Decoration Tips

Read these 235 Decoration Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Ceramics tips and hundreds of other topics.

Decoration Tips has been rated 3.3 out of 5 based on 7156 ratings and 5 user reviews.
What are oxides?

10 Oxide Experiments

Here are 10 ways to experiment with oxides.
1. Brush oxides on greenware, bisque and/or glaze.
2. Make some slip and add some oxides to create colors. To get more uniform colors mix well.
To get more random, blotchy colors don't mix too well.
3. Brush oxide wash over an unfired glaze, then fire. Be very careful when handling as you may smudge the oxide.
4.. Brush oxides on, then apply glaze. Best to dip or spray to avoid brushing the oxide off (and if dipping, best to put some glaze aside so oxide doesn't contaminate your whole batch of glaze.)
Generally the stronger the oxide wash, the more it will bleed through the glaze.
* Both 2 and 3 works well with Opulence glazes, and many of the other glazes. Where specified by the manufacturer this is explained on the label.
5. Mix ball clay with your oxide/water. Is reported to gives a better consistency and tones down the color.
6. Brush a couple different oxides on, overlapping in areas.
7. Sgraffito. Brush on oxide. When dry, scratch with a sharp tool through the oxide to show the clay underneath. Cover with transparent or translucent glaze. Or do the same thing with oxide over unfired glaze.
8. Spatter wax on the surface, and paint the oxide wash over that.
9. Use other masking techniques, such as torn, wet newspaper, and paint an oxide wash over it.
10. Sprinkle a variety of different oxides on a newspaper. Place leather hard objects onto the oxide mixture (for example, a piece of tile). Or use a piece of Styrofoam or a sponge to pick up the oxide and transfer it to your piece. Keep the pattern as it lands, or smear it around. In this bisque and apply glazes; the oxides will still interact with the glazes when fired together.

   
How do I decorate my ceramics?

Drawing Directly

You can draw directly onto a pot by placing design over carbon paper and tracing the design, you can also sketch right onto the surface with pencil as the lines will burn out in the firing.
hope this has helped!

   
How do I apply texture to my piece?

Cloth for texture

Cotton lace, burlap, cheesecloth or other cotton, absorbent materials can be soaked in slip and added to pieces for interesting textures. Soak fabric in slip, squeeze out lightly, brush on leatherhard clay surface, dry slowly, and bisque. The fabric will burn out leaving the slip texture behind.

   
How do I use underglazes?

using underglazes

When using underglazes, do not backstroke when applying, as this will cause a pile-up of paint or a pulling off of the paint already applied.

   
What is Terra-Sigillata?

Terra Sigillata: History

History: Historically terra sigillata has been used as a sealer and decorative coat on pottery for thousands of years. Common examples are the Roman red black pottery, and the black polished Native American Indian pottery of the Southwest. Contemporary uses include raku, smoke firing and other techniques that emphasize the surface.

   
How do i apply neat lines?

Cutting intricate patterns?

Cut pieces out of adhesive backed shelf paper and use them for resist. They will stick to greenware and bisque. Using an exacto knife you can cut out lines, shapes, and intricate patterns.

   
What is a decal

About Decals

Decals are available in a huge array of designs and colors, and can be adapted to almost any project with little effort. Technically, decals are overglazes and may be made of china paints, gold, platinum or enamels. They are applied over a fired glaze surface, glass or porcelain bisque, then re-fired. During the firing, glazes soften and most decals sink into the surface and become a permanent part of the item. Metallic decals fuse to the glaze, but remain on top of it, and may wear off as time passes.

   
Why do I get Cloudy or dull lustres or metallics ?

Troubleshooting: Dull lustres/metallics

Cloudy or dull lustres or metallics may be caused by insufficient ventilation or firing to an excessive temperature.

   
How do I fire reds?

Making Reds

Reds in glazes and underglazes are the hardest to accomplish and even the most experienced tend to purchase reds as they are so unreliable. Even the bought reds come up a lot better if put over a golden yellow underglaze. My advice is to buy these colours.

   
How do I seal leaking bisque?

Waterproofing

- Tung Oil (available in hardware or woodworking stores - Thompson's Water Seal (available in hardware stores, used for sealing wood and concrete) - Acrylic Floor Polish (ie Futura.) (available in the grocery store.) Note that I would not use any of these for dinnerware. Just for vases, flowerpots, etc. And some people use them over glazes just to get a nice subtle shine. And I have been known to use them on the bottom of pots to make them less likely to scratch furniture. Another reason potters want sealers is to protect painted work. For example, people that use acrylic paints on bisque and want to protect the paint. We do sell Duncan spray and brush-on sealers in flat and gloss, which will protect the paint from chipping and smudging, and give it a shine if you wish. They are good for decorative pieces. But these are not waterproof. So if you want your piece to be waterproof, try one of the above products. But since those items work by penetrating the clay, and they probably won't penetrate through the acrylic paint, I would put it on the inside of the piece, then protect the painted outside with an acrylic spray sealer like the Duncan products (or similar items available in the hardware store.) So for example, if you want to waterproof a flowerpot, put the tung oil, Thompson's water seal, or acrylic floor polish on the inside of the pot. Paint and seal the outside.

   
How do I apply glaze?

Thin pieces

When glazing a thin piece, glaze the inside, making sure you don't over apply, as the thin walls will absorb a lot of glaze, then wait for it to dry thoroughly before glazing the outside. Otherwise the clay may be saturated and glaze won't absorb and stick to the outside. Some people wait overnight.

   
How do I achieve a Woodgrain finish with stains

Woodgrain finish with stains

A special effect of woodgrain can be accomplished easily. Simply cover the entire piece with your choice of colour and wipe piece down with a wrinkled piece of newspaper. Be sure to do your wiping in one direction. The newspaper will absorb some colour leaviing woodgrain streaks where the colour remains.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Cloth/slip textures

Any type of cotton or cloth will burn out during the firing process. For a different effect, you can try soaking cloth or cotton in slip and adding it to your piece for decoration. During the firing process it will fire out leaving just the thin layer of clay that it originally absorbed. Most people think that this only applies to porcelain, but it can be used with ceramic slips as well.

   
How do I get a deeper colour of overglaze?

Loading your brush

When loading your brushes in preparation to applying overglaze, do not dip your brush into the overglaze all the way up to the metal ferrule. This only wastes colour and makes brushes hard to clean.

   
What is an oxide?

Mixing Oxides

Keep in mind, Oxides are strong colorants, so a little bit goes a long way. In a solution you will probably only want about 2-8% or you will end up with black. Use a respirator or mask when handling the dry oxides.
Remember that using oxides like this will provide unpredictable, but sometimes beautiful results. Test! And Take Notes! (I had to throw that in because I am lousy at taking notes, but getting better. It definitely helps.)

   
What is Terra-Sigillata?

Terra sigillata: Application and Firing

Application and Firing: Terra sigillata can be applied by spraying, dipping or brushing at all stages of construction. Apply several coats and burnish or simply polish with your hands or a soft cloth when damp/dry to the touch. Polish between coats for the glossiest surfaces. Terra sigillata can be fired at any temperature but the polished surface will start to break down when fired over cone 04. Use as a slip/engobe up to cone 10 and above.

   
How do I decorate my ceramics?

Oxides compared to stains

How does oxide compare to stain? An oxide is a raw material. A stain is a commercial blend of raw materials (including oxides) to achieve an accurate, consistent color. Glazes and slips made with stain will generally be more uniform, whereas those made with oxide will be more splotchy, speckly, and variable (in other words, beautiful!). There are 4 main colorants used. Sometimes you will see them as oxides, sometimes as carbonates. For example, cobalt oxide and cobalt carbonate. The oxides are generally stronger in color and coarser grained (more speckly.) The carbonates are generally finer grained.

   
How do I decorate my ceramics?

