China painting is a fascinating home handicraft that is easily learned
MANY people believe that china painting requires a great deal of talent. As a matter of fact the style that is in vogue today can be successfully carried out by anyone having the inclination and the time. A fascinating pastime, china painting may awake undreamed of talents. It furthermore provides a simple and inexpensive method of adding attractive pieces of china to your collection A modest investment in paints and oils, and an assortment of cheap white unadorned china ware, and you are equipped for work.
In the decoration of china special paints made from minerals, must be used. These become permanently etched upon the glazed surface through ‘firing’, whereas paints made of oil would burn away or wear off. These paints come in powder form in small glass bottles, ‘Firing’ is a vital step in the process, but in a town of any size there are always kilns available for service. It is impossible to fire china in the ordinary kitchen range.
TT is not necessary to start with an elaborate outfit, and as one adds colors the expense is not great. I would suggest the following colors for the beginner: Albert yellow, yellow brown, blood red, peach blossom, moss green, deep or banding blue, empire green, baby blue, auburn brown and black.
Brushes needed are one square shader, No. 3; one square shader, No. 4; one square shader, No. 6; one pointed brush, No. 3 (for gold only); two palette knives
(one for gold only); one bottle turpentine; one bottle painting medium for china colors, china pencil, box of gold burnishing sand, old cotton for paint rags, small piece of old wash silk, a map pen, tracing paper, graphite paper, small package of surgeon’s wool.
The above is a fairly complete list, but a number of the articles may be omitted and others, which are in
the house, utilized instead. For instance I have known several people to have only one palette knife for gold and to use their kitchen spatula for grinding color. One need not buy a roll of tracing paper, when the paper inside a box of soda crackers is equally effective. A small piece of typewriter carbon paper will take the place of graphite impression paper, although not quite as nice to use. Absorbent cotton may be substituted for surgeon’s wool, but must be discarded when soiled, while the wool may be washed repeatedly with soap and water. One might include a covered china palette in the list of necessities. The cover is placed over the palette each time after using, and the colors kept fresh and free from dust for several days. An old tea tile makes an admirable substitute, although it means that the colors must be mixed each time, and therefore involving a waste of material.
One need not buy expensive china, as all the five and ten cent’ stores carry suitable pieces of plain white china. These, usually, are seconds and should be carefully inspected for flaws before buying.
First Steps in Painting
TINTING is spreading a color over a comparatively large surface and then padding it off to get an absolutely even shade. This is one of the first problems to tackle. It is simple, effective and it is quite possible for the beginner to make charming pieces.
Success depends greatly upon the pad. Take a piece of surgeon’s wool about the size of an egg, Over this place a piece of old wash silk and fasten together with an elastic, taking care not to tie it so tightly that your pad is just a hard ball. Remember that the silk must not
have a grain as this will make streaks in the tinting. New silk will have a certain amount of dressing which will also affect the work. Old china silk is admirable for the purpose, but if very thin should be doubled. The soiled pieces may be washed after soaking them in turpentine.
In mixing color place a very little of the powder on the palette. Dip the palette knife into the medium and rub the oil and color together with a circular motion until perfectly free from lumps. If it spreads on the palette there is too much oil and more color must be added. In mixing paint for tinting be sure to prepare a sufficient quantity, for you cannot stop in the middle of an operation to mix more. If there are many colors to be mixed it is advisable to do this before painting.
A flat piece of china, such as a plate or tile, is the best thing to try first. A good cream color for background or tinting can be made from equal parts of yellow, brown and albert yellow. Mix these with enough painting oil or medium, as it is called, to flow freely from the brush. Dip the No. 6 shader into the oil, and work well into the brush by moving up and down on the palette. With broad sweeping strokes cover the entire surface of the plate, trying to keep as even a tone as possible. Now you are ready to pad it with a light but even pressure, keeping the pad close to the china and working quickly. Work steadily, not in a hit-or-miss fash on, and the surface will have a perfectly even tone. It should have a dull appearance, but will be shiny and full of tiny bubbles if too much medium has been used. If the color comes off in spots it is generally because the pad is too hard, or the color has begun to set before you have padded it. The only thing to do is wipe it off (turpentine will easily remove it) and retint. If there are any hairs from the brush touch them gently with the point of a china pencil and they will adhere to it. The china is now ready for firing.
When tinting around the handles of a cup make the strokes away from the handle with a little less color on the brush, as it is almost impossible to pad. With a little practice, little or no padding is needed.
When finished painting, clean the messy color off the palette and cover tightly. If the colors are dry when you wish to use them again, moisten with a drop of turpentine and, when soft, add a little medium and grind as before.
Brushes should always be cleaned in turpentine and flattened into shape before putting away. If treated in this way they will last twice as long.
Applying a Design
T)LACE a small piece of tracing paper over the design you wish to use, and follow the lines with pen and ink. Then place the tracing in position on the piece of china to be decorated, and fasten in place with two or three little pieces of adhesive plaster or plasticine. Next slip the graphite paper under it, and transfer the design to the china using a wooden meat skewer or pointed orange stick. Remove both tracing and graphite paper.
