Technique of the Week: get some Rest

Oh My Gosh, it’s Christmas and I’m not ready!

  • It’s already Monday and I haven’t done Sunday’s blog,unfinished-business-clipart.png
  • Didn’t clean the house and everyone’s coming tomorrow for brunch!
  • Didn’t bake the banana bread (but Walmart had some I can buy).
  • Didn’t get the tree up — but why bother now for just one day?
  • Didn’t get any decorations out this year.
  • Didn’t help Jeremy make any Christmas gifts

But let’s look on the bright side:

  • We got all the AfricanAmericanKids Etsy orders done and shipped.woohoo accomplished clipart
  • We did get students’ items fired, some yet to be picked up as everyone is busy.
  • We bought the food for tomorrow and the ham’s in the oven now.
  • We took Jeremy shopping and helped wrap all his gifts.
  • We made couple’s gifts — all are fired, painted, wrapped, and under the tree.
  • We decorated the house with the ceramic trees that were on display in the studio.
  • We hosted the Pinochle Club Christmas Party.
  • We hosted the Annual Cookie Exchange Christmas Tea (Jim made pizzelles)
  • We hosted two Party Van workshops where seniors painted mini trees.
  • We hosted the November MVCT meeting and all-day banding workshop.
  • We poured plates for the December MVCT meeting here next Sunday

So, why am I tired?

  • Maybe because I am almost seventy-five years old!clipart tired woman
  • Maybe because Jim has lots of health issues this year, leaving more tasks to me.
  • Maybe because I schedule too many things to do.
  • Maybe because we are trying to reorganize and redecorate the studio, as well as run the business.

I remember the first year I didn’t bake Christmas cookies and how that made me feel. That’s when I realized that it is actually Okay to not get everything done.

it's okay clipart 

I was reading my Facebook messages this evening and was referred to my friend’s blog. She writes so much better than I do and her topic is “Lowering My Expectations as a mom during the holidays.”

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


And we will be back in the studio next year.
Sunday, January 5th, at 1:00, Let it Snow WS
Monday, January 6th, at 6:00 Open Classes 




Posted in Upcoming Workshops | Leave a comment

Technique of the Week: Overglazes

Some time ago we posted about underglazes. As  the name implies, they are used under a glaze. Today we talk about overglazes. Again, as the name implies, they are used over a glaze. A third firing is required: first the bisque firing, then the glaze firing, and now the overglaze firing.


Duncan has gold, premium gold, and white gold (which looks silver). When applying overglazes you must be very careful to remain clean. Use alcohol to wash your hands and to wash down the piece. Use a new clean brush for each color and save it separately just for use with that color. Apply the color evenly but not heavy as that will cause runs and drips. Each of these metallics is a different color in the bottle: gold is brown, premium gold is red, and white gold is green. They come in very small 2-dram bottles and are rather pricey, depending on the price of gold when you buy it.  Jim made me a small wooden block to hold the bottle so it doesn’t tip over. Cover your painted piece with a clean cloth, preferably a piece of sheeting or a pillowcase, to keep dust away until it is fired. Fire to cone 018-019.


  • The vase is painted completely with gold, after use of a specialty product called brocade to make the design. Note that the finish on the vase is satin, with gloss only on the brocade. This piece was part of out Duncan certification training in 1974.
  • The swan candy dish was clear glazed, then premium gold was added to the beak and around the edge.
  • The dragon teapot was finished with white gold on the spikes, the horn, and on the ball.

Mother of Pearl

Like the shimmery, shiny, colorful inside of a pearl’s shell? That is what you get with Mother of Pearl. It comes in a small bottle (but not as small as the gold) and is dark blue in color. Again, use a new clean brush which you save only for this product. When applying use circular motion to bring out the colors. Keep clean and fire to cone 020.

Mother of Pearl is often used on white trees but can also be used over other colors.  Here we also see a tiny ballerina and a lamp base. It is difficult to capture the rainbow of color in a photograph but the lamp shows it best.


Decals are an easy way to apply a detailed colorful design onto a glazed piece. You can even buy your ware at Dollar Tree! Make sure to purchase ceramic water-slide decals that get fired. Cut apart the pieces that you want to use and immerse in warm water. When they move easily, slide off of the backing paper onto the ware and smooth out any air bubbles with a small squeegee. Let dry 24 hours to make sure there is no moisture. Then fire to cone 015-018.

Note that decals are placed on white glazed bisque. Putting decals over other oclors distorts the color. On the tea-for-one with the yellow rose, no other color was added. On the second tea-for-one and the personal teapot, underglaze colors were chosen that match the decal and that part was painted before the piece was glazed.

In the ginger jar you can see the effect of using a decal over a color. The snack set was puchased for only $2.00, then the decals were added. The last is a mini child’s tea set. We had a Mommy & Me Tea where the little girls added decals to their tea sets.