The wonders of Glycerin

A few drops of glycerin (from the Chemist/drugstore) added to engobes, stains, oxides and slips slows drying time and increases workability.

   
What is a decal?

Colour Development

Colour Development
Cloudy looking decals or decals where the colour is not bright need to be burned out and carbon monoxide fumes have to be removed from the kiln. Manual venting by propping the lid and removal of peephole plugs will improve the firing, but may not help bring enough air to the bottom of the kiln or to distribute it evenly throughout the load. A downdraft vent system will ensure sufficient air is brought into the kiln and circulated throughout.

   
How do I fire overglazes/lustres?

Application temperature

Pieces to be decorated with overglaze should be at room temperature. Articles from a hot kiln will cause he oils in the overglazes to evaporate

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Applying Mother Of Pearl

A proper finish of opal and mother-of-pearl lustre can be guaranteed with a light application.

   
How do I apply opaque stains ?

Antiquing

When antiquing, only remove colour from raised areas of a piece, leaving colour in crevices to accent the detail.
If you wipe off too much colour when wiping off translucent stains, you can re-apply and start the process all over again.
The amount of translucent stain you leave on a piece will determine the lightness or darkness of your entire finished piece.

   
What are some good tools for decoration?

Applying neat lines

Have you ever tried fluting a piece (carving straight lines into the sides), only to find your lines are crooked or uneven? Make a triangle out of a piece of cardboard, or use a plastic triangle used for geometry (buy in an office supply store or drugstore). Hold the bottom of the triangle against the work surface. For straight lines, brace your carving tool against the straight edge. For angled lines, run your carving tool along the angled edge. This will make sure the lines are all at the same angle.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Interesting finish

You can create an interesting finish by mixing a cup of slip with a teaspoon of vinegar and painting it onto greenware.

   
What are oxides?

Adding Oxides

Oxides can be added to clay (mix with water then knead in), but this is expensive for deep coloring of large pieces. They can be added to slip or glazes. At stoneware temperatures, they can also or used on their own. Mix with water (mix often as it settles fast), brush on bisque, fire.
This is a way to get colored but still “natural” looking surfaces.

   
How do I store ware for staining

storing ware for staining

If you cannot stain your bisque piece immediately after firing, store it in a plastic bag so that household dust and greases do not contaminate the surface.

   
How do I apply texture to my piece?

Description

Engobes can be defined as liquid clay slips of varying compositions which are applied to the surface of a clay object, e.g. a pot. The purpose of the engobe can be as different as the varied forms it comes in: to give color to a piece; to improve the surface texture; to provide a ground to do further decoration on; to add textures.
Engobes can be applied to wet clay surfaces, leather-hard ware, greenware and even bisqued wares. In each case the engobe's shrinkage rate should match that of the clay underneath, otherwise cracking (when the engobe shrinks more than the clay underneath) or shivering (when the clay underneath shrinks more than the engobe on top) can occur. While there are some basic engobe recipes around, The Potter's Complete Book of Clay and Glazes by James Chappel has a range of engobe recipes for diferent grades of moisture content and firing ranges from cone 10 up to cone 11

   
What is Raku?

Terra-Sigillata: Description

Terra-Sigillata is a slip, made of clays whose particles are extremely fine. Like slip or en-globe - which it basically is - Terra-Sigillata appeals to those who wish to develop an intimate relationship between the surface of their work and its form, and who respond to the way in which the Terra-Sigillata becomes an integral part of the clay body rather than coating the surface like a glaze. After the final firing the forms are hand-polished with Tung Oil to achieve a more durable surface. Terra-Sigillata means "sealed earth". It was used by the Greeks and Romans before the invention of glaze.

   
How do I decorate my ceramics?

Terra Sigillata; Description

Terra Sigillata (or earth seal) is a slip containing very fine particles. It is created by a process of separation. We grind, using a ball mill, specially selected clays and water until the particles are extremely small. Deflocculant is added and the mixture is allowed to settle for twenty-four to forty-eight hours. The fluid left on top after settling is terra sigillata. Longer settling will yield a finer, higher quality product. After application, simple polishing with your hands or a soft cloth will shine terra sigillata to a high gloss. This smooth surface is ideal for decoration especially with smoke firing and other primitive techniques. After firing you will have a smooth, weather resistant coating much like a glaze.

   
How do I decorate my ceramics?

History

History of Maiolica
Maiolica is an Italian earthenware with an opaque white glaze containing tin-oxide. Its most outstanding feature is its splendidly colorful decoration which, unlike paintings or tapestries, remains unfaded over time. Its introduction in Italy long preceded the use of the word "Maiolica" which was derived from Majorca in Spain, where ships carrying lusterware from Valencia stopped on their way to Italy. The tin-glaze technique originated in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) during the ninth century, almost certainly in an effort to emulate white stoneware and early porcelains imported from China. It was soon found to provide an excellent surface for colored decoration and the technique spread through the Islamic middle east and was taken to Africa, Southern Spain and Sicily when the Arabs conquered those areas.
Maiolica seems to have been established in Italy around 1200 but how it was introduced is not entirely clear. Some believe that the popularity of tin-glazed wares imported from the Middle East led to imitation while others believe the technique was introduced through the immigration of Arab potters to Italy from Spain or Sicily.

Maiolica is usually associated with the Renaissance when its aesthetic quality was at its peak. Improvements in kilns and glazes, and the introduction of new colors which could withstand high firing temperatures made possible the development of more sophisticated decorative patterns.

   
How do I decorate my ceramics?

Slip description

If you haven't decorated with slips, you're missing out. One of the benefits is that the slips stay put, so designs don't blur or run, unlike many glazes. This also means you can make textures in the slip that will stay exactly as you made them. And you can make designs that won't work with glazes since glazes need multiple coats (ie splattering.) You can squeeze slip out of a bottle into designs (slip trailing) and use it for sgraffito (coat with slip then scratch designs in the slip exposing the raw clay.) (Note: sometimes decorating slips are called engobes, and the terminology isn't tightly defined; they are generally the same thing.) Slips are best applied to leatherhard greenware, but may be used on bisque also. They may be used on low-fire and high-fire clay. The slip must be similar to the clay however, so the shrinkage between the two is similar and the slip doesn't crack or peel off.

   
How do I start ceramics decoration?

Ceramics Decoration

Once you have the piece you want and have completed the necessary processing, you are ready for ceramics decoration. There are so many styles to choose from that you may want to start simple and develop your own unique style after some experience. Glazes run the gamut from the simple to the sublime using chemicals, metals and other compounds to achieve incredible results. The most important part of ceramics decoration - have fun!

   
How do I load my brush for one-strokes?

brushing one-strokes

If you plan on using only a small amount of a one-stroke colour, it is possible to obtain the proper painting consistency by loading a wet brush with colour.

   
How do I decorate my ceramics?

Oxide over glaze effortlessly

When applying oxide over dry glaze, the glaze sucks the water out of your brush making it difficult to paint clean lines. Lightly mist the glaze first with water, and the oxide will flow smoothly.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Over-wetting

If you leave your decal in water too long, too much glue will be removed and it will not fire properly

   
How do I know the colours of underglazes?

drying underglaze

Remember that your colours must be dry before taking any nest step, whether it is firing or adding design work over your underglaze base.

   
How do I apply raised designs to wet greenware?

apply raised designs to wet greenware

You can apply raised designs to wet greenware by using a brush syringe or eyedropper filled with slip.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Slip trailing

There are lots of plastic squeeze bottles on the market today and they can be used in many ways for decorating ceramics. Slip trailing is just one idea.

   
How do I apply glaze?

Remove unwanted wax

To remove unwanted wax from a piece, rebisque it or microwave it on high for 5 minutes.

   
How do I decorate my ceramics?

Some ideas

Put coffee grounds or sawdust in your decorating slip. The coffee grounds burn out leaving a brown color behind. The sawdust leaves a fine texture which can be stained for enhancement.

   
How and when sholuld I apply underglazes?

