Penwork on ceramics- the basics

Penwork on ceramics- the basics

I’ve tried to keep to the absolute basics so you don’t have to rush out and buy loads of stuff. All the materials used, porcelain etc can be bought from Held, click here to go to their website

What you need:

China paint, sometimes called overglaze enamels

Mapping pen

Palette knife, or an old kitchen knife, or even a teaspoon will do

Mixing medium- flat pop like 7 UP ( not diet)or Held’s drying waterbased medium.

A ceramic tile for mixing, and a tile for painting

A round pointed brush, or cotton buds, a cocktail stick , or wooden skewer, and kitchen towel  may be useful.

Mixing the paint

1.       Clean the tiles with meths or soap and water so they are grease free.

2.       Put some paint about the size of a large pea onto the mixing tile, if you don’t have a palette knife you can use an old kitchen knife or a teaspoon.

3.       Add a few drops of flat pop to the paint powder and give it a stir. Keep adding until you have no lumps and an ink like consistency. It should just about drop off the palette knife, if you have mixed it too thin you may need to add more paint, or let it dry out a little.

If using Held’s waterbased medium add the equivalent to about a quarter the size of your paint pile, mix and then thin down with water.

4.       To load the pen turn it over and scoop up some of the paint.

5. Practise drawing and doodling, you will find your own way of holding the pen, I work from right to left as I’m left handed, and pull the pen sideways, you will find you have to take it fairly slowly and you will have to fill the pen regularly. Clean the nib then stir up the mixture and reload. If the mixture is drying out add another drop or two of pop or water.

6. Any unwanted drips or mistakes can be cleaned off with a damp cotton bud or brush. If you want any large black areas fill them in with a brush trying to keep the paint as smooth as possible. You can sharpen up lines or sgraffito into dry paint with a cocktail stick.

If you would like to see what I did with Zen doodles click here

Download PDF instructions here

I’ve just made a little video of the process


4 Responses to Penwork on ceramics- the basics

  1. Scot Mauldin says:

    LOVE what you did with the zen doodles. I’ve been doing that myself lately just didn’t know that someone else had “named it”. I hope we can get together and play one day, love your work.

  2. eganj1 says:

    Hi Scot, yes they are fun and quite addictiv. I hope we can get to play one day

  3. Grubbi says:

    I love this Jill! Really wanting to try it…a few questions if you don’t mind? Can the powders be mixed to create your own colours? They work like “over glaze” so assuming you need a white, gloss glaze as your base? Does the base glaze need to work like a majolica? On the Held site, they have metallics and dusts…do these work in the same way…mixing with a medium and loaded onto a nib? Any other tips you could give me would be great!

    • eganj1 says:

      Hi, thanks for stopping by, I’m happy to answer your questions.
      Yes it is best to have a white or light coloured surface to paint on but it doesn’t have to be an opaque glaze, but that would work too. I have noticed some glazes say they are compatible with overglazes.
      Yes you can mix colours, th only ones that canbe problematic is reds and yellows where the red can eat the yellow.I will do a post all about them soon.
      I have done penwork with th satin metallics but i have nt tried the new ultra metallics, Chris should have afact sheet on them.

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