Fired Products — EZ strokes

These are translucent underglazes that can be used on greenware, on bisque, or over other underglazes or matte glazes. They are more color concentrated than Concepts and will give you brighter colors.


Majolica is a highly decorated ware reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance period. This is a ceramic technique in which you do detailed brush work on top of unfired glaze. Usually one paints with underglazes directly onto greenware or bisque, then glazes with a clear glaze. In this case, you first paint on a matte glaze of any color and let it dry. Designs can be transferred onto the piece by first tracing onto tissue paper, and then tracing the tissue paper design with a permanent marker which will seep through onto the ware. The marker will not effect the ware because it will fire out. But it gives you guidelines to paint your design. Here are some examples of majolica.

Any glaze that does not flow during firing can be used as a base. Duncan’s new True Matte glazes are ideal.


The maple leaf on this plate was painted over a matte glaze.
We used a soft yellow base in our class.
essentials 103 Marge



Outlining and Detailing

Even if you use Concepts to paint your designs, EZ strokes may be easier to use for outlining and detailing. You use a thinned product and it flows more easily off a liner brush than the same color in Concepts.



We carry a full array of the Concepts underglazes in the studio as it will work for most applications. However, we have recently added a selection of Cover Coats (opaque underglazes — yesterday’s post) and EZ strokes, translucent underglazes. We currently have about three dozen EZ stroke colors to choose from. If you need others we will be happy to pick them up for you at our supplier.

Because most underglaze work done with EZ strokes can also be done with Concepts, we will discuss other techniques later.

Carol’s Carousel
Where having Fun is why we come!

Next underglaze topic will be Concepts.




Posted in Upcoming Workshops | Leave a comment

Fired Products — Cover Coats

How to Paint

The previous post talked about different types of underglazes. Cover coats were primarily designed to use on greenware. You need to paint on three even coats for full coverage, otherwise is will be uneven and streaky. Make sure it is good painting consistency and not too thick or it will peel off in the firing. The underglaze needs to be absorbed by the ware, not just layered on top. This is a good product for covering large areas, EZ strokes can be used over Cover Coats for detail work.

If transporting to another site or just uneasy about breakage when working with greenware, you can soft fire to about cone 017.


You can create original or transferred designs by scratching through the underglaze with a sharp tool. A regular cleaning tool works well. You will need to make several passes with the tool for thicker lines. The background color does not need to be solid, it can be a variety of colors. However, as you can see in the picture shown here, the sgraffito shows up the white clay underneath much better against the dark colors. This is a fun technique in which you can be very creative.

Sgraffito can also be done with Concepts on bisque, but you are only scratching through the paint and not into the underlying piece. So your lines are generally very fine.


Carving designs is very similar to doing sgraffito but the cuts are done deeper and with bigger tools. Sometimes carving is done through multiple layers of color, creating different colors in the finished piece depending on how deep each cut is made. Again, you can be creative with an original design or transfer designs to the piece. These pieces were carved directly into the greenware without benefit of underglaze.

These pictures are of carving layered clay but the same effect can be obtained by painting multiple colors of underglaze onto the piece. Make sure to use 3-5 coats so that the color is deep enough to carve through.

Cover Coats on Bisque

If you must use this product on bisque, make sure to use a wash of 50% color and 50% water on the piece before painting on your three coats of underglaze. This product was formulated for use on greenware. However, one instance where you might want to use it is when you want a solid color handle on a mug. Concepts can turn out to be streaky if you are not careful. Also, you may not have the color of choice on hand in Concepts.

Studio Stock

We have only recently added Cover Coats to the selection of products on our shelves. We most often use Concepts because we have bisque and that product is designed for use on bisque. However, many colors of Cover Coats are on hand in pint jars for student use. Those available are outlined on the color chart. Other colors can be ordered and we will pick them up on our next trip for supplies.

Carol’s Carousel
Where having Fun is why we come!

We are just getting started.
There is so much you can do with underglazes
to add detail and dimension to your pieces.
Next up, Concepts, underglaze for bisque.







Posted in Upcoming Workshops | Leave a comment

Fired Products — Underglazes

Fired Products come in three types: underglazes, glazes, and overglazes.

