How to Dry Brush a Ceramic Piece

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Dry Brush a Ceramic Piece
Dry Brush a Ceramic Piece (Image: Shamontiel L. Vaughn)

Have you ever wondered why some ceramic pieces have an antique look to them? How is it that a ceramic dog or cat has an undercoating of white fur, black fur and hints of brown, too? How did the artist manage to paint the ceramic this way to make sure no color overpowered the next color, and all colors are easily visible? This technique in ceramic painting is called dry brushing.

Things You'll Need

  • Craft or Acrylic Paint (stains)
  • Thin, Flat Paintbrushes, Pointed Rounds
  • Small Bowl or Cup Filled Halfway With Water
  • Brush Cleaner
  • Paper Bag
  • One Piece of Tile
  • Clear Acrylic Seal

Choose two opposing colors to dry brush. Choosing colors that are too close in shade will not achieve the same effect, such as sky blue and baby blue or burgundy and maroon.

Pour water halfway into your cup or bowl with brush cleaner. Clean paintbrushes before starting the dry brushing process to make sure no old paint or debris can get into your new paint.

Paint the ceramic piece in one solid base coat. Dry brushing does not look attractive without the original base coat. Do not pick a really dark base coat, such as black, because it will be very difficult to dry brush over a darker color than the colors that will be dry brushed on. For example, if you want to dry brush a ceramic dog with black and brown, start off with a shade of gray or white. A lighter brown will do, as long as the colors don't blend.

Wait a few hours until the base coat has completely dried, and repaint the base coat again. Make sure to give yourself enough time to let both coats dry because if you try to dry brush paint too soon, the paint will mix together. At least one day is a sufficient time between paint jobs.

Pour a small amount of the paint colors onto a tile that you want to dry brush on your piece. Dry brushing does not take a lot of paint at once, so don't spill all the paint on the tile. Two thumbprints wide worth of paint is more than enough.

Dip the brush into one paint and slowly brush most of the paint off on an open paper bag, leaving just enough paint on the brush to still achieve the color.

Lightly swipe over the base color in the particular area that the dry brush coat should be. If the ceramic piece has crevices, such as "fur" from a dog, paint in the opposite direction of the way the fur is cut. When no paint shows up, dip the brush into paint again, and brush most of it off onto the paper bag again. Continue this process until the entire area, where the dry brushing should be, is complete.

Clean the paintbrush completely in the brush cleaner and water, and let the dry brush color dry. If there is an additional color to be added to the ceramic piece, wait until the paint is fully dry before adding a second color, also in the opposite direction of the crevices of the ceramic piece. If you're dry brushing a ceramic piece that is not cut or has no lines, paint even lighter because if the brush is too heavily swiped across the piece, it will look solid like the base coat instead of a tease of a new color.

Spray the ceramic piece after at least 24 hours with acrylic sealer to seal all the colors in an open, ventilated area.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sealer spray for ceramics is very strong. If you are asthmatic or around children, leave this piece outside in a solid area until the scent has died down completely. Breathing in the vapor from the spray can cause dizziness and sickness.

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