China Paint & Overglaze

Invented in 9th century China, coveted in 17th century Europe, treasured in 19th century America, and neglected by art schools for more than 100 years, china painting is poised for a revival as new materials, new forms and new imagery appear...(Scroll for more.)



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Hardcover | 248 pages
Order code B052 | ISBN 978-1-57498-269-5

…China paint—fired at the lowest end of the ceramic range—offers consistent, durable, predictable color, from the brightest hues to the subtlest gradations. Any effect that paint or ink can achieve, china paint can duplicate.

From the ceramic artist interested in exploring this robust medium to the lifelong china painter, China Paint & Overglaze is THE essential text. This groundbreaking book is the first to showcase the work of traditional china painters, contemporary potters and clay sculptors together, and includes many unique features on every aspect of an exciting and colorful medium.

“…an outstanding compendium on the subject of china painting. It should become the standard reference book on the subject …a ‘must have’ book for those interested in this art form.” –John Hesselberth, co-author of Mastering Cone 6 Glazes

Basics covered

Paul says that he never had any lessons in china painting, so he’s always done a lot of things “wrong,” especially in his commitment to water-soluble mediums. In writing this book, he covers the traditional methods and materials completely, while also detailing how he does things more unconventionally. He doesn’t pretend to be an expert in the use of the more esoteric overglaze techniques, but hopes he covers the basics well enough to get you started.

A treat to use

Those readers who are used to decorating with underglazes and glazes will need to embrace several new concepts to use china paints effectively. Once you get these, the medium becomes a real treat to use. First, think of it as paint, not as glaze. Any effect you can achieve with any form of paint (oil, water, acrylic, or latex), or any kind of ink, you can achieve with china paint. You can have any shade, hue, or tone you desire, and you can tell before it’s fired exactly what color it’s going to be, with very few exceptions.

No limits!

One thing you’ll love about china painting is that it doesn’t have to be finished in one firing. Many effects can only be developed slowly, and there’s no limit to how many times you can refire a china-painted piece. This medium, and this book, are based on the concept that the glaze firing is only an intermediate step in the creative process. And if you’ve ever tried to clean up a glaze mistake on bisque, then you’ll really love the fact that you can wipe china paint off as easily as you can put it on. Once you get used to painting on a hard, slick surface, you’ll find you can do things you can’t do with any other medium.

This book differs from most books on china painting in that there are no studies to copy, and no lessons on color theory or design. I don’t intend to tell anyone how or what to paint. What I have included, in as great a depth as I can manage, is a comprehensive telling of overglazing’s long and fascinating history, and a serious study of the ceramic chemistry, with particular emphasis on color development and safety/durability issues.

The medium is ripe for another renaissance. It needs the raucous energy and freewheeling experimentation of the typical studio clay artist combined with the discipline, control, and technical mastery of the typical china painter. It needs new imagery, applied to new forms, with new techniques and materials. Sadly, potters and china painters have had almost no contact since they both lost their factory jobs during the Industrial Revolution. While the two subcultures are very different, they have a lot to offer each other. It has been my privilege to be part of both families, and my greatest hope for this book is to be a bridge between the two. Happy painting! –Paul Lewing, Author of China Paint & Overglaze

“An absolute feast! . . . The most complete book I have ever seen on overglaze, for both china painters and potters.” –Marci Blattenberger, co-founder Porcelain Painters International Online

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Preface
  3. The History of Porcelain and Overglaze Decoration: 1000 AD- Industrial Revolution
  4. The China Painter in the White House: Carrie Scott Harrison
  5. The History of Porcelain and Overglaze Decoration: Industrial Revolution to the Present
  6. Forms and Imagery: Kurt Weiser
  7. Tools and Equipment
  8. Raised Paste for Gold: Barbara Jensen
  9. Mediums and Solvents
  10. Painting Roses: Celeste McCall
  11. A Bouquet of Roses
  12. Painting with Overglazes
  13. Making Decals: Andre Van de Putte
  14. Kilns and Firing
  15. “C-Monster” Mural: Paul Lewing
  16. The Chemistry of China Paint
  17. Homemade Overglaze Enamels: Russell Coates
  18. Safety and Durability
  19. Acknowledgments
  20. Glossary
  21. Index
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