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About Chalking Ceramics or Porcelain: Article or Project

Suitable Ceramic or Porcelain Item
soft brushes
stiff bristled brushes
Matte or Porcelain Acrylic Spray Fixative
Assortment of colored artist chalks

More Details

Chalking is a wonderful medium to use on your decorative ceramic and porcelain pieces. They are not suitable for utilitarian pieces such as those for food, cooking or those which are subject to immersion in water. Vases and the like may be chalked if the insides are glazed to make them water tight.

There are several methods of using chalks to create your works of art. 1) Dry application, 2) Wet application and 3) Accent work in conjunction with other techniques. Because of their powdery nature, chalking takes some time and care as they wipe off easily during application, so it is necessary to ‘fix’ each layer with a spray of acrylic fixative. This spray fixes or makes the chalk stay in place.

Basic application, regardless of which technique you employ, requires that there be a base coat of stain on ceramic. Porcelain pieces do not require the base coat. The reason is that porcelain is pretty smooth and glass-like and part of the attraction of porcelain is its texture; whereas, ceramic cast pieces are more porous and do not give the soft glow that porcelain does. The chalk technique does give a somewhat porcelain glow to ceramic pieces.

To begin, if you are using a cast ceramic item, you most generally will base coat it with white acrylic stain. There are circumstances where you may choose to use some other pastel as your base coat; but for the purpose of this article we will begin with white. Paint two coats of white on your item, making sure to use a stiff bristled brush and working the stain into all the crevices. Make sure paint is thoroughly dry between coats. It is important that each coat be very smooth in application so as to not create any brush strokes or ridges that will show up during the chalking process.

From this point, application to ceramic or porcelain is the same.

Dry Application:

Using a palette knife or other implement, gently scrape some of the chalk stick to create a dust. Take a dry, soft bristled brush an pick up some of the chalk dust, working it into the bristles slightly. Apply the chalk to the area you want covered, starting with the deepest crevices. After covering the area with a layer of chalk, spray it lightly with porcelain or matte spray fixative. Apply additional coats of chalk until you reach desired density, remembering to spray between each coat. Begin with lighter colors and layer colors progressively darker to deepen and shade where needed.

Wet Application:

This method is almost the same as the dry application, the difference being that you work with a wet brush and get the effect of water colors. Work one area at a time, you can blend in other colors while wet somewhat but you will still need to work in layers - you must allow item to dry frequently and spray with fixative between layers.

Accents and Combining Techniques:

On ceramic items some people like to paint all the areas different colors, called detailing. Flesh, flesh; hair color, dress color, shoe color, etc. and then take their chalks to shade and deepen or enhance highlights. Shadows on the folds of the dress, blush on the cheeks, etc. This does create a soft appearance and gives depth to a decorative item. It is sad though to use this on porcelain as the charm and beauty of porcelain is that it is somewhat translucent and application of acrylic opaque stains hides that beauty.


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