Note that these three overglaze products can be used on the same piece.
However, since firing temperature are different you must start with the hottest firing and move to the coolest; that is, decals (015-018), then gold (018-019), then Mother of Pearl (020).

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

So, start the New Year off right by learning how to
add these special finishing touches to your pieces.

Posted in Upcoming Workshops | Leave a comment


Technique of the week is Shading, more specifically, bringing out the detail in a piece.

Acrylic Stains

Byron 1912 Holly Hobby Doll with Quilt AmericanaThere are two ways of “shading” or bringing out the detail on a piece.

Here we see a blue cap and skirt. It is painted with a light blue, then shaded by adding a thinned dark blue, and wiping it back with a cloth so that it remains in the detail.

A similar effect could be achieved by painting the dark blue first, then drybrushing the light blue horizontally over the detail, To drybrush, use a stiff brush and make sure there is very little paint on the brush. Dab excess paint onto a paper towel or brown bag.

Usually one prefers the darker color in the detail. So paint light & wash dark OR paint dark & drybrush light.

Below we see a Santa beard painted white and washed with grey.
The Mill at the right was painted dark and drybrushed light. Notice that the shadows are all darker.

When sewing with my embroidery machine, I noticed that the best-looking patterns were the ones that used three shades of a color. For example a flower painted pink, washed or shadowed with rose, and drybrushed with light pink. Whether to do both depends on the effect you want and the amount of time you want to put into it.


If you think of a cartoon as a coloring-book picture, you don’t see shading within each section. To detail, simply outline and add detail with a liner brush, usually loaded with black.


Fashenhues is a technique where you base coat, then antique with a dark brown, and finally add the color. In other words, the shadows are painted first. There is another post on Fashenhues.


Both of these pieces were “antiqued” with a dark color. Notice the white background. If you want a light blue background on the cup, you need to paint and fire it before antiquing, Otherwise the background color would come off.


This is a term usually applied to painting detailed designs with underglazes. It can be done on bisque and glazed later, or done on unfired true matte glaze before firing. This technique is called majolica.

The leaves in the holly wreath were painted by fully loading the brush with light green, then side-loading in a medium green. When brushing, the darker green was kept to the outside of the leaves. Then a third, darker color, was used to outline and vein the leaves. This was painted on a white matte glaze.

The daisy eggs were painted on colors. Rather than double loading the brush, a light color was pulled in for the petal, then a medium color 2/3 of the way from center, then a dark color 1/3 of the way. Each color overlaps the one before.  Leaves were painted by double loading greens on the brush.


Some glazes are designed to fill in the detail as can be seen in these pieces. Look for “semi-translucent” or “semi-opaque” on the jar. Opaque glazes will tend to cover up the detail.


Shading is just one form of detailing. You can add facial features and add patterns to fabrics, even make a plain base into a flagstone walk. You can add specialty paints such as metallics, snow, and glitter. Also, accessories such as ribbons, bells, and jewels. The only limit is your imagination. The fine detailing is what makes a piece really special.

Carols Carousel Creations
Where having Fun is why we come!

So finish up those Christmas gifts… then
come learn some new techniques in the new year.


Here’s a thought —
why not give a gift certificate
to a friend or family member.

Posted in Upcoming Workshops | Leave a comment

Technique of the Week: Stencils

Update on Hours listed in last post:

The MVCT meeting scheduled for Sunday, December 8th has been changed to Sunday, December 29th

Sunday, December 8th will be the last Tree Time starting at 1:00


Whether cut from vinyl, cardboard, paper, or other material, stencils can be used in several ways:

  •  Remove the cut-out design and use the negative space as your stencil.
    Trace the design onto the ware, then paint inside line with a brush. If stencil is paper or cardboard this way is best.


  • Again, use the negative space as your stencil.
    Use a sponge to apply paint directly onto the stencil. Wash stencil immediately when finished. If stencil is plastic or vinyl this way is better and stencil can be easily cleaned



  • Adhere the positive cutout to the piece.
    Paint the entire piece with a brush or sponge. Remove the stencil and the design will be the color of the background. In this picture the plate was marbled and the stencil is white.

marbled plate with stencil


Silkscreens are similar to stencils but much finer in detail. We have a large selection of designs in our silkscreen library. Directions for applying silkscreen designs are different and are explained in another post.

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

Some come on over and learn a new technique.
Experiment and play around with designs to
create a ceramic piece that is uniquely yours.




Posted in Upcoming Workshops | Leave a comment


Some interested painters do not have Facebook and thus miss my posts. To keep up-to-date with the website blog, enter your email address in the box where it says to “follow” and you will get an email whenever I post.

Sunday afternoons 2:00-5:00 Special Workshops
see announcements, Open Class if you don’t want to do the workshop.

  • November 24 is MVCT November meeting, if interested in the project please inquire

  • December 1 Tree Time
    order big trees ahead of time

  • December 8  is MVCT December meeting, if interested in the project please inquire

  • December 15 is Annual Cookie Exchange Christmas Tea, if you want to come please ask for an event invitation for details

  • December 22 Open Class finish up projects or paint with stains. Firing not guaranteed for Christmas.

