Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Anatomy of a China Painted Design part 2
Continuing with the bowl that was shown previously the photo to the left shows the bowl after the second firing (bottom) and ready for the third firing (top) As you can see by comparing the photo from the previous post with the bowl after the firing you can see that as the paint sinks into the glaze with the firing it also becomes transluscent and the true colors are revealed. Some colors are particularly difficult to obtain smooth even opaque coverage with than others. Cobalt blue is one such color. You will notice that even though the blue has been painted twice it is still pale in some areas. This is one aspect of china painting that makes it take a long time to complete an item, some colors require several coats of paint. This also makes it possible to achieve a lot of depth to a painting.
Before I mentioned that the china paint doesn't 'dry' or become permanent until it is fired. This provides us with some benefits and some drawbacks. There are two types of mediums that are used for china painting. The most common is a collection of various oils. When using oil based mediums turpentine is used to clean the brushes and in some cases to thin various products. The oils used are generally very aeromatic such as clove and lavender oils. This can be a problem for people with sensitivities and allergies. The other mediums that can be used are water based. I use a water based medium for china painting. This consists of glycerine and water. I use the water based mostly because the oils and turpentine annoy my allergies. Using this medium the paint will dry but it is not set or permanent until it is fired this is known as a closed medium (there are also 'closed' oil based mediums). Water based mediums have the benefit that they are not likely to run when fired like an oil based medium may if you apply the medium to heavily. The drawback is that the water based medium dries very quickly so that it is not easily worked and most oil based mediums even so called 'closed' mediums will remain workable for a longer period. An 'Open' oil medium will not dry and will remain workable to some extent until it is fired.
Because the paint is not set and it is applied to a glazed surface it can be changed it before it is fired. It can be wiped off or tiny sections of it can be wiped away to produce highlights or to straighten lines. This is true of both water based and oil based mediums used for china painting. Another benefit is that because it is fired after each painting session the previously applied paint is totally permanent and will not be damaged or removed in subsequent painting. This allows fine detail to be added after the base color has been painted and fired without changing the shading or shape of the previous painting and without smearing or mixing adjoining colors. The detail can be added and adjusted before it is fired. A pattern or line art design can also be applied and fired and subsequently colored without destroying the design. The drawbacks lie mainly in the fact that care must be taken in handling the unfired painting to prevent damaging the unfired painting. Another drawback is the longer time required to complete the artwork.