Sunday, October 7, 2007

Ceramics: Painting and preserving

Painting ceramics is easy. The piece must be fired in a kiln first. Green-ware is extremely brittle. When it has been fired the first time, it will not break as easily when handled. The piece will need to be fired a second time after it has been painted or glazed.

To paint small areas such as eyes and tiny fingers, use a very small paint brush. Sable brushes are the best ones to paint with. They will hold their shape longer, and not drop bristles as easily as other types of brushes. Always wash the brushes thoroughly with warm soapy water, and hang them with the bristles pointing downward when possible. This will allow the water to drain from under the metal band which holds the bristles in place, and will keep the band from rusting. Do not allow the paint brushes to stand in water too long, or you will end up with bristles that are crooked to one side.

Rinse or wash your brushes well before changing to another color, unless you are working on shading. When shading, you may want to load your brushes with two or more colors of paint at the same time. You may want to paint with one color, then add another hue to a clean brush and overlap the two colors together.

Some people want nothing more than a coat of hairspray (weak form of protective coating), but most folks want a varnish or clear coat brushed over the paint to protect the ceramic piece. Some paints will come off or spread if you do not let the last coat dry well before adding the varnish. Don't over brush the piece in one area too much. This may make the paint wet again and smear it. If you make sure the paint is dry before you varnish, you should not have any trouble. Use a cloth dampened with warm water to wash ceramic pieces that have been sealed with a protective coating. Unless the piece is extremely soiled, the damp cloth should remove dust from the ceramic piece.

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