Once upon a time, several decades ago, I loved to paint ceramics. Usually I would paint them all summer long. I don’t remember why I stopped. I only know that lately, the call to work with ceramics has been returning to me. This time is a bit different though. I have the maturity and desire to experiment and move beyond simple painting. I have not yet mastered making my own greenware but that’s ok. The art store near me has ready to paint greenware, supplies (glazes) and a kiln. Chances are you have a similar store near you.
Some shops have a dedicated creative space in which you can paint your greenware. If this is the case, just bring a few stencils along. They will also likely provide the paint/glaze for you to use. In my case, I had the option to buy my greenware and glazes and take them home (which greatly appealed to the introvert in me). I chose a non-toxic food safe glaze, several coffee mugs and a bowl. I picked a few stencils, grabbed a silicone sponge and paintbrush and was ready to start experimenting.
Though stenciling on greenware has a few similarities to stenciling on other items, there is one key difference when working with a mug or bowl. The surface is curved. I did learn a few tricks that helped keep my greenware in place.
Here are a few key takeaways that I learned as I went along:
1.You can prevent the mug or bowl from moving by nestling it in a rolled up in an old towel, baby blanket or shirt.
2. Smaller stencils sized 6x6 or smaller are easiest to use. You can still use a larger stencil. Just take it slowly and use small sections of the larger stencil. Consider cutting the larger stencil into a smaller piece that will lay against the curved surface more easily.
3. Usually the glaze dries quickly. However, be sure it is fully dry before moving to the next section.
4. Pay attention to border designs or repeating designs to ensure you will have the design just the way you want it. Be willing to adjust you design by filling in open spaces with free hand drawings or other smaller sections of stencils. For long stencils, pay attention to how they fit on the curve. Be willing to reposition the stencil so that the design remains on a horizontal line.
I used a combination of free hand drawing and stenciling on all four pieces of greenware. Not all of my creations were successful (in my opinion) as the stenciled design was not always as crisp as I wanted it to be. I struggled a bit with the larger stencils. However, I still think all of the pieces came out pretty cute.
The first mug I created was my favorite. The Decorative 6-Petal Flower Screen was the perfect size to curve around the mug. I transferred the face from my art journal and the stencil complemented it perfectly.
The second mug was all about creative play. I painted a quick border on the bottom and then stencil over the paint with the Pilgrimage to Mexico Stencil. The stencil job isn’t as crisp as I would have liked. This is the mug that really taught me about the struggle of using a larger stencil with a curved object. Still, the mug is playful and cute with the added cat doodles. I think I can do better if I try again. Creating is all about play and learning to live with imperfection.
I tried a free hand portrait on mug 4. The paisley design from the Pilgrimage to India Stencil was just the touch it needed. I was a bit heavy handed with the paint on the sponge (remember you don’t need too much) but I still like how it came out.
I found the bowl to be a bit more challenging than the mugs. When you wrap a border stencil around a mug, the design tends to slant. I learned to work in small sections, picking up the stencil and adjusting it so that the design of the Swag Borders and Dangles stencil stayed horizontal.
Using stencils on greenware was a fun way for me to return to painting ceramics. It’s a fun summer craft which you can do with your kids. For younger kids, I recommend trying the stencils on a flat surface before giving the more challenging curved surface of a coffee mug or bowl a go.
If you are curious about my other work, please feel free to stop by my blog or Instagram account. They are both a bit random as I create according to my mood.
Happy Summer Crafting!