Underglaze design work

Underglazes are poor choices for design work. Since it is necessary to apply three coats for effective coverage, you can see how difficult it would be to make three tines directly on top of each other.

   
What are underglazes?

What are underglazes

Underglazes as we know them, are opaque. They are formulated from colour pigment and clay to give solid, opaque coverage.

   
How do I apply one-strokes?

Colour ceramic slip

One-strokes can be used to colour ceramic slip. It takes quite a bit but you can do it. You may also add it to slip and swirl it in, casting a piece immediately. When fired, the piece will have a marbled effect.

   
How do I brush one-strokes?

apply one-stroke

You can apply one-stroke with just about anything to a ceramic piece. Brushes, sponges, fingers, etc, will all work

   
Are one-stroke colours colour true in the jar?

One-stroke colours

Since one-strokes are pure colour pigment, the colour you see in the jar is the colour you will obtain on a finished piece.
It is possible to mix two one-stroke colours to make a third. Since they are pure colour, you will know immediately if the mixture is the way you want it to be.

   
How do I attach pulled handles

Attaching pulled handles

Attaching pulled handles: Once all handles are pulled and firmed, (approx.1/2 hr), they are ready to attach. I will describe this process as connecting to a mug, though it is the same procedure no matter the form. 1. Take handle and flatten the large end with a flat piece of wood ie ruler, wooden spoon back. 2. With a fork or other tool cross hatch both the flattened end of the handle and the point on the pot you wish to attach the handle, with an old toothbrush, wet these areas with water or slip. 3. Attach the hatched end to the pot and press and wiggle it gently until you feel adhesion 4. Pick up the pot and hold arm extended as when pulling the handle, and continue pulling in the same way until desired thickness, squeeze off any excess clay and join other end to pot by pushing into place. 5. Leave upside down to dry. Note: Handles dry faster than ware, so keep them covered with plastic or put on ware board with all handles facing inward.

   
How do I apply stains smoothly ?

Mixing

If you get tired of shaking and mixing those jars of paint, try adding a few ‘split shot' sinkers to each jar.

   
How do I apply Lustres?

liquid bright gold

The best known of the overglaze decorations is liquid bright gold which is a true solution of gold in solvents and oils

   
How do I apply Lustres?

stamping

Lustre and metallics can be applied by rubber stamping.

   
How do I apply lustres to a textured surface ?

Troubleshooting: over a textured surface.

If overglazes are applied to a textured surface and they fire off the raised areas, but fire perfectly in the recessed areas, this usually indicates an over-application of colour. The weight of the material applied pulled its off and onto the recessed areas.

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Applying to a textured body

When applying lustres to a textured surface, be sure to brush out the excess overglaze from the crevices while it is still wet and can be seen. If you do not it will burn off in these recessed areas during firing.

   
What is Terra-Sigillata?

Terra Sigillata: Types

Types of Terra Sigillata: The basic mix is a white ball clay. Used alone it is a beautiful satiny white. Mason stains and other colorants can be added to give a wide range of colors. Use between 3 and 10%. To eliminate weighing use 1/2 or 1 full standard Mason sample pack per pint of terra sigillata. White, red and tan slips can be intermixed to yield different tones.

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Troubleshooting: White spots

White spots, or spots of glaze colour showing through your overglaze, are caused by moisture present on the object when the overglaze was applied.

   
How do I apply wraps?

Gold Luster Decals

Gold Luster Decals
These decals may be applied to clear or colored glazes. They may also be added on top of a fired decal and re-fired for a layered effect. Applying gold decals on a dark glaze surface can be tricky because the dark brown coloring of the gold decal may blend in with the dark glaze color. Try to be as accurate as possible with the decal placement. Touches of liquid fired gold trim or lettering can be added after the gold decal has dried. Clean these areas with denatured alcohol to remove all traces of adhesive from the decal before applying the liquid gold.

   
How do I use underglazes?

using underglaze

In most cases three coats are required for using underglaze. Each coat should be applied in opposite directions.

   
How do I load my brush for one-strokes?

Using one-strokes

One-strokes may be used only under transparent matte glaze.

   
How do I apply opaque stains ?

Coat coverage

Usually one coat coverage of a piece with opaque stains is all that is necessary. You might find, however, that lighter colours require two. If you are trying to cover a darker colour with a lighter shade, you may need several coats.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

A different texture

You know those rolls of rubbery stuff you can buy to cover your shelves to cushion glasses and plates? They make great texture when rolled into slabs.

   
How do I dry overglazes?

China Paints

China paints belong to the overglaze family of colours.
If an area to be covered with china paints is large enough or does not have too many recessed areas, you may have better luck in applying colours with a pad.
A pad , as referred to in china painting, is a piece of china silk filled with either cotton or lamb's wool and tied together to form a loose ball.

   
How do I dry overglaze pieces?

Drying

Pieces that have lustres/overglazes applied to them should be allowed to dry in a area free from contamination by smoke, dust , dirt or moisture before firing.

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Applying over glaze

Lustres and metallics take on the surface texture of glazes they are applied over. Satin or matte glazes will yield a dull finish and gloss glaze will yield a dull finish and gloss glaze will yield a shiny finish.

   
How do I apply opaque stains ?

apply stains smoothly

It is important to apply stains as smoothly as possible. Any blobs or over-lap lines that are not brushed out during application will show on the finished piece

   
How do I apply opaque stains ?

Create a marble effect

You can create a marble effect using your translucent stains. Simply pour a bit of several contrasting colours into a container of water large enough to emmerse your bisque piece. Stir the water with stain on top of it slightly and immediately dip your bisque piece into it. The colour will adhere to the bisque leaving a marbled appearance. Be sure to hold piece in a non-vital area and do the dipping quickly. You can spray fix after it''s dry.

   
Can Stains be used outdoors?

Stains outdoors

Stains may be used on pieces that are going to be used outdoors. When finished, they should be sprayed with several coats of fixative to prevent moisture from penetrating. It is a good idea to have the inside glazed.

   
What is a decal?

Applying

Place one decal at a time in warm water in a container large enough to allow the decal to be flat. A decal will curl up in the water. In about 15 seconds, check to see if the decal has started to release from the backing paper. If not, allow it to soak until it does start to release, but do not allow the decal to slide off the backing paper into the water. Remove the decal from the water and place it on paper toweling until it flattens again. Make sure the area where the decal will be applied has been cleaned with a damp paper towel. With the backing paper still attached, place the decal into position, face up. Hold the decal in place and gently slide out the backing paper. Use a decal squeegee to gently work out air bubbles from under the decal. Always work from the center toward the edges. Allow the item to dry for 24 hours, then fire it to the recommended temperature. This is usually cone 015-016 for china paint or metallic decals, and cone 022 for glass decals.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Thickening china paints

It is possible to thicken china paints with castor oil

   
How and when sholuld I apply underglazes?

When to Apply

Underglazes should be applied to dry greenware. If greenware is still damp when applied, the underglaze colours may chip off after firing.

   
Are they Water or oil base stains?

Brushes and oil based colours

ince translucent stains are in the oil-base family of colours. You should use brushes for these colours and set them aside strictly for that purpose.
It is necessary to apply some type of sealer to preserve satin work.

   
How do I decorate my ceramics?

Remove unfired oxide

To remove oxide from bisque (mistakes or for designs) use a rubber pencil eraser. It won't smear like trying to wash the oxide off.

   
How do I add an extruded handle?

Adding extruded handles and attachments

Adding extruded handles and attachments: These are the easiest handles and lugs to make, though making them look a part of the pot is quite a challenge, but can be achieved with practice. 1. Crosshatch and slip joins and pot at locations of adhesion. 2. Press handle on firmly, wiggling until adhesion is felt. 3. Sponge to clean.

   
How do I add texture?

Vermiculite

To add texture to clay, try using perlite or vermiculite available at your garden center. Or, try popped popcorn.