Monday evenings 6:00-10:00 Open Class

Wednesday mornings 10:00-2:00 Open Class

Wednesday evenings 6:00-10:00 Open Class

Friday afternoons 2:00-5:00 Kids Krafts

  • Black Friday, November 29th 10:00 am to 10:00 pm
    Kids Krafts and Baby Prints,
    $10 includes one piece, paints, lesson, & snack
    great for making Christmas gifts

  • Christmas Vacation, December 27th, 2:00-5:00
    Kids Krafts,
    $10 includes one piece, paints, lesson, & snack
    aprons & tote bags available for painting, mugs, snowmen, and much more

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

So come on over and bring a friend.
Make your own unique, personalized gifts for friends and family.
Let the kids make their own gifts this year.
After Christmas let them paint something for themselves.


Posted in Upcoming Workshops | Leave a comment

Painting with Shaving Cream

Technique of the Week

Essentials IV Ornament Box CC.jpg

The box can be either glazed or stained on the inside. In order to use the container for food, however, it must be glazed. If stained, you can only put wrapped candies inside. The outside finish is a non-fired technique. It can be rinsed under water but not soaked or put into the dishwasher.

  1. First lay out a sheet of waxed paper long enough to bring up around the sides of the piece you are painting.
  2. Squirt a layer of shaving cream onto the waxed paper about a 1/2″ thick.
  3. Spread evenly with a palette knife.
  4. Choose two colors of stain for your piece. Here we used red and green. On small pumpkins we used orange and brown.
  5. Drizzle one color stain over the shaving cream in an up-and-down motion. Drizzle the second color in a side-to-side motion.
  6. Using a palette knife swirl through the paint and shaving cream so that it looks like a marble cake. Do not overmix or you will get mud.
  7. Bring the waxed paper up around the sides of the piece and press firmly in place, making sure to cover the entire piece. It will be messy and the shaving cream will squeeze out.
  8. Take the entire piece to the sink.  Toss the paper into the trash and rinse the shaving cream off the piece.  Pat dry with a paper towel.
  9. Using a small brush, add some streaks of gold throughout the piece. Also paint the hanger on the top of the box.
  10. Let dry and spray with a gloss fixative.

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

What a very fun, messy technique that the kids will love.
With a little assistance from Mom even toddlers can do it.
What a beautiful gift for a loved one this Christmas
something that they made themselves.

Posted in Upcoming Workshops | Leave a comment

The Life of a Ceramic Christmas Tree

Technique of the Week — Making a Tree

When new students come into the studio and choose a tree from the shelf they usually have no idea what has gone into making that tree. Here is an 8-step Life of a Tree in photos and descriptions.

  1.  pouring the mold — liquid clay called slip is poured into a plaster mold that is held together with bands or straps. The plaster absorbs the water and leaves a clay shell (like a chocolate Easter bunny)
  2. dumping the mold — when the clay wall is about 1/4″ think the excess slip is dumped back into a bucket or tub. It usually takes from 15 to 20 minutes to set up.
  3.  wet greenware — after the clay is allowed to dry enough to hold its shape, the piece is removed to a shelf for drying. Wet greenware is dark in color.
    ready for holes — when leather hard (but not completely dry) holes for the lights can be drilled into the greenware.
    cleaning — The piece also needs to be “cleaned” when dry; that is,  the mold lines are scraped off using a cleaning tool and detail is carved back into the piece. Sometimes a green sander is used to smooth the mold lines, and then the entire piece is sponged with vinegar water.
  4.  greenware ready for firing — greenware is fired in a kiln to cone 04 before glazing. That is 1945 degrees F.
  5.  applying glaze to cone 04 bisque — painters apply three coats of green glaze, either Bottle Green or Emerald Green. Neither of these looks green when applied but both are green when fired.
  6.  checking the holes — Jim always drills out the holes again before firing to make sure they are large enough and do not contain any glaze
  7. fired glazed trees –trees are stilted in the kiln so that they do not  fuse to the shelf. The glaze is fired to cone 06 which is 1828 degrees F. As you can see, some are white and others green. You can paint trees any color that you want. You can even use a crystal glaze but must be careful about not letting the crystals flow into the holes.
  8. finished trees — after firing, the stilt marks are ground off so there are no sharp points on the bottom. Students insert plastic lights in colors of their choice. The larger trees also get a star. If you want snow and/or glitter if is applied at this point. The base is wired with a cord and socket and a light bulb is screwed in.

These photos were taken a couple of years ago. Our pouring and firing stations have changed considerably since then but the technique is the same. Please note that there are many styles of trees and they can also be painted with stains, Fashenhues, or Azure markers.

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

Come on over and make a tree! Easy enough for the kids to do!



Posted in Upcoming Workshops | Leave a comment