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Pretty as a Picture: Tips for Using Underglaze, Oxide, and Glaze Pens to Draw on Clay
Posted By Holly Goring On February 2, 2015 @ 5:23 am In Daily,Features,Underglazes | 10 Comments
I love pots with pattern and imagery and have done a lot with screen printing and stencils in my work. Lately I have been wanting to start experimenting with the variety of oxide, underglaze, and glaze pens that are on the market.
In today’s blog post, I am going to share an excerpt from the PMI archives, which includes tips for working with these handy tools. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2010 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated. For a printable version of this article, buy a PDF of the back issue here.
Drawing is having a bit of renaissance in ceramics these days. Artists are drawing on everything from functional ware and sculpture to tile. And there is an endless variety of ways to get the line onto the pot including some relatively new ceramic drawing tools that dispense underglaze, oxides, or glaze similar to a traditional pen. These pens are fast and easy for general mark making and also give more control and make less mess than a brush.
Minnesota Clay Co. USA offers the Potter’s Pen while Spectrum Glazes offers the Underglaze Pen. The Potter’s Pen features a pressure-activated valve that “doses” underglaze onto your ceramic surface and feels similar to drawing with a marker once you get the hang of it. The pens make a 1 mm line, but wider lines can be made by drawing more slowly or by increasing the pressure on the pen body. The pen works great for text and pattern making, including repetitions of polka dots and contour shading lines. The pen can fill in larger areas or with a little practice can be used to make delicate lines. As it is underglaze, it won’t flux in the firing, so signatures or marks made on tests tiles can be put on the back (or bottom) without a problem.
The underglaze that is dispensed looks and feels like the jar version with a matte finish and can be covered with a clear glaze if a shiny finish is desired. All 19 colors are non-toxic and stable to cone 9, except the rose pen, which is stable to cone 4.
The Spectrum Underglaze Pens, MultiPens, and Oxide Pens (contain copper oxide, cobalt oxide, etc., suspended in water with added frits to improve flow) come in soft-sided bottles rather than pen-shaped applicators. These squeezable pens/bottles are easier on your hand during long glazing sessions but take time to get used to as a drawing instrument. All the tips are removable for cleaning and each Spectrum pen has a plastic cap that prevents clogging. Smaller interchangeable metal tips can be swapped out and used for making finer lines. The MultiPens contain a low-temperature enamel and work well on bisque ware. They do not adhere well to smooth surfaces. MultiPens are lead free, dinnerware and dishwasher-safe, and can be intermixed to create new colors.
TIPS FOR USE
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