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Dot-Painted China

On its own, a dot looks very lonely indeed. But group several together and they make a striking impression.




Consider, for example, the patterned wings of a ladybug or monarch butterfly. Luckily, Mother Nature doesn't have a monopoly on making things beautiful with spots -- you can do the same with ceramic or porcelain dishes, basic art supplies, and a little imagination.

Putting paint to porcelain is easier than you think. Uncomplicated designs can be done freehand; for others, use our templates or create your own. You'll trace the shapes using transfer paper and a ballpoint pen, then cover those marks with painted dots -- paint applicator makes it a cinch to do this neatly. The delightful freckles lend themselves to a variety of motifs, from organic florals to monograms to geometric patterns. If you can bear to part with them, dot-painted ceramics make wonderful gifts. Arrange the ones you keep on open shelves or behind glass cabinet doors-they are, after all, works of art. We suggest only painting across the surface of plates that are decorative, not for eating.


  • Baby wipes
  • Scissors
  • Red transfer paper
  • Clear tape
  • Ceramic plate or other item
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Food-safe ceramic paint (such as Porcelaine 150)
  • Paper muffin cups
  • Wooden coffee stirrers
  • Paint applicator bottles
  • Straight pin


  1. Step 1


    Photocopy or print templates and enlarge or reduce as desired; cut out. Cut transfer paper slightly larger than template. Place it under template, and tape both to plate. Firmly trace template with a ballpoint pen.

  2. Step 2


    Mix paint colors (we added white to make lighter shades), then pour into applicator bottle.

  3. Step 3


    Practice making dots on scrap paper: Squeeze bottle gently for small dots and harder for larger ones. Make dots on traced design (use pin to unclog bottle tip as necessary). Let dry 2 hours; remove transfer lines with baby wipe. Heat in 300-degree oven for 30 minutes. To store extra paint, insert pin into bottle tip.

Martha Stewart Living, January 2006



Reviews (15)

  • hrh1715 6 Oct, 2014

    Irritates me to no end that MS would recommend a product for use in a manner that is NOT recommended by the manufacturer. From Pebeo's website:

    Porcelaine 150 : Can the decorated objects be put in contact with food?
    No, only surfaces not intended for food contact may be decorated.

  • seanmilesdansey 2 Jan, 2015

    Perhaps you should actually read the page. From the description above: "We suggest only painting across the surface of plates that are decorative, not for eating."

  • tev4157 9 Feb, 2014

    I did this project years ago using the paint and baked the plates according to Martha Stewart's directions and the paint hasn't faded or wiped off or anything. The only pieces that we lost were the ones that broke. My husband bought glass paint last year and we attempted to do the same thing, but that paint washed and flaked off completely.

  • Shirley S 12 Dec, 2013

    Have done this project using permanent sharpies. The ink washes off after several hand washes. It is beautiful when finished but does not last.

  • JoanMar 28 Apr, 2013

    I like this idea, but the comments regarding the paint washing off disturb me. What about using permanent Sharpie markers instead? How about using the markers to draw solid lines, connecting the dots? I would use more than one color, also.

  • TGLDirect 21 Mar, 2013

    This is a wonderful way to repurpose China and make some neat decor that you can be proud of!

  • grannyfive 17 Aug, 2012

    made this turned out nice, but why when i washed it the design came off??

  • geoferr 20 Mar, 2011

    Or use the templates for embroidery projects; sew french knots instead of beads.

  • geoferr 20 Mar, 2011

    These templates could also be used to add beaded designs to sewing projects. Just sew one bead for each dot.

  • NewksLeather 19 Mar, 2011

    I can't get the template to open at all.

  • lilcrafty 11 Mar, 2009

    I have made several of these dishes and I love them, but even with handwashing some of the dots are coming off, I baked them according to the instructions, anyone else having this problem?

  • JakeeJ 23 Dec, 2008

    Instead of a ballpoint pen, I used a sharpie of the same color paint I was using. I found this to give a better mark for me to see. I also used a porcelain pen and felt this gave me better control of the dots I was making. This project was very affordable, which is nice this holiday season.

  • hillsbills 29 Nov, 2008

    where can I find the applicator bottles?

  • slaurelin 9 Jul, 2008

    These designs would also be great as a template for candlewick embroidery on linens to match your dishes

  • IheartMartha 2 Mar, 2008

    What a fun project! I loved the way these looked on the website but wasn't sure I'd be able to recreate the look. I did and they turned out great! This is a wonderful way to decorate on a low budget. I plan to mount the dishes on a wall to show off my skills! ;)