Ceramic art came from an extensive history in most countries, and often ceramic pieces are the only artistic evidence left from extinct cultures, like that of the Nok in Africa from over 2 millenniums ago. Ceramics from Chinese, Persian, Cretan, Mayan, Greek, Korean and Japanese Cultures are the most well-known as well as modern Western cultures.
In today’s modern engineering of ceramics, ceramics is not only considered as an art but also science of creating objects from inorganic or non-metallic materials by the action of heat. And now, not only the techniques to create ceramics were innovated and continuously improving but also the ways to decorate and design ceramics.
There are 3 methods that be used to paint and decorate your ceramic piece:
Underglaze is a fluid that is applied in the surface of a ceramic before a glaze is applied. The original underglazes are usually covered with clear glaze from dry firing. It is applied while the clay or greenware is wet so that the color can mix properly in the ceramic piece. Now glaze are made with silica which cause underglazes to melt properly in a piece making it possible to apply underglazes to bisques and greenwares.
Underglaze Application Technique
- Make it a habit take the amount of underglaze needed from the container not to contaminate the remaining product.
- Wipe the bisque with moist sponge before application it allows better adhesion to the bisque.
- Dip a moisten brush (in appropriate size) in the color. Paint in a flowing motion and do not allow excess color to build up. Brush the flaws out and the excess out when applying the underglaze.
- Apply three coating; the coating is dry when the dark wet look vanished. Apply the second and third coating on a right angle against the other coat to ensure better coverage.
- Sponge and splatter are can also be used for the application.
- Normally, clear glaze are used to bring out the true color and distinctness of a ceramic piece.
- Opaque underglaze requires firing to mature their color.
- Colors can be mixed and underglaze can be fired to higher temperatures.
- The glazed bisque must be placed on stands made from Nichrome wire and are not touching each other so not to fused together.
- Firing process will take hours.
Glaze or ceramic glaze is an impassable coating of a glass like substance that is dissolved in a ceramic piece through firing. Glazing aside from being the most used way of decorating a ceramic also waterproofs a ceramic piece. The effects of glazing are endless depending on formulation and application.
Glazing Application Techniques
- Brushing – the most popular and common technique because it only requires a minimal volume of glaze. This technique allows subtle disparity of color but the control over glaze coverage but the application consumes a lot of time.
- Dipping – is the best method for attaining an even glaze thickness. A ceramic piece will be suspended into the glaze for about three seconds to allow appropriate volume of glaze to cover the pot. Double dipping is another technique wherein like what the name suggests the ceramic piece is dip in a glaze and after some minutes is dip again in the same or different glaze.
- Pouring – It has the same consistency as dipping glazes and is often done in combination with dipping. Glazes are poured over the surfaces of ceramic piece that is already glazed creating a more interesting design with greater visual depth.
- Spraying – The most uncommon technique because of the equipment needed to perform this and large amount of glaze is consumed than other techniques. Potters use spray guns and airbrushes to spray glazes on their ceramic pieces. This technique is most useful if you have a bulk of ceramic piece that will use the same glaze.
- Stenciling – an alternative to painting wherein vellum stencils is used on a ceramics to allow you to create precise shapes with glaze. The technique gives a more professional and refined look than the standard brushing technique.
- Trailing – also known as Slip Trail is the application of pour steam slip to a clay surface. Slip is now applied using a pointed dispenser. It is a powerful way to create a pattern of fluid that will settle of a primary glaze.
- Marbling – This technique uses sponge to paint a ceramic piece and most applicable on bowls and platters. Different sponges are used for applying basic and decorative layer of glaze. The texture of the sponge brings different effects on the design.
Non Fired Paints are also known as acrylic paint or bisque stains, it is an all-around paint that is used not only to paint bisque and non-fired clay but also canvas and wood. Non Fired Paints are exquisite and do not get fired in an oven or kiln.
Tips and Techniques in Acrylic Painting a Ceramic
- Ceramic wares are very absorbent. Spray paint your ceramic piece to seal its surface and stopped it from absorbing paint quickly.
- Acrylic is a versatile paint that dries quickly. It can be used like watercolors or like oil. Try working with acrylic paints by keeping them damp.
- When painting, dip your brush in just the right amount of paint and water. Remove excess water by tapping the brush in a cloth or paper before touching your work and don’t dip your brush until it is dry enough to avoid blotches.
- For better result, don’t use the color straight from the tube. Instead, mix colors to get the suitable tone you are looking for. You can practice by using print material like magazine to compare the tones you’ve produced.
- Experiment with colors, designs and patterns to make your piece stood up from the rest.