I’m Painting Porcelaine?

I was asked by my dear 10 year old nephew Curtis for a cup of tea and he promptly said my Japanese teapot was “boring….” Haha. So I decided to make my own by getting all the equipment over some months and it’s become a kind of a ‘hobby’ if that’s what artists in general actually do with anything in their lives then….I guess I have a new ‘hobby’ in painting procelaine?

I thought I’d give the beginner some advice and technical tips that I use to make my mark on these objects.

I started studying porcelaine painting back in arts college at Claremont School of Art in Western Australia in 1997. Back then I studied everyone from Picasso, Matisse and also how Margaret Preston managed to procure First Nation designs for her own creations….something that still erks me.

So here I go…

Where do I buy my equipment?


My first bit of equipment was ceramic paint from an online store called Baker Ross at  http://www.bakerross.com.au in England. Which usually arrives in 6 days postage.

There are other supplies of pocelaine paint available in Australia and in the region either via Ebay or online in any craft store.

I buy a kit of 12 paints usually which included all the primary colours including some extra one’s such as gold and other secondary colours.

Pabeo is the Porcelaine Paint brand I prefer but I also use Porcelaine Paint Pens as well. They are exceptional as they’re water based and can be thinned out using water and a brush or soft sponge if you need to. Cleaning up is easy as well.



I’ve been using paint bottles to apply my paint in my main art practice as a portrait painter for about 28 years now. I first started with used Plaid brand bottles with their in-built nozzles but have evolved to use other bottles available online at Ebay usually reserved for Henna or temporary dye applications to skin or cloth.

I usually buy the bottles with the nozzels already supplied in a kit of about 20-30 emplty bottles at a time.

There are two sizes at 15-20 and 50-60 mil each.


The nozzel tips are made from the same machine used to make large hypodermic needles but are much bigger than average so my guess is they’re originally designed for veterinarians to use….anyway….there’s two kinds…Metal & Plastic nibs.

The metal nibs have a lot more precision and the plastic one’s are great for line work or for circles. They all come with various thicknesses so the mark making comes out differently of course.

The best bit of advice here is to have a firm grip and your eye on the project at all times as it’s a hard serface. The good news is that it’s easy to wipe off the nizzel tips and any mess with a damp cloth if you make a mistake. Always have those things handy just in case.



I prefer chisel brushes if I’m making large sweeps of colour or combining them together across the surface of a pot in a ‘wet on wet’ technique. A size 10 round tipped chisel and a size 5 regular chisel are fine.


I got my plain porcelaine from an online store in bulk from a department store. They’re commercially made but it’s much nicer to get one of your potter friends to make you some by hand but the process is a lot longer as you let them do what they do best.

I’ve done pottery myself but I was lacking transport and time…at the time the idea struck me.

This is a humble tea pot with a medium gloss glaze….with a lid.



It’s good to have a ‘bed’ for your pot if it’s rounded so you can rest it on a flat surface. I use three or four pieces of bubble wrap bag folded inside each other or it can be taped together. Clean rag or cloth in a little pillow is fine so long as it doesn’t move as you turn your rounded pot to work with. Remember to make sure it doesn’t rest on anything that you just painted as the paint dries under good conditions within 10-15 minutes to the touch.


This is my project piece for this blog entry. I was kindly provided by my sister Carol. It’s a large grey jug or pitcher.


Next you can begin the basic pattern using your bottle and white paint. If you go slowly you can add as much detail as you’d like. Just remember to go slowly at first until you pick up a pace.


Then as it progresses you’ll find the right strength of use with the nozzel as if you squeeze the paint the flow becomes thicker in parts but be mindful that the porcelain paint will run if you’ve added too much.


Now that I’ve done one side I did the handle but you can see where it’s too runny and needs to be wiped off to make the line as thin as the rest.


Now it’s time to do the other side. The whole process took me 45 minutes but it can take longer if bits need another fix up. Because the paint dries so quickly the paint can dry on any minor mistake you make and can be gently burnished(graded, scored) off with your finger or a pin or chop stick etc to make the lines more straight.

Also remember that if your nozzel gets clogged with dry paint then find a pin or sewing needle to clear it through.


Now that I added some black detail to the painting I put the jug on it’s side on the bubble wrap bed I made so I could do the base painting.


I finished it and now it goes into a regular oven at 130C for 30-40 minutes to bake and harden dry.

Remember to put it into the over cold and turn the heat on and once 45 minutes are up leave it in there till the oven and the object are cold to the touch to let the paint cure cold & dry by itself.

When it’s dry it can only be cleaned with a wet cloth and never with any kind of scourer because the design with fall off. It’s dishwasher safe after firing in the oven.


Here’s some I’ve made in the past couple of weeks and have been posting about on Facebook to my friends there;

My nephew and I love tea 
Especially when it’s bush tea from country.
My first sojourn into porcelain painting so I painted the Kurrajong which is a medicine tree.
A Quandong Pot.
Try saying that fast!
I love making jam with quandong and my nephew loves eating it.
Yes, the tea pot lid handle looks like a quandong too.
A Tracking Tea pot…
I made one with emu, jardi (goanna) and camp fires in purple & gold.
Good for teaching how to track.
A Wiru Dancing pot…
Tiny Wiru spirits dancing with leaves in hands.
It’s on a red dirt landscape with little Warida (wedge tailed eagles) flying over the clouds.
The lid is a star pattern.
The pot has a bamboo handle. Nice n strong.
It’s quite a big pot.
I recon 3 cups in it.
Perfect for a yarn.


An Everlasting Flower tea pot.
My family come from wild flower country in the mid-west of WA.
It’s at sunset.


‘Many Rivers’ tea pot…
My Nana used to describe the internet like rivers all connected.
I painted this today because I wish the internet was free again in Great Turtle Island (America) for all my friends there.


Enjoy making things.

Note: Please DON’T appropriate First Nation art for yourself if you’re not a First Nation person. It’s disrespectful to elders and whole communtities as part of a lived culture. If you have cultural designs from your clan or family because you’re First Nation then I encourage you to use them with permission from family elders. If your not First Nation you can always substitute markings/designs from culture in your family culture or heritage.

Wiru babanyu.





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