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Teddy Bear Santa - Drybrushing: Article or Project

Gare Teddy Bear Santa in bisque
clear glaze
fired gold
assorted acrylic stains
assorted dry brushes-stiff white square
container/bowl water
ceramic tile or palette
paper towels
paper sack or similar paper
designated brush for gold
Duncan Prep Coat (optional)
Semi matte spray fixative

More Details

First step is to prepare your Santa by making sure seams are well cleaned, re-incising any details as needed and it is fired to cone 04-05. IF you want fired gold accents, put two coats of clear glaze on the areas you want to be gold. If the glazed details encompass less than 10% of the total exterior, you can do this on the greenware itself and save one firing. When the glaze is thoroughly dry, fire to cone 04-05. After the greenware firing, you can apply the gold over the fired glaze with a soft, clean brush used just for gold application. (see About Overglazes) Re-fire your piece to cone 018.

Now you are ready to begin staining (painting) your Santa with non-fired water-based stains.

Step One: Select your color scheme. For this project we will be using primarily burgundy and purple. Also, complementing burgundy pearl and complimenting purple pearl, white, gray, black, a blue-gray, melon or peach, several shades of brown (from light to dark), light flesh, gold and silver. I recommend paints designed for ceramics, but in any case NOT Apple Barrel brand.

Step Two: Gather a supply of stiff white bristled brushes (square shaders), make sure you have a good liner and a detail brush. The last two can be soft bristled. A bowl/container for water, a palette or ceramic tile, paper towels, a paper sack or other similar paper.

Remember, it is best to not use stains in brushes that will be used for glazing and underglazing.

Step Three: Most generally, when painting a ceramic item, you begin with the most 'inside' area. In this case it will be the flesh. Begin with a small white stiff bristled square shader. Dip the brush in water and then blot the water out. Next, apply one or two coats of light flesh to the face and hands, making sure to work the paint into the crevices.

Make sure the application of paint is smooth and that there are no visible brush strokes.

For sake of this presentation, Burgundy will be the primary color and Purple will be the accent color. You can change or substitute any colors as you choose.

Please note: Both Burgundy and Purple can be difficult colors to get even coverage. Therefore, if you have access to Duncan's Prep-coat, you may want to base coat all areas that will be those colors with one coat of Prep-coat first. Otherwise, it may require multiple coats of paint application to get an even coverage. If you don't have Prep-coat, and are not getting a good coverage, use a matte spray fixative and spray lightly in between each coat of paint. Let each coat of paint dry well before applying subsequent coats.

Step Four: Using a medium sized white bristled square shader that has been moistened, brush on a coat of Burgundy to Santa's coat. Be sure to scrub it in the details and smooth it out so there are no brush strokes visible. Do not paint the fur/trim/edge yet. Apply as many coats as needed alternating with the spray if needed, to achieve a nice even coverage. Paint over the diamonds and other small details.

Step Five: Apply Purple to the hat, bag and inside of the sleeves. Ignore any design details, cover it all (again using prep-coat or the spray fix method). Remember to wet your brush first and blot out water and be sure to scrub in the paint then smooth away all brush strokes. Paint over the diamonds and other small details

Use appropriate size brushes, if you need to use a detail brush to get along the edges, please do. Use whatever gives you the best detailing.

Note: when cleaning your brushes, use soap, but do not use hot or warm water. The hot or warm water can loosen the 'glue' holding the bristles.

Step Six: Now we are going to do some accents on the painted surfaces. I would like you to take a DRY white bristled square shader brush for this next step.

If you are unfamiliar with the technique of dry brushing, please refer to (…………………..)

Make a small puddle of purple, add a few drops of burgundy and mix well (color will be a shade redder and lighter than the original purple). Take your bush and put tip in a small amount of the purple blend. Scrub it into the bristles slightly and then blot off excess on newspaper or paper sack.

Using a very light stroke, draw your brush across the detailing of the purple sections of your piece...slowly increasing pressure as the paint leaves the brush. You should see highlighting of the details showing up. Repeat the process using very small amounts of paint and very light application until enough contrast makes the details clearly visible. To enhance and deepen the contrast, apply multiple coats - DO NOT try increasing the amount of paint in the brush or you will lose the effect and the detailing.

Add a little more burgundy to the purple puddle creating a deep rose and lightly accent the very HIGH points of the hat and bag, giving them added contrast and making the low points look like they are in shadow. You will also dry brush the entire coat with this color.

Step Seven: Deepen the shadows in sleeves and coat. Have soft tissue, soft cloth or absorbant paper towel at hand for this process.

To do this, dip a clean brush in water and blot out a small amount leaving the brush extra wet. Tip the corner bristles in purple and squiggle brushes flat side on paper to mix into the brush. Working with small sections, lay the color along the edges of your coat, next to the fur trim. Repeat process but apply the purple to the tips of the bristles and lay in the crevices and folds of the coat, spreading it out like a water color. Use a tissue and blot off excess, thereby blending the shadow with the rest of the colors. You want a hint of purple shading, not full coverage.

If you get heavy handed, all you need to do is go back and drybrush the area with the deep rose (you blended earlier).

