Feb 25, 2012

Handpainted Tiles with China Paints

my first handpainted tile

Here's my latest art experiment; china painting on tile. China paints are powdered pigments that are mixed with an oil or medium and painted on glazed pottery, then fired in a kiln for permanency. These are not like the Pebeo paints you just cook in a home oven - china paints become part of the glaze surface and won't scratch off.

I've always thought of china painting as a 'little old lady' craft, but I was surprised with the versatility. The hardest thing to learn, for me, was painting an oily, slippery paint on a slick surface. Not easy! You also need to build up color with multiple firings, and as with pottery glazes, some colors are subject to burnout at high temps (like reds). I've painted a lot of tiles, and done a lot of wiping off. I thought it would be pretty easy for me since I'm an experienced painter, but it was pretty hard to get the hang of it.

Okay,on to some pictures. As you can see, I was in a mermaid, mood.  This set of 4 is painted on 4 inch tiles I bought from Home Depot:

I couldn't seem to capture the subtle tones and delicate shading possible with the china paints. In the tile, Sea Girl, I achieved the fading and feathering with a large soft mop brush.

 Wouldn't these be cute as trivets, or hanging on a wall? I think i might want to try making enough to use as a back splash. For now, I'll just keep painting tiles :)


  1. love the whimsey! Looking for Island, Scuba theme...any?

  2. I think doing an island theme would be great! I'll try working some up in my next apinting session and see what comes up. Thanks for the idea!