Using overglaze enamels to alter the colour of ceramic pieces

If you follow my blog you will have seen my lamp base and coasters that I made, but I  the pale green colour of the glaze wasn’t right for my room so I decided to use overglaze enamels to make them more blue grey. Then it occurred to me that this was worthy of a blog post as it’s a technique that could be useful to others working with ceramics.

pebble coasters
P1160101However it will only really work on a light coloured glaze and / or clay

I decided to mix the enamel powder with an open oil based medium, this means the enamel doesn’t dry so it can be smoothed and blended easily.

The enamel was mixed with the medium using a palette knife, to a toothpaste consistency. I used a large brush, conditioned with oil and blotted out. You have to paint as dry as possible or the paint will run in the kiln. If you can see an oily shine on your painted area you are using too much oil, it should look quite dull if you are using the right amount of oil.

overglaze enamel

I wanted to keep some ‘sky holes’ as Bob Ross called them so I applied the paint in a cross hatch manner leaving gaps, and not worrying too much about brush strokes. To paint quite dry you have to pull the paint out and spread it with the brush. You get a feel for this with a little practice.

ceramics overglazeThen I smoothed out the paint with the fan brush, and quoting Bob Ross again, ” two hairs and some air” LOL!
porcelain  paintingI did repeat this process again with another shade of blue as I decided it needed to be a little brighter. Then the piece was fired to 780C with a 5 minute soak, this is much lower than a qlaze firing but as you can see I’ve created the desired look, it’s more blue than before.

hand built lamp

fossil pebble coasters

You can read about overglaze painting techniques in my teaching pages.



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Bringing the countryside inside with my ceramic lamp base and coasters.

cow parsleyI decided to make some ceramic pieces for my new bedroom, I wanted to bring the countryside inside. I love cow parsley, even before it was everywhere in the craft world I was painting it. I picked some on a walk up the lane and now it’s nice and dry ready to use.

I have a thing about pressing plant material into clay, or fusing it in glass, preserving it for ever, like making a fossil. So I thought why not make pebble shaped coasters for the bedside cupboards. Then I thought why not make a lamp too, a straight tube shaped lamp base couldn’t be too difficult, could it?


A lot of cursing later I had a wonky hand built lamp. Bone china isn’t the easiest clay for a beginner, and I started making mid afternoon and I was working with wet clay, so I was up working late into the night. I was impatient and I almost lost the piece a couple of times. Note to self don’t pick it up until it’s leather hard.
hand built ceramic lamp base

The pieces were left to dry for quite some time, and I kept turning the lamp and covered it with plastic but still it  cracked on a stem, so I made a repair and hoped for the best.

Unfortunately, the crack  opened up on firing, but actually I like it.
cracked lamp base

So you are now wondering why I  like my cracked lamp base.

Well I like the idea of beauty in imperfections and I was quite taken by something I found on the internet the other day, where the Japanese artisan potter would mend pots or fill cracks with gold giving the ceramic piece more beauty than it would have if it was perfect. This technique is called Kintsugi.

I could do this to my piece using raised paste or I relief if I wish, but more about the technique in another post, first I had to glaze my ware.

I was going to just use a translucent coloured glaze but the character of the piece was telling me to use stains applied in a wet painterly way at the bottom, fired, then I applied some clear glaze and fired.
kiln fired art lamp base
cow parsley lamp
cow parsley coastersAnd here they are after firing.
cow parsley coasters

kiln fired art

cow parsly lampI do like these pieces as they are but the colour isn’t right for my bedroom, I had used a little bit of green stain with some grey stain but they are just too green, so out came the china paints, that’s another post along with my Kintsugi technique, but here are my finished pieces, I love them and they are perfect for my bedroom.
hand built lamp

handmade lamp

fossil pebble coastersOh, just in case you are wondering why there are three coasters, that’s all the clay I had left, and I only need two.


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52 inspirational photos – week 29

Crocosmia Lucifer.
Crocosmia Lucifer

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Topping out and first fix electrics

The roof is finished, all the shingles are on, and the first fix electrics are in. I’m starting to sound like Kevin McCloud!

first fix electrics in the studio

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Chateau Latour melted bottle, and other French wine cellar classics.

Chateau Latour flattened bottleI do get to flatten some very famous and expensive wine bottles such as Chateau Latour. Last week I melted a Mouton Rothshchild bottle,  my curiosity was piqued so I looked it up to find it was 4000 Euros. I may get to sniff the empties, (not that I want to btw), but I’m curious to know a bit more about these expensive wines. I don’t think I’ll ever get to taste one but I can read up and find out a bit more about them.
Chateau Latour melted bottle

Chateau Latour and Mouton Rothschild, as well as the flat bottles pictured below are all French wines from the Bordeaux region of Paulliac. Apparently wines from Bordeaux are either awful or very very good and I think this is reflected in the price.

I’ve been searching online to read up on Chateau Latour tasting notes, it’s described as tannic, black and red berries, cassis and blackberry, terroir ( which means a little more than just earthy),  and with notes of leather, hints of tar and lead pencil!

So here are a few pictures from this week’s work, and as Withnail said “Bring me your finest wines!”

Chateau Leoville Barton hanging bottleChateau Gruaud Larose flattened bottleChateau Feytit-Clinet melted bottle
Chateau Branaire squashed bottle
Chateau Gruaud Larose flat bottle
Chateau Lynch- Moussas pressed bottlei
Chateau Montrose flat bottle
Chateau Talbot melted bottleOne thing I do know is that these classic French wines all have sediment in the bottles that’s really difficult to clean out!

Click on the images to find out more about having your own wine bottle flattened.

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52 inspirational photos – week 28

Coming up roses.
coming up roses

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It’s taking shape

I haven’t posted daily pix of the studio this week as it’s taken all week for the cladding to go on, but now the front is done it’s starting to take shape.
the cladding going on the studioAll the electricals have been delivered and the doors and windows are being made, and Colin and Stuart started putting the shingles on the back on Friday. There should be quite a change by the end of next week.

The wooden shingles will harden and turn silver with age, and shouldn’t need much maintenance, just a brush now and then to keep the moss off.

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