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China Paint

Mixing China Paint:Mixing paints is a simple procedure. The pigments, called overglaze ceramic paints, come in powder form, and are available at art supply stores and from mail order houses. To mix, merely add some spirits of gum turpentine and fat oil (balsam) to the powder on a flat piece of glass, enamel or metal surface. Using a spatula, mix the ingredients thoroughly.

No quantity measurements are necessary. Just mix the powder and liquid to obtain the most desirable consistency for individual working preference. However, take care not to make the mixture too oily, for the paint may bubble, blister or chip off and give poor firing. A mixture is too oily when it runs quickly; and when it’s too thick, it looks pasty and doesn’t flow off the brush properly.

Red colors usually need more oil than others because they seem to be very gritty and dry.

White powder is rarely used since the blank pieces themselves are white. In special cases, however, it may be used to bring out a highlight in the painted subject.

Always keep in mind the fact that a little color goes very far, and there is no need to be wasteful.

It’s easy to tell if there is too much oil in the color mixture. If the colors take ten minutes or more to dry, or if they are too transparent, there is an excess of oil in the paint. If there is too much turpentine in the mixture, the color will run during painting, and it will also fire poorly.

In applying paint,
first dip the tip of the brush into clear turpentine or fat oil, and wipe the excess off. Then, holding it like a pencil so that the tips of the bristles rest on the glass, draw it along the outline of the paint on the glass so that either the right or the left side of the brush at the tip gets paint, and the other half of the tip stays clear.

AN IMPORTANT point to remember about this technique is that the paint must always be brushed on with swift, single strokes. Once the stroke is made, the paint dries almost immediately and cannot be gone over again because the brush picks up or mars the first application.

Beginners will usually apply the colors too heavily. The best results are obtained when the colors have a transparency on the blank. Also, there is less risk of the paint cracking or peeling in firing.

Variations of color intensity can be had by light and heavy pressure on the brush.

When an error is made,
it is simply wiped off thoroughly with a soft cloth dipped in turpentine. The area dries in a fraction of a minute, and the design can be re-applied correctly. This artistic single stroke technique is easily learned by experience.

Gold Paint:
For that extra touch,plates can be beautifully finished with 14-karat gold trimming.

The gold paint comes in liquid form, and looks like a dark cough syrup. It can only be applied to a clear china blank, or an unpainted part of the plate. If it is applied over another color, it turns black. Jean recommends applying it after the first firing, and then firing the piece again. Gold trimming should be used sparingly as it is expensive—about $30 for an eight-ounce bottle.

AFTER THE design is painted on, the chinaware must be fired so that the colors are permanently baked in. High temperature kilns which go up to 1375-1400 degrees are used for this purpose.
The painted chinaware is placed in the kiln before the heat is turned on. Care must be taken in handling the painted china blank as any fingerprints left on the paint will show up in firing. Smaller kilns reach 1375 degrees F.—the most popular firing temperature—quicker than larger ones. When the correct temperature is reached, the heat is shut off and the piece left in the kiln to cool off slowly.

The heat in the kiln must not be permitted to go over 1400 degrees. At that temperature, the china may warp or the colors may “spit,” that is, burn off or sputter. At 1900 degrees, china glaze melts.

When the piece is removed from the kiln, the colors should look rich and vibrant. An over-fired piece has dull colors which rub off easily, and the surface feels rough when the hand is passed over it.

If the piece is under-fired, the color also rubs off. An inexpensive pyrometer gives a convenient and accurate indication of temperature for proper firing, and is well worth the cost. It saves a lot of guess work.
After the china has cooled, rub the entire piece once over lightly with the finest grade of sandpaper available. This procedure smooths the surface and gives the glaze a lovely sheen. The final step is to wipe the finished plate with a soft cloth.

China Painting for Dolls Tips

Aging Veins
Mix equal parts of Eye Blue (19) and Rose Glow Additive (22). Apply like a wash into eyelid area, into wrinkles and over tops of hands.

Feature Enhancer
Add dimension around nostrils, ears, lips and lids by applying Feature Enhancer (18) in crevices. Feature Enhancer is also an excellent eye shadow, and interesting for hair color, lashes and brows.

Use Dark Brown (4), Auburn (7) and Yellow Brown (6) alone or in combination. Apply specifically with a detail spotter and let stand without blotting, or blot randomly with a stippler or sponge.

Painted Eyes
Use Black (1) for the pupil, regardless of eye color. To achieve more color depth for the iris, apply two colors into each other while wet blotting between color applications. For example, for a beautiful Blue-Green, apply Eye Blue (19), blot with Q-Tip, and then apply Blonde (8) and blot again. Dark brown (4) and Blonde intermix beautifully in the same way.

Painted Eyes – Highlights
Use White (20) for highlights or for raised highlights use Raised Glaze Additive (32) on painted eyes. Add over black pupil or colored iris.

Tear Ducts, Nostrils, Finger Nails
Tear ducts, nostrils and finger nail accents generally use the same color as the doll’s lips, whichever red or pink tone that is.

Intensity of application of any color paint can cause completely different looks. Generally, lips are accented with the same paint used for the overall lip color, but the accents are a slightly thicker mixture and therefore appear darker.