   
How do I apply opaque stains ?

Lace and stains

You may not know it but you can accomplish a variety of techniques in the lace draping field by using opaque stains mixed with white glue. Simply mix the two together, soak lace in the mixture and add to an already stained piece, such as a doll for decoration the lace will dry hard and you will have the colour you want

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Proper overglaze decorating

Proper overglaze decorating begins with the greenware. Greenware which is to be overglazed should be carefully cleaned and fired to cone 04

   
How do I apply overglazes?

Stir all colours well

You should stir all colours well before applying except for a few. In setting on the shelf, many colours settle and stirring will help to mix them again.

   
How do I decorate my ceramics?

Making terra sigillata

Terrasigillata
Using a glass or clear container, dissolve 5 gms of calgon sodium hexametaphosphate, which is a deflocculating agent) in 2 pints of rainwater(sodium crbonate or potassium carbonate can also be used). Add 230 gof dry crushed clay, sieve through a 60 mesh (or finer). Shake container, mix and leave for three days minimum. The clay will settle into 3 layers with a layer of clear water on top, siphon off this clear water and discard. The next layer is the terrasigillata(colloidal slip).
Note: White clay needs 0.3% sodium silicate......and water to clay ratio of four to one, to deflocculate.
Red clay needs 0.5% sodium silicate......and water to clay ratio of three to one to deflocculate. Terra sigillata is high in alumina. It may be hardened by adding 3-4% sodium silicate to the recipe after deflocculating the sigillata.

   
How do I achieve a brighter fired gold?

Brighter fired gold

If you want a brighter fired gold, you might try applying it over yellow instead of clear glaze.

   
how do I use one-strokes?

one-strokes for outlining

When using one-strokes for outlining do not thin them too much as you want as concentrated a colour as possible for making lines.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Designs

If you want to create an unusual design on a piece, use one of those plastic doilies as a stencil. Simply lay one on a piece and sponge colour through the holes.

   
What colours do oxides produce?

Oxide Chart

The following chart can be used as a guide for adding percentages of oxides to engobe recipes for color results. These colors refer to results obtained in oxidatiion firings:
Cobalt Oxide Dark Blue 1.5
Copper Oxide Mid Green 3.0
Yellow Ochre Ochre 4.5
Iron Oxide Mid Tan 3.0
Rutile Creamy Tan 6.0
Iron Chromate Dark Gray 3.0
Manganese Dioxide Purple Brown 6.0
Fire in Oxidation for the above color results.

   
What is a decal?

Firing/Venting

Firing Decals
A decal isn't fired that much differently than any other piece of ware, although there are some special considerations. Venting is very important to good results with decals - especially to get true colours.
Problems related to venting include: poor colour development, a cloudy or hazy appearance. Proper heatwork is also an important factor. Decals that are under or overfired may exibit the following: faded colours (overfired), colour shift (underfired), decals rub off (underfired), dull appearing metallics (underfired)

   
how do I best apply my underglazes?

shaking and mixing

If you get tired of shaking and mixing those jars of paint, try adding a few ‘split shot' sinkers to each jar.

   
How do I sgrafitto underglazes?

Sgrafitto with underglazes

A favourite technique for the use of underglazes is sgrafitto. Apply your normal three coats and let dry. Transfer a pattern to piece and, with a sharp tool, scribe or cut through the underglaze into the greenware. You should slightly dampen lines you are scribing to prevent chipping. When completed, fire as normal, then add covering glaze and fire again. Scribed lines will show white through your underglaze covering.

   
Can I paint over underglazes?

underglaze application

You can apply one colour of underglaze over the other. Being opaque, the top colour will cover the underlying colour completely.

   
When do I use underglazes?

Underglaze application

Underglazes are designed for all over coverage such as for background work. They are not good for detail work

   
How do I treat lustre brushes?

Oil/water base brushes

Never use a brush that has been used to apply a water base product to apply a solvent or oil-based product such as lustre.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Sealing gold leaf

You can use clear spray fixative for sealing those pieces you have decorated with gold leaf.

   
How do I apply Decals?

Monochromatic Design

Monochromatic Design
Use a single color for the item(s). A single design may be used, or a combination of designs all in the same color range.
Plan a pleasing design and placement of the decals before application.

   
How do I apply a decal?

Wraps

Wraps
Trim the decal to fit the item. Mug wraps are normally about seven to eight inches in length and 2¾ to 3½ inches high.
After soaking the decal, hold it by one end and gently pull out the backing paper as you rotate the item. Position the wrap evenly around the mug before using the squeegee to press out air bubbles.

   
What is a decal?

Decals for glass

Decal Firing Tips
Decals offer an opportunity to add decoration to ceramic and glass ware without the time and skill required for hand painting. When properly applied and fired, decals can add colour, texture, design and personalization to a piece. To achieve professional results with decals, it's important to understand how to select, apply and fire the decals.

   
Are stains safe.

Sealer

You can apply as many coats of sealer to stains as you wish, but you must be sure that each coat is dry before adding another.

   
How do I apply one-strokes?

decorate over a sponged-on froth glaze.

One-strokes can be used to decorate over a sponged-on froth glaze.

   
Can I thin lustres?

Evaporation

Lustres and metallics do have a suspension agent and are subject to evaporation. This is why there are thinners that can be added to them a drop at a time to get them back to proper painting consistency.

   
How do I fire overglazes/lustres?

Colour depth

If you want a deeper colour of overglaze, don't try a thick application to do the job. Apply normally and fire, then apply another coat and re-fire.

   
How do I apply opaque stains ?

Brush techniques

Opaque stains are ideal for use in brush techniques. The colours lend themselves to mixing and blending well

   
How do I antique a piece?

Antiquing a piece

Before you antique a piece be sure to apply a good even coverage of a brush-on or spray fixative. This will prevent your translucent from being absorbed and also will help you remove it from unwanted areas more easily.

   
How do I decorate my ceramics

Sprigs

Sprig Decoration on Mugs Frequently potters desire to repeat a detailed decoration, such as a name or logo, on items for niche marketing. Mugs are the traditional favorite for this kind of item.

   
When do I use stains?

When to use stains

Stains are used only on bisque ware.

   
How do I apply a decal?

One-fire Decal Layering

One-fire Decal Layering
Before applying the decal, trim excess clear background from around lettering or numbers. Place lettering and/or numbers on first. Make sure they adhere well and dry for approximately six hours before applying the second layer. For this project, the second layer is a pastel floral design. Apply the second decal, allow it to dry, and fire the pieces.

   
How do I create a dry-brush technique with one-strokes?

Thinning for air-brush

One-strokes should be thinned about 50-50 with water for use in an air-brush

   
What is a Decal?

Appearance

Decals are similar to a sandwich. There's backing paper on the bottom, the actual design colors in the middle, and a protective film coating on top that burns away during firing. There may also be a piece of wax paper over the decal to protect it during shipping and handling. It's important to keep decals at a constant moderate temperature, a constant humidity, and stored in small piles, not high stacks or bunches.

   
How do I fire Decals?

Measuring Heat Distribution

Measuring Heat Distribution
Differences in heat distribution from top to bottom in the kiln are usually far more noticeable for cooler firings like decals. A 2 or 3 cone difference at 022 may only be a 1 cone difference at cone 6. This is because at higher temperatures radiation heats the kiln more effectively. Slowing the first half of the firing can help heat distribution problems. This also helps by allowing more time for air to enter the kiln and burn out organics and for carbon monoxide to leave the kiln. Use a controller to set heating rates and soaks for more precise firings.

   
How do I apply Decals?

Mural Designs

Mural Designs
Mural designs are available in a wide range of sizes. They can be adapted to serving trays, wall hangings, message boards or back splashes. Place tiles on a flat surface and brace all edges so the tiles do not move. Apply the decal, remove all air bubbles, and use a sharp razor blade to cut the decal where the tiles meet. After firing, adhere the tiles to a tray, frame or wall. Grout the tiles if necessary.

