Get the tips you need to create beautiful porcelain dolls.

Today I want to talk about porcelain painting and its peculiarities. When it comes to this medium, anything goes: fierce colors, geometric patterns, traditional Chinese paintings… It takes many layers of China paints, fragrant oils, firing them in a kiln of patience (and baking soda), and then the ceramic is fired.


Here's what you'll need for Chinese painting:

Some metallic paints are made with lead, so be sure to take precautions when painting. China paints—overglaze paints that can be painted on glazed or unglazed surfaces. They come in powder form and are made from metallic and mineral oxides.

Medium oils are used to mix with paints to create a paint-like substance. There are loads of different oils on the market, and they vary in thickness and drying time. Some are better for outlining while others work best for a general wash of color.

Palettes and knives are essential for adding pigment to paint. Because paint is a powder, you must mix them with oil to create the paint.

Porcelain pieces require numerous kilns to fire the layers of paint that are applied. The paint on the plates has to bind with it in order for them to be used.

China paints are not as opaque, so you'll need to paint on a few layers. If I'm painting a face on my porcelain doll, it'll take me about 6-8 layers to get the result that I want. With body blushing, you only need to paint on the equivalent of ~3 layers and you're done.

The first step of preparing for a painting session is planning what you'll be painting and mixing the colors. Don't mix too much paint at once; the oil will dry, making the rest unreusable. Mix just enough for that one session.

One of the best ways to avoid problems with your porcelain painting is to use as little paint as possible. Approach porcelain painting in thin layers, building up your color gradually until you're happy with the result. This can be especially helpful if you find that too much paint creates shiny patches or blisters when fired. Plus, since all the thin layers bond with the porcelain on a molecular level, there's no need for your paint to sit on top of the surface. It will melt into it, creating a beautiful and unique look that can't be duplicated.


If you want to find the best China paint for painting dolls, you'll need to test a few different ones. To do this, mix some of each type of paint together on a glazed tile, then paint on it.

There is no exact temperature to give when it comes to firing China paints, because they all react differently. However the range tends to be between 600°C - 852°C (1112°F - 1566°F). Reds often require lower temperatures than other colors. If a color is fired too hot, it will fade more in the kiln. It can also form glossy patches, so you'll need to test each color before painting your doll.

You need to make sure that the paint has dried before firing, otherwise it will crack. The process can also be tricky for Chinese paints. You'll want to slowly increase the temperature and fire with enough room in the kiln to maintain airflow. A program I use is electric and increases the temperature by 120°C every hour until it reaches 600°C, then it fires quickly to reach the final heat. It takes a little over five hours, which is perfect for me.

Here are some helpful tips for you to review:

Here are some helpful tips for working with China paints.

Make sure you try out new China paints before painting your dolls.

Overfiring and underfiring are the two most common problems that come up when using China paints. Too little paint results in a dull finish, while too much paint will lead to uneven coat thickness and glossy patches.

The problem with overloading a kiln is that the oils won't have enough airflow to completely burn out. This can result in unwanted spots and flaws on the doll.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is using too much paint, creating a flat and uninteresting effect. Paint in thin layers, not just one heavy coat, to create beautiful depth and dimension.

Washing your brushes with soap is what you should do after cleaning them with turpentine.

Painting with oil paints often requires a lot of experimentation until you find your own studio style. That's why there are no exact temperatures, timings, or rules. You have to find your own path using these guidelines. Feel free to ask any questions and share tips in the comments below!



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