  • Underglazes are basically colored slip and also come in three types which we will talk about today. They are painted onto greenware or bisque and fired (first firing–usually to cone 04). Then a glaze is applied over top, usually clear glaze, and fired again.
  • Glazes come in many types and are painted directly onto bisque before firing. This topic is for another day. All glazes need to be fired (second firing), usually to cone 06.
  • Overglazes include products that go over an already-glazed piece. They include metallics, Mother of Pearl, china paint, and decals. They are then fired again (third firing) to a cooler temperature (017-020).


Since we are Certified Duncan Teachers, we use primarily Duncan products which are referred to in this post. Mayco and other companies have similar products which can also be purchased at Ohio Ceramic Supply in Ravenna or other ceramic distributors around the country.

cuncan-cover-coat-picture.jpgCover Coats

This underglaze product had been around since before we started ceramics in 1970. It is primarily colored slip in a jar, that is made to use on greenware. Three coats are needed for complete coverage. Cover Coats can be used on bisque if you first paint on a wash of 50% color and 50% water. It provides more solid coverage that Concepts.

0001793_duncan-cover-coat-opaque-underglazes-tile-chartDuncan Cover Coat




This product has also been around for many years and is used for detailed decoration where you want a translucent effect, think of watercolors.

EZ stroke color chartDuncan EZ stroke



This product was designed for use in the current market where most people buy ready–to-paint bisque pieces. Concepts is painted directly onto bisque. It is not for use on greenware. The numbering system for Concepts is unique and makes choosing different shades quite easy. For example, light straw is 011, bright straw is 012, and dark straw is 013.  In most applications, Concepts can take the place of both Cover Coats and EZ strokes as one coat is translucent and three coats is opaque. However, you must take care if you want solid coverage as it is easy to get streaks.

Duncan concepts color chartDuncan Concepts

Color tile charts and underglaze descriptions are from the Duncan website. Today’s post is to familiarize you with the different types of underglaze and their uses.

Carol’s Carousel
Where having Fun is why we come!

Next up will be different projects and techniques with underglazes.

Posted in Upcoming Workshops | Leave a comment

Ceramic Paints — Nonfired (3)

Faux Leather

This technique is nice on books for a leather-like finish, on figures for a paper mache’ look, or on other pieces for a textured background. First basecoat the piece with stain. Then tear up tissues or tissue paper into small pieces. Do not cut as you want the edges to be uneven. Apply pieces of tissue one at a time and cover with the same color of paint. Continue until the entire piece is covered, at least the parts you want to look like leather (not book pages). It is okay to have wrinkles and to fold tissue back on itself as long as you don’t leave any air pockets. Also make sure to not leave any smooth areas. After the paint has dried completely, drybrush with a lighter color to bring out the texture. Make sure to go in different directions to emphasize all of the wrinkles and rough edges. When this is finished you can paint on detail, such as book titles. In the case of paper mache’ you can paint the entire piece. You can see the detail in the welcome bottle cap we made at an OCS workshop; the train bookends don’t show up the leather detail very well; but the small book with Little Lulu and Tubby is fine. We once painted a clown as paper mache’ but didn’t get a picture of it. Kids can do this!

Faux Marble

This technique uses shaving cream to create a marble effect on jars, pumpkins, ceramic eggs, and other items. First cut a piece of waxed paper large enough to bring up around the piece. Cover with about 1/2 inch of shaving cream, spreading evenly with a palette knife or popsicle stick. Drizzle color #1 back and forth horizontally across the shaving cream, then color #2 vertically in the same manner. Using the palette knife or popsicle stick, marbleize the colors as you would batter for a marble cake. If you do it too much you will get mud. We don’t want to “mix” the colors. Bring the waxed paper up around the piece pressing tightly against the ware. This is the messy part as shaving cream will ooze out. Make sure to cover the whole piece. Take to the sink (or a bucket if a sink is not available). Dispose of the waxed paper mess and rinse the ware under water until all the shaving cream is gone. Dry with a paper towel. Using a liner brush streak gold throughout the design. In the case of ornaments use red, green, and gold; in the case of pumpkins use shades of orange and brown with copper; in the case of Easter eggs use pastel colors with silver. Have fun! Kids can do this one, too!

Pros & Cons of using non-fired paints

  • PRO: can be used at home without need for a class or a kiln
  • CON: when painting at home you miss the comradery of the group
  • PRO: can be used on other materials such as wood and fabric
  • CON: do not work on dinnerware, vases, or other utility pieces
  • PRO: typically cover in one coat
  • PRO: can be used over other colors
  • CON: more difficult to keep brushes clean as paint dries in them

Carol’s Carousel
Where having Fun is why we come!