   
What is majolica?

Good colour

In order to achieve a good flowing colour, mix colour 2parts to your glaze 1part. This will prevent the colour crawling, and keeps the glaze and colour compatible.

   
What are oxides?

Copper

Copper Carbonate and Copper Oxide. (Note: Copper should not be used in soluble glazes for food and drink containers; in addition to not being safe, it will leach into tea for example, making your tea have a coppery taste.) Not very effective used on it's own. Better to add to or cover with glaze. In an electric kiln it will create a variety of green shades.
In alkaline glazes it will create turquoises. It may achieve red colors in a reduction kiln.

   
What are the toxic effects of Manganese

Glaze toxic materials list

Ceramic Toxic Materials List See the full list: Glaze toxic materials list

   
How do I seal stains?

Applying sealer

Spray cans of stain sealer should be help approximately 10-12”away from a piece when applying. Several light coats are much better than one heavy one.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Wetting

Be sure not to wet decals too much as they must maintain enough adhesive for a solid bond with your piece after being soaked and transferred to your piece

   
How do I decorate my ware?

description

Technically, ceramic decals employ the use of china paints which are printed in decorative designs on special paper

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Design sectioning

If you need to divide a plate or pot into three equal parts, you can use the top part of a lamp shade frame. The ring in the center can be used as a guide.

   
How do I apply opaque stains ?

Knowing where you have missed.

If you experience difficulty in seeing what areas of your bisque you have or have not covered with white opaque stain, you can dampen your piece lightly with a sponge and those areas that you have missed will show up and through, usually a little on the yellowish side.

   
How and when sholuld I apply underglazes?

Texture using underglaze

Since underglazes are largely clay, you can use this as a decorating advantage. Combine some ground clay with the application of your underglaze colours and apply three coats. The piece will have texture.

   
When do I apply underglazes?

Underglaze use

Underglazes should be used only on greenware. They can be used on bisque however and fired before a glaze application

   
How do I load my brush for applying underglaze?

Thicken underglazes

You can make overglazes thicker by pouring a little in a clean dish and exposing it to the air for a time, allowing a bit of evaporation.

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Uneven application MOP

Unlike other lustres and metallics, opal and mother-of-pearl should be applied unevenly. This is best accomomplished by swirling or stippling with the brush during application.

   
Can I use more than one overglaze ?

Multiple applications

You may use more than one overglaze on apiece but they should be fired between applications

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Re-firing

If a spot or blemish does appear on your overglazed piece when removed, do not try to patch it. Cover the entire piece with another application of colour and re-fire.

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Contamination

You have heard it before, but coughing, sneezing and cigarette smoke can also put moisture on an object that is to be overglazed and may cause an imperfection.

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Troubleshooting: purple spots

If you are having trouble with purple spots on your pieces that you want gold or lustres on try wearing gloves when applying

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Removing unfired lustre

To remove unfired lustre that is smudged or messy, use rubbing alcohol.

   
How do I Paint large areas?

Painting large areas

If you plan to cover a large area with liquid bright gold, you may have to thin it a bit in a small dish before applying.

   
How do I remove unfired gold.?

Removing unfired gold lustre

Some people use saliva to remove unfired gold.

   
What do I do Before applying gold ?

Before applying gold

Before applying gold or any metallics, clean area with alcohol. All areas should be dry before painting with bright gold or other overglazes

   
How do I apply opaque stains ?

Bisque for stains

The best type of bisque for stains is that which has been fired to cone 06.

   
Are they Water or oil base stains?

Water or oil base stains

Most translucent stains used are oil base colours but some manufacturers do produce waterbase translucents so be sure to check the labels to find out which you have

   
What are Translucent stains

Translucent stains

Translucent stains, as the name implies, will allow the colour underneath to be seen.

   
How do I Keep Stains?

Keeping Stains

When you open a jar of stain be sure to clean the inside of the lid as soon as possible. If necessary let the lid soak to remove excess colour. Once a dirty lid is replaced on a jar and the colour dries, it is a real chore to remove again.

   
What is an opaque stain?

An opaque stain

An opaque stain is a colour in the ceramic range of medias, which means it is solid in colour and cannot be seen through.

   
How do I use Buffing oil for smoothin out stained finishes?

Buffing oil for smoothing out stained finishes

Although not used too much today, buffing oil is great for evening or smoothing out stain finishes done in translucents. It will not remove all colour and leaves a soft sheen.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Wax resist

What can I use if I have no wax or shallac for resist?
In a pinch, use white glue (like Elmer's glue) for resist. It doesn't repel glaze as well as wax, but isn't bad.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Add-ons

To make an add-on, all you have to do is select a flat mold or plaster bat and pour the slip on the flat surface. To make an add –on, work the wet clay in your hands like bread dough, folding from time to time to eliminate air bubbles. A few drops of glycerine or warm water will slow the drying time of a piece of clay you are working with your hands to form an add-on. To attach an add-on to a piece of greenware, use liquid clay or slip. It is best to dampen the greenware surface before applying the add-on. Be sure to apply your add-on solidly to the greenware. Any air pockets left under your add-on will make for and explosion in the kiln later.

   
How do I apply overglazes?

Adherence

The clay and colour combination contained in underglazes form a bond with the greenware after being fired.
Remember that underglazes are used for wide area coverage.

   
How do I fire porcelain?

Description

One-strokes are concentrated colour pigments with no clay added and may be translucent or opaque.
Soluable in water, one-strokes can be used for washes, outlines and small areas of concentrated colour.
One-strokes are not recommended for large area coverage. These are concentrated colours and will streak if not applied properly.
As the name implies, only one coat of colour is needed when using one-strokes.

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Drying overglazes

Overglazes should be allowed to dry 24 hours before firing.

   
How do I use Metallic stains in antiquing techniques?

Metallic pastes

Metallic paste is a combination of metallic particles suspended in thick paste to help in the application.
Metallic pastes are generally used to accent detail and are generally and oil base product.
Metallic pastes are most commonly applied over another opaque colour with a soft rag or finger tip.
Although often forgotten, it is best to seal paste metallics onto pieces with a coating of spray or brush-on fixative.

   
Are they Water or oil base stains?

Stain safety

Remember that pieces decorated with stains are not safe for food, nor are they dishwasher safe.

   
How do I apply stamps?

Applying stamps

Stamping on Mugs Find the whole process easily read and doable: Stamping on Mugs

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Percection

Many highbrow ceramists look down on decals as the easy way out for decorating ceramic pieces but don't pay any attention to them

   
How do I Load overglazed ware?

Running underglazes

Your underglazes may run if you overfire but you may also find that you are applying glazes too heavily and they are pulling your underglaze from the surface.

   
How do I know the colours of underglazes?

underglaze colours

The colour in the jar of underglaze is not the resulting colour when fired. You can change the colour of underglazes with the addition of one-strokes (pure colour pigments) in varying quantities. Since you still will not be able to tell the colour you have made until after the piece is fired, it is recommended to make a test-firing of piece to be sure the colour is what you want.

   
How and when sholuld I apply underglazes?

sealing underglazes

Unless a special technique is desired, underglazes require a sealing coat of fired glaze.

   
How do I erase one-stroke from bisque ?

erase one-stroke from bisque

You can erase one-stroke from bisque with a rubber eraser.

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Removing

If you are not satisfied that you have applied the proper and even coverage, you can use lacquer thinner on a rag to remove the lustre and start over.

   
How do I clean brushes?

Brushes

Brushes you use for overglazes should not be cleaned in alcohol. Since inner bristles will tend to hold part of the water that is contained in alcohol.

   
Are they Water or oil base stains?

Dried stain will not liqify again.

Dried stain will not liqify again.

   
Can I mix translucent and opaque stains?

translucent stains

Since translucent stains are used to accent your already applied opaques, you will usually apply colour over a surface that has some protective coating to make the wiping back process easier

   
How do I get bisque to Absorb stains?

