23 Most Creative Pottery Painting Ideas for Bowls, Vases and More

Last Updated on Jan 10th 2024
pottery painting ideas

Are you looking for unique and fun pottery painting ideas? This list has ideas for beginning pottery enthusiasts and experts alike.

Painting pottery is a creative outlet that lets your eye for design shine while also giving you the chance to create a functional piece of art. The mugs, plates or vases you paint can become useful tools in the kitchen as well as beautiful artwork.

The most common question people ask about pottery painting is “What should I paint on my pottery?” But before we dive into the answer to that question, it’s important to discuss why you should even pick up this hobby in the first place!

According to New York Times, studies have shown that making art for even as little as ten to fifteen minutes can greatly reduce stress. These pottery painting ideas will help you tap into your creative side and increase your cortisol levels.

Now that you know the benefits, let’s jump into 23 easy pottery painting ideas that will be sure to inspire you.

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Pottery Painting Tips for Beginners

1. Take a Pottery Class

The best way to jump into the world of pottery painting is to take a class. By joining in on pottery classes in Boston, pottery classes in Chicago, pottery classes in Houston or pottery classes near you, you’ll learn from an expert.

You may also have questions like “Can you use acrylic paint on pottery?” or “Should you wet pottery before painting?” Your instructor will have all the answers!

pottery class pottery painting idea
via Canva

2. Find the Right Materials

It’s important to do your research before painting pottery at home. While you can use basic acrylic paints on a vase or jug, if you plan to use your dish for food or beverages, be sure to find the right materials or seek an expert’s help.

You can also research key topics like glazing pottery online before you get started to make sure you’re doing things in a safe and effective way.

3. Start Small

You don’t have to be an expert artist all at once. Pottery for beginners doesn’t have to be intimidating! Try an easy pottery painting idea like polka dots or stripes to help you figure out how to paint on curved surfaces like bowls and mugs before moving on to more intricate or advanced designs.

Even these easy designs can be really effective when done well.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

At the end of the day, painting pottery is all about expressing yourself and being creative. If a piece doesn’t turn out the way you planned, it’s okay!

Keep trying until you find the painting techniques that work best for you. You may decide that using sponges and paintbrushes is too much, or that splattering paint on a mug feels just right.

5. Pattern Play 

Try mixing and matching different patterns in the same color scheme on a set of bowls, saucers and mugs. This aesthetic pottery painting idea will keep all of the pieces cohesive, but the different patterns will add visual interest to your pottery.

painting blue and white pattern on large ceramic bowl
via Canva

6. Solid Colors Can Be Fun

In a world full of busy patterns, don’t be afraid to give solid colors a try. Use two colors to contrast the inside and outside of a mug or bowl, or try color-blocking a vase with bright tones for an easy pottery painting idea.

This is especially helpful if you simply aren’t sure what to paint first! Start with solid colors and move on to more complicated designs when you’re ready.

Bowl Pottery Painting Ideas

7. Make a Centerpiece

Paint a large bowl with a simple geometric pattern that matches your home décor. Then fill the bowl with potpourri, fruit or other vase fillers for an easy pottery painting idea that will set your table apart. 

8. Ice Cream Bowls

We all scream for ice cream! For this pottery idea, paint a set of bowls with ice cream-themed designs like waffle cone patterns, sprinkles or even cherries and bananas. Then sit back and enjoy a nice sundae with your family in your stylish new bowls.

9. Stylish Pet Bowls

Pets need nice dishes, too! Paint the outside of your dog’s bowl with paw prints, bones or tennis balls. If you’re a cat lover, try a pattern of mice or fish.

Don’t forget to personalize it with your furry friend’s name, and you’ll have a food or water bowl with real flair. 

pet bowl pottery painting idea
via Canva

10. Alphabet Soup

For this fun pottery idea, harness the power of the alphabet! Make an alphabet soup bowl by decorating the outside of a bowl with a random arrangement of the different letters.

You can use bright, contrasting colors or a simple black-and-white scheme for a subtle, minimalist design.