There are still more things you can do with
non-fired products but that’s for another day.
Next topic of discussion will be underglazes.

Posted in Upcoming Workshops | Leave a comment

Ceramic Paints — Non-fired (2)

continued from yesterday

Granite Stone

granite stone colors

This is a non-fired, textured paint that is thick. After stirring, you can apply it with a brush or palette knife. It leaves a rough texture on your piece. After dry buffing with a sponge or rough cloth will bring out the hidden metallic sparkles.


In January, Duncan Ambassador Larry Knight came to our MVCT meeting and taught the Duncan University class called Nature’s Skyscrapers. First we applied several colors to the sky streaking it  horizontally over the entire piece. Then we traced the design on using tissue and permanent markers. After applying the granite stone according to pattern, we detailed with a liner brush and black stain.



Ruth Ann Jackson Butler teaches Fashenhues at the Ohio show and other places throughout the country. She is a Fashenhues distributor and traveling teacher and we purchase our paints through her. The color chart here is the translucent colors. We have the entire collection of colors.  In the studio you will find the small jars of translucents in a flat box on the shelf. We also have totes that hold base coats, brushes, towels, and Q-tips.

fashenhues transluscents

This is a document that was created for a presentation at the MVCT February Retreat given by Jen Williams.

Fashenhues Logo

Learning to use Fashenhues products is easy and fun! We firmly believe there is no right or wrong (well, almost no wrong) way to use Fashenhues products. Each of us is an artist in our own way and we each will find more success in some techniques over others. Here, we offer only a guideline for you to begin finding your own methods and techniques.

Materials needed:

  • Fired Bisque piece
  • Cut up t-shirt pieces and/or VIVA paper towels (They do not shed as much as others.)
  • Cream Basecoat and/or White Basecoat
  • S-182 Brown (Or any other color or colors you would like to use in the antiquing process.)
  • AS-1 Antiquing Solution and BL-1 Blending Media
  • Baby wipes for keeping hands clean and removing mistakes
  • Fashenhues Flat Matte Spray
  • Assorted Fashenhues Translucent Stains

Choose from any of our 48 Fashenhues Translucent Stains to paint your piece (Colors are oil based for easy application and use but are water soluble for an easy clean-up.)


Bottles should only be bottom up while you are working on a project to make it easier to see and choose colors.

(*We recommend having a flat bisque surface available to test your colors.  Colors often look very different when wiped back than when applied.)

  1. Remove all dust from the entire bisque piece with a slightly damp sponge (allow to dry completely), compressed air or soft brush.
  2. Shake and apply one coat of Cream Basecoat. Allow to dry and apply second coat (we prefer white to make it easier to see).  To read why base coat is necessary, please see FAQ page. Be careful not to use too much basecoat.  You do not want to fill all the crevices.
  3. Always shake each bottle prior to using the color to ensure thorough mixing. Start the antiquing process by placing a small amount of S-182 brown (or whichever color(s) you are using to antique) translucent pigment onto your palette.  Using a stiff brush of your choice, begin to brush color into an area about 2 or 3” in diameter. Immediately wipe back using a lint free paper towel or t-shirt like material. (Viva paper towels or old tee shirts make excellent wipe away materials.) Continue until entire piece is antiqued and wiped back.  (Most people prefer to also do the bottom or back)
  4. Decide what additional colors you would like to use and begin applying one color at a time. In order to extend the “workability” of your translucent color, try placing a small drop of BL-1, Blending Media, onto your palette. Tip your brush lightly into the media, VERY LITTLE IS NEEDED, then “swirl” it into your colors prior to applying them to your piece. This will permit your brush to move smoothly as you add color and will eliminate virtually all brush marks. Since all products are very concentrated, it’s easy to add too much media. Adding too much will prevent the color from drying. If you find that you would like to wipe back more color than your t-shirt piece will allow, you may want to place a small amount of AS-1, Antiquing Solution, in a clean cloth as you wipe back the color or use a baby wipe. Generally, the natural look can be achieved by having the most concentration of color deep into the cracks and crevices of your piece creating the effect of natural shading, and highlights or lighter hues on raised areas. Additional details can be added by using other Fashenhues products; Acrylic Stains, Metallic colors, Luminescent colors, the Pearls or by adding gold or silver Powder to the translucent colors. Try using the P-1 White, or P-2 Gold White or Gold pearl like colors over top of your translucent colors for a beautiful sheen.
  5. Seal and protect your finished piece by using Fashenhues Flat Matte. This spray is not only water resistant; it protects your piece from UV light. You can also use GG-1 Gloss Glaze for a wonderful deep look, particularly when used on eyes.