Absorbing stains

If you are having trouble getting bisque pieces to absorb stains the way you think they should, try a vinegar and water solution rub down as the last step in cleaning. Don't over-do it as the vinegar will eat into greenware if left unchecked.

   
What is Overglaze?

overglaze marbleizer

An overglaze marbleizer is a special effect product that is used with other metallic and lustre overglazes. It is applied over other products and when fired produces a star burst, spider web effect.
You cannot apply marbleizer to an overglazed piece until the other overglazes are completely dry.

   
Are Opaque stains are waterbased ?

Opaque stains are waterbase

Opaque stains are waterbase colours and should be thinned with water. All materials used in the application, etc., should be cleaned with water.

   
What is an engobe?

Colourants/oxides for engobes

Engobes
Various oxides, carbonates and commercial stains can be used to color base engobe recipes. If you want to use commercial stains, refer to your manufacturer or sales outlet for more information on what percentages to use, or experiment yourself with your own line blend.

   
What is the Proper brush technique for lustres?

Brush Technique

Proper brush technique is important in lustre/overglaze decoration. The brush should be well saturated but with the excess material worked out. Each stroke should be firmly and evenly placed next to the last one.

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Application methods

Brushing is the most popular method of application but liquid bright gold, as well as other underglazes, may be applied with a brush, sponge, spray, stamp or almost any other method to secure the desired finish.

   
How do I Mix colours?

Mixing colours

Since the concentrated colour pigment in translucent stains has a habit of settling to the bottom of the jar it is important to always mix colours thoroughly. This may necessitate shaking as well as stirring.

   
How do I seal my underglazes?

remove the lid from a jar

To help remove the lid from a jar, place it on the floor and roll the top of the jar with the ball of the foot back and forth several times.

   
How do I fire overglazes/lustres?

Firing

In firing an overglaze, the glaze is softened to the point where the overglaze settles onto the softened surface and becomes a part of that surface.

   
How do I add texture?

Duplicating cloth

To replicate the look of cloth, I would suggest using a very light cloth, and dipping it in a slip made of your body clay and water, make to a thick paste. The cloth will burn off in the kiln.

   
What is overglaze/lustre?

What is overglaze/lustre?

Overglaze refers to the group of colours which are applied to a previously glazed and fired surface.

   
Which brush?

Choosing the right brush?

When using a brush to apply overglazes, it is best accomplished with the largest brush suitable to the object being decorated.

   
How do I apply my colours?

Make your own crayons

These underglaze crayons can be used to draw on greenware or bisqueware. The work can then be glaze-fired normally.

Difficulty Level: easy Time Required: 120 min

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here's How:

Ingredients: White Firing Ball Clay (50%) Potash Feldspar (25%) Flint (Quartz) (25%) Bentonite (5%) Colorant (15%) (Iron Oxide, Copper Carbonate, Cobalt Oxide/Cobalt Carbonate or any undeglaze colorant).
Mix the ingredients with the desired colors and dry sieve the powder through an 80 mesh.
Weigh the ingredients and then measure out 45% of that weight in water.
For every 100 gm (4 ounces) of powder, mix in a teaspoon of sodium silicate to the water.
Add the water to the powder and mix thoroughly with a fork or similar tool.
Roll into a pencil shapes.
After drying, fire the pencils/crayons to 800o - 900o C.

Tips:
Be sure to wear a mask and gloves, if using toxic colorants.
Experiment with different color percentages.
Try out making pencils of different sizes, for different drawing requirements.

Related Resources:

Ceramic Toxic Materials

Thanks to Steven Goldate: http://www.ceramicstoday.com

   
What is a decal?

Troubleshooting

Any problems incurred when working with decals are usually due to poor application technique. Remember the following:
• Always wipe the item down with a damp cloth
• Use clean, warm water to soak decals
• Squeegee the item well to remove all air bubbles and to ensure good adhesion
• Dry the item 24 hours before firing
Although rare, firing problems can usually be solved by re-firing the item one cone hotter and making sure there is adequate air circulation within the kiln.
Bad decals are extremely rare. They may have been contaminated during the printing process, there may be a compatibility problem between the decal and the glaze, or the covercoat may be too heavy or too thin.

   
What are oxides?

Cobalt

Cobalt Carbonate and Cobalt Oxide. This is the most powerful color and produces various shades of blue. It can be harsh used by itself, so is sometimes mixed with iron, manganese, magnesium or copper to create more subtle colors. Like iron oxide, it can be added to glaze, or can be applied to the clay surface and fired to stoneware temperatures. By itself it will tend to create a dark slate metallic finish.
It can be mixed with manganese and iron to produce rich black slips.

   
What is Maiolica ?

The Renaissance Technique

THE RENAISSANCE TECHNIQUE
The basic raw material, red clay or chalky clay, was dug from river beds or pits, impurities were removed and the clay was well kneaded to remove any air pockets within the clay before it was thrown on the potter's wheel or pressed over or into plaster moulds to form vessels. The first firing took place at about 1,000 degrees centigrade in a wood burning kiln. After removal, the pots, now either a pale reddish brown (terra cotta) or cream in color were ready for glazing.
The making of the tin glaze or 'bianco' (white) was a complex process. First, white sand and potash (potassium carbonate especially in its crude impure form obtained from wood ashes) in the form of calcined wine lees (from the inside of barrels) were heated in a pot until they fused into a glassy lump. This was then finely ground and suspended in water with oxides of lead and tin, the last rendering the glaze white and opaque. This sloppy liquid was then applied to the pots, and after a short period of drying time they were ready for painting. The pigments of the color when brushed on the glaze sink into the glaze. Decorators had to be extremely deft because once a mistake was made it could not be corrected. Their pigments were based on metal oxides: cobalt for blue; copper for green; antimony for yellow; manganese for purplish-brown; tin for white. Red was obtained by fluxing Armenian bole with lead, but it was difficult to fire successfully and therefore occurs infrequently on renaissance Maiolica. The pots were then fired again at 950 degrees centigrade.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Removing air

When applying decals, it is important that all the air bubbles are removed from under the decal before it is allowed to dry. If not, a hole will result in that area during firing.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Quality

Decals we use in hobby ceramics are specially formulated for that special purpose. You cannot use five and dime decals to achieve the same results.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Cut a hole

Do you need to cut a hole in a piece of greenware? While it is still wet, use a washer or even the metal lid from any can as a pattern. The cutout will be perfectly round.

   
How do I remove unfired onestroke?

Remove unfired one-stroke

A regular rubber eraser will remove unfired one-stroke from bisque in most cases.

   
How do I brush one-strokes?

Creating a dry-brush effect

Loading your brush slightly with one-stroke will allow you to create a dry-brush technique.

   
Why is my one-stroke curling or peeling?

Curling one-strokes

One-strokes that have curled or peeled away from the surface painted over a matte glaze are caused by too heavy an application of colour.

   
Can I mix underglazes and one-strokes?

underglazes and one-strokes

Solid covered backgrounds with opaque underglazes are most commonly decorated with one-strokes.

   
Are one-stroke colours colour true in the jar?

Applying one-strokes

When using one-strokes you may find that colours look too light after your piece has been fired. This is caused by not applying enough coulour. If you apply too much however, there is a possibility of it popping off.
Do not apply one-stroke by flowing it on like glaze. Simply load your brush properly and apply it in smooth, even strokes.
All brush streaks will show when applying one-stroke. Even, smooth coverage is important.

   
How do I patch overglazes(lustres)?

Never patch lustres/overglazes

Never patch a spot with overglazes. Go back over the entire area and re-fire.

   
How do I apply opaque stains ?

Buff opaque stains

If you do not like to use spray fixative it is possible to buff opaque stains to a satin-like sheen. Not all products will work this way so be sure to experiment a bit before attempting it on your favourite piece. A soft cloth like a diaper is ideal.