Step Eight: We will do some similar shading in the sleeves of the coat and the hat and bag. This time however we will load only the corner of the brush. Put a small amount of purple on your pallet and add a drop or so of black to deepen the color..mix well. Again, dip square shader in water, blot out SOME of the excess. Keeping the brush flat against your pallet, drag the corner through the small pool of purple/black mixture. Then on a clean section of your pallet-keeping the brush flat against the pallet, squiggle the brush lightly so the paint works itself across the width of the brush. You will see the paint trail will be dark on one side, blending to light in the middle.

Run the brush across the inside of the sleeve with the paint next to the arm. Keep the brush flat as possible and use a smooth, non-stop stroke as you bring it around the arm. This should give you a darker 'line' next to the arm, blending lighter away from the arm.

Repeat the process around the rim of the hat and bag if you chose to paint it purple. In the case of the bag, you will also want to apply the paint in the crevices and wipe away excess.

Remember, you must tip your brush in water and blot each time before adding paint to your brush.

Using a clean, small dry stiff bristled brush, take a drop of the burgundy and add a small amount of white...again making a medium rose color. (or you can use a peach color) put a small amount on the tip of the bristles and work it into the brush with a gentle scrubbing motion.

Using a pouncing motion - instead of dragging it across the details.. pounce the color on the cheeks and top of Santa' nose. Strike from the top of the cheek downward and make the cheeks rosy. Without cleaning your brush, add a small amount of light flesh to the brush and pounce that over the rose, blending the colors. Add more flesh color if needed... you don't want the cheeks garish, but pleasingly blushed.

Clean your brush. Put a small drop of a medium brown on your palette.

Using a small brush, wet the bristles and blot out some of the excess. Tip it in the medium brown, work it into the bristles and let the color flow on Santa's face and hands = working small areas and blotting away excess as you go. The effect you are trying to achieve is to darken the crevices, wrinkles and details, somewhat like antiquing. Add more water to the bristles as needed to keep the color thin.

Step Nine: After the brown dries, you are ready to apply base color to the fur and hair. Put a pool light grey or create a light grey by making a pool of white on the palette. add a drop of black. Use this as a base for the hair and beard. Pour out another pool of white and add a drop or two of flesh and create a very light creamy color and use this for the fur and trim on the hat.

Make sure you have all the crevices and details covered well. When dry, you will drybrush white over both the hair and the trim, using care to apply multiple layers to lighten thereby leaving the details your base colors.

Step Ten: While you have your white, take a small liner or detail brush and paint the entire eye areas white.

Step Eleven: Now we are ready to get into the detailing.

Using a small brush which has been dipped in water and blotted out, paint your teddy bears. Select several shades of browns (mix the ones you have with each other or white or dark brown to create other shades of browns), you might want to paint one of them white. Paint over the eyes and features. DO NOT detail the features at this time.

Paint any other objects in the bag with your choice of colors.

Step Twelve: To set off the detailing of the bears, you can either dry brush them with a lighter brown, or watercolor wash them with a darker brown and wiping away the excess. You may want to try using one technique on some and the other on the rest - giving greater variety.

Using the none bristled end of a brush, tip the end in a dab of light blue and gently press into the white of the eye. Make placement the same in both eyes. Use a brush whose tip is small enough to fit over the white but not so large as to cover the entire eye. You want white on both sides of the blue, and if possible, a sliver of white under the blue. When dry, take a fine liner and draw a crescent line over the top of the eye using a dark grey (black is really too bold). When dry, use a fine liner to place a large dot of black in the blue. This is the tricky part. You want the black to be large, but not large enough to obliterate the blue. You want the dot to be at the top of the blue. touching the eyelid, so there is blue all around it except for the top. (the blue will basically create a "U" shape around the black). When dry, take a toothpick or the very tip of your fine liner and pick up the tiniest bit of white. Press lightly just inside the edge of the black. Now as to where to place it. Consider the black dot the face of a clock. Put the tiny dot of white where the 2 or 10 would be on a clock face. It must be a very small dot. This is the dot of life. You will place it the same position on both eyes (I will do an eye class when I can get my charts copied).

At this point, do the details, eyes, mouths of the bears. You may want to just do a black dot for their eyes. Add the light of life also.

Step Thirteen: Using Gold or Silver or Both, paint in the diamonds and other details on the hat and coat and items in bag.

Step Fourteen: There is a pearlized spray on the market. If you want your santa to have a pearl type finish, you can use that spray and lightly coat you santa with one or two layers to get a pearl sheen.


Take a burgundy pearl, and use your dry stiff bristled brushes and lightly 'dry-brush' pearl over the burgundy areas, adding layers till you have a desired effect.

Repeat the process with your purple pearl over the purple areas.

DO not use a heavy hand, or you will lose all the detailing and shading. Do NOT try for overall, full coverage, but rather emphasize the high spots.

Step Fifteen: After you are finished, use a semi-matte spray fixative and apply a light coat. This will enhance the colors and details while giving some protection to the finish and will allow you to keep your item clean.

To clean your item when dirty just gently wipe down with a damp soft rag or a swish in sudsy water and pat dry. Never rub dry.

Bisque for the Gare Teddy Bear Santa is available from Majik Merlin's Ceramics on Facebook


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