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How to Paint Pottery? Easy way!

Painting ceramic pieces can do magic: old, tarnished items can be easily transformed into fresh and beautiful pieces of home decor or kitchenware. When potters seek additional colorful effects on their clay pottery pieces, they might be wondering what kind of paint to use.

You can paint ceramic items using different types of paint. Bake-on ceramic paint, acrylic dies, paint markers and enamel paints are all suitable for painting ceramic items. However, bake-on paint is the most reasonable way to use for ceramics that are glazed. These paints are very comfortable to work with. Another form of paint you can use is bake-on enamel, which requires the use of a brush. These types of paints are extremely durable after being cured in an oven. 

In this article, I will speak about the best ways to paint ceramics. I will discuss the most popular type of paints and all the nuances you need to know about them. You will also learn about the DIY painting process. 

What Kind of Paint do You Use on Pottery?

The term ceramic has evolved to refer to any type of pottery, whether coated or unglazed, painted or unpainted ceramics. It is important to understand that different types of ceramics require different kinds of paints. And before you start painting ceramic items, let’s discuss those types of paints. 

As you can see there are plenty of choices available on the market. I will discuss all of them and give you detailed information on how to use them and what results to expect. 

Ceramic paint markers have seen a sharp rise in popularity. There is a good reason behind it: markers are extremely convenient to work with, even for beginners. The spring-loaded tip releases the paint when it touches the surface of the item. Those markers can be found in hundreds of colors and are ideal for decorating ceramic kitchenware. 

Once you have painted on a ceramic item, you will have to wait while it dries before putting it into the oven. Temperature and time will depend on the manufacturer and type of marker, so make sure you check those details. 

Enamel paints are great for decorative pieces. These paints can be found with a shimmer or glitter in their formula. But do keep in mind that in most cases, enamel paints are not food-safe. Gloss enamel paints should be cured in the oven once they have been fully dried. This will increase the stability of the coat of paint. Just like ceramic paint markers, the oven temperature and time will vary between brands. 

Acrylic paints can easily be applied using a brush of all sizes. Before applying acrylic paint to a ceramic item, you will need to prepare a surface. In other words, those paints require a primer, which will improve the adhesion of the paint to the ceramic. 

It is highly recommended that you do not bake acrylic paint in the oven. These types of ceramic paints are non-bake paint. Some acrylic ceramic paint might not be food-safe so it is best to use these paints on decorative pieces only.

Can you paint your own pottery at home?

You can make beautiful pottery at home without owning a kiln or other special equipment. Painting can also be done at home, using different paints and tools. I will discuss all the steps you need to take to the result you are looking for. 

The first thing you need to do is gently wash the pottery to remove all the dirt and dust. Allow the item to fully dry. Avoid washing air-dry clay. If necessary, clean it with paper or a towel. 

Paint large, one-colored segments using a wide, flat brush. Keep in mind that you will need to wash and dry your brush persistently before switching to a different color. Allow the first layers to dry before moving on.

After your base layer is ready, proceed with details and designs over your base colors using smaller brushes. If you need to change anything, wait for the area to dry, then paint over it.

What is the Best Paint to Use On Ceramic?

It can be quite difficult trying to identify the best ceramic paints. There is such a wide range of options, it can be overwhelming. There are so many types of ceramic out there, that it is difficult to say which paint is the best. Everything depends on the glaze, function, and type of a specific ceramic item. 

To make the decision-making process easier here is how to choose the best paint for ceramics!

If you are going to paint a non-glazed ceramic item, feel free to use acrylic paint. I know that this type of paint is popular among many potters, especially beginners. Yet, if you are working with glazed items, I do not recommend using the above-mentioned paint. With glazed items, an acrylic die will not make a permanent bond and will scratch easily. 

But what paint can you use if you are working with glazed ceramic items, such as tiles? For that case, I recommend using baked-on paints. 

It is always a good idea to look for the curing time of the paint. You will need to leave the paint to cure for some time but look for one that can air-dry within 48 hours, or which can be cured by being baked.

You don’t want to choose a paint that takes ages to cure if you will be painting with multiple layers (without blending), so this is an important factor to consider.

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