   
Is stain bad for clothing?

Stains on clothes.

Stains are murder on clothes so if you get some on you when painting, be sure to remove as soon as possible so that they will not set in the fabric.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Burn-spots

To avoid burn spots on your designs, you must be sure that your decal is completely dry before firing.
Let your decals dry at least 24 hours before firing.

   
Are stains safe.

Stir colours

You should stir all colours well before applying except for a few. In setting on the shelf, many colours settle and stirring will help to mix them again.

   
How do I apply one-strokes?

Uses for one-strokes

Since one-strokes are concentrated colour pigments, they are most commonly used to write messages or sign pieces that will later be glazed.

   
How do I fire Decals?

Measuring Heatwork

Measuring Heatwork: Heatwork is another critical factor in the colour development of decals. Fading, Shifting and dullness are signs of too much or tool little heatwork. This is also true when decals rub off after firing. (White or blank spots or burned off areas are generally related to application, not firing.) Use witness cones to measure heatwork and to check the heat distribution in the kiln. Firing to a temperature or firing to a Kiln-Sitter cone may not give the same results as found with a witness cone next to the ware.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Texture tools

Use your imagination! Almost every household item or kitchen gadget you have will create a different texture when used on greenware. You may try dipping the various tools in slip as well to create designs.

   
Ho do I use underglazes?

wipe off rims of paint jars

Always wipe off rims of paint jars before storing. Store jars upside down. This will make opening and mixing easier.

   
How do I apply one-strokes?

Common faults

One-strokes that have curled or peeled away from the surface painted over a matte glaze are caused by too heavy an application of colour.
Streaked or running strokes painted with one-strokes may be caused by attempts to glaze over one-strokes before firing.
If one-strokes are too dark after being fired, you may be applying too much colour.

   
How do I clean seams?

Thinning one-strokes

One-strokes must be thinned with water on a tile before application.

   
How do I apply overglaze to a textured surface?

Applying to a raised/embossed surface

When an even edge is required or when it is being applied to a raised or embossed surface, a lustre/overglaze may be allowed to thicken slightly.

   
How do I fire overglazes/lustres?

Poor adherence

Poor adherence of lustres/overglazes to an object can be caused by poor ventilation, insufficient temperature, or contamination on the ware.

   
Can Stains be used outdoors?

applying opaque stains

You may find the going a bit easier when applying opaque stains to bisque if you slightly mist the piece with water. Since your opaques are waterbase, the slight dampening will allow the colour to flow on more easily.

   
How do I Remove stains from brushes

Removing stains from brushes

If you are having trouble removing translucent stains from your brushes, try using ordinary lemon oil furniture polish. Slightly dip brush and wipe out well. Oil will help condition the brush. Since transulcents are oil based, you only use this brush for oil base colours.

   
How and when sholuld I apply underglazes?

Applying a scrub coat

It is best to thin down the first coat of underglaze with about two parts of colour to one of water. This is called a scrub coat. The second and third coats are applied at full strength.

   
How and when sholuld I apply underglazes?

polish underglazes

It is possible to polish underglazes in special techniques. The regular three coats are applied, followed by a fourth. Before the fourth is dry, polish with a soft rag to a satin sheen.

   
How do I fire Decals?

Determining Firing Range

Determining Firing Range
Because the colours on decals can so easily be affected by the amount of heatwork they receive, we recommend test firings to determine the best firing range.
Use a series of witness cones to fire samples of the decals on tiles or blanks. Make several firings and then select the fired appearance which looks the best.

   
What is slip?

Mixing slips for decorating

Mixing: Note that recipes typically add up to 100g. If you multiply all the ingredients in the above recipes by 10, you will get 1000 grams, which will fill about 1/2 of a 5 gallon bucket. You can then divide this up into 5 1 gallon buckets and mix different stains in each. As a starting point, use about 15% of the total grams of stain. (eg 1000 grams / 5 = 200 grams per color, 15% of 200g is 30g, so use 30g of each stain)
The classic method is to pre-mix the dry ingredients, then add them to water. But many experienced potters do not premix their dry ingredients. They simply drop them into the water and mix with a jiffy mixer or paint mixer attached to a power drill. Use about half the volume of the dry ingredients for the amount of water. Mix the ingredients into the water with your hand or a stick before using the drill, to avoid stirring up dust. Depending on how well your mixer does, if the slip is lumpy you will want to push it through a sieve.
The completed slip should be the thickness of cream for greenware, or slightly thinner on bisque. Apply slip with a brush, a slip-trailing bottle, or by dipping. As you work, your piece will dry out, so spritz with water periodically, and wrap tightly between sessions. You can build up multiple layers of slip to make very intricate designs.

   
Can I use one-stroke to colour ceramic slip?

One-strokes are not sealed media

One-strokes are not sealed media. They must be coated with a transparent or clear glaze.

   
How do I apply one-strokes?

brushing one-strokes

If you see some of your strokes streaking when applying one-stroke, go back over them with additional colour and smooth them out.
By using a combination of water and one-stroke on your brush, you can paint shaded areas in one-stroke, from light to dark.

   
How do I thin one-strokes?

Thinning your colours

When thinning your colours to painting consistency with water, the more water you add the thinner and lighter the colour will become.

   
How do I apply opaque stains ?

Spatter on colours

For an unusual decorating technique, you can spatter on colours by loading a brush with colour, bending back the bristles and letting the paint fly. Also called flecking, the size of the drops you get is determined by how heavily you load your brush.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Did you know

Of all the overglaze products, decals are the only one that employ water in your method of application.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Attractive edges on plates

Attractive edges on plates or special designs on vases are possible by sponging colour through plastic or other doilies.

   
How do I apply one-strokes?

Adding to underglaze

You can change the colour of an opaque underglaze by adding one-stroke to it. You should test fire your new colour before using.

   
How do I apply opaque stains ?

Antiquing with opaques

Although most techniques call for antiquing with translucent stains, this same technique can be accomplished with opaques by thinning colours to half-water.

   
How do I Apply non firing metallics?

Applying non firing metallics

To make application of non firing metallics(brush on or spray) even, apply a coat of opaque stain over the bisque and under your metallics. Since you are covering up the colour used with a metallic you can use up bits of colour you hve in old jars, even several colours if you wish.

   
How do I remove a stain from bisque?

Removing stains

If you have a finish done in stains that you do not like you can remove it from your piece of bisque by refiring the piece. The stain will normally burn away although the piece may not be completely white. Just apply new stain coverage.

   
How do I repair sealer runs?

Repair sealer runs

You can fix Sealer runs. Use the same thinner as you use for cleanup and gently wipe back the run. Be sure to use a cloth that will not leave fiber, as this will stick to the piece.

   
What are oxides?

Manganese

Manganese Dioxide and Manganese Carbonate. In glazes creates colors such as mauve, purple and brown depending on the other ingredients present. By itself it produces an attractive brown with tiny metallic specks at stoneware temperatures (dioxide is specklier than carbonate).
It is often mixed with other oxides such as cobalt to create purples and iron to produce rich browns.

   
What is an engobe?

Application of engobes

Application techniques for engobes also greatly vary. They range from dipping to brushing and spraying and even slip-trailing, However, in contrast to applying glazes to bisque ware, it pays to be careful when applying engobes to greenware, as the clay can soften and deform, e.g. if a pot is dipped too long. During application, wax or latex can be applied as a resist. Once the engobe has hardened, designs can be scratched in, revealing the clay body underneath.

   
How do I thin one-strokes?

Thinning darker colours

Darker one-stroke colours usually need more thinning than lighter colours.

   
How do I fire porcelain?

Application

One-strokes may be used on either bisque or greenware.
As the name implies, only one coat is necessary.

   
What are oxides?