Color Tips

Rose Glow Additive
Rose Glow Additive (22) is added to reds (except True Red) to stabilize them during firing. It allows red paint to fire hotter than cone 018 without burning off when used as a wash or blush, and may be added to other manufacturers reds.

Blotchy cheeks are often a result of color burning off when firing too hot. The cheeks look good until the doll maker applies a second coat of color; the media applied for the second coat washes away some of the first coat, thus the blotchy look. You may add up to equal parts of Rose Glow Additive to your cheek color to prevent burn off.

Matting Agent
Add about 10% Matting Agent (24) to Signature System China Paints (which are glossy), so that when applied opaquely the colors will not be shiny.

It is not necessary to apply Matting Agent to color that is applied thinly as a wash (translucent application), as thin washes tend not to be shiny.

Too much Matting Agent added to the color will dilute the color intensity and deter paint adhesion with some colors.

Flux (23) consists of three ingredients — lead oxide, borate of soda and pure silica acid (a fusible glass). All fluxes in china paint are not the same, as these three items can change proportions.

Jean’s Flux enhances the flow of red paints that are mixed for cheeks and overall washes. Do not add to Black, Brown or any other colors — these already flow beautifully.

Glaze Sheen
Glaze Sheen (25) is applied last over lips, eyes or for tears as an opaque application, then fired to cone 022 for a very high shine. Do not fire the head again to cone 018 (normal china paint temperature) or the glaze sheen will overfire and cause the paint beneath to turn yellow.

White (20) may be added to any color to lighten the paint.

Lips, Cheeks, Overall Washes
French Lip (10), Pink Cheek (11), Pink Lip (12), Rosey Blush (13) and Peach Lip (14) are different shades of pinks that can be interchanged for those features.

Eye Shadow
Eye Shadow (17) is a color often recommended by Kay McKee for reproducing some of her favorite pink lip and cheek tones.

Soft Lash
Soft Lash (3) is a combination of red and green that creates a grayed brown, excellent for modern doll lashes.

Auburn and Blonde
Auburn (7) and Blonde (8) have been blended to match the modacrylic wigs so often used for dolls. Blonde is a lovely soft color for baby hair. Auburn is a great overall wash for a warm tan skin tone.

Dark Brown
Dark Brown (2), as well as being great for lashes and brows, is an excellent overall brown wash.

French Brow Additive
French Brow Additive (21) is designed to be added to any warm brown to remove the red.

Clown Colors
These vibrant hues (Colors 26 – 31) work beautifully both as thinly applied blushes (except True Red) and as pure opaque glossy color.

Although they all fire to cone 018, they should be painted on and fired in the following order if they are all being used on the same piece.

1. True Purple (31) and True Green (27) can endure the highest temperature and will also fire fine at cone 017. They should be applied first.

2. True Blue (26) and True Yellow (28) are the “average” colors, and should be applied next.

3. True Orange (29) and especially True Red (30) are temperamental. This is true of all fired orange and red glazes. They should be fired last, and preferably only once, and they thrive at 019 environment.

And of these six colors, if premixed with Clean and Dry and mixed to a thick, flowing consistency that is applied smoothly, will achieve opaque high gloss in one application.

The Medias

Glycerin – General Information
Glycerin is a cleaning agent used in the manufacture of some types of soap. It is also a humectant, meaning it draws moisture out of the air, and for this reason it is used in many skin care lotions.

If the air is humid, our China Painter’s Glycerin will get wetter as it sits on your tile. For this reason paint should be mixed thick, with only a track thinned for immediate use.

China Painter’s Glycerin
An “open media”, meaning it stays wet rather than drying out while you’re working with it. Used to paint all features, with the exception of cheeks. Also used to pre-clean surfaces prior to painting. Wipe back thoroughly.

Cheek Blush Glycerin
A “closed media”, meaning it tends to dry out in use. Used to paint cheeks.

Clean and Dry
Use it as a premix prior to adding glycerin to your dry china paint. It enhances the paint’s ability to absorb the glycerin, and reduces the necessary grinding.

Also use it to clean brushes, dry mops and stipplers – it dries in a matter of moments, so your clean brush or mop is ready for reuse quickly.

Firing Tips

About Cones
Check what cone your kiln is firing to by using free-standing test cones in three positions on each shelf of your kiln.

Top: Cone 018 fired perfectly.
Middle: Cone 018 overfired. (Reds will become blotchy.)
Bottom: Cone 018 not fully matured, but excellent for Signature System China Paint.

The ideal position for firing china paint is the BOTTOM illustration. You may have to adjust your kiln sitter by following your manufacturer’s instructions, or you may have to use other than a cone 018 in your sitter to achieve the proper melting free-standing cone on your shelf.

All Signature System China Paints are glossy when fired properly and applied opaquely. When fired as a wash or blush, they should have only a slight glow.

Yellow, very shiny paint is a sign that your paint has been overfired.    

Something to remember.. it is very important that you get all the scratches out of your piece that you’re going to paint this way. If you leave scratches, the china paint will show the scratches like a red streak. This happens because the paint sinks into the scratch. In the wet cleaning instructions, rubber gloving is very important to get out the imperfections. If you dry clean, I wouldn’t suggest this type of painting. During dry cleaning, there’s usually a few scratches left and you probably won’t like the finished product.

One response

  1. easy peasy

    August 26, 2011 at 9:36 PM

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