Now, pour into a saucer some black paint ("any color may be used but black is most popular at present) and add to it one-sixth as much fruit sugar. Add a little water, and grind well with a ! palette knife. Now add enough water to make it flow freely from the pen. Go over the design with this outlining mixture, and as it evaporates very quickly add more water as required. Use the finest writing or mapping pen you can buy, and wash it frequently, for the color will dry on it and clog the point. To make a fine line hold the pen almost perpendicular, and discard the point when it begins to lose its use-
fulness against the hard surface of the glazed china. Where one has an uneven line it may be ‘thinned down’ and cleaned by means of a toothpick wound with absorbent cotton which has been moistened, or even the end of a clean paint brush. Do not hurry over the application of a design as poor tracing will spoil the finest painting. A little turpentine on a rag will remove any of the remàining carbon marks, leaving the outlining intact.
Important points to remember are summarized as follows: (1) Do not start on an elaborate design. (2) Flat China is easier to handle. (3) Do not fuss over the work. (Learn to paint in a clean fashion, but do not be afraid to wipe out and start again. (4) Do not try to use colors that have been mixed long enough to become gummy and dusty. (5) Do not allow fingers to touch painted but unfired china as finger prints will show after the firing.
THERE are various kinds of cheap liquid golds on the market; but it is advisable to use only matte gold which will outwear the other many times. Gold comes in little glass slabs, and is dark brown before being fired. Gold is expensive and tools should be kept exclusively for its use. The palette knife and brush are not washed after using. It is a good plan to have a small bottle of turpentine for cleaning as the liquid can be poured off and the gold, which settles to the bottom, used.
With the palette knife, add a drop of turpentine to the pat of gold and rub with a circular motion (as in grinding color). Fill the brush well and spread evenly. To be just right there should be a slight pull to the brush as it is drawn along. Gold must be applied in two coats, and must never be sent to the kiln before it has thoroughly dried. When it is fired it will be a dull yellow, and must be brightened with fine burnishing sand. Any old cloth may be moistened and dipped in the sand. Scour with a light motion, as pressure may remove too much gold in .which event it may be found necessary to regild. It is not advisable to burnish the first coat of gold before applying the second.
Some Suggested Designs
FIGURE IV is especially suitable for a child’s bread and milk bowl or jug, It could also be used effectively as a medallion on a plate. First trace the design, then apply with graphite paper, and go over it with the outlining mixture (paint, sugar and water as described above). Remove carbon marks with turpentine. Do not be dismayed by the straight lines! Hold your pen with the middle finger firmly in place along the extreme edge, and then draw the pen all around the china object. Keep the pen constantly in the same position to insure an even line. For this design you will need only three colors—yellow brown, auburn brown and moss green. The narrow band at the bottom may be omitted if more suitable to the china.
Tint in the background with yellow brown, and pad. Wipe out any paint which has run over the design with absorbent cotton wound around a toothpick. Mix a little paint with oil (it should be a little thicker than for tinting) and grind free from lumps. Dip the brush into the oil and take up a very little paint. Paint the bands black, the rabbit in yellow brown to which a speck of auburn brown has been added, and the leaves in moss green. The edges of the piece may be wiped clean by laying the paint rag over the thumb nail, and running around the edge of the piece of work until the surface is perfectly clean. Use as large a brush as convenient, and do not go over the work again as brush marks will show if the surface is fussed over. Set the piece away to dry and cover with paper, for
dust is a deadly enemy to all china painting. After the firing it is better to retouch the outline where it is weak and strengthen the colors if too pale, and fire again. Two thin coats give better results than one thick one which is apt to crack off.
Figure I is particularly suitable for a tea tile. Either the whole or the centre part may be used. Here much stronger colors may come into play. Apply design and outline. Tint in the background in a buff tone, the centre should be blood red, the large leaves empire green, the small leaves moss green and the flower between the small leaves either blood red or banding blue. The bands are in the predominating color of the room in which the piece is to be used. After firing, retouch outlining and painting, then refire.
Figure III makes a most attractive cake or sandwich plate, and is very simple in coloring, after applying design and outlining, tint in the band enclosing design, leaving the centre of p ate white, pad and clean out design. The leaves are moss green and the berries blood red, while the rest of the design is in gold. Fire, go over outline and retouch painting. Apply second coat of gold and refire. Anything carrying gold must have at least two firings, and the outline and coloring are always greatly improved by ‘touching up.’
Figure II can be used equally well on a cup and saucer or little bowl for the afternoon tea tray. After applying the design, tint the band a moss green and clean out design. The narrow band enclos ng the flower is a deep yellow The primrose itself is Albert yellow. The leaves are a brownish green and the stems at the side of and below the primrose are dark green. The top band on the inside of the bowl is of gold while just below it is a band of moss green (this is narrow and need not be padded). Before the second firing put a touch of deeper color close to the centre, and shade off towards the outside of each petal.
Line the bowl to the green band with mother of pearl lustre. Wash a brush with soap and water (any turpentine will stain the lustre) and dip into the bottle. Go over the entire surface of the china, spreading the brush to cover as much space as possible with each brushful. ■ This is an opaque lustre and therefore not to be padded. Do not be worried over uneven places as they simply add to the iridescence, but try not to use too heavy a, coat. Mother of pearl is much prettier if it is applied just before the last firing.
Large stencil patterns for any of the designs shown in this article may be had if application is made to the Woman’s Editor of MacLean’s Magazine, with an enclosure of ten cents.
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