Mug Pottery Painting Ideas

11. What’s Your Sign? 

Make a mug personalized to your zodiac sign or make a set of all of the astrological signs so your friends can drink out of a mug that represents them whenever they come to visit. 

12. Don’t Forget the Handle

Sometimes it’s easy to design the exterior pattern for your mug, but don’t neglect the handle! You can make it match the rest of your pattern or only paint a subtle design on the handle for a minimalist design.

Whichever you choose, this pottery idea will be sure that you’ve covered all the bases when it comes to design.

13. Motivational Messages

What better place to paint an inspiring quote or motivational message than on your morning coffee mug? Inspire yourself each day with words of wisdom or a cheery “Good Morning.” You can keep it simple and use your own handwriting or opt for a more calligraphic style.

handwriting in notebook while holding painted mug that says
via Canva

14. Use What You Love

Be inspired by your favorite books, movies and TV shows. Paint your favorite quotes, characters or even song lyrics for a mug that is unique to you and your tastes.  

If you're looking for Father's Day painting ideas as a useful gift, this is a great option. Just tailor your design to Dad's interests!

Vase Pottery Painting Ideas

15. Give Your Vase a Face

Get creative and add faces to your pottery. This idea could take many shapes or forms. You could do simple smiley faces, emoji shapes or more realistic portraits of your favorite inspirational figures to add some flair and personality to your vase.

Try adding minimalistic eyelashes to give your vase a bright-eyed design without much work. 

16. Geometric Shapes

Since flowers are so organic and round, create some contrast by adding sharp lines and geometric outlines to the exterior of your vase. This aesthetic pottery painting idea will set the flowers off nicely and is very on-trend.

17. Floral Patterns

If geometric shapes aren’t your thing, try painting your vase for maximum flower power. Floral patterns are cute on any type of dish, but flower vases seem to be a natural home for these types of pottery painting ideas.

Go bold with bright colors, or paint simple daisies and roses for a more understated effect. It's also a cute flower pot painting idea for beginners.

floral pattern vase pottery painting idea
via Canva

Plate Pottery Painting Ideas

18. Make a Plate for Santa’s Cookies

This is a classic project that you can do with your kids. Make a holiday-themed plate fit for Santa to snack off of when he drops off the gifts on Christmas Eve.

Use a design of reindeer, snowmen or even cute cookies to make this festive plate. You could even make this design more personal by including your child’s fingerprints or handprints. That extra step will turn this simple craft project into a cherished memento. 

19. Paint Cute Plant Saucers

Use a pattern of flowers or leaves to paint a cute plate to leave under your potted plants. Your floors and tables will thank you, and it’s a prettier pottery painting idea than just using a utilitarian metal or rubber saucer. Succulents, vines and simple flowers are pretty, effective designs for this type of plate. 

20. Use Astronomy as Inspiration

Make astronomy-themed plates by painting a map of the solar system, planets or using a pattern of suns on one dish and moons on another.

This out-of-this-world pottery idea comes with endless options to include galaxies, stars or even a cute alien or two.

Jug Pottery Painting Ideas

21. Give Your Milk Carton a Makeover

For this simple pottery painting idea, paint a ceramic jug with cow spots to hold fresh, cold milk in the fridge. For a more advanced option, try painting the entire cow! Use the same patterns and paint a matching mini milk or cream dish for your coffee set. 

22. Make a Wedding Gift

A homemade jug is a beautiful example of a pottery gift that is personal and creative. Your friends will think of you every time they use their hand-painted jug in their new life together.

Add an extra personal touch to this pottery gift idea by painting their names and the date of their wedding on the bottom of the jug. 

23. Under the Sea

Why not give your hand-painted jug some aquatic flair? For this pottery painting idea, use cool tones and a design of fish, seashells or even mermaids to make a beach-inspired jug for your home. If you’re not confident in those tricky design elements, a simple wave pattern is easy and effective. 

large white jug with waves and sailboat painted on it
via Canva

We hope these 23 pottery painting ideas have inspired you to pick up your paintbrush and try a new hobby. In no time you’ll have a cupboard full of custom, hand-painted mugs, plates, vases and bowls fit for every occasion.

For even more fun pottery ideas, check out other experiences happening on Classpop!