How to Decorate Ceramics

Making pottery is a very old craft, as is decorating it. Even just pressing a finger into the clay could be called a form of decoration. As time passed, various methods, progressively more sophisticated, have been used. Some techniques involved glazing the ceramics in a kiln, which is a kind of oven that reaches very high temperatures [source: Savage]. Here are some ideas for decorating a ceramic mug, perhaps with your children, at home.

Materials needed:


  • Poster paints
  • Pencil
  • Small paintbrush
  • Tissue paper
  • Scotch tape

Here's what to do:

  1. Outline your design on tissue paper.
  2. Turn the tissue paper over. With a pencil, scribble over the lines you made when you drew your design. This will make a layer of graphite that will enable your design to be transferred on to the ceramic surface.
  3. Place the tissue paper onto the ceramic surface, with the scribbled side against the ceramic. You can either hold it firmly or tape it on with a little scotch tape. The design that you drew should be facing you. Press the paper firmly and carefully go over the line of the design with the pencil. Remove the tissue paper. You will now see the outline of the design on the ceramic.
  4. Paint the design on the mug, either using poster paints or a ceramic paint marker. Use a thin paint brush if you're using poster paints. Remove any the excess paint by dabbing at the affected area with a damp cloth. Let the ceramic mug air dry overnight.
  5. Place the ceramic mug in an oven heated to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 degrees Celsius) in the morning.
  6. Leave the mug in the hot oven for half an hour.
  7. Turn off the oven, but leave the mug inside to cool down. Once the mug's cool it's ready to be washed and used [source: Harris].