
- Paintbrush (I use foam ones)
- Plastic sandwich bag
- Rubbing alcohol
- Paper towels or cotton balls
A Few Notes
I highly recommend doing this with regular straight sided mugs.
The curved ones are pretty but a little trickier, and if you are doing cute borders it can be difficult to get them on straight, so at the very least, try this out with a straight sided mug first if you can.
Tip: I can’t reiterate this enough – keep your design SIMPLE 😃 I think that with some experience, some more complicated or intricate designs can be done but don’t try it for the first time.
Step 1 – Cut Your Stencil
Cut your design from vinyl – I usually use either Oramask or Oracal 651 just because it’s just what I have around.
You’ll want to keep it to a blockier, less intricate design to start with, since the margin of error is greater with a more scrolly or detailed design. Set yourself up for success!
Here’s the link again for the cut file I used.
One note regarding design – you will definitely want to make sure that the painted portion does not go all the way to the top where the lips will be touching. Ceramic paint is generally nontoxic but they do not recommend it for items where food will actually be touching, so it’s probably better to play it safe.
Step 2 – Prep Your Mug
The first step is to prep your mug.
It needs to be completely clean, and you’ll want to wipe it down with rubbing alcohol to make sure there are no traces of oils from your hands or anything that might interfere with the adhesion of the stencil.
If you’re doing a chalkboard design where there will be large areas of flood coverage, it may be useful to go over the stenciled area very lightly with some VERY fine sandpaper.
I use 400 grit – just to help adhere the paint – and then wipe off any dust with my alcohol pad and let it dry. This isn’t absolutely necessary but I figure it can’t hurt.
Step 3 – Apply Your Stencil
Carefully apply your stencil to the surface, making sure it’s positioned exactly where you want it to be.
Rub it down well and remove your transfer tape.
Step 4 – Tape off & Protect Your Mug
You’ll want to tape off and protect your mug. Encase the not-to-be-painted parts as much as possible in the plastic sandwich bag, using painter’s tape to tape off any other areas.
This may seem excessive, but when you are painting your mug if you accidentally get paint on the other areas, not only will it be a huge pain but in the process of cleaning those parts you might “ding” the part you DO want painted.
Step 5 – Pounce Your Paint
Ceramic paint marks will smooth out a little when they dry, but for the most part any marks on the paint will stay on the paint once it’s dried.
I like to “pounce” the paint using a foam paintbrush rather than a bristle brush, in order to avoid brush marks.
You will want the paint to be pretty thick – I have found if I do multiple thin coats, when I remove the stencil it pulls up paint.
The benefit of thicker paint is also that brush strokes tend to smooth out better. You can see I did end up with some bubbling, which I couldn’t seem to avoid, but I didn’t have any brush strokes.
Tip: I have noticed that the regular non-chalkboard paints tend to be a teeeeny bit runnier, so if you are using a regular color it might be a good idea to let the paint thicken up a bit before pulling up the stencil (but don’t let the edges dry!).
Step 6 – Remove Stencil Immediately
If you wait until the paint is dried to remove your stencil, it will most likely pull up part of the paint with it so I definitely recommend pulling off the stencil while the paint is still somewhat fresh.
Gently loosen it on one edge, and pull it off as smoothly as possible.
I like to remove the painter’s tape and plastic first, and then that gives me an unpainted clean edge of my stencil to start pulling up.
Any small extra pieces can be pulled up with the help of a small pin – just poke the pin carefully into the vinyl and use it to loosen an edge, and pull up the edge with your fingers or tweezers.
Be sure to not gouge the glaze of the mug with your pin!
Step 7 – Touch Ups If Necessary
If you need to make touch ups for any reason, this is the time to do so (very carefully).
I’d recommend using a small tipped brush and try to blend in the paint as well as you can with the surrounding areas (remember, any marks will dry that way, so try to not make it obviously touched up).
This is also when you can clean up any smudges left when you were removing the plastic like I had. They can be scraped off with a fingernail and/or removed with a damp paper towel.
Step 8 – Dry & Cure
You’ll want to let the mug sit undisturbed so the paint can dry for 24 hours before you do the cure.
The curing process (baking it in your oven) is what will make the paint permanent – dishwasher and microwave safe.
You’ll want to follow the instructions for your paint brand to see the full cure instructions. Pebeo Porcelaine instructions are to place the mug into a cold oven, heat it to 300 degrees F and bake for 35 minutes once it has reached 300 degrees.
Note for sublimators – I don’t notice any of the regular sublimation mug fumes when I’m doing this to cover up my misprinted mugs, so if you normally use a mug press and don’t have a mug oven, I think it should be okay to use your regular oven.
Step 9 – Be Awesome
And voila – you have a gorgeous chalkboard painted mug! Why? Because you’re awesome, that’s why!
Do like I did and have a nice cup of cocoa with lots of marshmallows. You earned it! ❤❤❤
So do you want to try this? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!
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I have read the instructions twice, I am confused. Are you putting the vinyl on top and bottom where you don’t want the paint? I just don’t get this. If your putting vinyl where the paint goes and you pull the vinyl off the paint goes with it.
The vinyl stencil is cut so that the scalloped frame where the paint goes is empty for painting, so the only exposed surface on the mug is the inside of the scalloped frame. Does that make more sense? If you check the in-progress photos you’ll see how I made a frame of vinyl, and taped off the remainder with painter’s tape and a plastic bag and the only exposed part is the part that ultimately got painted.
The benefit of using a vinyl cutter is you can use creative borders and edging which you would not do if you used, for example, regular masking tape to tape off the edges but you’re still in essence “taping off” the parts you don’t want painted – just partly using vinyl and not just tape.