Porcelain painting is also known as China painting because of its ancient beginnings in China. Painting porcelain is a beautiful form of art that anyone can do at any age. All you need are a few supplies and some basic know how of painting porcelain.
The materials you need to paint porcelain are a small list but can be costly. Keep the cost for painting porcelain to the minimum until the basics are learned. You will need brushes, paints, porcelain, blending medium, palette, and use of a kiln. Brushes made of squirrel or deer hair are great for blending and work best on porcelain. Clean your brushes after each use. Turpentine and turpenoid natural work well as cleaners. Turpenoid natural is a safer alternative. Paints are generally sold in powder form and artists usually mix their own with a medium oil. To keep cost down regular baby oil can be used. A palette can be as simple as a tile. Most local ceramic stores will let you rent their kiln for your porcelain piece.
Work area must be dust free. Cover your work area with plastic and wear a cotton shirt as not to attract hair or dust to your porcelain paint. Sketch a pattern onto the china but make sure to paint over the lines or they will be fired into the piece. A pattern is not even needed you can paint directly onto the piece.
Mixing powder paint isn't hard, but it does take some practice for the right consistency. Put a small mound of paint on your palette and make a well in the center of it and slowly add baby oil drop by drop. After 2-3 drops use a palette knife and start mixing and smashing the paint into the oil. Keep adding drops of oil and mixing till it looks like toothpaste. Make sure you get out any lumps so there will be no trouble later. This paint can be saved in a plastic container for later use. Mix all your colors before you start painting for easier blending. Use a loaded brush and don't try to lighten you color by adding more oil. The oil will only burn off during firing and leave very little pigment.
To achieve depth of color in a porcelain piece, paint must be added in soft translucent layers after each firing. Several firings may have to take place before the piece is considered done to the artist.
It's always a good idea to practice on a inexpensive plate to test out the colors to see what they will look like after firing. Keep a chart on how many times you added color and fired the piece. This way you will have some idea what colors you will obtain on your final product.
Porcelain painting isn't as popular as it once was but with knowledge and practice of this art you can pass on family heirlooms for generations to come.