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How to Use Ceramic Stains Like Brush and Ink

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Ceramic Stains Used as Washes
Ceramic stains can also be used as washes, not just for lines.

Ceramic stains can also be used as washes, not just for lines. Thin layers can be built up to increase the ceramic stain's density.

Photo © Beth Peterson

Ceramic stains can also be used as washes, not just for lines. This can help intensify the design, add visual interest, and yes, even help modify and disguise "mistakes" on stain line drawings.

However, stain washes do not have to be done in conjunction with lines! Just as with brush and ink painting, you may want to work entirely with wash areas. Try using the varying intensity (and possibly color) of the ceramic stain washes to define the image or design.

Using ceramic stains in this way is very similar to working with brush and ink and watercolors. Try out using a very wet brush on dry bisque for a wet-on-dry effect. For a damp-on-damp fuzziness, dampen the bisqueware before applying the stain. (See more on these techniques.)

Tips for stain washes:

  • Use more (distilled) water than for line work.
  • Thin layers can be built up to increase the ceramic stain's density.
  • If an area gets too much stain, use a wet toothbrush to scrub the area and move some of the stain.
  • Do not worry if some of the graphite mixes in with the stain. It will burn out.
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