You now have a finished piece you’ll be proud to display!

Painting Tips

When painting a smooth area, for instance a sky scene, the color wipes unbelievably smooth, especially when you add a second color over the base colored sky. A good base color for a sky would be S-7, Blue Gray, or for a lighter base, S-42, Morning Glory. For a darker sky, you might use S-44, Denim as a base. When adding a second color with a cloth, the color just blends into the base sky color.

When painting flesh tones, antique with S-2, Mocha, or S-9, Gray. Load brush with Blending Media as explained, apply and wipe with t-shirt like material as you would normally do. It may be necessary to moisten your cloth with a bit of Antiquing Solution, AS-1 and lighten the antiquing color(s).

If desired, you can “set” each color with a light coat of Matte Spray to minimize the possibility of removing other colors from adjacent areas, if desired. (If you scrub hard enough, you can remove any color, sprayed or not.)


fashenhues color chart metallics

  • Metallics: The finishing touch on any piece might be the addition of metallic details in gold, silver, copper, or brass. Both Duncan and Fashenhues carry these colors. These colors are NOT wiped back.
  • Metallic colors: both companies also make metallic colors. Duncan has red, green, and blue. Fashenhues metallic colors are shown in the chart above.
  • Luminescent colors: also shown in the chart are what Fashenhues calls luminescent. Duncan used to make a product called Pearls and we have some discontinued bottles on the shelf. Both brands have the effect of a soft sheen and give the appearance of ribbon or satin fabric.
  • Glitter: Duncan has a brush-on glitter in gold, silver, and crystal. It is actually just glitter in glue and should be painted over a base color. Wash your brush immediately after use as it is difficult to get the glue out after it hardens. We also have dry glitter in a variety of colors. Just brush on glue where you want the glitter to stick and shake on. It is a messy process but produces a nice result.
  • Snow: Duncan has a non-fired snow that comes in two types, regular and with glitter. We have found that the glitter snow does not stick well on glazed trees but the regular snow works well. You can use either on trees that are stained. Sometimes you might add snow to winter scenes or on the clothing of a winter figurine. You can always paint crystal glitter over the snow if you want a more sparkly effect. Snow produces a texture and you can paint over it with other colors if it is the texture you want, rather than the white color.

Carol’s Carousel
Where having Fun is why we come!

Wow! So many things we can do with non-fired products.
We have covered most of the types
But there are more techniques.

And we will talk about he pros and cons as well.
Stay tuned.

Posted in Upcoming Workshops | Leave a comment

Ceramic Paints — Non-fired

Ceramic Paints are of two types: Fired and Non-fired.  We are Certified Duncan Teachers and use mainly Duncan products in our studio. Today’s post addresses the non-fired products.

Non-fired paints

These are acrylic stains that are applied to bisque and finished with a clear coat, usually sprayed on but there are also brush-on sealers. The sprays used in our studio provide a high-gloss finish. Use several light coats if preparing a piece for outdoor use. (Drips and runs are caused by spraying on too much at one time.) We also have a matt finish, both spray and brush on. Use spray-on sealers in a well-ventilated area. Take outside if possible (careful of the temperature), or use the spray booth with a fan or air cleaner running.

duncan stainDuncan has a large selection of water-based opaque stains in two-ounce bottles. One coat is usually sufficient. If streaky or if covering over a darker color, you may need a second coat. If trying to cover a dark color with yellow, first cover with white, then paint the yellow. When using reds, you may need several coats for good coverage. Reds in all media are a bit more tricky to use than other colors.

Use Taklon brushes or other inexpensive brushes for stains. Save your good natural bristle brushes for fired products.

Duncan Acrylic Stains

Painting Boxes and Figures

If you are painting boxes, make sure to paint the background color first. To me this is just common sense, but I recall a session where one person painted the flowers on her heart ornament and everyone else copied her since she appeared to know what she was doing. It was much more difficult to paint the background later, needing to go around all the flowers and leaves. If you do it first, just paint the entire piece, the flower colors will cover when you do them.

