Hand Painted Ceramics – The Techniques

Hand Painted Ceramics

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

  1.     Make it a habit take the amount of underglaze needed from the container not to contaminate the remaining product.
  2.     Wipe the bisque with moist sponge before application it allows better adhesion to the bisque.
  3.     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.
  4.     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.
  5.     Sponge and splatter are can also be used for the application.
  6.     Normally, clear glaze are used to bring out the true color and distinctness of a ceramic piece.
  7.     Opaque underglaze requires firing to mature their color.
  8.     Colors can be mixed and underglaze can be fired to higher temperatures.
  9.     The glazed bisque must be placed on stands made from Nichrome wire and are not touching each other so not to fused together.
  10.  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

  1.     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.
  2.     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.
  3.     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.
  4.     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.
  5.     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.
  6.     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.
  7.     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                                                                                                  

  1.     Ceramic wares are very absorbent. Spray paint your ceramic piece to seal its surface and stopped it from absorbing paint quickly.
  2.     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.
  3.     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.
  4.     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.
  5.     Experiment with colors, designs and patterns to make your piece stood up from the rest.


The Art Behind Italian Ceramics

MajolicaCeramics are mixture of clay, earthen elements and water that are shaped before firing in a high temperature kiln. Nowadays, the ceramics also refer to cement and glass fired in high temperature. Categorization of ceramics consists of porcelain and pottery. Among ceramics from different culture, Italian Ceramics has been favorite for over 500 years.

A History

Majolica or Maiolica is a fine looking earthenware that underwent tin-glazing and firing for a second time. Italians believed that this kind of ceramics originated from the Majorca island and called it Maiolica but the name Majolica actually comes from the port of an Island south of Spain where ships sailed to bring ceramics to Italy.

The Tuscany has been one of the first regions in the west to adopt Maiolica – the technique developed by the Oriental and Islamic region in pottery production. The Pisa seaport during the 13th century, ceramics from Majorca were shipped on the Arno River, going through Montepulo Fiorentino giving to this to ceramic center in Tuscan. Tuscany has the historical advantage of having the first look at the Hispano-Moorish ceramics procedure.

By the end of 15th century, small towns rich with natural clay deposits like Deruta and Montepulo had become renowned for their high-end maiolica and for their distinctive styles. This period signals the arrival of new era for Ceramic Arts in Deruta. Italian Majolica became very popular in churches, pharmacies and dinnerwares.

In the 16th century, a Maiolica evolved as a perfect combination between art and function. Pharmacies use ceramic jars to store drugs, syrups, herbs, pills and powders. Creation of Maiolica tableware and dinnerware started to be produced in Faenza, Deruta and Castelli. The introduction of Maiolica dishes achieved a social revolution; it brought a difference in dining habits, both aesthetically and hygienically.

During the Renaissance period of great cultural change and achievement in Italy from the 14th century until the 16th century, ceramic art became highly developed and popular. A prominent scholar in the name of Richard Goldthwaite, believes that the Renaissance can be distinguished from previous periods by a great new demand for secular architecture. Furnishings of every kind, from beds, frescoes, paintings and pottery proliferated to fill up interior spaces.

The demand for majolica was declined in the 17th century. Some centers for ceramics vanished while there are also new centers that opened like Bassano, Naples, Palermo and Caltagiore. By then, the designs are focused on styles that harmonized current trends.

In the 19th century, there was further drop in production. Mid 19th century, Italian ceramics in Florence, Deruta and Faenza revived the production of majolica as Renaissance Art was reintroduced. It only lasted for a some decades. Italian Ceramic centers suffered a severe market crisis due to rise on demand for cheaper earthenware like porcelain.

Italian CeramicsKnown Italian Ceramics

Vietri Ceramics – named after an Italian town Vietri Sul Mare which is known as pottery paradise in Italy. The village is located just north of Salerno and it contains enough pottery to supply every home in southern Italy. The ceramic designs here described to be incomprehensibly modern to simplistically customary.

Tuscan Ceramics – Tuscany is a region in central Italy regarded as the birthplace of Italian Renaissance. During that era, Tuscan Ceramics was stipulated by the request of noble families from Florence and is exported all over Europe.

Intrada Ceramics – Compared to other places known for Italian Ceramics, Intrada Italy started to manufacture Italian Ceramics a bit late. They’ve been a pioneer in bringing best of Italian Ceramics and Pottery during 1979. The design of their handmade italian ceramics are described to be a transformation from ordinary to fanciful.
Deruta Ceramics – These are product of a medieval hilltown in Umbria Italy named Deruta. Deruta is an ancient center of ceramic production in Italy. Their ceramics are distinct not only because of the intricate local designs but also because the design and color don’t wear out unlike other ceramics. Today the name Derute is celebrated amongst scholars and enthusiasts around the world and is believed that no other craftsmen in Italy can match the work.
Faenza Ceramics – Faenza is an Italian city situated in the province of Ravenna Emilia-Romagna. It is known for its manufacture of majorica ceramics and home to International Museum for Ceramics. Faenza majolica is recognized in the world as one of the highest moments of artistic creativity in pottery art.

Why are Italian Ceramics popular?

Italian Ceramics are known as exceptionally intricate and time-consuming especially for hand painted wares that requires precision in skills. Italian ceramics are renowned for their exquisiteness and distinctiveness.
Italian design was described as borrowed ideas from other culture and then making it their own by improving the original product by employing local artistic creativity. Also, Italian ceramics craftsmen enhanced and developed new styles to go with the changing styles in interior decoration may it be at home, private or public architectures.
Today, Deruta became one of the leading exporters of Italian Ceramics and this is due to the Ceramics Museum and Communal School of Design that were established for promotion of cultural and historical research and for training craftsmen in the of fashioned method of Ceramic Art.