Iron Oxide

Iron Oxide. This comes in many varieties and can provide a wide variety of colors under different firing conditions. Types of iron oxide are red iron oxide, black iron oxide, and yellow ochre. At earthenware temperatures, up to 4 percent oxide will produce amber and honey glazes.
At stoneware temperatures it can be applied directly to stain the clay surface. It is often used in this way to highlight textured surfaces. Can also be added to glazes.

   
How do I Thin down underglazes ?

Thin down underglazes

Thin down underglazes with water if they are too thick.

   
What is a decal?

Chosing Glaze and Decal

Standard Application
To apply decals, first be sure a glazed surface will accept them. Always check the label of a glaze to make sure it reads overglaze compatible. Next, choose a glaze colour that will enhance your decal. Since most decals are china paints, their colours are translucent. So, a clear or lightly coloured glaze is the best choice. However, enamel decals are opaque and look best on dark glaze colours. Metallic decals adapt to a number of glaze finishes. Decals will also take on the finish of a glaze, so the same decal applied to a gloss glaze will appear different on a matte glaze.

   
What is the Correct application of opaque stains ?

Correct application of opaque stains

Correct application of opaque stains requires the use of a stiff brush.. The bristles should be quite stiff so you can sort of scrub the colour into the bisque.

   
What safety aspect should I keep in mind when working with glazes?

Chromium and nickel

Chromium and nickel:
They are not as predictable throughout all temperature ranges, and should be handled carefully as they are toxic.
If you make your own glazes, you already have seen many oxides used in glaze recipes.
It is probably best to stick with recipes.

   
How do I add texture?

Easy Relief Surfaces

How to do Easy Relief Surfaces
Flowers, abstract geometry, letters, anything -- making complex relief surfaces on your pots, tiles or sculptures is easy using shellac. This technique is especially suited to fine clays like porcelain or porcelaineous stoneware, but could be used on just about any clay.
Here's How:
Dissolve shellac flakes to a thin, creamy consistency in Methylated Spirits (Alcohol).
Paint your designs with various brush sizes on to bone dry greenware.
If necessary apply a couple of coats. This will depend on the initial consistency of the shellac.
Let the shellac dry thoroughly. If you're in a hurry, you can use a hair dryer set to 'hot'.
Carefully wipe back layers of clay with a wet sponge. The clay will stay raised where you have applied the shellac.
After drying, the process may be repeated for layers of various depths.
Decorate, glaze and fire as usual.
Tips:
Be careful not to use too much water at any one time, otherwise cracks may appear, especially on thin ware.
Further effects can be achieved by additional carving.
Try experimenting with other nontraditional resist materials, like house paint!

   
How do I apply one-strokes?

Antiquing with one-strokes

You can make an antiquing wash using one-stroke by mixing colour pigment to about 3 to 4 parts water. The less water, the darker the wash

Using one-stroke for antique effects is best accomplished on bisque.

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Marbleizing liquid with metallics

After using a marbleizing liquid with metallics, there is a residue that remains on a piece. It can easily be removed with soap and water.

   
How do I apply opaque stains ?

Drying time

The drying time for translucent stains is longer than that for opaque stains.

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Spraying

Lustres can be used in a spray bottle or air-brush. It is necessary to follow cleaning procedures and practice to get the proper coverage.

   
How do I attach sprigs etc?

Sprigging

Sprigging usually refers to clay pieces which are added to pottery as a decoration, it is also used for transfer printed decoration.

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Lustre-on-lustre

You can apply opal or mother-of-pearl lustres over a fired coat of another lustre or mettalic.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Marbleizing liquid

Marbleizing liquid is a water-based product and the brush should be cleaned in soap and water.

   
How do I Paint large areas?

sponge to apply an overglaze

If you want to use a sponge to apply an overglaze, allow the lustre or metallic to thicken slightly by exposing a small amount to the air and allowing a little evaporation. The thickened material will hold the sponge pattern after application

   
What are Translucent stains

Translucent stains

Translucent stains are primarily used to accent the detail of a piece and may be either water or oil base.
Translucent stains can be used for a rouging technique when only a small bit of colour is added to certain areas with a soft rag wrapped around your finger.
Stains can be used directly on bisque rather than over sealed opaque stains, but they do soak in rapidly and are very hard to control. Translucent colours are very difficult if not impossible to remove from clothing.

   
What is a decal?

Different decals

Different decals are made for glass and ceramics. Ceramic decals often fire hotter than those for glass. application: decals must have good contact with the surface of the ware, all wrinkles and bubbles need to be smoothed away. Avoid tearing the decal. Firing: decals are generally low firing - cone 022 to 016, check the package for the proper firing range. Venting: Decals contain lots of organics which need to be burned off. Often smelly fumes result during decal firings.

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Unusual effect

An unusual effect can be achieved by applying mother-of-pearl lustre with finger tips in a swirling motion. Be sure hands are clean

   
What do hair-line cracks in gold represent?

Troubleshooting: hairline cracks

If a piece removed from the kiln that has had gold lustre applied, has hair-line cracks, it has been over-fired.

   
How do I apply opaque stains ?

Sealing stain work

Sealing stain work allows you to use a damp rag for dusting and cleaning without damaging your piece.
Sealers for stains are available in matte, semi-gloss or gloss finish and come in either spray-can or in brush-on form.

   
How do I decorate my ware?

Cutting your Decal

When using decals, you may find that only parts of a decal design are required. You can easily cut them apart with a pair of scissors.

   
How do I apply one-strokes?

in combination with embossing glazes

One-strokes can be used in combination with embossing glaze by loading brush with glaze, tipping in one-stroke and applying to piece. This is an effective means of creating flower petals.
One-strokes may be used to tint embossing glazes.

   
How do I apply Lustres?

Application speed

Speed is necessary when applying lustres. They dry very fast and if you take too long, they could dry, forming rings which would be unattractive.

   
How do I Thin down underglazes ?

colours/shelf life

Some colours have shorter shelf lives than others. They may become like a gel if too old. You can salvage these by stirring or even running them through your blender. Add a drop of water at a time to get the proper consistency.

   
What is a slip trailer?

Recipe: low fire slip

Here is a recipe that is often used because it fits a wide variety of low fire clay bodies. Thinned, it works well on bisque also.
Kentucky Ball Clay (Old Mine #4) 40g
EPK (Kaolin, sometimes called China Clay) 20g
Nepheline Syenite (flux) 10g
Talc 15g
Silica Sand (sometimes called Flint) 15g

   
What is Slip?

Recipe: High fired slip

Here is a recipe for high fire clay
#6 Tile Clay (Georgia kaolin) 25g
EPK (Kaolin) 25g
Ball Clay 25g
Frit 3124 15g
Nepheline Syenite 10g

   
How do I patch overglazes(lustres)?

Thinning

Overglazes may be thinned with essence (Gold essence for metallics, lustre essence for lustres). Add essence one drop at a time to avoid over-thinning.

   
Can I mix translucent and opaque stains?

Mixing stains

One of the basics to remember is that opaque stains may be mixed together and that translucent stains may be mixed together. You cannot however mix translucent and opaque stains.

   
How do I Antique with opaques?

Metallic stains in antiquing techniques.

Metallic stains are usually used to decorate those areas that simulate metal but they can also be thinned and used in antiquing techniques.

   
How do I use underglazes?

Painting on underglazes

It is important to keep your brush loaded when applying underglazes, but you do not want to add colour as you would when painting a house.

   
How do I apply glaze?

Glazing textures

To enhance textured surfaces, brush glaze on so it gets in all the cracks, then wipe off the top surface.

   
What is Overglaze?

drying overglazes

All overglazes should be allowed to dry for at least 24 hours before firing.

   
What is an engobe?

Simple engobe recipe

Here is a simple blue engobe you can try out (but be sure to do some small tests first, before using it on any 'important' stuff!): Ball Clay 40 Red Iron Oxide 20 Manganese Dioxide 20 Cobalt Oxide 20

   
Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Ceramics Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!


Guru Spotlight
Ray Lokar