“ tTo hpeainatrto’rs svkeertscahtilpitryacmtiackaellsyitanpyotshsi inbgleon china.”
Penwork makes use of the same supplies
but a different technique. A nib pen is
dipped into a thinned paint mixture and
used to write and sketch, a few strokes at a
time, on the china. Liquid gold or platinum
can be applied using a special, funnel-like
pen. When wet, the precious metals are a
dark, reddish color, but they fire to a brilliant luster. Penwork is the type of porcelain art that I have pursued almost
Despite the lack of readily available
instruction and materials, porcelain art has
a lot of appeal. The art’s versatility makes
it possible to paint or sketch practically
anything on china, and the art’s practicality I purchased it at www.kilndr.com for
ensures that your work isn’t limited to a $322. This cost may seem high, but if you
frame on the wall. Instead of just think about it, the cost is comparable, say,
displaying them, you can use many pieces to the cost for supplies needed for three 12
that you paint. (However, due to the possi- x 12 scrapbooks or the novelty yarn needed
bility of lead in the china paint, painted for a few small blankets. You also could
areas of porcelain won’t necessarily be rent or borrow a kiln from someone;
food-safe.) While all essential supplies ceramic or glass studios may be willing to
won’t be found at your local art store, some make an arrangement like this. The impor-
of the supplies can be found there. Tiles, tant thing is to know how hot the kiln will
dishes, bathroomaccessories, andsomuch fire and for how long, since time and
more can be found inexpensively at any temperature controls are needed.
hardware or department store. The gifts Next, you will need some paint. Paints
you create will be one-of-a-kind art pieces. are sold in vials that cost from $1.50 to
$9.50 each, depending on the color. Most
colors cost about $2.00 a vial. When mixed
with oil, the paint powder goes a long way.
The companies I order from are Rynne
China Company ( www.rynnechina.com)
and Maryland China ( www.maryland
china.com). Be careful to not breathe in
any paint dust as you mix your paints, as
some paints contain lead. I also recom-
mend purchasing ( 1) a mixing medium, ( 2)
wipe-out tool, and ( 3) metal palette knife
from either of these companies. If you
want to pursue penwork or gold applica-
tion, I recommend the purchase of ( 1) pen
oil, ( 2) a pen, ( 3) gold, and ( 4) a gold appli-
cation pen as well. If you’re painting with
a group, all these supplies can be shared.
The rest of the supplies can be
purchased from local stores. Brushes,
palette knives, transfer paper, styluses, and
lamp oil can be purchased at a craft store.
This tile combines paint and penwork techniques.
You can pick up tiles and fine sandpaper at
a hardware store.
You can always improvise with supplies
that you have on hand. For example, my
paint palette is made of two small jelly roll
pans, screws, and a piece of glass cut to fit
the width of the pan. Lamp oil, used to
rinse brushes, is kept in baby food jars.
Makeup sponges or pieces of silk can be
used to smooth the paint on the porcelain.
The part that is the most fun is finding
porcelain pieces to paint. You can paint and
fire anything made of porcelain or ceramic
that can fit in your kiln. For more information and a little inspiration, check out
www.unwhiteart.com, where you’ll find a
gallery of art ideas, a penwork tutorial, a
pictorial guide of necessary supplies, and
Perfect for Homeschoolers
Homeschoolers in particular will enjoy
taking up this art. Because my sisters and
I were homeschooled, our schedules gave
us the flexibility to spend time learning
from older ladies. The process of the art
lends itself to relationship building—as
the quilting bees and corn husking parties
did in times past. A number of homeschooled students could easily gather
around a table, paint for a few hours, and
then fire their pieces in the kiln or take
turns firing each piece.
A Worthy Investment
Ultimately, the process of learning how to
enjoy porcelain art is a lot like homeschooling: trial and error are involved,
there’s an initial investment in some expensive equipment, and there’s some “making
do” and use of unconventional supplies.
But once you’ve gathered what you need,
you can let your imagination soar as you
write, sketch, or paint on porcelain. I hope
you find as much joy as I have as you
“rediscover” this lost art.
You can teach yourself the art of china
painting. The first step is to gain access to
a kiln. My kiln is a small Paragon Q11-A.
Sarah Rees was homeschooled from
kindergarten through high school graduation. She now enjoys creating personalized
porcelain art through her home business.
To order a unique gift or commission your
own piece of porcelain art, please visit
www.unwhiteart.com and let the fun
begin! When she’s not painting, Sarah
shares about life, God’s goodness, and how
cool her husband David is at
All artwork is courtesy of
and copyrighted by Sarah Rees.