How to Remove Paint From Clay Pottery

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Sometimes painted pottery looks great, but other times it's an art project gone wrong. Whether you want to fix a school pottery project or restore a great piece of art pottery, use these techniques to remove unwanted paint.

Things You'll Need

  • Old soft cloths
  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Pottery with undesirable paint on it
  • Mask (optional)
  • Paint remover: Acetone, lacquer thinner, or graffiti remover
  • Needle or safety pin (optional)
  • Put on the disposable gloves and mask (if desired) to use the paint dissolver. Open windows or work outside because all of these solvents create hazardous fumes.

  • Saturate the old cloth with the paint remover of your choice. Apply the cloth to the paint on the pottery and rub until the paint comes off. Use more remover as needed. The glaze, which is baked on, should be unaffected.

    Graffiti remover sometimes comes in spray cans or in cloth wipe form.

  • Use the needle or safety pin (or another sharp object) to pick away stubborn spots of paint. This allows the remover to have better saturation.

  • Continue smudging the paint with the soft cloths until the paint is gone and the remover residue is wiped away.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the pottery has acrylic paint on it, you may be able to simply scrape it away with a utility knife. Try this first.
  • For pottery pieces completely painted over, Biddington's Art Galleries recommends using graffiti remover.
  • Paint removers are flammable and the fumes are hazardous. Use caution and follow the directions on the product.
  • Avoid using a nylon brush to apply these removers because the nylon will disintegrate.
  • Do not attempt to launder the cloths used - you could cause a dryer fire. Get rid of the cloths in accordance with local law (which may involve hazardous waste disposal).
  • Glaze is not the same as paint. These techniques only apply to paint applied after the piece is baked.

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