A Great Idea for Creating Custom Stencils for Pottery

Make Your Own Stickers for Resist Decoration on Pottery


Looking for some awesome ceramic decoration ideas? Custom stencils for ceramics are a great way to go and there are a lot of different ways to use them.

In this post, an excerpt from Pottery Making Illustrated archives, Lindsay Rogers explains how she makes her custom stencils for pottery–or as she calls them “stickers”–using masking tape and parchment paper. –Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

P.S. For tips on how to blend local and commercial clays as well as instructions for throwing and texturing a plate make sure to check out the rest of Lindsay’s article in the July/August 2016 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated. There’s also a food recipe for a delicious Lemon Chess Pie! 

Decorating the Plate

After trimming, I put my plates through the first of two bisque firings to cone 04. Once out of the kiln, I use a white porcelain bisque slip as a point of contrast to the deep brown clay. Once my slip is mixed up to a thin, skim-milk consistency it’s time to make some custom stickers! The stickers act as a resist to the slip (much like wax or latex resist) but have the potential to leave crisp, stencil-like edges. To make your own custom stickers use a large sheet of parchment paper as your backing. Next, lay down overlapping rows of masking tape until you have a solid sheet of tape (1). At this point you can sketch on the tape or simply cut the sticker in to whatever shape you want.

Ceramic Decorating Tool Techniques

Decorating your pots has never been easier with the helpful tips, tricks, and techniques when you download this freebieCeramic Decorating Tool Techniques.


Build your decorating chops!
The ceramic surface is one of the most versatile outlets for creativity. It allows you to add personal touches at any stage of the process. In Surface Decoration Techniques, more than 30 professional artists with decades of experience share a wide variety of surface projects—from carving, etching and sgraffito, to layers, inclusions, and textures! If you’re looking for instruction and information to improve your decorating skills in the clay studio, this book provides enough of everything to keep you inspired for years to come.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 2

Play around with the composition of the cut stickers and use them to separate the space of the plate. Once your composition is set, peel off the parchment paper backing and affix the sticker to the surface of the plate (2). Compress with a soft rib to get a good seal.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 4

Applying the Slip

After the sticker is well adhered you’re ready to apply the slip. Pick up the plate by the foot and hold it upright over a wide bucket. Use a spouted vessel to pour slip across the surface of the plate, allowing the excess to fall into the bucket (3). To create a layered look, pour 3–4 coats of slip over the plate unevenly. Once the slip is dry, remove the sticker to reveal the clay below (4). With a damp sponge, clean up any edges that need refining.


**First published 2016.
  • Elaine H.

    Great tip! Have also been looking for a material that can be used as a stencil on the outside of a curved pot-does anyone have any ideas?

  • Robin W.

    I am really looking forward to doing this with students in the fall! They always ask about getting their favorite logos on their work. They are going to love this technique! And, for about $10 in supplies, we can do this for several classes! Thank you!

  • Cathy H.

    “Contact” paper works great as a resist. In my area it is cheap – $3 for a 9 foot x 18″ wide roll.

  • I have not tried this. However, I did consider it before I developed my current method. I bet it would work well. I imagine its positives would be that it has a water resistant surface already… and perhaps it would be durable enough to re-stick a couple of times. However, for me, cost was the main factor in not choosing this method. I cut each pattern and use it just once. The roll was just too expensive to work that way. If I do some quick math – I suspect probably get about 40 feet of tape-paper for about $12 – and that is accounting for a more expensive tape.

  • The black area is actually just the clay body color (at cone 6) with a clear glaze over it. However, if the slip accidentally gets where you don’t want it, you can apply a very thin wash of black stain to cover white cloudy area that appears after wiping the unwanted slip away.

  • L A Brown has it exactly right! Economy and the tape surface (vs. paper surface) tends to work much better when it comes to removing the saturated sticker. Also, certain tapes/labels will leave a gum on the surface of the pot. I immediately stop using a tape if I find that it leaves a sticky residue. If you really want to get fancy, you can get the ‘edge lock’ painters tape. It is designed to come off cleanly and seals beautifully at the edge. It’s just a little more expensive.

  • Elke B.

    Has anyone ever tried self-sticking shelf paper? I have heard from other potters that this method works very well.

  • Larae B.

    True, but a roll of masking tape is much less expensive than a box of full size shipping labels. Plus, masking tape has a surface that resists moisture, whereas label stock (at least the kind I have used at work) not so much.

  • Barbara H.

    Staples makes white 8.5″ x 11″ shipping label sheets which would eliminate the arduous step of putting the making tape on the parchment paper. These sheets from Staples are made from peel and stick stock.

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