I usually find it easiest to paint figures as you would dress: skin tones first, and then clothing in layers as you would put them on. You can go back and touch up colors when finished. It is a waste of time to touch up as you go.


There are several ways to bring out the detail in your pieces when using stains: antiquing, lining, double-loading, floating, and dry brushing

  • Antiquing

small raccoon figure (CC)Paint the entire piece with whatever colors you choose. When finished, paint on a darker color (usually brown) that has been thinned to a wash, and wipe back with a soft rag or paper towel, doing a small area at a time. When we started ceramics in 1970 this is how everyone did it. It still works today and is a quick and easy way to bring out detail, especially in animals such as a rabbit. Some manufacturers have special products for antiquing, often oil-based. But you can use regular paints, just don’t let them sit too long before wiping back. On this raccoon we used brown to antique the animal and a darker green to antique the grass.

  • Lining

Mickey Mouse MC CCThis is where you use a liner brush and outline each section of the piece; between colors, seams, creases, etc. I sometimes use lining to bring out details such as shirt collars that are not otherwise easily seen. I always line cartoon figures. If you think about it, cartoons are made first with a black-and-white coloring-book picture, and then the colors are filled in. We do not shade or add texture to cartoon figures or they would not look natural.


  • Double-loading

rosy brown faceThis technique is used frequently with fired products such as Concepts. First load your brush with the basic color and then run just the side of your brush through a darker shade of the same color. Blend on a tile before painting. If you keep the printed side of your brush up when loading you will always know when the darker paint is located. Paint with the darker side in the details and along the edges of the area you are painting. This technique is taught in the Faces of the World brochure for painting various skin tones. You need to be careful to only load a very small amount of the shadow color. The shading on faces goes along the hairline, collar, under the nose, eyes, etc. think of where the shadows should be.

  • Floating

Old Woman blueThis technique is similar to double-loading, but instead of using two colors you use water. First load your brush fully with water, then side-load with color and blend on a tile. I sometimes use this method for shading where I have already painted a solid color. Say I want to shade between the legs on a pain of jeans, this works well and gives a Hummel-like effect to the piece. Each colored area is shaded with a corresponding darker shade of the same color throughout the piece. This Old Woman shows a combination of lining on the hat and neckline and floating on the dress.

  • Dry-brushing

essentials-iv-flower-bowl-dry-brush-cc-jaws.jpgWith this technique you start with a dark color and then add multiple layers of lightening colors until you achieve the desired effect. This technique is especially useful on pieces with lots of texture such as animal feathers or fun. You put a very small amount of color into a stiff brush that has not been put in water. Then you wipe most of that color off onto a paper bag, coffee filter, or absorbent paper towel. When applying to the piece you go perpendicular to the detail groves in the piece. This leaves darker color in the groves as shadows, and lighter colors on the surface. This technique is also used to add blush to the cheeks of figurines and dolls. The flower bowl shown here was used in Essentials to teach the dry-brushing technique.

All non-fired products are for decorative use only and are not food safe. The only exception is if you clear glaze the inside of a vase, decanter, or cookie jar and stain the outside. Non-fired finishes can be rinsed off with water and dried. Do not soak or put in the dishwasher.

Carol’s Carousel
Where having Fun is why we come!

More next time on non-fired products:
Granite Stones & Fashenhues

Posted in Upcoming Workshops | Leave a comment

Silkscreen Projects

Last post we shared our silkscreen collection with you. Here are some of the projects that have been done:

new Cutesy Dragons cup, plate, bowl set

What to do with the Top Hat:
notice the different seasons and different contents.
(Most are catalog pictures)

Silkscreened Christmas plates

Some projects even won ribbons at the Midwest Ceramic Show!

A variety of projects: flower vase and tray, Easter mug,
and Valentine’s Day mug (oops, that last one is a rubber stamp)

Dish sets from a Halloween workshop


Delft Blue designs on a set of bells
(bells actually do ring)

New African safari designs around this planter.

Snowman plate workshop with clients from No Limits workshop.
Snowmen are silkscreens and the snowflakes are stencils.

Carol’s Carousel

Where having Fun is why we come!

If you haven’t yet learned how to use silkscreens you should give it a try!
It is an easy way to get detailed designs onto bisque, then add color and details.

Posted in Upcoming Workshops | Leave a comment