How to Paint on China

Hand Painted China
Hand Painted China (Image: morgueFile.com, Pébéo)

Painting on china is a hobby that is thousands of years old but is still popular today. Traditional china painting is done on white or ivory plates, but more contemporary china painters recycle china plates by adding paint in addition to the original design or border.

Things You'll Need

  • China plates, new or used
  • Paint brushes, a variety of high-quality brushes
  • Alcohol
  • Soapy Water
  • Graphite Tracing Paper
  • Kiln with low setting or oven, depending on the type of paint you use
  • Paint designed specifically for china painting, such as Pébéo Porcelaine 150

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Prepare your plate for painting by thoroughly de-greasing the surface either with alcohol or soapy water. Thoroughly dry the plate before starting to paint. Make sure the plate can withstand the firing temperature for the brand of paint you are using. Choose your design. It may be free form or a trace of a design, using graphite tracing paper which does not leave a waxy residue like other tracing papers. Look for templates from other types of painting crafts, such as wood or fabric painting. Patterns can also be found on the Pébéo company website at pebeo.com.

Pébéo Porcelaine 150 Project
Pébéo Porcelaine 150 Project

Traditional china artists paint in layers to add depth and richness to the final design that can't be obtained in 1 layer. You will need to have easy access to a kiln as these types of paints require a firing between each layer. Newer china craft paints are typically done in only 1 layer. If you are painting a used plate, you will probably only be painting in the middle as there is most likely an existing border. Excellent examples of painting on used plates can be found for sale at chinadoodle.etsy.com (see link in Resources).

Plate painted by ChinaDoodle available at etsy.com
Plate painted by ChinaDoodle available at etsy.com

Most china paints need to set or dry at least 24 hours before they can be fired. Check the manufacturer's directions to see what your paint requires. Kiln paints are usually fired at 1,200 degrees F. Craft-type china paints can be set in a household oven pre-heated to 300 degrees F. Even after firing, some china paints are not meant to be used on dishes that will come in contact with food. They are designed for display or decorative purposes only.

Tips & Warnings

  • Higher quality brushes will yield better results. If you don't want the brush strokes to show, use squirrel hair brushes.

References

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